Blackpool Illuminations were lit last night behind closed doors

Blackpool Illuminations are lit behind closed doors for the first time in 70 years and will stay on two months longer than normal in a bid to get tourism moving after lockdown

  • The Blackpool Illuminations lighting was held away from the public for the first time in more than 70 years
  • It usually runs for 66 days until November but has been extended an extra two months until January 3
  • The event was hosted by Diversity’s Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely and Blackpool-born singer Rae Morris 

Blackpool Illuminations were lit last night and will be staying on two months longer than usual until January in order to get tourism moving after lockdown. 

Six NHS workers and a young fundraiser switched on the Illuminations, which were being held away from the public for the first time in more than 70 years.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the resort’s annual celebration took place on Friday night behind closed doors, but were filmed in the Tower Ballroom.

The display usually runs for 66 days until early November but this year it has been extended by two months to boost the resort’s tourism season due to the pandemic and will not be switched off until January 3. 

Blackpool Illuminations were lit last night and will be staying on until January 2021, two months longer than usual in order to get tourism moving after lockdown

Six NHS workers and a young fundraiser switched on the Illuminations, which were being held away from the public for the first time in more than 70 years

The ‘Corona Heroes’ joined the event hosted by Diversity’s Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely, Blackpool-born singer-songwriter Rae Morris and the Illuminations’ creative curator Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the resort’s annual celebration took place on Friday night behind closed doors, but will be filmed in the Tower Ballroom

The ‘Corona Heroes’ joined the event hosted by Diversity’s Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely, Blackpool-born singer-songwriter Rae Morris and the Illuminations’ creative curator Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

This year’s theme of Bring On The Light featured a display of hearts and rainbows along the Promenade’s Golden Mile, along with images of a further 48 Corona Heroes from hundreds of nominations across the UK.

Those chosen to pull the switch included nurse Leona Harris, from Rossendale, Lancashire, nicknamed ‘the Angel from the North’. 

The display, which uses more than one million bulbs, stretches along the Promenade from Starr Gate at the south end of the town to Bispham in the north

A section of the lights along the Promenade’s Golden Mile features a festoon of hearts and rainbows as a special thank you to the NHS

The lights will remain on display until January, two months longer than normal, to help boost the tourism trade which has been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic

She helped raise £75,000 to buy iPads for patients in hospitals, care homes and hospices all over Britain to keep families connected.

Joining her was six-year-old Will Ritchie, from Wirral, Merseyside, who raised £14,000 for hospitals in the area after he walked a marathon in a month.

The youngster, who was born with severe visual impairment and suffers with epilepsy, struggled to reach 100 metres at the start of lockdown but later stepped up to 1,500 metres a day.

Hospital chaplain David Anderson and therapy dog Jasper were also chosen for the support and comfort they provided to patients as well as boosting morale for staff at hospitals in east Lancashire.

Each year a celebrity is invited to switch on the lights and there are usually performances in the Radio 2 arena with a pre-switch on concert

This year’s theme of Bring On The Light featured a display of hearts and rainbows along the Promenade’s Golden Mile, along with images of a further 48 Corona Heroes from hundreds of nominations across the UK

Completing the line-up were Dr Jason Cupitt, who led the Covid-19 response at Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s intensive care unit; Donna Doyle, restaurant manager at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Hospital; and nurses Kirsty Jones and Rachelle Sutton, who moved out of their family homes while working at Blackpool’s Trinity Hospice and Manchester’s Nightingale Hospital.

Gillian Campbell, cabinet member for tourism and culture for Blackpool Council, said: ‘Those that have been invited to perform the actual switch-on will be there to represent the hundreds of thousands of people who have done so much to protect and support the British people.

‘This is an extraordinary year with our traditional celebration on the Tower Festival Headland becoming a virtual event, but we are delighted that the switch-on moment will be a tribute to the truly remarkable people who have led our nation’s response to coronavirus.’

The Illuminations will stay lit for an extra two months until January 3 to boost tourist trade.

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