Get ready to park up your car and take an illuminating stroll, because the Blackpool Illuminations tableaux are waiting for you!
Positioned along the grassy bank at the upper level of the Bispham seafront, running parallel to the tramway, these magnificent displays are a feast for the eyes due to their sheer size and variety. And the best part? A designated footpath runs along the length of the display, so you can walk right up to the front of the tableaux and soak in all their glory.
But wait, there's more! Some of the displays, like the adorable Teddies, even feature selfie spots that allow you to get up close and personal for the perfect photo. And if you're feeling adventurous, take a step back and capture the larger-than-life tableaux in all their grandeur.
Expect to see everything, from a giant pirate ship to ghouls that go bump in the night, all brought to life with dazzling light, intricate designs, and captivating animations. It goes without saying that the tableaux showcase the very best of Blackpool’s creativity and imagination. Come and experience the magic for yourself!
History of the Tableaux
It all started in 1932 when animated tableaux were erected on the Cliffs, linking North Shore and Bispham, for the very first time. The tableaux, also known as the ‘big pictures’, were initially set up to impress visitors as they travelled across the top of the Cliffs by tram.
It was such a success that the length of the Lights was extended to its present stretch – just under seven miles –starting at Squires Gate and finishing at Red Bank Road. And there you have it - animated tableaux have been part of the world’s greatest free light show ever since!
It’s been an enlightening journey over the last 90 years – whether it’s delighting families with traditional favourites year after year or creating new digital additions to keep up with current times, the tableaux continue to be one of the most popular areas of the Illuminations.
2023 Tableaux Line-Up
So what are you waiting for? Find out about the impressive installations below. Click the arrow to learn more on all the tableaux in this year's Blackpool Illuminations display. If you're walking through the tableaux, the list below starts from South to North.
All of the installations will be shining nightly from 1 September 2023 - 7 January 2024.
Fall down the rabbit hole and into the magical world of Alice In Wonderland when you see this Blackpool Illuminations tableau. This enchanting display brings to life the much-loved story, featuring Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and more.
Originally created in 1998 to mark the centenary of the death of Adventures In Wonderland creator, Lewis Carroll, it depicts four scenes from the book, including meeting the Cheshire Cat, the Knaves of Hearts painting the roses red, the Mad Hatter's tea party and meeting the caterpillar.
It’s a tea party like no other and a must-see for any fans of the Lewis Carroll’s classic tale. Luckily, the Queen of Hearts is nowhere to be found in the display as she’s known for her bad temper. Off with their headlights!
Fact: The tableau was badly damaged by storms in 2010 and had to go into storage until it could be restored. It soon returned with a vibrant new colour scheme designed by Illuminations curator, Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, in 2014.
Watch out for things that go bump in the night as you approach the Haunted House tableau!
When the eerie installation was first introduced in 2003, the mixture of practical effects, animation, specialist lighting and sound effects was ground breaking for the Illuminations.
Over time, the tableau has been given a facelift with more features being added to bring the spookiness to life without it being too scary for the little ones to enjoy. In 2012, the mysterious window scenes were replaced by singing faces and the staff at Lightworks, the Illuminations manufacturing depot, had some fun when they dressed up as ghouls and ghosts to provide the moving effects projected onto the tableau.
Look out for Frankenstein as he bursts through the doors and boogie along to ‘Monster Mash’ with the playful ghouls. Don’t stick around the Haunted Hotel for too long though, unless you want to check in for an extended stay!
Fact: This seven metre-high, 25 metre-wide cliff-top tableau was the first to incorporate live-action video.
One of the newer tableaux to be introduced in the display, Blackpool Better Start support and empower Blackpool families to ensure the best outcomes for children aged 0-5 and to offer support for families across the town.
Their illumination shows the everyday things everyone can do to help build young minds, from talking, singing, reading and playing all help our children learn and grow.
Find out more about Better Start here
One of the most cherished features in the display, the Hickory Dickory Dock tableau is based on the traditional nursery rhyme, dating back to the 18th century. The big picture shows 14 mice dotted around the clock.
Measuring 32ft tall, each mouse lights up one by one to give the appearance of movement as the skittish mouse runs up and down the clock. The tableau you see on the promenade today is a recreation of an original design from the Illuminations all the way back in 1932.
