Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/machighlander/4012282958/
One of my favorite childhood memories was a visit to Blackpool for the Illuminations. I've got to hand it to Wikipedia for summing them up so concisely:
lso known locally as The Lights or The Illuminations, they run each year for sixty-six days, from late August until early November, at a time when most other English seaside resorts' seasons are coming to an end. Dubbed as "the greatest free light show on earth", they are 6 miles (10 km) long and use over one million bulbs. The display stretches along the Promenade from Starr Gate at the south end of the town to Bispham in the north.
You can view the Illuminations by walking, driving by car (aka crawling through bumper to bumper traffic), or, our favorite way, by taking a ride on one of the trams that are themselves covered in lights.
I was a bit miffed, well ok I was really offended, by Bill Bryson's description of the Illuminations on page 240 of his book, Notes from a Small Island. He describes them in this way, "...all I can say is that Blackpool's Illuminations are nothing if not splendid, and they are not splendid." and "It all just seemed tacky and inadequate on rather a grand scale, like Blackpool itself." I suppose I should just say that his opinion, but he's a New York Times bestselling author (A Walk in the Woods) and can influence people by his comments. I will admit that Blackpool and the Blackpool Illuminations are not what they were in the days when families headed to Blackpool for their holidays. Things changed when the availability of cheap airfares and package deals made places like Ibiza, Majorca and the like available to the everyday family. Today, families are reaching even farther afield to places like the Greek Islands, India or Thailand. If you were to tell your children they were going to Butlin's in Blackpool for their holidays, I can just imagine the looks on their faces! (And yes, I know Butlin's in Blackpool is closed.)
Blackpool, however, still has sentimental meaning to those of us who grew up with knowing it in our childhood and early youth. Call me tacky, but I loved everything about Blackpool, and I can't wait to visit again. Yes, I am going to find it changed, but memories live forever and that's what I'll be remembering.
Dad and I in Blackpool, 1965