Study shines global light on Illuminations

Pictures:Bill Johnson. Blackpool Illuminations.
Pictures:Bill Johnson. Blackpool Illuminations.
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A new book examining the impact of light shows all over the world highlights Blackpool’s Illuminations as the one to beat.

The academic study Cities of Lights looks at illuminations in Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong, Berlin and Johannesburg among others.

Manchester Metropolitan University human geographers Dr Steve Millington and Dr Tim Edensor have provided a chapter on Blackpool’s famous Lights to the book which will be studied in colleges all over the world.

In their section the two academics trace the history of the Illuminations and contrast their impact on visitors with other attractions such as Atlantic City in the United States.

Dr Millington said: “There are other light shows all over the world but it is fair to say Blackpool is unique.

“There is a sense of fun and enjoyment with the Illuminations which you do not find elsewhere.

“We looked at a festival of lights which is held in Lyon which, in many ways, is the complete opposite to what Blackpool has to offer.

“It is all very cool and arty but lacks the sense of fun and adventure which you get at Blackpool.

“The other thing which sets Blackpool apart from other celebrations is its duration.

“The one in Lyon only lasts four days and no similar displays in Europe or North America can boast the length of the Illuminations.

“One of the other things we highlight is the idea people have that the Illuminations are always the same.

“People tend to remember them how they were when they were children.

“In fact, the Illuminations are changing all the time and that is what keeps them fresh and keeps people coming back year after year to see them.”

The book is published as the resort celebrates a £2.4m boost which will usher in a new era for the Illuminations with new light shows and digital projections.

The LightPool project bid to rejuvenate the Illuminations was awarded a £2m investment from the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund, with additional investment of £300,000 from Blackpool Council, and £120,000 from arts body Left Coast.

LightPool will see a predicted extra two million visitors during the next five years, with 11 full-time jobs being created within the Illuminations department and a predicted 532 jobs being indirectly created thanks to the increased visitor numbers and spending.

The chapter ends with a quote from celebrity designer Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen.

Speaking of his time helping to design parts of the Illuminations in 2007, he said: “Restraint, straight-laced good taste aesthetics and minimalism are your sworn design enemies.

“To work, Blackpool Illuminations have to be more than a little ‘nudge nudge, wink wink’. Terms no-one ever teaches you at art school.”