Blackpool announces virtual switch-on for illuminations

The switch-on of Blackpool's iconic illuminations will be streamed online, the first time in 70 years that the resort hasn't hosted a launch event.

The illuminations programme will also run for an additional two months, through Christmas and into the new year.

More than 20,000 were expected to attend the launch of the annual festivities, which includes entertainment from live musical acts. However, organisers have decided that a virtual event would be more suitable in light of the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing guidelines.

The streamed hour-long concert will be free to view for an international audience and will feature a mix of exclusive pre-recorded, at-home performances, as well as live performances at a closed event filmed inside the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

Cllr Gillian Campbell, cabinet member for tourism and culture for Blackpool Council, said: “The annual Switch-On event is the biggest night in Blackpool’s events calendar. Sadly, it is simply not possible to stage an event of that scale given the current restrictions around social distancing and mass gatherings.

“However, it would be unthinkable not to launch our Blackpool Illuminations season with an extraordinary event. Staging the first ever virtual Switch-On concert to a mass audience watching from home does exactly that."

It would be unthinkable not to launch our Blackpool Illuminations season with an extraordinary event.

The event will be broadcast in association with MTV and will feature acts such as Ashley Banjo and Diversity.

Meanwhile, Blackpool Zoo will reopen to the general public from Monday 29th June, with a preview weekend exclusively for members Saturday 27-28th June. Visitor numbers will be limited each day and everyone, including members, will need to book online to guarantee entry.

Darren Webster, zoo director, said: "It has been very strange and sad to see the park in the glorious sunshine without any visitors, so we can’t wait to welcome them back! 

"Our teams have been working hard to get ready to safely reopen in a Covid-19 secure manner. We would ask visitors to be patient and understanding when booking and visiting while we all get used to the temporary way of working. There will be plenty of trained staff onsite to ensure everyone can safely enjoy their visit."

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