Last Updated on October 26, 2023
The Blackpool Illuminations is an autumn light festival that has been held annually since 1879. The lights in Blackpool cover a distance of around 6 miles, starting from Starr Gate and ending at the junction of Red Bank Road in Bispham. Here are some tips and what to expect visiting the Blackpool lights!
- Blackpool Illuminations
The 2023 dates for the Blackpool Illuminations are 1st September 2023 until 1st January 2024.
The duration in which they are switched on for vary throughout the season. You can find the exact times for the Blackpool lights here. During my visit in October they were switched on between 7pm until 12am.
The lights in Blackpool are along the seafront, starting at Starr Gate and ending at Red Bank Road in Bispham.
How To See The Lights In Blackpool
There are several different ways to see the lights in Blackpool. Either by walking, driving, the Blackpool Illuminated Trams or horse and carriage rides.
Tips for walking the Blackpool Illuminations
Obviously with a route that’s over 6 miles long, it would take between 1hr30 – 2hours to walk the full route in one direction. You could always utilise the regular tram network to get between some of the locations.
We found it easier to walk either along the promenade on the side of the road closest to the sea. Or along the path between the tram lines and the road. The side closest to the buildings was VERY busy and you had to cross all the side streets.
Along the length of the illuminations, there are lots of street vendors selling light up toys. These were popular with kids, so they could feel like they were part of the illuminations too.
Keep in mind that the Blackpool Illuminations is an autumn/winter festival that takes place at night. Dress accordingly as it can be chilly, especially when the wind is blowing across the sea!
It may be best to choose a couple of locations and aim for those areas. The lights are different along the whole length, but some areas have additional installations that are worth seeing.
My favourite area was the section in front of The Blackpool Tower. Here there was a giant light up BLACKPOOL sign, a walk through tunnel (for a donation), an I ❤️ BPL and a couple more light installations.
Of course The Blackpool Tower is completely lit up too! On the brick part of the building below the tower they have the ‘Tower Projections‘. These are light video shows that are projected onto the full length of the building with accompanying music and sounds.
This also works well if you combine it with a trip to The Blackpool Circus, which is located in the tower building. The circus is well worth going to see. The 7pm show finishes at just after 9pm, when all the lights are in full swing!
On the south side of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, there is a giant mirror ball installed on the promenade. Different coloured lights are pointed onto the ball and when it spins, it reflects the lights onto the path.
I unfortunately didn’t make it up to the Blackpool Tableaux, this is along the far stretch to the north in Bispham. Rather than installations across the road, the Tableaux has giant light up scene panels sitting on the grass on top of the cliff.
Rather than walk the Blackpool Lights, a popular thing to do is drive along the route. Obviously at peak times, it can become very congested, so expect to crawl along at a slow speed.
Just south of the Pleasure Beach, near the Mirror Ball installation and The Solaris Centre, there is a donation booth. The suggested donation to drive along the promenade is £5-£10. The lights cost an average of £2million a year to run, so they do rely on donations.
Blackpool Illuminated Trams
An alternative to the regular trams are the illuminated trams! Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours run 1 hour long illumination tours in their unique trams! They board at the Pleasure Beach and run north to Bispham and back.
My personal favourite was the Western Train, even without riding it, it was fun to see it going up and down the seafront.
The second light up tram is ‘HMS Blackpool‘, which is in the shape of a boat. They also have a double decker Heritage Tram and an open top tram, however these ones are not lit up. I think for actually viewing the lights, the open top tram would be the best option, although it is more open to the elements.
The illuminated tram tours do sell out far in advance, so make sure to book early. On select nights, they have a night time ghost tram tour too!
Another option are the horse drawn carriages with are also lit up. These can seat up to 6 people and prices are regulated by the council. For up to 4 people, 15 minutes costs £25. Each 15 minutes there after is an additional £25.
The carriages did get some sort of road priority over cars, but with the traffic, I wouldn’t expect to go a huge distance in just 15 minutes.
Blackpool Illumination Events
The light switch on takes place on 1st September. They have a big FREE event where a celebrity will perform and then turn the lights on. In 2023 it was Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
As well as a music artist, there is a Nickelodeon Grand Parade for kids and fireworks. LED wristbands were also given out in 2023, on a first come, first served basis. They synced up with one of the Tower Projection shows.
Most of the action takes place in front of The Blackpool Tower, with the switch-on being approximately 9pm. This is later than the rest of the days throughout the season. The switch-on does get very busy, so it’s best to arrive early.
Another event that takes place during the Blackpool Illuminations is ‘Lightpool‘. This is a light art trail that takes place during the October half term. (Similar to IlluminoCity in Southend, Essex). The walk-through tunnel is part of Lightpool, but is switched on every night, not just during half term week.
Along with the art trail, there are live performances and special events and the World Fireworks Championship.
Blackpool Memory Walk
The Blackpool Memory Walk is a charity walk for Trinity Hospice, that takes place annually during the Blackpool Illuminations. It’s free to enter and offers a 5 mile or 8 mile route under the Blackpool lights.
They do request you to raise a minimum amount of sponsorship, or to make a one-off donation to the hospice. Each participant receives a t-shirt and a medal.
Where To Stay
If you wanted to make a trip of it, I stayed at The Blackpool Resort Hotel (located between South and Central Pier). They have rooms overlooking the Prom, so you can see part of the lights and watch the illuminated trams passing by the window.
About the Author – Kylie
My travels have taken me to over 40 countries worldwide (& I lived in USA for 4yrs). I hold a BTEC National Diploma in Travel & Tourism (triple distinction) and have been writing on Between England & Everywhere since 2015.
Expert in: Adventure travel🎢, beach destinations🏖️, and packing light (mid-budget backpacker)🎒