Light shows and tourism

By | Category: Travel news

Unlike the summer, the winter means shorter days and long dark periods.

It isn’t thought of as a good time for the tourism industry, attractions, stately homes and others shut up shop for the winter hoping that they had made enough money during the summer months to last them through until the spring.

But then came the introduction of light shows. Instead of just decorating something with a host of lights like some people do to their houses, attractions became more sophisticated in their thinking.

and one of the previous shows at Longleat

It may have all begun 140 years ago this very year in Blackpool. In 1979, the every first illuminations were turned on and since that time people have travelled there to see the lights. Blackpool had managed to extend the traditional tourist season of Easter to September. The illuminations last until November

Others were slow to follow but in places around the world little seeds were grown.

In the UK, people would go to Oxford Circus in London to see the Christmas lights being turned on by some celebrity as they have been for the last sixty years. People arrive from late November until the new year to see the lights there the purpose being to entice more visitors to the west end of London. Other cities followed.

the Street of Light in Edinburgh

Eight years ago I remember going to Brookgreen Gardens in the US state of South Carolina for what is now called the Night of a Thousand Candles. There are far more than a thousand candles and they are lit each evening along the pathway. Attractive and appealing as it was then, today it has developed further so that it still attracts tens of thousands of people each year.

In France, cathedrals, even mines and other attractions were illuminated to attract visitors

Today there are any number of light shows that you can visit during the darker nights of autumn and winter. At Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, 100,000 pea-lights light up the Tunnel of Light. The National Arboretum at Westonbirt in Gloucestershire illuminates many of its trees and is open for almost a month before closing just before Christmas. Longleat’s Festival of Light is one of the few that extends past Christmas and continues into early January. Botanic gardens at Kew and in Edinburgh both have winter light shows. The show at Kew – which is only in its seventh year- is completely sold out so those interested will have to wait until next winter.

This year’s illuminations in Blackpool

But why only run until january? In the dark and dismal days that January and February often bring a light show would cheer us all up and add even more opportunities for tourism.

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