I was really happy to be invited to one of the very first viewings of Blackpool’s newest attraction for Illuminasia, before it opened to the general public on Good Friday 2014. As we know, Blackpool is famous the world over for its autumn display of lights along six miles of Promenade, but this is something very different indeed. Located within the historical Winter Gardens complex in the town centre, the Olympia room has been dedicated to an indoor light experience designed to thrill audiences of all ages and, as I found, it is a truly impressive addition to Blackpool’s grand line up of attractions.
Illuminasia is the resort’s first new indoor family attraction in over 20 years and cost £3m to develop, covering 4,000 sq mtrs and comprising 6 interactive worlds. It was created by over fifty Chinese artisans and consists of hundreds of silk models attached to metal frames lit from inside by 35,000 LED lights.
The first room is full of silk Terracotta warriors and what strikes you straight away is how large these models are. As you walk past these seven foot high warriors to the next room to ‘meet’ the Chinese Emperor, the scale starts to get larger and the models even more impressive. You can work out your own Chinese year too!
If you thought those figures remarkable then step into the ‘Land of the Giants’ - this is where you start to feel really tiny by comparison as you’re faced by a stunning 20ft high goldfinch, a 30ft dog, giant spiders, snails, pumpkins, fish, sharks and so much more. At this point I was surrounded by ‘wows’ and expressions of delighted disbelief as my fellow travellers went from one incredible giant to the next. The quality of workmanship really has to be seen to be believed and marks this out as a very special attraction.
As you journey past world landmarks including the Sphinx, the Statue of Liberty, The Great Wall of China and London’s Tower Bridge, it is only right and fitting that the centrepiece of this incredible sight-seeing tour is a 50ft Blackpool Tower. One lucky volunteer even gets to switch on the lights, in time honoured ‘Illumination switch-on’ style.
Kids are kept entertained with a quiz, where they get to search for clues and they’re rewarded with a certificate for their efforts. The well-informed staff are on hand with a wealth of information about Chinese lanterns and traditions, which adds to the overall visitor experience which is excellent.
Having learnt that these stunning displays have been hand-crafted by Chinese artisans and seeing this no-expense-spared new attraction for myself, I’m convinced that Illuminasia will be a firm favourite with Blackpool visitors for years to come. Well worth a visit!