Switch-on set to stay free

Crowds flocked to the Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On  2015

Crowds flocked to the Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On 2015

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This year’s Blackpool Illuminations Switch-on ceremony will be free for the third year running, tourism bosses have confirmed.

They hope to generate worldwide publicity once more after last year’s Lights were switched on by Hollywood director Tim Burton.

Discussions over the big Friday night Switch-On are in progress and we hope to announce some of the arrangements in coming weeks

Hoteliers today welcomed the decision to keep the Friday night ceremony free.

Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said; “Having a free event is always going to work, but I am still of the view we should consider charging a nominal fee of £5.

“That would generate a valuable amount of money which could go into the Illuminations pot.

“It is a superb quality Switch-On party and I’m sure people would be happy to pay a fiver.”

Tickets were sold to the 2013 event, but that move backfired when headliners The Script pulled out with 48 hours notice and there was a £372,000 loss made.

Philip Welsh, head of the visitor economy at Blackpool Council, confirmed to hoteliers and tourism leaders attending the 2016 season launch this week, the Switch-On would be free.

He said: “Discussions over the big Friday night Switch-On are in progress and we hope to announce some of the arrangements in coming weeks.

“What we can assure you is the Friday night will again be a free event and it is our intention to do everything we can to generate the sort of worldwide publicity we got in 2015.”