Photo from Blake Ezra Studio

Britain’s dancing queen is coming to Blackpool to switch on the iconic Illuminations.

Shirley Ballas, one of the world’s most accomplished dancers and now head judge on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing, will pull the switch at a special concert in the famous Tower Ballroom on the evening of Friday 3 September.

A host of music stars including KSI, 2020’s biggest breakthrough artist, and another of music’s hottest new talents, Wes Nelson, will be among those performing in the ballroom before Shirley triggers the start of a four-month extended Illuminations season.

It is the first time in history that an Illuminations Switch-On – the biggest event in Blackpool’s calendar – has been staged in the ballroom, which has just reopened after a £1m makeover.

Produced in association with MTV, the show will be hosted by TV and radio presenter Becca Dudley, and will be watched at the venue by a live audience made up of winners of a free-to-enter ballot.

The show will also be live streamed across MTV and VisitBlackpool channels. Last year, the free-to-access streamed event attracted a global audience of more than 225,000 households.

Shirley will join a Switch-On roll of honour that includes a host of international celebrities through-out the years.

Originally from Wallasey in Merseyside, Shirley has been dancing since the age of seven and has a long-standing connection with Blackpool having competed in numerous championships in what is the spiritual home of ballroom dancing.

She is three-time ‘British Open to the World’ Latin American Champion, 10-time US Latin American Champion, and multiple-times British National Champion.  By 21, Shirley had won nearly every major title she competed in worldwide.

Shirley is the only person to have ever won the British Open to the World Latin American Championships in Blackpool with two different partners and reached the finals an impressive 17 times.

She is now one of the top ballroom and Latin teachers and adjudicators in the world, and is delighted to be head judge on the BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Shirley said: "I have been coming to Blackpool since I was a child and it will always have such a special place in my heart.  I'm honoured to be asked to turn on the iconic Illuminations this year, I can't wait!"

A VisitBlackpool spokesperson said: We are thrilled and honoured that Shirley is switching on this year’s Illuminations. For the first time in history, the event will take place in the magnificent setting of the Tower Ballroom and given Shirley’s unrivalled success in the world championships in Blackpool we cannot think of a more fitting person to grace our Switch-On stage.”

Around 1,500 tickets for the event will initially be available to join the live audience. Any ticket allocation will be split equally between local residents and visitors.

People can register to enter the ballot for free tickets (maximum of four per person) at www.visitblackpool.com/switchon. Applications will close on Monday 2 August.

The live stream will start at 8pm on Friday 3 September and can be viewed free of charge at:

visitblackpool.com/switchon, youtube.com/mtvuk and facebook.com/mtvmusicuk

This year’s Blackpool Illuminations will run from Friday 3 September to Monday 3 January, 2022.

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