Blackpool’s hoteliers have given a thumbs-up to the weekend’s hustle and bustle as people gathered in their thousands at the famous Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On, courtesy of Dame Barbara Windsor.
The 79-year-old, best known for her role as Peggy Mitchell in Eastenders, lit up the Golden Mile on Blackpool’s annual party night on Friday.
Scott Taylor, who works at the Bond Hotel on Bond Street, was just one of many who gathered to behold the world-famous Lights.
He said: “This was the first time I’ve seen the Illuminations and I’m definitely planning on sticking around for next year’s Switch-On. It was a great night, very busy with a fantastic atmosphere.
“I thought they could have improved a bit on the sound because it was a bit pitchy - but that’s just me getting technical.
“Overall it was a really good night and everyone seemed to really enjoy it.”
It’s more important than ever that our hotels and businesses support our Lights because the public purse isn’t what it used to be
The Switch-On event was said to be one of the biggest ever, with an incredible 20,000 wristbands being given out ahead of the event.
Special guest appearances were made by street dance star Ashley Banjo, of Britain’s Got Talent’s winning dance troupe Diversity, former X Factor contestant Fleur East, Club MTV DJs R3wire and Varski, popular group The Vamps and musician Fatman Scoop.
Simon Connelly, owner of the New Guilderoy Hotel on Holmfield Road, who attended the Switch-On, said: “My wife and I attended the Switch-On last year as well and it was a little bit disorganised, but this year it was absolutely superb.
“Everything was laid out properly and there was just the right number of staff. The security was friendly, the staff were brilliant, the acts were good and of course the weather was perfect too. It was an excellent event.
“Unfortunately I don’t believe there was as much publicity on TV this year because a lot of our guests didn’t know it was on until the day.
“People just didn’t realise the Lights were being switched on, which is a shame since we rely on the Lights to bring people into Blackpool.
“I don’t think it was publicised to its full potential. However, it seemed absolutely packed on the night.”
Mick Grewcock, of Burbage Holiday Group on Queen’s Promenade, said: “I think the Switch-On was very good. It started off quite cold but in the end the weather was kind to us and it turned out fabulous.
“There was a good mix of people there, with Diversity for the youngsters and Barbara Windsor for the older people.
“It’s more important than ever that our hotels and businesses support our Lights because the public purse isn’t what it used to be. The main aim now is to get more major sponsors.
“There used to be more than 100 people looking after the Lights - now there are only 14.
“I think we should all congratulate the people who work on the Lights because there’s not many of them and they’re out there in all weathers looking after them.”
Coun Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “The 2016 Blackpool Illuminations season is now under way and we’re absolutely delighted.
“I was fortunate to meet Dame Barbara, she is an incredible lady, who has such an emotional connection with the resort it was a great honour for her to flick the famous Illuminations switch.
“The line-up for the Switch-On evening was electric, with a great mix of artists and entertainment that really engaged with the 20,000 strong audience. “