Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Start of the Illuminations, End of summer

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Blackpool Illuminations.
For anyone outside of the north of England, the Illuminations are an institution here. A right of passage for children as the night's draw in and autumn takes hold.
My cousins & I had a visit or two sat in the back of a 2cv with the top rolled back for maximum viewing.

In my childhood and probably still for most, the lights are viewed from the back of a car crawling along for 6 grueling (for the driver) miles.  For the last few years, afew days before the official switch on, the front has been closed to cars to let people see the lights by bike. You go faster than in a car, get a better view and there was a pretty nice atmosphere. Ok there were some teenagers riding far too fast and irresponsibly, but that's to be expected when nigh on 10,000 people are cycling!

I'd been off my bike with the lurgy for just over a week, so we extended the ride by setting off from Lytham, making a nice 22 mile evening seaside ride. Plus we didnt want to get to the lights when it was still daylight.

Lytham Windmill. All sails fixed after the gales the other year

If you cant get your bike to Blackpool, they now have Hourbike bike hire scheme similar to the scheme in London.  The bikes are a lovely bright yellow & are stationed at intervals along the promenade (just for adults tho). We saw quite a few people riding them and they look in really good condition at the moment. A great idea if people want to get to Blackpool by train / bus and then explore the prom.
I hadnt heard about the Hourbike scheme until yesterday - they also have them in Southport & Dumfries.

the lights stretching to Central Pier and beyond

As usual there are aliens, animals, jewels as well as Sponge Bob Square Pants, Darleks and The Tardis, tableau showcasing nursery rhymes, a tram dedicated to the Queen's Jubilee.  

The Big One at the Pleasure Beach. Once the tallest roller coaster in the world, not sure if it still is.

Seeing the newly refurbished prom and the new trams was lovely.
Blackpool is the only place in the country that still uses a first generation tram system. It opened in 1885 and has been used all the way through until present day.  It's one of the few tram systems in the world that uses double decker trams.
Sadly for the illuminations, they dont seem to have any of the old decorated lit up trams running anymore. That's a big loss for me - my favourite part of the lights as a child was seeing the big tram that was lit up like a boat sailing up and down the Golden Mile.
But I guess the transport system was long out of date and well overdue upgrading.

windswept with North Pier behind. Sadly the bike's glow-sticks didnt glow with the camera flash lighting things up.

The Brightest Illumination of them all. A lovely evening to ride along the seaside

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