GET LIT UP AT BLACKPOOL
What has been termed as the greatest free show on earth is now on – Blackpool Illuminations started last week and will run until November.
Blackpool is fast becoming a must visit resort after after a massive multi-million regeneration programme, that’s still going on, as the town, takes its rightful place as the very best of traditional seaside resorts.
The run-down Golden Mile has been given an extreme facelift and next year the resort’s first five star hotel opens on the Promenade with another stylish four star hotel opening near the Pleasure Beach.
With a history that dates back to the 18th century, when it welcomed its first visitors, the town has always had its quiet, interesting areas away from the day tripper hub, buildings with grand historical architecture and a traditional cultural side.
For decades I walked up the South Promenade to Starr Gate and even at the busiest times there were few people around and it’s the same today. It’s the perfect place for a morning leisurely stroll or for the more active an invigorating run.
Our hotel, The Carousel, a three star hotel, overlooked the New South Promenade. A friendly family hotel, set back in a crescent it overlooks the sea. The hotel serves excellent food throughout the day in its bistro style restaurant and its terrace is ideal for relaxing, its so tranquil tranquil with only the occasional rumble of the trams – and trams, after all, are the best way to see Blackpool.
One of the oldest electric tramways in the world dating back to 1885, it runs eleven miles from Starr Gate to Fleetwood Ferry and buying a multi-journey ticket from a day to 30 days saves time and money.
Where-ever you are in Blackpool, the iconic Tower, opened in 1894 dominates the skyline.
Ascending to the top of the Tower is quick and painless and well worth it to see the view from the top, although I did find the glass viewing platform floor a little daunting, watching people moving around 380 feet below.
Synonymous with The Tower are the thrills and jaw dropping acts of its circus.
The décor in this beautiful 124 year old Victorian auditorium, designed by architect Frank Marcham, is stunning and it’s the only circus in the world to have a water feature finale.
In its corridors you can soak up some of its history with an exhibition of props, musical instruments and costumes belonging to world famous clown Charlie Carrolli, resident clown for 40 years, alongside photographs and posters from the past when bears, elephants, tigers, horses and chimpanzees performed at the circus.
Afternoon Tea in the Tower Ballroom is a must, even if you don’t dance you can just wat
You can sit ballroom side whilst you enjoy dainty sandwiches, scones and cream and some calorie loaded cakes plus a teapot of steaming tea or a pot of coffee.
Elegant and absolutely stunning in design and décor the ballroom attracts visitors from all over the world and has become the focal point of Strictly every year.
“It’s awesome and so beautiful”, said Justine visiting with a group of friends from Michigan “We don’t have anything like this in the States”.
When the famous Wurlitzer rose from the floor, I stopped eating my delicious afternoon tea. The music was so infectious I had to get on that floor and dance.
With a partner who doesn’t dance I had to borrow the lady on the next tables husband, an avid ballroom dancer and took to the floor quick stepping around the ballroom as if I was on Strictly.
It’s well worth thinking about getting the Blackpool Big Ticket that includes admission to the Tower and its attractions plus Madame Tussauds and Sealife.
Blackpool has upped its game on the dining scene with a plethora of new restaurants on the prom. If you want upmarket fish and chips Harry Ramsden’s is the place to go. It’s quirky, well planned with booths, island type seating areas and a continuing LED wall with nostalgic silent film clips. The menu is large and varied and not limited just to fish dishes and includes absolutely heavenly desserts.
From Ramsdens its a short stroll to the North Pier, the only one of the three piers designated a Grade 2 listed building.
Opened in 1863 and now privately owned it has a vintage atmosphere. The longest of the three piers, it has a two tier venetian carousel, ice cream parlour and Victorian tea-shop well worth experiencing.
The North Pier Theatre is one of few including The Winter Gardens and The Opera House where in summer seasons past top stars came out at night to entertain. Today, these historic venues host touring musicals, opera, ballet, drama and concerts since the demise of seaside variety.
Blackpool has a rich history and if you want to discover a different side of the town take one of the heritage tours or if you fancy a ride on a piece of moving history there’s Heritage tram tours.
Rides of a different kind can be found in the Pleasure Beach. Sir Hiram Maxim’s Flying Machine has been operating since 1904, The Grand National, one of only three Mobius Loop Coasters appeared in 1926, the white art deco Casino building in 1936 and just launched, but not for the faint-hearted is ICON the UK’s first ever double launch rollercoaster.
The Pleasure Beach is not all rides, it even boasts a ||Champagne and Oyster Bar and is home to The Hot Ice Show – one of the most spectacular ice shows in the world.
Well worth thinking about is pre-booking your Pleasure Beach wristbands on line. If booked well in advance they will be posted out to you along with your admission tickets to the park and so you won’t have to queue to get in.
But its Blackpool Illuminations, that stretch for five miles along the promenade that attract millions to the town between the end of August and November. They date back to 1879, when just eight Siemens arc lamps illuminated the promenade and visitors called them artificial sunshine.
Blackpool can be whatever you want it to be with every type of accommodation from four star chain or upmarket boutique hotels to small family run hotels and b and b’s.
The wonderful thing about Blackpool is you can soak up culture and history one moment, take a white knuckle ride the next or even get hitched in the seafront wedding chapel – that’s what will always make Blackpool – the capital of fun.
The Visit Blackpool Site (www.visitblackpool.com) is a very comprehensive site with details of accommodation, transport links, events, entertainment, passes etc.
The Blackpool Big Ticket details www.theblackpooltower.com
Blackpool Heritage Tours and Tram Tours (www.blackpoolheritage.com)
The Carousel Hotel (www.carouselhotel.co.uk)
Blackpool Transport Saver Tickets( www.blackpooltransport.com)
Blackpool Pleasure Beach (www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com)
Blackpool Illuminations start on 31 August and run until 4 November