A POP-UP illuminations event could be on its way to Southend this year - which could “bring the magic back” to the seafront.

Southend Council and Southend Tourism Partnership have been planning an extended summer season of events to bring a big economic boost for the town’s hospitality industry after the Covid pandemic.

A part of a refresh of the council’s ambitious plans up to 2050, this extended season could include a pop-up illuminations and festival of light event at some point in October.

The council has also announced an arts festival that will take place in September, and a Halloween carnival parade.

It would be the first time a big illuminations event would be held in Southend since the regular event stopped in 2007, to the disappointment of generations of families who spent their summer evenings amid the glistening seafront lights.


Carole Mulroney, Liberal Democrat councillor responsible for culture and tourism, said: “From a tourism point of view anything we can do to make it more welcoming and more inviting for residents and visitors is something we’re going to want to explore fully.

“With the year and a half we have had we should look at all opportunities to improve quality and invite people back to Southend.

“Anyone over a certain age will remember the illuminations and they were magical.

“We are in different times now and people want to different things, but the lights hold magic for people.

“Let’s hope we can manage to get something together and recreate what we previously had.”

Shoebury resident and grandfather John Budge welcomed the plans.


He said: “I think it’s a great idea, anything that’s going to welcome people and businesses to the borough is a good thing.

“Even now you hear people saying ‘I wish we had the illuminations’, and it’s been so many years.

“If traders don’t get the support from the general public they’re eventually going to get up and go.

“I would love to take my granddaughters down there, I would look forward to that opportunity.”

Lyn Cast, 78, of Grand Drive, Leigh, said: “We have got to bring it back.

Echo: Revival - Southend Council is considering a 'pop up' illuminations event to boost trade

“I didn’t used to live down here but would come to all the air shows and I always came down for the carnivals.

“Anything that brings money to the town is good by me.”

Southend Council said further ideas around a key illuminations project are also under discussion but will depend on business feedback.

Various other festivals of light have taken place across the UK, including the Tunnel of Light and Castle Projections in Norwich.

The tunnel of light is 45 metres long with 50,000 LEDs creating a sensation of speeding colours.

In Birmingham, a Magical Lantern Festival is held which light-up ponds, woodland and garden pathways.