The systems that keep Blackpool’s Illuminations shining

31 August 2023

On 1 September Blackpool’s dazzling Illuminations will light up across six miles of waterfront – a world famous spectacle made possible by the unique behind-the scenes systems Decent Group has created for the Illuminations team. 

The greatest free light show on earth has existed for over 100 years, yet today it continues to evolve each year as new displays are installed and unveiled, from traditional illuminated scenes to contemporary laser and fibre optics. 

The mammoth task of lifting and installing this vast array of displays, some weighing more than a tonne, is guided by a bespoke stock management system that not only knows the location of every piece of equipment but also provides precise instructions on how to install every display. 

The team at Blackpool’s illuminations workshop, Lightworks, are responsible for designing, building, storing and installing hundreds of displays. Every year they have to ensure that more than a million lightbulbs – and all the other thousands of items of equipment – work flawlessly. Our software system is a key tool to make this possible. 

Richard Williams, Illuminations Manager at Lightworks, describes the system’s impact on the team:

“We can work more easily, more quickly, more consistently and more safely. We feel very confident now that we have these new systems to call on.”

The software automatically orders new bulbs and other parts when stock is running low. Equally important is the inspections system, which keeps track of the vital inspections that check and test this lifting equipment. 

Critically, the system also stores the information needed to install each display – weight, centre of gravity, the exact chains, straps and slings required, and guidance on the best way to lift each display, based on test lifts in the workshop. 

When the team is out installing displays on the Blackpool promenade, they carry with them mobile devices that tell them exactly how to lift and install every display correctly and efficiently. 

This remarkable behind-the-scenes system is also a vital part of the daily switching on of the lights. Every day until 1 January, Decent’s system will initiate the process across more than 200 miles of cabling – ensuring that six miles of displays light up in perfect sequence. 

Blackpool Illuminations facts 

  • The Illuminations equipment weighs over 700 tonnes
  • 20 staff, including artists, electricians, joiners, mechanics, painters, engineers and technicians, work all year round to ensure the displays are ready
  • 65,000 staff hours are spent on maintenance, preparation, installation, operation and dismantling the features
  • The display includes more than 500 different features
  • The Switch-On ceremony on 1 September marks the start of the annual Illuminations display, which will shine nightly to 1 January, 2024

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