If you’ve grown up in Northern England, chances are you’ve heard of (or visited) the Blackpool Illuminations. Some of my earliest memories are standing up to peek out at the lights from our family car’s sunroof – excited to be up past my bedtime and pointing out favourite displays to my little sister.
The battered seaside town lights up annually with true Vegas aspirations and enough gusto to make Christmas green with envy. The whole length of the promenade is decorated with lights and artistic displays, while Blackpool’s landmarks become focal points for colourful light shows.
There are plenty of things to do in Blackpool, even without the lights. However, combining a visit to Blackpool Illuminations with Blackpool Pleasure Beach or an evening in the arcade is a dreamy combination.
Planning a visit? I’ve prepared answers to the most common questions. Here’s a complete guide to Blackpool Illuminations.
What are the Blackpool Illuminations?
The Blackpool Illuminations is an extravagant lights festival that lines six miles of the promenade. The decorations also cover the city’s landmarks, like the Blackpool Tower, pictured above.
According to Visit Blackpool, the Illuminations include over £1 million lamps and cost ‘over £2 million a year to stage’. So, when I say extravagant, I mean the organisers really splash out.
The Blackpool Illuminations have run for over 140 years and are revered amongst UK travellers and locals.
What’s the best way to see the Blackpool Illuminations?
You can see the Blackpool Illuminations by car, foot, or tram.
You can purchase tram tours of Blackpool Illuminations, which run the length of the promenade in an hour. A tram tour is a great option if you want a busy, packed, festive experience. The prices are quite reasonable, and you can view the 2022 rates in the table below. Note that children under three years old are entitled to free tickets, just as long as you are content with having them share your seat!
If you’re visiting Blackpool’s main attractions like the North Pier and Pleasure Beach, you’ll incorporate exploring the Illuminations by foot anyway.
However, you could embark on an ambitious hike of the full six miles. Allow at least two hours to leisurely walk the length of the Illuminations, plus a bit longer if you’d like to stop at attractions, shops, or pubs en-route.
It’s hard for a walk to feel tedious when surrounded by so much action. So, it’s a good way for active travelers to get those steps in and experience an exposed atmosphere of Blackpool Illuminations.
When you’ve completed the six miles, you can either challenge yourself to complete a return walk or just hop on the tram to return to your starting point.
Alternatively, drive the illuminations. I might be biased, as my family drove the Blackpool Illuminations every year for nearly a decade. However, for an independent and peaceful experience, I believe driving the Illuminations is the best option. For an optimal experience, keep our family tradition alive and purchase fish and chips for the drive – you’ll be loving life.
If you’re worried about missing out by driving through, don’t be. When driving the Blackpool Illuminations, you are basically signing yourself up for a traffic jam, but in the best way possible. The traffic crawls along at the perfect pace so you can take in the lights at your leisure. Allow yourself between one and two hours to complete the drive during peak times.
If you’d prefer to pick up the pace, driving from North to South tends to be quicker.
When do Blackpool Illuminations start?
The Blackpool Illuminations start on the first Friday of each September.
When are the Blackpool Illuminations 2022?
In 2022, the first Friday is the 2nd of September. Festivities start on the 2nd of September and last until the 2nd of January.
Is it worth visiting the Blackpool Illuminations switch on?
It’s definitely worth visiting the Blackpool Illuminations switch on.
Blackpool welcomes famous guests to have the honour of switching the Illuminations on. There’s been an eclectic mix of past guests, including Shirley Bassey, the racehorse Redrum, and David Tennant.
An added allure is the Switch On Concert, which takes place in Blackpool Tower Ballroom. Aside from witnessing the pulling of the switch, you’ll get to watch performances from selected artists – previously including Wes Nelson, KSI, and Ella Henderson.
Downside? Tickets are limited, and you’ll have to apply in advance to get a ticket. Entrance is free but requires a booking and a bit of forward-planning (and luck).
What are the best hotels near Blackpool Illuminations?
Address: Ocean Boulevard, Blackpool, FY4 1PL
If you’ve got expensive taste, the Boulevard Hotel is the ultimate hotel for you.
The upscale hotel has sea view rooms that qualify it as one of the best hotels near the Blackpool Illuminations. However, guests also have a gym, in-house restaurant, and bar to enjoy. Plus, it is situated directly next to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which is an ideal location for a fun time in Blackpool.
Address: 299 Promenade, Blackpool, FY1 6AL
The Belmont Hotel sits right on the promenade, so request a room with sea views, and you’ll have bedroom views of the Illuminations.
Another winning bonus of The Belmont Hotel is the sea view bar lounge, where you can purchase refreshments with views of Blackpool Beach and Illuminations.
The hotel is located between the South and Central Pier. To walk to the Central Pier and enjoy the funfair rides, it will take you approximately 10-minutes. Therefore, The Belmont Hotel is a good option if you want Illumination views and don’t mind walking to most attractions.
The Blenheim Mount
Address: Blenheim Hotel, 207 Promenade, Blackpool, FY1 5DL
Prefer to be a little closer to the action? The Blenheim Mount is a five-minute walk to the Central Pier.
The hotel is self-declared as ‘unfussy’ and refreshingly casual. If you’re after a typical seaside B&B experience, Blenheim Mount is sure to tick the box. Arrive prepared to skimp on a few luxuries and furnishings but be rewarded with a fantastic location and friendly atmosphere.
The Blenheim Mount doesn’t accept stag/hen do parties or large groups of friends. However, if you are a couple or family, definitely consider this hotel option.
When booking, make sure to request a sea view room!
Premier Inn Blackpool
Address: 4 Talbot Road, Talbot Square, Blackpool, FY1 1LY
While not on the promenade, the Premier Inn is conveniently located less than a five-minute walk from the North Pier. If you’d like a central feel without the noise of staying on the main strip, this hotel might be the best for you.
Families and friends may also value the Family Room option, which includes pull-out and sofa beds.
Blackpool Illuminations are an amazing thing to do when travelling around England. For a sense of traditional, Northern seaside festivities, you can beat a visit to the light festival.
Been before? Feel free to drop additional advice and tips in the comments below.