Illuminations party in full swing as stars light up Blackpool for Switch-On celebration

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A night of local stars got Blackpool in the Illuminations swing, as this year’s Lights season launched.

Fireworks lit the skies from the top of the Tower over a balmy Promenade arena after Blackpool-born global opera singer Alfie Boe, who hails from Fleetwood, did the honours of pulling the lever.

Singer 'Alfie Boe and Ashley Banjo from Diversity pull the switch

Singer 'Alfie Boe and Ashley Banjo from Diversity pull the switch

READ MORE: Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On 2018: As it happened

The big moment followed an incredible performance by Diversity, and the two acts joined forces for a special performance to Alfie’s rendition of swing classic Sing, Sing, Sing.

Speaking before his appearance, Alfie - whose wife and children were in attendance - said: “This event in itself brings the whole community together.

“It’s a big event and a wonderful event every single year.”

Alfie follows recent Switch-On stars Peter Kay, Tim Burton and Barbara Windsor, as well as last year’s Star Trek-themed spectacular.

The stage star said he’d been practicing for the event with his light switches at home, and admitted having taken part in a much smaller scale Switch-On in the past.

“I was involved about 15 years ago, performing on stage, but at another location, maybe Dale Winton was switching on the Lights that time.

“I never thought it would be me doing the job and I’m thrilled and honoured.

“I was out there earlier watching the local acts on stage and they’re so talented.

“And I guess that was me all those years back - people didn’t really know who I was, and now I’m back doing this.”

Once the Lights were in dazzling form along the full length of the Promenade from Squires Gate to Bispham, chart dance star Jonas Blue played out the night with a headline set.

The night opened with special performances from local acts Tiger S, Chloe-Rose Moyle, Kyle Passmore and The Sound, before Blackpool-born star Rae Morris took to the stage for a special home-town gig.

The singer-songwriter, speaking exclusively to the Gazette after her note-perfect early evening set, said it had been a ‘wonderful night’.

The chart star - whose most recent single’s video, featured her parents and nana, was filmed in Blackpool - said the show was an early birthday present, ahead of her actual birthday on Sunday and a chance to celebrate with family while back home.

“The sun was shining perfectly on the side of the stage and coming across the arena in the most magnificent way.”

Marking one of her final summer festival performances, Rae said the honour of coming home was ‘really, really special’.

“As a kid, I looked at the stage for the Switch-On event and remember thinking that’s unachievable and unreachable,” the former St George’s School pupil said.

“My parents do come along to pretty much everything, but this is really special. I’m staying at my Aunty Barbara’s house, we’re going for a meal and making a real night of it for my birthday.”

YouTube pop sensation HRVY brought huge screams to the Prom, before R3wire and Varski got the party hyped to the max and Ella Eyre wowed with some fantastic vocals.

But for many of the 20,000 crowd, it was Diversity they’d come to see and the audience went wild for their show of dazzling dance tricks and stunts.

It’s the third time the BGT stars have been involved with the Switch-On concert and said it was even more special each time.

Choreographer Ashley Banjo said: “It’s a real landmark in our year now.

“The first time, it was scary, you feel the weight of history, now we come every year and there’s still pressure.”

Perri Kiely added: “Every year when we talk about coming back, we know it has to be a crazy performance, the audience is huge.”

Rounding up the night’s entertainment, Blackpool Council deputy leader Coun Gillian Campbell said: “This has been a thrilling night.

“We are delighted that Alfie, a star with international stature, has come back to his roots to switch on the Blackpool Illuminations.

“It makes it such a special moment when the Switch-On star is someone who has a lifelong passion for the resort.”