Since 1879 Blackpool has been famous for its illuminations. But, like everything in Blackpool, there’s more to the town’s light shows than what first meets the eye.
With Illuminasia, the world’s largest indoor illuminations experience, open all year round and Blackpool’s Festival of Light going from strength to strength, the town is reclaiming its place as the global home of all things bright and beautiful.
In Blackpool’s honour, here’s a look at five of the best light festivals from around the world alongside a closer peek into the town’s own events.
Seoul Lantern Festival
(Credit: Republic of Korea, Caption: Koreans marching carrying their distinctive Hangeul writing script)
The Seoul Lantern Festival is held in the Korean capital from December through to March every year. Performances are held during the week and include everything from traditional Korean clothing, replicas of palaces, mythical beasts and even displays of their own writing script.
(Credit: Ben Kubota)
Taking place in the Garden of the Morning Calm, there is even a floating element – often with lanterns, that utilises the nearby man-made streams.
Hawaii Festival of Lights
(Credit Naval Surface Warriors)
The world’s most isolated island chain has its own light festival around the Christmas period. The tradition began after local folk artist Auntie Josie Chansky started making Christmas decorations from rubbish and other recyclable materials. The event is held on December 2 and lasts all day, with craft stalls and parades combined with thousands of lights, all put together with its famous DIY ethos. There’s even a green Christmas tree made from 7,500 toothpicks.
(Credit Matt Preston, Caption: Diwali in Leicester)
The classic festival of lights, that should really need no introduction, Diwali begins on October 30 in 2016. The festival is not just significant to Hindus but also to Sikhs and Jains. It represents the victory of light over darkness or good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. Leicester is probably the best place to experience the festival in the UK, with its celebrations running from October 16-30, 2016. As many as 37,000 people are expected to be in attendance.
Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
This isn’t technically a light festival as such. Held far into the reaches of northeast China, by Russia’s Siberian borders, Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is a combination of giant sculpture park and illuminated ice city.
Most buildings are life-sized and many of the snow sculptures reach multiple storeys in height or are based on themes such as literature or children’s movies and TV. Temperatures often hit -20°C during the day, so be prepared to wrap up.
The Lights Back Home in Blackpool
Blackpool’s illuminations were first lit in 1879, a year before Edison’s patent of the light bulb. Each year they attract large crowds and huge stars to The Big Switch On and throughout the winter months.
The Illuminasia in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens is split into a beautiful collections of indoor zones, from The Deep to a Land of Giants to the Mysteries of China, it is the biggest indoor lantern and lighting experience in the world! There’s even a laser show.
Prices start from £8.95 for kids and £12.95 for adults, with cheaper group tickets also available. Due to the large capacity – up to 4,000 people – one does not have to book in advance.