Blackpool blows a fuse as row hits 'worst-ever' illuminations

For a century it has been a uniquely British spectacle that still attracts millions of out-of-season visitors to Blackpool's Golden Mile.

But this year the seafront's "world famous" illuminations have been overshadowed by claims – denied by organisers – that they are the shoddiest ever staged in the history of the event and may even put people off coming to the town altogether.

Much of the criticism has come from hoteliers and business leaders, who have gone to the lengths of convening an emergency meeting entitled "Save Blackpool Illuminations".

Blackpool Council has been accused of penny-pinching, but officials blamed a bulb shortage following a fire at its illuminations depot earlier in the year. The council also had to battle gales both this year and last that wrecked several of the more elaborate displays.

The officials are adamant that all the technical glitches have been resolved. They have also pointed to a number of eye-catching new additions that light up the resort's prom, tower, and piers.

The illuminations traces its history back to 1879 when "artificial sunshine" was created by eight arc lamps, the first electric street lights in the country.

A more elaborate display in 1912 marked a royal visit – after which it became established as a regular event to extend the holiday season into the dark nights. Today there are six miles of shimmering lights, where the traditional bulb shares the limelight with fibre optics, lasers and LED technology.

Three million visitors are expected this year, so there is much at stake. Goodwill is the goal of the world's biggest free light show. Unfortunately for organisers, public opinion is divided. "They aren't as good this year and they are short by a couple of miles either side of the prom," said doughnut shop proprietor Matthew Stirrop.

"I have been on the pier more than 25 years and this year's displays are way, way down on previous years. It's all down to money," he added.

Trader Mandy Richards, from Hull, who sells hats, scarves and gloves at fairs, said: "I thought they were beautiful myself, but I have just had a lady customer asking: 'Have they cut down?'"

Ms Richards trades directly beneath the new flashing heart display on Blackpool Tower, which recently had a £20m refurbishment.

She said: "I like the heart, but it is a bit of a lonely heart. It would be nice if the whole tower was lit up."

Kath Lawrence and Bev Boughton, from Bristol, were among an extended family of three couples and seven children making their annual pilgrimage, with grandmother Irene Lawrence, 71, from Wigan. Kath said: "The lights are maybe not as good as previous years', but they are still nice."

But Kirsty Lemarinel, 19, and Jess Whittle, 18, from Chorley, Lancashire, were determined not to join in what some see as an increasingly po-faced debate.

Jess said: "We have been six times in the last week and think it's terrific." One stallholder added: "The trouble is people take it too seriously."

voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Java Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

SAP Functional Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £45,000 - £55,000.

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Functional ...

Javascript Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn