CROWDS turned out in force for a free fireworks extravaganza in Clacton to launch a national celebration of seaside piers.

Families flocked to the town’s pier and seafront on Saturday for a sparkling display which got the Year of the Pier 2023 events off to flying start.

Hundreds gathered at the head of the attraction to get a close-up view while many more watched from the upper and lower promenades.

Clacton Pier director Billy Ball said it was a great turnout, especially considering it was a chilly March night.

Gazette: Extravaganza - fireworks at Clacton Pier. Picture: Kevin JayExtravaganza - fireworks at Clacton Pier. Picture: Kevin Jay (Image: Kevin Jay)

“This is the earliest we have ever put on one of our fireworks extravaganzas and it proved a hit with many families,” he said.

“It was added to our 2023 fireworks programme, which consists of 13 dates, to officially launch the Year of the Pier which is being celebrated right across the country.”

Rides remained open until 10pm and SMC provided more than four hours of live music.

The pier lighting was turned blue – the colour of the National Piers Society.

Tim Wardley, NPS Chairman, said: “It is all about highlighting the major role our piers play in boosting the coastal tourism economy and what they have to offer to so many people,” he said.