Anyone walking through Blackpool town centre after dark may have spotted a ‘stairway to heaven’ reaching skywards from the tower on St John’s Church.
The rungs look like they lead to another world and to the viewer may come across as either a poignant pointer to the after-life, or a route to a fairytale land above the clouds.
Either way it gets you thinking.
The installation is just one of a whole series of illuminated artwork which is being put in place for Blackpol’s first ever Lightpool Festival which starts on Friday.
Free to attend, the six-night festival until Wednesday November 2 will celebrate Blackpool’s unique relationship with light and includes a four kilometre trail of illuminated art.
Although aligned with the Illuminations, the aim is to encourage people to explore on foot by getting out of their cars to follow a walking route around more than 20 artworks.
Each night in St John’s Square there will also be a programme of live performances including light and fire displays from some of the world’s leading performance artists.
Experiences range from Yoko Ono’s ‘Imagine Peace’ in response to the World Trade Centre tragedy, to ‘Lumidogs’, an illuminated dog walk.
Alison Clark, North director for the Arts Council England, said: “This festival is a wonderful platform to showcase exciting and unusual work that will delight audiences.
“Light festivals are growing in popularity in the UK and Europe, and it’s great to see Blackpool, with its wonderful Illuminations history, as part of this growth.”
Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council said: “Millions of visits are made to the Lights every year but we are often told people want to see something new and different, this is it.”
A specially designed map will be available to ensure people see all elements of the festival.
Here are some of the highlights of the walking tour:
Art is your human right
Bob and Roberta Smith
Bickerstaffe House, Ma Kelly’s North, Central Library, Clifton Street and Viva Blackpool
Illuminated words hanging at eye-catching locations around the town centre.
Brothers and Sisters
Art B&B, Promenade
More than 30 drawings of children, made with light, appear in the windows of the former New Ocean Hotel, including three new works by the children of Blackpool’s Revoe Academy.
When the Red Rose in Blackpool
Victorian Shelter, Cenotaph
Wrapping a piece of architectural heritage of this famous resort in a protective bubble, is artist Steve Messam’s playful and surreal celebration of Blackpool’s unique seaside heritage.
North Pier billboard
Ono created Imagine Peace in New York in 2011 in response to the World Trade Centre tragedy.
Imagine Peace: Love Yoko
North Pier Screen
An update of Ono’s billboards reworked in film, displaying the words Imagine Peace in 24 languages against a background of blue sky and clouds.
Old Jesuit Chapel, Sacred Heart Church, Talbot Road
Never before seen in public, this is a coffin for a fictional clown bedecked with 540 programmed fairground lights, and made precisely to fit the artist himself.
Parts of a Light House
Sacred Heart Church, Talbot Road
The nave, refracting light from its magnificent octagonal roof through tetrahedral prisms in kaleidoscopic shards to form a dazzlingly beautiful house made from beams of light, as per Ono’s original script.
Coastal House, Abingdon Street
Peacock was created in the 1990s as a feature of the Illuminations.
Originally displayed as part of a four-piece tableau, it was saved when severe storm damage caused the original piece to be destroyed.
LightPool Village, Comedy Carpet
Four nine-minute shows, synthesising light as well as sound and using state of the art video mapping technology.
New for 2016 includes commissions from Czech digital art collection The Macula, Uk-based Projection Studio and a collaboration between Cecile Llewelyn-Bowen and her father, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.
Cathedral of Mirrors
Twelve towering columns of light respond to movement, creating an immersive environment.
Pop Mandala Umbrellas
Winter Gardens Canopy
Influential pop, street and contemporary artist Ben Allen has reimagined gobo designs to illuminate 16 umbrellas to adorn the Winter Gardens facade.
St John’s Church
Originally commissioned for Salisbury Festival, this iconic 10metre neon ladder appears to be a stairway to heaven.
As well as the artworks, there will be an array of performances around the town centre, kicking off on Friday with the spectacular arrival of Captain Kronos, the intergalactic time-traveller, whose spaceship appears to hover above the ground.
This takes place in St John’s Square at 7.40pm.
On Saturday the square hosts Polar, a 50-minute show starting at 8pm which is a fable of fire and tango featuring an exploding piano.
Sunday sees our four-legged friends get involved with the Lumidogs dog walk starting at 6pm in St John’s Square.
Pooches will be taken for a stroll wearing their illuminated costumes made by their owners at workshops held during September and October.
Dubbed ‘Crufts meets Cabaret’, it is another Blackpool first.
On Monday, a touch of New Orleans jazz will come to town when Mr Wilson’s Second Liners parade from the Comedy Carpet and perform in St John’s Square at 7pm and 9pm.
They will be paying homage to the diehard days of Manchester’s Hacienda club and its greatest hero, Tony Wilson, opting for upbeat dance tracks over traditional slow hymns.
Proudly stepping out in uniformed style, they channel the spirit of the 24 hour party people and get audiences dancing wherever they play.
Tuesday at 8pm sees street fire perfomers Les Commandos march through town from the Comedy Carpet to St John’s Square where they meet the Fireworks Collective, who represent the UK fire performance community at the Burning Man festival in Nevada each year.
A 40-minute energetic show promises a night to remember for the whole family.
The festival finishes on Wednesday November 2 with a procession from the Comedy Carpet at 9.30pm and a perfomance at St Johns Square at 9.50pm.
Spark! is made up of five mysterious characters made of light and sound involving high impact drumming and musical arrangements, lighting design, dynamic choreography and dazzling costumes.
All events are free, and to find out more go to www.visitBlackpool.com/lightpoolfestival