This year’s switch on events far superseded last year’s lifeless flop.  The Illuminations Switch On has long been an event which provides access to up and coming and well loved artists and entertainment to local residents and visitors . The switch on is not just a free concert, it is an opportunity for blackpool to welcome its visitors and customers to its shores for the upcoming months.  It’s like a rain dance of far away African tribes but it’s not rain that we need dance for, we have plenty of the wet stuff, it’s to welcome the public on their well earned getaways to take them back to the childhood wonders of the lights and sights and smells of Blackpool.

The staff who ran and organised the event, VisitBlackpool, greeted me with open arms when they discovered I represented altBlackpool, our down to earth and up to date website which links up local artistic and cultural events. I joined a packed press tent and jostled my way through the big guns with their long range camera lenses and tripods to what felt like acres of press area overlooked by the VIP tent and with great views of the teeming crowd.

Unfortunately, with the horrendous traffic into town (rolls eyes) I missed the first few acts but I heard good murmurs from within the crowd who had been there from the very beginning. It has to be said that there were so many highlights to the concert that you could have lit up the whole promenade (cringe). Union J, Pixie Lott and Little Mix win chufty badges for the sheer volume of young people screaming and singing along with gusto.  Being at the front we got to see all of the action and I’d like to report back that from what I saw, those little Union J boys made a couple of girls weak at the knees. Thank heavens for the St John ambulance crew who deserve a mention for looking after a few unlucky souls in their mini hospital tent.

Texas returned to their fans fourteen years after the greatest hits album back in 2000.  I never dreamed that I would catch Texas live but they did not disappoint one bit and were everything I could have hoped for. George Ezra is another favourite of mine so of course I have to mention him.  His knockout single Budapest got the crowd waving and singing along word for word. It may have just been the massive speakers I was standing beside but Georgie Boy made my heart rumble like hunger pangs. Without getting too fangirl, George and Texas made me squeal inwardly, equal to the tweenies at the front of the crowd.

Peter Kay did a grand job, interacting with the crowd and reminiscing over childhood visits eating chippy tea on t’ prom.  He dedicated his switching on of the lights to a mystery friend, Barry Carberry, plugged a charity gig of his (find it on his twitter @peterkay_co_uk) and after ackowleding the feeling of anticlimax, wished everyone a safe journey home. I think VisitBlackpool would do well to gather feedback from all wristband winners ready for next year’s event, there’s always room for improvement even on a spectacle like this.  A bigger ‘bang’ post-pressing of the switch and more opportunities for local talent are my suggestions.

The Switch On festival shenanigans continued on Saturday and Sandra will be reviewing that on Monday. Don’t forget to check out the food festival around the Central Pier!

Images courtesy of Jay Clapp Photography.

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