In November 2011, 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 during a 95mph storm. The beloved tableau was taken back to Lightworks, the Illuminations depot, for urgent repairs and Illuminations curator, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, helped in its restoration.
Fact: The original Hickory Dickory Dock tableau was the first to use a sequential controller to give the mouse and the pendulum the appearance of movement.
Animal Magic was amongst the first set of illuminations designed entirely on computers. Before 2002, each illumination was designed using paper and 3D models. Originally, there were four animals - a peacock, tiger, fish and butterfly but this has now been condensed.
Butterfly: This butterfly is a reimagining of an Alan Cockroft’s classic illuminations design from 1981. Butterfly Boulevard was originally a quarter mile section of brightly coloured butterflies. On February 2022, during severe gales, the tableau was severely damaged and some of the Lightworks team worked through the night to save it.
Peacock: The peacock is the national bird of India. This feature was designed to celebrate Diwali, the Indian festival of light, marked by several different religions.
Get ready to hula your way into paradise at the Hula Paradise tableau in the Blackpool Illuminations display. Hula Paradise was created in 2004 after Illuminations designer Graham Ogden was inspired after going on holiday to Hawaii.
This tropical installation features six dancers swaying to the rhythm of the ocean, with two palm trees and a dancing crab and starfish completing the island vibe. It's a mini getaway to the beach in the middle of autumn.
The dazzling tableau is a vibrant celebration of Hawaiian culture from across the pond.
Merseyside-born Burman is celebrated around the world and has produced numerous high-profile works including installations for the Tate Gallery and Covent Garden in London, as well as special commissions for film companies, including Netflix.
The result is a 26 metre-wide animated tableau entitled “Lollies In Love With Light”, a stunning, kaleidoscopic celebration of Blackpool incorporating around 760 metres of LED neon lighting, with a technicolour ice cream van at its centre. It is inspired by her parents who ran an ice cream business.
Dr Chila Kumari Singh Burman said: "This is a dream come true. I visited the Illuminations from the age of five every year with my mum and dad, siblings and family from Punjab.
"This is my childhood gone full circle and I can’t believe it is happening! My late mum and dad would have been over the moon to see their ice cream van on a Blackpool Illuminations tableau!"
If you're a fan of ballet, then the Swan Lake tableau in the Blackpool Illuminations is a must-see display.
First showcased in 2000 for the millennium celebrations, this is the third tableau in the Illuminations to be inspired by the greatest of all romantic ballets. The first tribute appeared in 1954, and ever since then, Swan Lake has played a role in the Illuminations.
Featuring a group of six ballerinas dancing either side of a graceful swan, this tableau is a tribute to the beauty and elegance of ballet. So put on your ballet shoes and pirouette your way to see it for yourself.
To celebrate the late Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year in 2012, two large illuminated crowns were created by the Illuminations manufacturing team and first displayed on Wellington Arch in London. After the celebrations, the crowns returned to take pride of place in Blackpool.
Sooty, the beloved British children's character, has a long-standing relationship with Blackpool and it started over 75 years ago. On 19 July 1948, Harry Corbett, purchased the original ‘Sooty’ puppet for seven shillings and sixpence from a magic shop on North Pier to keep his new-born baby entertained whilst on holiday. This spur-of-the-moment purchase sparked the creation of a star that would entertain generations of children on stage and on television.
Soon enough, Sooty was joined by his pals Sweep in 1957 and Soo in 1964. Since then, the inseparable trio have become a staple of Blackpool's entertainment scene, loved by generations of visitors.
The Sooty display, erected in 2013, is a testament to the enduring popularity of this beloved character and his on-screen companion, Richard Cadell.
Fact: Did you know that Sooty’s ears weren’t originally black? When he first appeared on a talent show, he was called “Teddy” and he was an all-yellow puppet. Harry Corbett’s wife then covered his nose an ears with soot as it was more effective for black and white TV, and renamed him Sooty.
The Blackpool Illuminations have always been out of this world, but in 1970 they took it to another level with the introduction of gigantic spacemen hanging over the roadway in front of The Blackpool Tower.
