Designer's theatrical Illuminations for Blackpool

image captionLaurence Llewelyn-Bowen says the Illuminations are a vital attraction for Blackpool

Designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen's latest contribution to Blackpool's Illuminations draws on the Lancashire town's entertainment history.

His new tableau called Theatre d'Amour, to be sited on the prom by the South Pier, is inspired by a Victorian child's cardboard theatre.

Blackpool council believes the lights are value for money and vital for the town's continued regeneration.

It spends £2.2m on them, drawing 3.5million visitors to the area.

"Those visitors go on to spend £2.75m," councillor Graham Cain said.

"They are an incredible draw to the town, we cannot see an end to them, we will maintain them for ad infinitum.

"Without the Illuminations Blackpool cannot survive - they are here to stay."

'Holiday heritage'

This year there is a reduction in the overall length of the Illuminations.

Repairs have been made to some which were damaged in overnight storms in November and in a fire at the lights' former workshop on Rigby Road a few weeks ago.

Mr Llewelyn-Bowen's tableau for 2011, which follows on from his Venus Reborn lightshow in 2008, will stand about 12m (39ft) high.

Theatre d'Amour, which will be put in place in time for the launch of the Illuminations on 2 September, has dancing ballerinas, waterfalls, a rotating moon, swans, water fountains as well as digital effects.

The designer wants visitors not to follow the traditional route and just drive through the lightshow, but to get out of their cars and stand to watch the lightshow performance and then go on to visit other attractions and businesses.

He also wants to ensure that some of the heritage lights remain.

"People have photos in their family albums of their grandparents standing next to some of the old light features.

"There's nothing like being in Blackpool in September with the pavements wet, it's a bit chilly, you have a bag of chips and you've got all these bulbs - it's like fairyland.

"What only Blackpool has, is a sense of ingrained holiday heritage that you'll never get away from. That's why people come back because they've been coming here all their lives through all generations.

"Without the Illuminations I don't know what Blackpool would be."

In November 2010, it looked like many of Blackpool's best-loved Illuminations features might be lost forever as winds of up to 100mph (160km/h) swept along the resort's famous promenade, just days after the Illuminations season officially drew to a close.

The Hickory Dickory Dock tableau suffered major damage when a large section blew across the road and into a hotel car park. Mr Llewelyn-Bowen has helped in its restoration.

There will be a newly designed section of lights around the town's tower where the new comedy carpet area will be. The tower itself will be transformed with a new series of LED lights.

The lightshow will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2012.

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