The first glimpse of the £2m Illuminations investment has been revealed.
Digital mapping technology has been bought to create scenes on the facade of Blackpool Tower, after it was revealed in January that Blackpool had won a massive Government cash pot to revamp the lights.
The projections, of the kind seen during the London 2012 Olympic and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, will be beamed on to the Tower, in a celebration of Blackpool’s heritage and the history of light in the resort.
A rollercoaster will be seen emerging from the building, snaking across its frontage and looping back ‘inside’, a plane will swoop over onlookers scattering leaflets and George Formby is set to feature.
The Coastal Communities Funding scheme will see Blackpool placed at the forefront of digital mapping in the UK, with the Tower scheme hailed as the biggest projection of its kind in the UK.
It is thought it will be the first time something of this scale has been produced in an outdoors setting – and as an installation, rather than a one-off.
These will also be something that looks great during the day, which isn’t always the case with the IlluminationsLaurence Llewelyn Bowen
World-renowned projection artist Ross Ashton and sound expert Karen Monid from The Projection Studio are developing two stories – each one 10 to 12 minutes long, with just five weeks until the new lights season launches, one to launch with the Friday, September 4 Switch-On, and the second later in the season.
Ross said: “One of the reasons I wanted to win the contract is that this is a very important show for Britain.
“I have several permanent installations in India and in Las Vegas, the company I worked for before in France has them throughout Europe. But in the UK, there certainly isn’t one outdoors or on this scale. We want this to be the marker that other British cities have to step up to.”
The team has also been given control of the lights on the Tower and the Prom in front of it, to make an extra impact on people who will watch the story unfold from the Comedy Carpet.
The aim of the projection, as part of the £2.42m LightPool scheme – also funded by Blackpool Council and LeftCoast, is to encourage more visitors to the Illuminations to step out of their cars and get involved with the lights.
Another new element is sticks of rock, to be bought by companies and individuals and which can be decorated to their own requirements, whether that’s company branding or other bespoke designs.
Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, the Illuminations creative curator, said: “I can out a nice pattern on, or you can supply your own art, or have a bespoke paint job on the rock.
“It can be more or less anything you would like, I just want it to be as colourful as possible.
“These will also be something that looks great during the day, which isn’t always the case with the Illuminations.
“The projection will start getting people out of their cars. The area makes a large amount of money during the illuminations but I think it will make more if people park up and engage in what’s going on – it will be much more successful for all of us.”
Blackpool Council deputy leader, Coun Gillian Campbell, who represents tourism, economic growth and jobs, said: “Only in Blackpool can you have a personalised giant stick of rock.
“When they brought me the ideas for LightPool, I thought if I didn’t live here it was something I would want to travel to see.
“I have seen a storyboard for the projection adn it’s very ‘Blackpool’, with a rollercoaster, George Formby and other things. It’s fantastic.”
Corporate sponsors are once more on board, Fleetwood Town boss Andy Pilley’s BES Utilities enter the second year of their £100,000 deal to supply the electricity for the lights, and hotel bookings agent Eviivo is also supporting the scheme.
Joel Chapman from BES said: “Blackpool’s historic and world famous Illumiantions are no different to those businesses [which the firm supplies energy to], although at six miles they are certainly the longest we deal with.
“The financial pressures on the public sector, and indeed the Lights, have been widely reported over the last few years. And so BES is delighted to have put together a two-year sponsorship package.”
And Claire Smith, who owns Number One St Lukes and Number One South Shore hotels and uses Eviivo’s system, paid tribute to the firm for its committment to supporting Blackpool, with the Dynamo section near South Pier.
Eviivo chief executive Michele Fitzpatrick said: “We are excited for all of Blackpool’s B&Bs and independent hotels, many of whom we work with, as they benefit from the extra trade and esposure provided by the Illuminations.”
Also sponsoring the lights are Sands Venue, with ‘Ballroom Glitz’ designed by Lawrence – inspired by the glamour of Strictly Come Dancing, which will be outside the venue at Central Promenade.
Lawrence’s own ‘Gampire, first seen in 2010, has been re-vamped as a ‘sleek, shiny tableau’, grafitti festival Sand, Sea and Spray hosts Street to Shore, with cour new tableaux at Bispham.
A new display of 500,000 brightly coloured, synchronised and ever-changing LED lights creating patterns and shapes, as well as Gynn Island being transformed with glittering chandeliers and tiaras as a focal point to the Cliffs section.
Friends Of The Illuminations’ ‘Buy a lamp’ campaign has continued, raising more than £4,500 this year for the Lights.