Originally designed for the Space Age road section by Alan Cockcroft in 1970, these extra-terrestrial beings have been a prized part of the Illuminations ever since, inspiring wonder and awe in visitors of all ages.
Get up close with the giant interpretations from the famous moon landing over 50 years ago – they’re cosmic!
Fact: One was recently bought by Drew from the TV series Salvage Hunters while he visited Lightworks.
Canadian-born Bruce Alfred specialises in Native American art and has created an evocative design featuring hand-drawn images of eagles and Orca whales. It is the first Illuminations display to be designed by a North American artist and one of the first to be developed using 3D printing technology.
The tableau, which incorporates more than 13,000 programmable LED lamps is intended to be the first of a new series of tableaux entitled “Light Around The World” that will celebrate international cultures.
The Blackpool Illuminations display has a treat in store for all sci-fi fans. Since starting out as a space-themed tableau in 1965, the Dr Who Trail has evolved throughout the years after the BBC granted special permission to include a Dalek in the display.
Paying homage to BBC Worldwide's biggest selling TV show around the world, a second Dalek was added and a Doctor Who-themed tableaux was created in 1979. A third Dalek soon appeared alongside the fourth doctor, Tom Baker.
The Doctor Who fever didn’t stop there. In 2007, a themed roadway section was created, complemented by a gold 3D fibreglass Dalek and a Tardis replica in 2008. A red 'Supreme Dalek' was built in 2009 and was joined by a video screen in the tableau display.
The installations are like stepping into the Tardis and traveling through time and space, without ever leaving the comfort of Blackpool. So grab your sonic screwdriver and get ready for an illuminating adventure!
Fact: The Daleks were all hand built by upscaling from a small model sent to Lightworks, the Illuminations manufacturing depot.
The kaleidoscopes are two traditional style features with ever-changing colour patterns. Since it was first installed in 2000, the tableau has been given a facelift to modernise the display.
It now has modern LED lights and mode arcline lighting to achieve a programmable strobe effect that was first installed at The top of the Blackpool Tower for a number of years.
This 100-metre long tribute to gardening features a series of topiary shapes in novel designs, from hearts and clowns to poodles and teddies, all with programmable lighting patterns and colour changes. It's like a garden come to life, and you won't be able to take your eyes off it!
This was primarily constructed from timber in 2003, with low-voltage, surface-mounted lighting giving the appearance of shaped hedges.
Fact: The juggling clowns were first featured in the Illuminations in the 1930s. They were also seen in a popular roadway section between 1979 and 1983.
The green machine is a modern day imagining of a 1930s 'rejuvenator' tableau. The tableau depicts the benefits of a healthy lifestyle with various characters exercising. These are joined in the machine by a balanced diet to create happy and healthy people.
Fact: Created in 2006, this tableau was the first one to have solar panels and wind turbines to create its own power!
Now we’re moving on to one of the brightest tableau in the display. Experience the beauty of all four seasons in one place at the Four Seasons tableau in the Blackpool Illuminations.
The Four Seasons, also known as the Four Suns, add more than just light to this section of the promenade. Built in 1995, the Four Suns have battled over 18 seasons in the cold weather but they bring the sunshine to millions of passers-by each year!
This stunning light installation features four suns, each representing a different season and coloured accordingly, bringing to life the changing colours and moods of nature throughout the year. Green signals spring growth and new beginnings, yellow for summer warmth, orange for autumn leaf fall and blue for the cold winter.
Take a stroll through the seasons, see which one speaks to you the most and soak up some sunshine, even if it's just a little bit of artificial sunshine!
Prepare to be transported to a magical land of treasure and adventure with the Ali Baba tableau. Stretching 74ft long and measuring 18ft tall, this incredible tableau features some of the forty thieves and a secret cave that opens to reveal hidden treasure.
Built in 2005, the tableau brings a touch of Middle Eastern magic with its colour-changing lights, Arabian music, and animated figures to set the scene. The sound effects were originally recorded by a member of the Lightworks team whilst on holiday in Oman.
FACT: Make sure you call out 'Open Sesame' at the right time to open the cave door and reveal the riches. Who knows, you might just strike gold!
