International singing star Alfie Boe will be the main attraction at this year’s Illuminations Switch-On ceremony.
He will pull the famous level in front of an estimated 20,000 people as part of a dazzling finale to the Switch-On party, which will be held on the Tower Festival Headland on the evening of Friday, August 31.
The 44-year-old, who was born in Blackpool and brought up in Fleetwood, was announced this morning and the free four-hour show, which will trigger another spectacular Lights season, will also see performances by Ella Eyre, Jonas Blue, Diversity, DVJ (Diversity Junior), and Club MTV DJs R3wire and Varski.
When Alfie takes to the stage and hits the switch, he will join a long list of celebrated public figures including Hollywood director Tim Burton in 2015, Eastenders and Carry On actress Barbara Windsor in 2016, and Star Trek: Discovery actor Jason Isaacs – via a large television screen – and dance troupe Diversity last year.
It isn’t known whether Alfie will perform one of his hits, though Stay Blackpool president Claire Smith said she hopes to see him sing.
She said: “I like what they did last year – it was different and had a bit of mystery. But I’m really liking Alfie Boe.
“He seems to cross the generations and I think that’s really important for the Switch-On.
“He is home grown and is really a star – hopefully we can get a song out of him! I’m thrilled to bits.”
Claire said many hoteliers find the Switch-On weekend the busiest of the year and, with the annual Ride the Lights held on the Tuesday and A-lister Britney Spears performing on the Saturday, Claire is braced for a bumper weekend and a resort full of “electricity and excitement.”
Blackpool Council’s deputy leader Coun Gillian Campbell said resort chiefs were “thrilled” Alfie had “agreed to switch on the Blackpool Illuminations for 2018.”
She said: “He is an outstanding talent and we are very proud to welcome him home for what is our biggest night of the year.”
In June, Alfie packed out Highbury, Fleetwood FC’s stadium, during the tenor’s Homecoming concert.
The ‘lad from Shaky Road’ spoke of his love for his family, even leaping down from the stage to greet ‘Auntie Eil’ as she passed by, and invited young relatives to join him on stage.
Fans in the 9,000-strong crowd quickly begged Alfie to return to the Fylde coast next year – but now have their wish coming true early.
Alfie could not be reached for a comment yesterday, but told The Gazette earlier this year how it was “an honour and a privilege to be performing back in my home town and at my team’s home ground.”
He added: “I hold Fleetwood close to my heart and I’m so happy to be coming back to entertain family and friends.”
The ballot for free wristbands for the Switch-On, which will start with a ‘Blackpool Introduces’ showcase of local talent, shuts at 9am tomorrow. To register, go online to visitblackpool.com/switchon
VIP ticket holders – £69 for adults, £35 for children under 14 – will get access to a covered marquee in the arena with a complementary welcome drink, mini picnic bag with a ‘taste of Lancashire’ theme, and passes to after-show part in the Tower Ballroom, where there will be circus entertainment and music from local band Touch The Pearl.
Guests will also get a treat from Notarianni’s ice cream parlour to mark its 90th birthday year.
Luca Vetesse, the great-grandson of founder Lugi Notarianni, said: “It’s our first time getting involved with the Switch-On.
“As a kid we used to go all the time but when you get older work takes over, so it will be nice to be a part of it.
“It’s nice to have someone local for the Switch-On. It shows how good the town is.”
Coun Terry Rogers, chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, added: “Alfie is a great ambassador for Fleetwood.
“He is never shy of telling people where he comes from, whenever he is interviewed it is obvious he is proud to come from this town.
“People know that Fisherman’s Friend lozenges and Alfie Boe come from Fleetwood, and it’s great news that he’s switching on Blackpool Illuminations.”