Blackpool residents set their phasers to stunned as council bosses announced a drastically different Switch-On plan.
The traditional event, which attracts thousands of people each year, will see Blackpool Illuminations brought to life by a Star Trek-themed ceremony – rather than one star, as in previous years.
Town hall chiefs said it was a major coup for the resort to link up with such a successful TV show and a global brand in Netflix.
Blackpool Council’s director of place Alan Cavil said: “This is a tie-in with one of the biggest television franchises in the world.
“We’ve been working on this for months to get to this position.”
While organisers are sworn to secrecy over the specifics of the show – which they want to be a surprise on the night – Mr Cavill said Friday’s event, a highlight of the summer calendar, would be ‘unique’ and ‘memorable’.
But Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, was less impressed.
He said: “I just don’t understand their reasoning behind this.
“I think it’s sad that they cannot find a celebrity to switch on the lights in person.
“The Switch-On was always a family event and always a big part of the holiday season, and we’ve had some very big names switch on the lights over the years.
“I’m very disappointed. I’m shocked that they want to do something that breaks a tradition of 100 years.”
However, Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “We are delighted that one of the world’s most iconic TV franchises is to take part in this year’s Illuminations switch-on.
“A huge amount of work has gone on behind the scenes to produce what should be another truly memorable event.
“This year’s switch-on ceremony will be delivered in a totally unique and innovative way, creating a spectacular launch pad for the 2017 Illuminations season. We can’t wait to see it unfold on the night.”
The announcement was met with a mixed reaction on social media, with one Twitter user, OldBlokeUK, saying: “This is a fantastic move for Blackpool and a marked change in that it doesn’t have to be a particular person to switch the lights on!”
The announcement of the new Switch-On sequence completes this year’s line-up, featuring live performances from artists Example and DJ Wire, Diversity, Conor Maynard and Louisa Johnson.
Mr Cavil pointed out it was not the first time they had moved away from the traditional Switch-On star approach. In 2012, a group of Olympians turned on the lights, while in 1977 racehorse Red Rum had the honour.
Claire Smith, hotelier and chairman of Stay Blackpool, said: “My initial thought was a little bit negative, but as I’ve considered it more I think it could be quite good and amusing. It’s certainly unusual but we’ve got to keep coming up with better ideas.
“It might turn out even better than some of the stars we’ve had over the years.”
The Blackpool Illuminations main show will commence at around 7pm on Friday. The Switch-On itself will take place at 9.30pm.