Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On 2021: How to watch Shirley Ballas, KSI, The Wombats, Wes Nelson and Ella Henderson for free tonight
and live on Freeview channel 276
Millions of visitors – and plenty of residents – will drive, walk, cycle, jog, and be taken on a landau ride below the glistening, glowing bulbs that straddle the Golden Mile until early next year, with the annual display extended over Christmas and New Year for the first time.
Only the worldwide pandemic scuppered efforts to do the same last season but, thanks to the heroics of scientists and the NHS both nationally and locally, and a vaccine programme that the majority of adults have signed up for, this year promises to the best yet.
With Covid grounding aircraft and leaving cruise ships in their harbours, families across the UK have looked closer to home for their holidays this year. But with every cloud comes a silver lining, and now is Blackpool’s chance to create lifelong memories for the nation’s young.
As their parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents did before them, they will leave the resort with the smell of fish and chips, the sight of dazzling festoons and tableaux, and the sound of arcades, laughter, and the rumble of trams firmly in their minds.
Some sections of the national press may wish to focus on the well known problems Blackpool faces – as do many seaside resorts – but nowhere else in the country nor the world can offer such brilliance that such as event, which kicks off in the Tower Ballroom this evening, also a first, promises to offer.
The final preparations are this morning underway, before dancing queen Shirley Ballas etches her name in the history books when she pulls the lever at the Switch-On ceremony.
Similar to last year, during the height of the pandemic, viewers can tune in from home. Both VisitBlackpool and MTV will stream performances by KSI, Ella Henderson, The Wombats, and Wes Nelson perform.
But, marking another step closer to normality, a 1,500-strong audience – chosen at random after a ballot – will be welcomed into the historic venue for what organisers pledged will be an “unforgettable night”.
They will see television and radio presenter Becca Dudley host proceedings – before the Tower lights up over their heads as a signal of joy and newfound excitement in a world recovering from Covid and all of its consequences, including isolation, unhappiness, and grief.
As well as thrilling holidaymakers and day-trippers over the festive season, the Illuminations also feature a number of other firsts.
They include a nightly laser show called Astral Dreams. Designed by local man Jack Irvings, it will be projected onto the Tower.
Household favourite Laurence Llewelyn Bowen will also show off a water feature called Venus Remixed at South Beach. The Changing Rooms star, who is the Lights’s creative chief, said: “This year, perhaps more than any other year, switching on Blackpool’s Illuminations marks an important moment of brightness as the country moves into autumn and winter.
"Turning the Lights on has always inspired an optimism and positivity of which Blackpool is understandably proud.”
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