WIGAN’s celebrations to mark the Diamond Jubilee will come to a spectacular conclusion when the town joins hundreds of others in firing up an age-old tradition.
A gas-powered beacon will be lit by the Deputy Mayor at 10.15pm tonight (Monday) in the town centre, and will be accompanied by a huge spotlight sending a blazing shaft of light soaring into the night sky, which should be visible for miles around.
The landscape across the UK will be transformed into a sea of lights as thousands are lit at the same time - with Wigan having one of more than 30 beacons which will burst into life across Greater Manchester.
The beacon will be lit adjoining the Market Place stage, after initial plans to site it on top of Wigan Parish Church fell through due to the health and safety risks.
However, the excitement for Wiganers doesn’t stop there, as the day-long Diamond Fest celebrations, which will see 11 local bands join entertainers, torch-bearers and community heroes on an open-air stage, will close with a very special version of the National Anthem.
Wigan Council cabinet member for leisure, Coun Chris Ready, said: “The huge shaft of light will shoot up into the sky, and it will be bright enough to be seen all over the borough. It’s going to be a stunning visual finale.
“We’re going to finish the day with a combination of rock and roll and loyal patriotism rolled into one, in a way only Wigan knows how.”
There will also be two more beacons in the borough, with flames being lit for the celebrations outside Leigh Town Hall, which will be presided over by the Mayor of Wigan Coun Myra Whiteside, and at Leigh RUFC.
Beacons have been used for hundreds of years to mark important celebrations, to warn of invasions and as a symbol of national unity.
Hundreds of beacons were lit across the country for Queen Elizabeth’s Silver and Golden Jubilees in 1977 and 2002 respectively, and for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.