The Switch-On stage is set

The Illuminations Switch On stage takes shape on the Tower headland. Cabinet member for Tourism and Culture Coun Graham Cain.
The Illuminations Switch On stage takes shape on the Tower headland. Cabinet member for Tourism and Culture Coun Graham Cain.
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HERE it is – the stage is set for Blackpool’s biggest bash of the year.

Workmen have been out in force at the Tower Festival Headland on the Promenade to start building the set for tonight’s Illuminations Switch-On.

The stage being built for the illuminations switch-on, on the Tower Festival Headland.

The stage being built for the illuminations switch-on, on the Tower Festival Headland.

With Olympians Beth Tweddle, Greg Rutherford and Luke Campbell pulling the lever and lighting up the town, and a host of music stars taking to the stage, this year’s bash promises to the biggest and best yet.

More than 20,000 excited people are expected to descend on the Headland, which is hosting the Switch-On for the first time.

Throw into the mix that this year’s event is the 100th anniversary of the Illuminations and it’s little wonder there is growing excitement ahead of the big night.

Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism and culture, believes the party could be one of the best the town has seen.

He said: “We received some criticism about last year’s lights but we’ve listened and I think people will see a remarkable difference from 12 months ago.

“We’ve done so much work. I’ve not counted how many meetings I’ve been to about the Lights in the last year but it’s definitely more than 100.

“We want to make it extra special and now the stage has started to go up and everything is starting to take shape, there is a real buzz around.

“Having Olympians switch on the Lights gives it an extra special feel and I just think the whole Illuminations are going to be terrific.”

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The bill for this year’s event is one of the most eclectic yet.

In years gone by pop stars, comedians or TV stars have switched on the lights.

But after the nation was thrilled by London 2012 over the summer, Blackpool opted to capture the mood by hiring Olympians to do the job.

There will be plenty of music too, with X-Factor winners Little Mix joined by Amy McDonald, Paloma Faith, Scouting For Girls and Noisettes among others. Blackpool singer Karima Francis is also on the bill.

There will be a big screen on the Promenade by Central Pier for those who don’t have wristbands to enter the main arena, and the concert will be live on Real and Smooth Radio.

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DONTATE TO THE ILLUMINATIONS BY TEXT

GET your phone out if you want to help make Blackpool Illuminations bigger and better.

For the first time, visitors to this year’s lights are being encouraged to donate towards the cost of the world famous show.

People are asked to text LIGHTS to 80039, with at least 87p guaranteed to go directly towards the maintenance of the Illuminations and the creation of new features.

Anyone who donates more than once will be entered into a draw – with a unique prize on offer.

Every Saturday during the Illuminations a competition winner will have the chance to turn on the Lights in a ceremony which will take place at Harts Amusements on North Promenade in Bispham.

The texting is the brainchild of the Friends of Blackpool Illuminations, a community group established to support the lights.

Jayne Mills, from Harts Amusements and Friend of Blackpool Illuminations, said: “Local businesses have been meeting throughout the year to find ways in which we can support the Illuminations and help increase funds.

“It’s fantastic that our ideas have been possible, particularly for the centenary year.

“Offering the chance to be a ‘Switch on Superstar’ will hopefully encourage more people to donate via the text facility.“

Natalie Wyatt, Managing Director of Marketing Blackpool, said: “This is a fantastic idea by the Friends group and one that I’m sure will generate lots of donations for the Illuminations.

“We have so many people that ask if they can switch on the Illuminations making this is a great opportunity to pull the famous switch themselves.”

Donations can also be made at collection points on the Promenade or online at www.visitBlackpool.com