Hoteliers today welcomed the move to a two-day celebration to mark the Illuminations Switch-On – but some questioned the £34 cost of a ticket to this year’s main event.
The Gazette yesterday revealed Irish chart-toppers The Script will play an hour-and-a-half long concert ahead of an as-yet unnamed star flicking the famous switch.
Tickets – priced at £34 – go on sale tomorrow.
Acts to appear at a second show on Saturday are yet to be confirmed.
Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said: “I like the move to two days and we knew things had to change and there would be a charge.
“I have always enjoyed the fact the Switch-On has had something for everyone, of all ages, and at first glance there does not seem to be as much.
“But we have yet to see the full picture and find out who is appearing on the Saturday.”
Gary Pretty (pictured), chairman of the Blackpool Combined Association, said: “I would have preferred the old party format for the Switch-On, with the concert on the Saturday. But it is excellent to be over two days, encouraging people to stay over.
“I think there should be some charge, but perhaps not such a high one because it means families may not be able to afford the ticket.”
Shirley Hunt, of the Friends of the Illuminations, and owner of The Cranstone Hotel in South Shore, said: “I anticipated charging for tickets would be the way forward, as I am not sure there is any such thing as a free event any more.
“It’s another big concert for Blackpool, we could do with more of them as the Tower Festival headland is a great venue.”
Some residents expressed dismay at the ticket price.
Dad-of-two Simon Duckworth, 34, from South Shore, said: “We have gone for years as a family but this will just cost too much. It’s outrageous.”
But bosses at Marketing Blackpool, which promotes Switch-On, said ticket prices had been kept to a minimum.
A spokesman said: “We accept some will be disappointed the event is no longer free, but the previous format was not sustainable and the price is in line with what is being charged elsewhere.
“For us to secure top quality international acts to play a full concert and install the infrastructure required for the event, we have to pay. These costs need to be covered and we have kept ticket prices as low as possible.”
Unlike previous events, this year’s show will not be broadcast on live radio.