One of the most anticipated events in the UK seaside calendar was in danger of becoming a damp squib after its headline band pulled out at short notice. The Blackpool Illuminations have been entertaining crowds for generations and the colourful architectural lighting display brings smiles to all the faces that see it. In recent years, the seaside resort has hosted a big concert to help celebrate the switch on off the lights. The Script, led by frontman Danny O’Donoghue, was due to headline the event this year, but had to pull out at the last moment due to unforeseen family circumstances.

This left Blackpool bosses in a bit of a pickle, as the chances of finding a similar calibre act to step in at the last minute were slim. What the council bosses didn’t count on was the fact that X Factor judge and Take That singer Gary Barlow would be alerted to their situation. In return for a donation to the charity Children in Need, Mr Barlow agreed to play at the Illuminations gig and entertain the crowds. This is a massive coup for the town which has done so much to boost lighting suppliers throughout the past decades. Gary Barlow commented:

“I went there on holiday as a kid and it is a very fond place for me. When I saw the news that they had lost The Script I thought I am going to see if I can do this. When the council said they would make a donation for BBC Children In Need, I decided I’m there.”

Blackpool Illuminations were first held in 1879 and consisted solely of eight arc lamps which bathed the promenade. Remarkably, this was a full 12 months before Thomas Edison filed his patent for the electric light bulb. Things have moved on a bit since then. The Royal Family opened the 1912 illuminations which were more similar to the modern day version. The festival of lights was designed to brighten up the promenade and attract tourists from all around the globe.

Indeed, thousands of people trek to Blackpool every year simply to look at the magnificent lighting displays. Many people take advantage of the old fashioned tram system in order to marvel at the lights up and down the prom, whereas others simply drive along in their cars. There are varying themes to the illuminations every year. In 2007, there was a display featuring monsters from the popular BBC TV programme Dr Who which gathered great critical success.

Whilst the lights look fantastic, they also help to boost local businesses. The influx in tourists helps to boost the economy of the seaside town and generates millions of pounds a year. Jonathan Ross is set to turn on the 2013 illuminations and big crowds are expected to join in with the fun. There is something vaguely comforting about a tradition which has lasted for so many years. Hopefully, many more generations to come will keep on being inspired by the brilliant lights display.