Like the requisite trashy Big Brother contestant who talks with an ‘Essex, innit’ accent, wears a velour tracksuit, has a set of implants that rival beach balls and a skin-tone that wouldn’t be out of place in Willy Wonka’s factory, Blackpool is just one of those things we love to hate.
Yet there’s something about Blackpool’s gritty, tawdry, kitschy exterior that is refreshingly honest, and eventually earns a kind of grudging affection.
Blackpool doesn’t care what you think of it. Roll your eyes if you like, but Blackpool will continue having raucous, unselfconscious fun with or without you. It’s unashamedly hedonistic, shows no regard for understatement, subtlety or trends, and has managed to hone the art of the traditional seaside holiday into an exact science.
Alcohol? Check. Piers? Check. Amusement Parks? Check. Overpriced fish and chips? Check. Teenaged menaces? Check. Burberrry hats a-plenty? Check, check.
With Pleasure Beach, Blackpool Tower and three attraction-laden Piers, Blackpool’s entertainment centres on summer sun. But this is not a town to turn down a money-making opportunity, which is why it also hosts the Blackpool Illuminations in autumn, bringing the piers to life in a dazzling light display to extend tourist season.
Blackpool knows exactly what it is, and what it is not, and its success stems largely from an ability to stick to its formula. From the spectacle of Blackpool Beach on a hot summer’s day to its chaotic, debauched nightlife, Blackpool knows how to bring home the bacon – and will continue to do so for years to come.
BLACKPOOL’S TOP 10
10. Stanley Park Relax on the grassy knolls or try your hand at rock-climbing.
5. Winter Gardens Catch anything from stand-up comedy to a play at this Blackpool icon.
9. Sandcastle Waterpark It’s got water slides, pools and rides to suit ages one to 100. Well, maybe not 100.
4. Blackpool Illuminations This light spectacular is a sight that that needs to be seen. Bring your camera!
8. Sea-Life Walk through the glass tunnel and peer around at the many wonders of the deep, blue sea. You’re just bound to find Nemo.
3. The Piers All three have their own gems, so pay them each a visit.
7. Grand Theatre The architectural exterior is as beautiful as the art masterpieces hidden inside. Whatever show you choose to watch, it’ll be a treat.
2. Pleasure Beach Rides, games and general merriment. If you don’t have fun here, you’re doing it wrong.
6. Blackpool Zoo EPIC is the only way to describe this zoo. The sea lion pool and shows are a must.
1. Blackpool Tower This place has a dozen attractions on offer, including an aquarium, circus and observation deck.
If you want to soak up the best of Blackpool’s energy, this is the place to be. There’s no better way to start your explorations than with a visit to the Central Pier, where you’ll find a host of amusements, arcades and general hoo-ha. Once you’ve tired yourself trying to win the big teddy for your sweetheart, head over to Blackpool Tower for the Sea-Life aquarium.
Here you’ll come face to face with the monsters of the deep (*Jaws music*), plus some cute but not-so-cuddly sea urchins. Not your cup of tea? Try Madame Tussauds for some waxy celeb encounters. Not into wax? Get your grumpy caboose over to the circus. Everybody loves the circus.
After you’ve downed some much-needed grub at one of the many cafes, restaurants and fish and chip places, end your day by heading over to the shops (there are plenty to choose from) to splash out.
After the chaos of the central city, this quiet(er) area of Blackpool is a welcome change of pace. The North Shore Promenade is not quite as bustling, but it still has a lot of entertainment on tap, including great pubs, eateries and, yes, more shops.
Make sure you have a relaxed lunch and breathe in the fresh, sea air on pebbled Cleveleys Beach before you give those credit cards a workout. If you’re willing to travel, the village of Bipsham can be found a little further north and is full of quaint little cafes and gift shops, as well as more pubs to sit back and have a few bracing ales.
This is a Blackpool favourite and another very busy section of the promenade. Here you’ll find the famous South Pier and Pleasure Beach, where you can act like a kid and get away with it (the rollercoaster will have you screaming like a five-year-old) as well as Sandcastle Waterpark, the country’s wettest and wildest indoor waterpark (we recommend the Masterblaster and the Treetop Water Chutes).
End your fun-filled day with a good feed, tasty pint, plenty of shopping and a well-earned rest at the beautiful Stanley Park or St Annes Beach, a wide stretch of sand and sea.
BLACKPOOL EAT & DRINK
10. Mandarin This place isn’t fancy, but it’s perfect for great, authentic Chinese. Town Centre
Harry Ramsdens One of the best fish and chip joints in town. The battered Haddock is always a winner. Town Centre
West Coast Rock Café Come for the mouthwatering steaks and ribs, stay for the club upstairs. Winner. Town Centre
4. Funny Girls Female impersonators always make for a fun night out, no? Visit this Blackpool icon for plenty of laughs and dancing. North Shore
Sanuk This place has no less than six rooms for your clubbing enjoyment. Leave your sobriety at the door. Town Centre
3. Toast This place is pretty hip as far as Blackpool venues go. Indulge in anything from tapas to (of course) fish, chips and mushy peas. Town Centre
La Fontana An award-winning venue for lovers of Italian. The menu is huge so this place may need an additional visit (or three). Town Centre
2. Jali Curry heaven here, folks! You’ll find traditional dishes as well as modern fusions, so come on an empty stomach. Town Centre
110 This restaurant is contained within the Circus Casino and does everything from traditional British cuisine to spicy Thai. North Shore
1. Syndicate This super-club is the biggest in the north of England and provides a suitably big night. Everyone gets a free souvenir – a hangover. Town Centre
If you’re wanting to experience something a little kooky during your Blackpool adventure, why not head to the Pigeon Races, held every January. This event is hosted by the Royal Pigeon Racing Association (yes, there is an association) and has loads of entertainment on offer aside from the pace-conscious pigeons.
Showzam in February is a magical 10-day fiesta filled with circus and magic tricks, burlesque and other slightly weird and wacky performances. The event even hosts classes and workshops for aspiring circus performers. If you fancy being a carny, this might just be your big ticket!
Blackpool hosts a sea of events in June for Armed Forces Week. There are concerts, film events, cabaret performances, parades and the famous Afternoon Tea Dance in the stunning Blackpool Tower Ballroom. Not all events are open to the public but even if you just watch the parade, it makes for a great experience.
Blackpool Illuminations is one of the biggest events of the year. Held along the Golden Mile, this festival of lights sees hundreds of big, bright and colourful light displays featuring lasers, neon lights, and fibre optics. There are even exhibits using fire and water! Early September to early November.
WHEN TO GO
• The weather in Blackpool tends to be mild but can also be a tad unpredictable. For plenty of sunny days and clear skies, summer is obviously the best time to go.
• If you’re looking to experience a different side of Blackpool, autumn is less-crowded and you’ll be able to experience the Illuminations festival.
WHAT TO MISS
• Don’t walk along the beach if the weather is miserable because you’ll most likely be hit in the face with a wall of flying sand and/or water – the tides and wind can get mighty violent.
• Central Drive can be dodgy after dark and is best avoided.
GETTING THERE AND AROUNDThe M55 link road now takes you right to the heart of Blackpool, where over 10,000 parking spaces await. Plenty in winter, but still a struggle to find a free one in summer, so consider training it in and taking one of the iconic Blackpool trams (or a bus) around the place.
One of the first seaside resort destinations to thrive in industrial 19th century England, Blackpool endures today as a town full of charm. With a distinctive skyline, piers and beach promenades, the small city of 143,000 people has been a favorite summer vacation haunt for well over a century. Although other destinations throughout Europe have become de rigeur in recent decades, such as the south of Portugal and Spain, the inherent allure of Blackpool persists.
A short drive from Manchester, Blackpool is a leisure and entertainment paradise, with cabarets and musicals galore, theme parks and of course, a fabulous nightlife. Pleasure Beach Blackpool welcomes millions of visitors every year and has been around in one form or another, since 1896. The complex features nine roller coasters, dozens of other amusement park rides, scores of restaurants and consistently ranks as the best in Europe. The beach however, will forever remain Blackpool's main attraction, especially at the height of the summer tourist season.
Attractions & Activities
Restaurant & Nightlife
Summer is the most popular time to visit Blackpool, when the weather is ideal for beach lovers. The coastal climate is mild throughout the year however.
- Winter (December to February) 2-8°C
- Spring (March to May) 4-15°C
- Summer (June to September) 10-20°C
- Fall (October to November) 5-13°C
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