“Oh I do like to be beside the seaside, oh I do like to be beside the sea!” Fondly nicknamed the Las Vegas of the North due to its obsession with neon lights, daring rides and devoted domestic following; Blackpool gives you the best of the British seaside whatever the weather. So, grab a towel and head to the beach! You’ll also love strolling the three piers, riding the rollercoasters and testing an array of classic seaside snacks at this bucket-list destination.
Did you know?
- The world’s first electric street tramway opened in Blackpool in 1885 and is still there today. Now, over 65 trams service the town.
- In 1977, a horse opened the famous Blackpool Illuminations, which is a light festival run annually. Red Rum had just won his third Grand National (Britain’s most famous horse race) when he was given the honours of switching on the lights.
- Blackpool Pleasure Beach has the oldest amusement park ride in Europe. Flying Machines opened in 1904 and can still be ridden today—115 years later!
- When the Blackpool tower was built between 1891-1894, many were concerned about its safety and durability because of its magnificent height. But thanks to its unique design, if it were to collapse it would fall straight into the sea.
What to see?
Ooh la la, doesn’t this look familiar? The most iconic monument in this seaside resort, The Blackpool Tower, was modelled after the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Towering by the seafront at 158 metres high and illuminated by 10,000 light bulbs, you really can’t miss it. Whizz yourself to the top of the tower on the elevator for incredible views across the Irish Sea. You can also stand on the glass floor which looks straight down onto the streets below if you dare.
Every year from August to November the greatest free light show on earth, Blackpool Illuminations, fills the seafront with multi-coloured displays and incredible illuminations. This light festival has been taking place since 1879 and gets bigger and better each year, now spanning six miles of coastline.
A massive concert always accompanies the annual switching on of the lights. If you’d like to attend, you can apply here for free. Don’t worry if you don’t win tickets though. You can always hop on a tram for a glimpse of the show. Alternatively, you can preview the lights a few days before everyone else on the Ride the Lights cycle tour. During this unique event, Blackpool promenade is closed off to all traffic apart from bicycles.
What to do?
Fancy riding on ‘Big One,’ the UK’s tallest rollercoaster? Blackpool Pleasure Beach theme park is one of the UK’s most visited tourist spots, with over 125 thrilling rides and attractions. Try not to scream as you are flipped upside down on the Revolution rollercoaster or flown across the water on the suspended rollercoaster Infusion.
Visitors can also experience the UK’s only Nickelodeon Land at Pleasure Beach. Indulge your childhood fantasies by testing out this area’s 12 rides and entertaining game stalls. There’s also a themed restaurant and a host of famous Nickelodeon characters dotted around for you to meet.
Swirl, twirl and tango to Blackpool Tower Ballroom. This elegantly decorated dance hall dates back to 1894 and is famous for its sprung dance floor and impressive Wurlitzer organ. Try out your best moves on Britain’s most-loved dance floor. It’s guaranteed to be a step up from your student union. Once a year, the whole crew and cast of BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing takeover the stage to perform.
You can’t go to Blackpool and not buy a stick of rock candy as a souvenir. This classic boiled sweet is brightly coloured and typically tastes of peppermint or spearmint. It’s been a seaside treat in the UK for decades. Visit the Coronation Candy factory to see what secret ingredients Blackpudlians put into their sweets. Better yet, you’ll get to find out exactly how they put the trademark letters in the centre of rock.
Where to eat and drink?
Tuck in to a steaming portion of fish and chips wrapped in newspaper and covered in vinegar at the Cottage Fish and Chips. It’s delicious fish and chips have won the praise of stars and locals alike. Rumour has it, England World Cup cricketer Freddie Flintoff, comedian Dawn French and TV celebrity chef Rick Stein all like to chow down there, and you can spot their photos decorating the walls.
Roberts’ Oyster Bar has been serving seaside cockles, whelks and winkles as shellfish snacks to Blackpool since 1876. Buy them by the pot, sprinkle them with a (generous) amount of salt and munch on them as you wander along the pier.
The weather in good ol’ Blightly can be kind of nippy, especially by the windy seaside. Nip in to Quilligan’s Café Bar on St John’s square for a comforting portion of homemade Lancashire hot pot to warm you up. This is a hearty stew originating from the North West of England, the region Blackpool is located in. It’s usually made from lamb or beef and topped with potatoes. What a great winter warmer.
Notarianni is something of a local institution in Blackpool. This family-run, strictly vanilla-only ice cream parlour first opened in 1928 and the owners have kept their scrumptious recipe a secret ever since. Come check out their vanilla ice cream to see if it has stood the test of time. They service sundaes such as Knicker Bocker Glory’s, Peach Melba’s and Banana Splits, as well as milkshakes and coffee.
Where to shop?
Head to Houndshill Shopping Centre for your high street fix. This indoor shopping mall is home to over 65 retailers including New Look, Primark and Footasylum (a cool trainer store).
If you’re after one-off pieces and unique finds, then you must stop by The Regent. This converted 1920’s cinema has become an emporium for retro chic fashion and trinkets. Over 50 stalls brimming with vintage clothes, furniture and antiques sprawl over three floors and there’s a gorgeous vintage tea room to top it all off.
Support the Blackpool community by browsing the stalls at Abingdon Street Market. Here, local vendors sell everything from fruit and veg to hand-knitted clothes. The market is open from 8.30-17.00 Monday to Saturday and is packed full of cheery traders who love a good chat.