Did you know that the Teddy Bears’ Picnic is the oldest illumination in the display? The family favourite features teddies playing on a swing, roundabout and see-saw. Two more teddies are positioned on benches for you to cuddle up and have your photo taken with them.
In 1984, the picnic featured the teddies in cars and motorbikes travelling to the picnic and there were also picnic tables with drinks and sandwiches. Over time, the scene has changed and the tableau has condensed to the current line-up, paving the way for visitors to get up close and personal to take their family selfies.
Ahoy, Me Hearties! What you see before you is currently the largest tableau in the Illuminations display.
Thanks to sponsorship from Coral Island in 2020, the Pirate tableau underwent a major refurbishment – or should we say had its timbers shivered? The main structural pieces were re-built and the moving parts refurbished, giving them an extra spring of life.
As part of the collaboration, look out for Coral Island’s recognisable skull and crossbones, along with an illuminated Buccaneer Bar and Captain Jack’s Bar and Grill.
The Galleon had to be carved out of two pieces of polystyrene due to its sheer size when the tableau was created in 1996. These were then joined together and coated in fibreglass to make a complete ship stretching 150ft long.
Fact: The Pirate Captain is called ‘Blackbeard’ and the owner of the Jolly Roger Tavern is ‘Big Molly’. The pirate being attacked by a shark is ‘Pegleg’ and the shark is called ‘Gnasher’. They’re a notorious crew - give them a wave!
Designed in 1998 by talented artist Graham Ogden, watch as Freddie the stunt rider leaves the take-off ramp and races towards the finish line as he bravely jumps over three Blackpool heritage double-deck buses.
A firm favourite among children and adults alike with its playful design, the tableau skilfully uses flashing images to give the impression Freddie is moving. Take a closer look and count the motorbikes carefully – you should find 25 of them!
Fact: Original designs were inspired by the popular TV series, The Simpsons, showing Bart Simpson on his skateboard jumping over the Springfield school bus.
Boom boom! Get ready to laugh your socks off at the Basil Brush tableau in the Blackpool Illuminations display. This hilarious installation features the beloved puppet character in all his cheeky glory, measuring 40ft wide and created by the talented Graham Ogden back in 2004.
It's a must-see for fans of the classic TV show, and a chance to introduce a whole new generation to the antics of the mischievous fox.
Fact: When it was first installed, the animated Basil Brush could tell 1,000 different corny jokes at the push of a button, courtesy of DVD technology. After operating for 66 nights, people living nearby were able to quote them all!
The Egyptian scene is a popular classic tableau in the display. Built in 1990 and designed by Graham Ogden, the scene is flanked by two Egyptian guards. One of the guards was originally used as a mould to make the other and, as a result, is slightly larger if you look closely.
Keep an eye on the sarcophagus as it opens to reveal a mummified secret. The 82ft-long back scene was revamped in 2007 and is entirely hand painted by artist Sarah Myerscough.
Even to this day, visitors hold a soft spot for the inflatable mummy at the centre of the tableau. Brace yourself for a gentle scare as the mummy bursts out of the tomb and watch it slowly deflate as it withdraws back into its resting place.
Did you know that the mummy has had its fair share of scandal? In 1994, the inflatable pop-up was stolen on Halloween and had to be replaced at a cost of £3,000! The mummy you see today has withstood nearly 30 Illuminations seasons and is still going strong, albeit all of its bandages!
Fact: In the past, the fire brigade were called out several times after visitors mistook the tableau's smoke effects for real fire!
Beep, beep! Rev your engines and get ready to go on a wild ride with Noddy and his friends. Noddy's first appearance at the Illuminations was back in 1993 and, since then, he has been delighting visitors with his adventurous spirit, rosy cheeks and infectious smile.
The tableau features Noddy and Big Ears cruising in the colourful Noddy Car. In 1999, the gang got even bigger with the addition of new characters, including Mr Plod, Martha Monkey, and Clockwork Mouse. It's a nostalgic trip down memory lane for adults and a heart-warming scene for kids.
Want to know more? Here's some interesting facts about Blackpool Illuminations, learn more about the history of the world-famous Lights and see what's new for this year.