Lancashire

Thousands see Keith Lemon switch on Blackpool illuminations

Blackpool's Bling illumination for 2011
Image caption The lights will shine for nine weeks

Thousands of people have attended the annual switch on of the Blackpool illuminations.

Comic Leigh Francis flicked the switch to turn on the lights, in the guise of his character Keith Lemon.

Beverley Knight, Pixie Lott, Olly Murs and Scouting For Girls all performed at the event.

The lights will be on for nine weeks, during which hundreds of thousands of tourists are expected to visit the seaside resort.

The switch-on marked the climax of an important week for Blackpool, and happened a day after its tower reopened following a £20m revamp.

This year's display is slightly shorter in length due to council cuts, starting at the Solaris Centre instead of Starr Gate.

The lights will also be turned off half an hour early each weekday evening at 22:30 BST.

It is the last time the ceremony will be held in the central car park area - as next year's switch-on will move to the new Tower headland.

Blackpool illuminations will shine nightly until Sunday 6 November. The attraction is worth up to £275m to the local economy.

Last year's event drew record crowds, with more than 15,000 in a specially set up arena and a further 20,000 watching on big screens on the promenade.

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