Blackpool Illuminations to be switched off ahead of lockdown
Blackpool’s famous illuminations will be switched off until further notice as England goes into lockdown.
The seaside resort’s annual lights display had been due to stay on until January, for two months longer than usual, in a bid to boost tourism.
But, Blackpool Council and VisitBlackpool said the illuminations would be switched off at midnight on Wednesday and suspended until further notice because of the coronavirus restrictions due to come into effect on Thursday.
Blackpool Tower, which the authority says has become a symbol of hope and optimism, will remain lit.
If restrictions are eased at the start of December, the lights will go back on and remain on display through Christmas and New Year, a spokesman for the council said.
The council’s cabinet member for tourism and culture Gillian Campbell said: “It is hugely disappointing to have to turn off the illuminations but given the restrictions due to come in place on Thursday there is no real alternative.
“The primary purpose of the national lockdown is to get infection rates down and we cannot be seen to do anything that jeopardises that objective.
“It was always our intention to extend the lights season into the new year and if there is any way in which we can switch the lights back on during December in a safe and secure way, we will endeavour to do so.”
This year the illuminations were switched on behind closed doors for the first time in 70 years.
“Corona heroes”, including six NHS workers and a young fundraiser, turned the lights on in a ceremony which was filmed in the Tower Ballroom.
Last month, Blackpool Tower was lit up with an SOS message, to highlight the plight of the tourism industry while Lancashire was subject to Tier 3 restrictions.
Last week, the Government announced £39.5 million of funding for Blackpool as part of its new Town Deals, to be used to update the illuminations for a return to tourism after the pandemic.
The lights usually attract four million visitors and bring in £284 million to the town every year.