The 2012 Blackpool illuminations switch on will take place on the evening of August 31st and the famous lights will continue for sixty six nights until 4 November 2012. For the first time the illuminations switch on will be hosted on the Tower Festival Headland. Six of the Great Britain Olympic medal winning heroes: Luke Campbell, Sophie Hosking, Steven Burke, Max Whitlock, Greg Rutherford and Beth Tweddle will flick the famous switch to open the Centenary display. There will be an extensive programme of entertainment and the switch on concert is scheduled to include a number of star performers, including Paloma Faith, Scouting For Girls, Little Mix, Amy Macdonald, Lemar, Noisettes, Lawson, Rick Astley, Karima Francis, Loveable Rogues, The Overtones and Vanquish. The Blackpool illuminations switch on is the biggest night of the year in the resort and 20,000 free wristbands will be available for spectators at the event. The wristbands will be allocated randomly, and for each household there will be a maximum of four tickets. Half of the wristbands will be allocated to people resident within the area of the Borough of Blackpool. Those people that have been successful and have been selected to receive wristbands will be informed by Email on Tuesday August 21st. The switch on concert will also be shown on a large screen on the promenade near Central Pier so that people that do not have wristbands can watch the ceremony. There will be live broadcasts of the concert from 7.00 p.m. on the national networks of Smooth Radio and Real Radio and it can be heard on the websites of both stations. For the first time there will also be live video streaming of the concert and switch on transmitted on the websites of Real and Smooth Radio.
This years Blackpool illuminations switch on will be a significant milestone in the history of the resort because it will be a hundred years since the Princess Parade lights of 1912, which are often thought of as the beginning of the modern Blackpool illuminations. The 1912 lights were presented to celebrate the first royal visit to Blackpool, that of Princess Louise Queen Victoria's fourth Daughter, who arrived to officially open a new part of the promenade. This would subsequently be named Princess Parade in her honour. As part of the celebrations 10,000 light bulbs were used to decorate the promenade and large crowds gathered to watch the event. The arrival of these visitors brought extra trade to local businesses in the resort. The lights were staged again in September of the same year and thousands of visitors went to Blackpool to enjoy the display at a time when the tourist season was traditionally over. It was the popularity of these events that gave rise to the idea of using lights as form of tourist attraction. These ideas have evolved to such a degree that the modern Blackpool illuminations contain all sorts of different types of lighting presenting an amazing display of light and colour.
Blackpool illuminations are now a major tourist attraction and switch on night is a key date in the UK tourism diary. The lights cost over two million pounds to stage and attract an estimated three million people to Blackpool annually. The 2011 switch on brought around 20,000 to watch the concert. This year is the centenary of the illuminations and it is anticipated that it could be even more successful.