Lights Switch-On will be free event

Crowds flocked to the Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On  2015
Crowds flocked to the Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On 2015
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This year’s Illuminations Switch-on ceremony will be free for the third year running, tourism bosses have confirmed.

They hope to generate worldwide publicity once more after last year’s Lights were switched on by Hollywood director Tim Burton.

Hoteliers today welcomed the decision to keep the Friday night ceremony free.

Shirley Hunt, of the Cranstone Guesthouse in Alexandra Road, South Shore, who is also a member of the Friends of the Illuminations, said: “I think this is probably what the people of Blackpool want and are used to.

“It worked last year and the show was aimed at a younger age group. We have a lot of free events in this town - look at how many people the Fireworks Championships and the Air Show bring in. The main thing is we need to get more of them to stay overnight.”

Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said; “Having a free event is always going to work, but I am still of the view we should consider charging a nominal fee of £5.

“That would generate a valuable amount of money which could go into the Illuminations pot.

“It is a superb quality Switch-On party and I’m sure people would be happy to pay a fiver.”

Tickets were sold to the 2013 event, but that move backfired when headliners The Script pulled out with 48 hours notice and there was a £372,000 loss made.

Philip Welsh, head of the visitor economy at Blackpool Council, confirmed to hoteliers and tourism leaders attending the 2016 season launch this week, the Switch-On would be free.

He said: “Discussions over the big Friday night Switch-On are also in progress and we hope to announce some of the arrangements in coming weeks.

“What we can assure you is that the Friday night will again be a free event and that it is our intention to do everything we can to generate the sort of worldwide publicity for the resort that we got in 2015.”