Blackpool Council have announced that the annual ceremony to switch-on the town’s famous illuminations will take on a new format this year, in the form of a pre-paid, ticketed event. It has also been announced that a second concert will be held the following day at the Tower Headland, which could potentially be an operational headache for Blackpool Transport.
On Friday 30th August, the Blackpool illuminations will burst into life after a famous figure (as yet unconfirmed) flicks the switch to mark the start of the 2013 display. However, in a move that is unlikely to be very well received by local residents who like to attend this annual event, the switch-on will merely be tagged on to the end of a concert by Irish band The Script, with tickets priced at £34, and VIP packages available for a hefty £75! Furthermore, a second concert will be held on the evening of Saturday 31st August in an attempt to encourage more visitors to stay in town for the weekend. Both events are due to take place at the Tower Headland, adjacent to the promenade tramway.
The staging of large events at this location in the past has often had major implications for the tramway. The most common practice is to operate a split service, with seating placed over the tram tracks and passengers forced to change trams near the Tower. Although it is by no means a certainty that this will happen this time, if it does then it could prevent illumination tours from operating on the first two nights of the illuminations season, a move which would prove unpopular with those not interested in watching the bands perform. Last year no tours ran on the switch-on night, but they commenced the following evening.
Hopefully Blackpool Council and Blackpool Transport will work closely together to find a way to ensure that the tram service is disrupted as little as possible during what is traditionally one of the resort’s busiest weekends of the year, and to enable the illuminated trams to take their rightful place on the promenade as part of this occasion.