A STRIKING illuminations trail could light up Southend’s seafront as plans for a tourism-boosting Festival of Light gathers pace.

Talks over the striking lights trail - which could stretch along Western Esplanade - will now get under way to explore costs and sponsorship.

The move would evoke happy memories of the old illuminations which stopped in 2007.

If the new trail goes ahead, it could be the forerunner for the Southend Illuminations Festival of Light, another spin-off of the once-iconic illuminations.

It would be turned into a free, modern show for visitors to enjoy - with the potential added twist of water features, music and colourful lasers.

Joan Tiney, Southend Seafront Traders’ Association chairman, hopes the move will help give trade the boost it needs, particularly after the pandemic.

Joan, who is also owner of the Borough Hotel, says her business has only been able to operate for 25 weeks since last March.

She said: “Although it won’t be like the old fashion ones it will be some way of getting people back here. Last year we missed half-term, two May bank holidays, one of which was VE Day, the fireworks, Halloween and Christmas.

“It has been terrible for us as a business.”

Discussions on the matter are now taking place with businesses.

Pebbles One cafe owner, Paul Thompson, added: “I know in Blackpool when they switch the illuminations on it’s actually busier than in the summer. We’ve seen from the fireworks just how popular they are, so if they had this I do think it would draw a lot of people to the town. We should also be looking at the future revenue it could give us, through say parking.”

Southend Council leader Ian Gilbert said: “I think a lot of people will be quite keen to have this back. We certainly need to be looking at what events we can do to give things a boost as soon as it’s safe to do so.

“But these sort of things have to be big to help make a real impact.”