MORE than 5,000 sparkling lights lit up Blackpool as the iconic Tower’s 119th summer season was officially launched.
As the sun set over the Irish Sea, the 518ft tall Tower shone brightly across the Promenade as it was completely illuminated for just the second time in its history.
The glittering event was held to launch the official start of the 2013 season.
As guests enjoyed themed food by celebrity chef Andrew Nutter at the top of the tower, bosses set out the new attractions for the season to come.
This year, the Blackpool Tower Circus, which has not missed a show in the 115 year history of the Tower, will be hosting more performances than ever before.
New show Around the World with Mooky and Boo promises to take visitors on a trip around the globe before ending with a famous water finale.
Guests at the event last night were treated to a heritage tour which explained the Victorian legacy of the attraction, as well as a show from the Blackpool Dungeon.
Bosses say the Tower is building up for its biggest summer yet after figures revealed by The Gazette earlier this month showed more people are visiting Blackpool than ever before.
According to figures gathered through an official survey, the number of adults visiting Blackpool rose by 300,000 to 10.39m, compared with 10.08m in 2011.
Some 2,000 holidaymakers from across the country were surveyed by bosses at the Blackpool Tower to gauge opinions on British holidays ahead of the 2013 season – and found more than half were planning to holiday at home.
And most (41 per cent) would prefer to spend their time in resorts like Blackpool and Brighton.
Kate Shane, general manager of The Blackpool Tower, said: “A jam-packed programme of events in the resort last summer paved the way for bumper visitor numbers and we’re anticipating an even bigger season this year.
“At Blackpool Tower, there’s plenty to look forward to too. We’ll be hosting more circus shows than ever before and, for the second time in the Tower’s 119 year history; we’ve switched the Tower’s lights back on in full.
“The 5,508 eco-friendly LED lights can produce 16.7 million colour combinations, making for a wonderful sight not just during the famous Blackpool illuminations, but all year round.
“I love Blackpool Tower and to get the opportunity to show it off to people who’ll hopefully encourage others to come along is amazing.
“We’re always changing and improving. We can guarantee a great day out for all the family.
“And our heritage tours are open to show people the back of house.
“Blackpool is here because people 119 years ago needed an opportunity to get away, and we’re still trying to do that now, give people an escape from everyday life to laugh, cry laughing, be a little bit scared and thoroughly.”
The iconic Tower is currently undergoing an extensive regeneration project which is due to be completed in 2015.
The Tower was built in 1894 and is home to attractions including the Tower Eye, the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, The Blackpool Tower Circus, the Dungeon and Jungle Jim’s.
One thing to look forward to, maybe, will be a potential pop up restaurant from Nutter’s in the Tower Ballroom, featuring perhaps the evening’s winning canape – the Tower Ballroom themed creme brulee.