Piccadilly Circus lights switched back on

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Media captionThe new display has one of the highest resolution LED displays of its size in the world

The billboard lights at Piccadilly Circus have been switched back on following major renovations.

The sign, which has displayed electrical advertisements for more than a century, was switched off in January and replaced with a temporary banner.

The new state-of-the-art screen is interactive and fully responsive allowing advertisers to include aspects such as live video streaming.

About 100 million people pass the central London site each year.

Before January it was the first time since World War Two the lights had been switched off, apart from during power cuts and special events.

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Media captionA history of how the lights have changed at Piccadilly Circus

The billboard’s previous six individual LED screens have been replaced with the largest single display in Europe, measuring about 780 sq m (8,400 sq ft) in size.

The screen has about 11.6 million bulbs, improving the quality of images on display.

A cradle has also been installed on the roof to clean and maintain the LED panels which are expected to last the next 10 years.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Illuminated adverts like these in 1953 have been on display at the site for over a century
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The new screen has about 11.6 million bulbs, improving the quality of images on display

Six advertisers are sharing the space and new technology allows them to change content based on the surrounding environment, according to site owners Land Securities.

For example, if the temperature falls below a certain level, adverts for winter clothes can go on display instead of summer ones.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tests were carried out on the display before it was officially switched on

A Land Securities spokeswoman said a “complex content management system” had been developed to “basically manage six live TVs that have the ability to move around the screen and change places”.

The first brands being displayed on the new billboard include Coca-Cola, which has been advertising in the space since 1954, and Samsung.

Perrier was the first brand to ever be illuminated in Piccadilly while BP, Panasonic, Cinzano and TDK have also displayed adverts in the past.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The first brands being displayed on the new billboard include Coca-Cola and Samsung

Light history

  • 1819 – Piccadilly Circus is built to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly
  • 1908 – First electrical advertisements appear, with Perrier the first brand to be illuminated
  • 1923 – Electric billboards are set up on the facade of London Pavilion to advertise Bovril
  • 2011 – LED displays completely replace neon lamps

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