Victory in Europe Day marks the official end of hostilities in Europe for the Second World War on 8 May 1945, following the formal unconditional surrender of German Forces. It was an occasion of national celebration, yet also one of sombre reflection for those who would not return.
This 75th anniversary celebrated the achievements of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the allies in their victory overseas and on the Home Front, but also payed tribute to the 580,406 UK and Commonwealth Forces and 67,073 UK civilians who lost their lives in the conflict.
Sadly, what should have been a weekend of national celebration starting on the specially-created Bank Holiday Friday had been scaled back because of the COVID-19 lockdown.
There were still plenty of ways to thank our nation’s heroes from the comfort of our own homes though.
What did Blackpool do for VE Day?
Lit up our landmarks
Blackpool is renowned for bright lights, so we marked this three-day celebration by doing what we do best! The following Blackpool landmarks were lit up red, white and blue from May 8 - 10:
The Cenotaph, located on Blackpool’s promenade next to North Pier
The Blackpool Tower Heart turned into a Union Flag. The Union Flag was also flown above The Blackpool Tower from 7 May (image by Dave Nelson Photography)
Central Pier’s Big Wheel (South side)
Winter Gardens dome
Hampton by Hilton Hotel, located on the promenade at South Beach
Lightworks – the home of the world-famous Blackpool Illuminations
Lighting up our landmarks was a touching tribute and we wish our visitors could have been with us here to share this day. But, as non-essential travel restrictions were still in place, we wanted people to stay home and stay safe.
Step back in time
Did you know Blackpool maintained its tourism offer throughout WW2 and gave many holidaymakers, and soldiers on leave, a chance to temporarily escape and forget the horrors of war? The town also had two operational RAF airfields and even manufactured bomber aircraft.
Heritage Blackpool has been working closely with The Blackpool Gazette, a local newspaper which has been delivering and reporting on life and events in Blackpool for over 100 years, to archive important moments in history for us to view in years to come.
To celebrate VE Day, The Blackpool Gazette kindly provided Heritage Blackpool with over 120 digitised images of Blackpool during WW2 from their archive – and you can view them for free! These photos offer a glimpse into the past to see how the UK’s most loved seaside resort played a crucial role throughout the war. Discover Blackpool’s war-time history here.
Want to learn more? Check out this short video below of WW2, featuring clips of Blackpool.
Ringing out for peace
The sound of bells is part of our British culture to mark historic and victorious moments. At 3pm on May 8 2020, Blackpool’s Town Hall bells rang out for five minutes to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day. The Town Hall’s flag was also raised.
VE Day for the family
Many organisations and charities have changed their celebrations so everyone can get involved whilst staying at home and staying safe. Here are some of the ideas they put forward for the three-day celebration and beyond.
Tribute to the millions
We honoured our heroes through the reading of the Tribute To The Millions poem which you can save and download by clicking the above image.
We also commissioned two special recordings of the poem. Blackpool’s own award-winning actress, Lucy Fallon, who starred in Coronation Street for five years, and TV star Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, the creative curator for the world-famous Blackpool Illuminations, both recorded readings which you can watch below.
Create your own bunting
The BBC has recently launched Great British Bunting, giving children across the country an opportunity to create their very own window display at home. The BBC provided a template to use along with a fun step-by-step guide so they can creatively honour the men and women of WW2. You can still get creative using spare paper, crayons or felt tip pens, and don’t forget to share their designs! Get involved here.
Make your mark
There’s plenty of opportunities for kids to learn all about the Second World War now that we may find ourselves with more time on our hands. These colouring sheets are a useful way to introduce the importance of VE Day to your child. All you need to do is download and print.
Remember through learning
Poppyscotland and Legion Scotland have launched an exciting online learning pack for children to access. The learning pack contains innovative educational tools for kids to learn all about the historic relevance of VE Day.
Now that kids are settling into their new home-working regimes, it’s a time for them to explore what life was truly like 75 years ago. The resources can be found on Poppyscotland and Legion Scotland’s Facebook channels or on the Legion’s website.
Here at VisitBlackpool, we hope you had a wonderful three-day celebration and we can’t wait to welcome you back to Blackpool when it’s safe to do so. In the meantime, experience Blackpool remotely through our Virtual Holiday page and explore our exciting shows and events.
And remember: Blackpool Loves You!