Amongst the tango of illuminations
Well, in 2017 our timing could have been better, as we were greeted by hurricane Ophelia on arrival. However, we were not going to be defeated; the show must go on.
The Frigate at the Pleasure Beach
And so, it did….minus a few light bulbs and billboards.
Illuminated tram at night
Every year since 1879 (bar a few of the wartime years) Blackpool promenade is awash with twinkling lights for 66 nights, from early September to early November.
With the wind in our hair
Blackpool is located on the Northwest coast of the UK and has an amazing ‘Golden Mile’ shoreline with the Irish Sea.
On sunnier days, the seashore would have been full of excited children building sandcastles, but as the bracing winds took hold, we were struggling to stand up, let alone a sandcastle support itself.
The listed North Pier and Tower
The amazing free light display which stretches 6 miles/10km along the coast from Starr Gate to Bispham, is the main attraction this time of year and is enjoyed by visitors young and old, nobody is excluded.
The Pleasure Beach Entrance
Close-up of the lights
On 4th September 2020, the annual illuminations will be switched on virtually.
For the first time the illuminations have been extended by a further 2 months until 3rd January 2021.
Many people choose to drive along the route taking in the displays hanging above them, but we believe the best way to enjoy them is strolling along the coastline.
Little Miss Muffet
Particularly by Bispham where you can wander next to the older traditional illuminations, that families have enjoyed for decades.
Alice in Wonderland
But certainly, don’t miss the ever-changing light display on Blackpool’s iconic tower. If you walk from Bispham towards the tower, you get an incredible view for a couple of miles.
Tram and the Tower
Take a ride
Another way to enjoy the illuminations is to jump on a tram; there are of course the usual trams which run through the day along the promenade.
The illuminated Train
However, an extra special ride is on one of the three themed historical trams cars. You have a choice of either the Great Western train, a frigate or a trawler, which is picked up at the Pleasure Beach.
Remember; The illuminations are only on for 66 nights, for 2020 they run from 4th September until 8th November.
It’s not just the illuminations
The centrepiece of Blackpool is undoubtedly the wonderful iconic tower, built in 1894 and inspired by the Eiffel Tower; it stands 518 feet (158 metres) tall. It is an amazing site day or night.
The mighty Blackpool Tower
The Blackpool Tower
Retro Tower and Tram
I really cannot stress enough, that you can’t visit Blackpool without walking into the incredible Tower Ballroom. It is breathtaking, the décor and the sprung dancefloor are quite astonishing.
It was a must for me to visit, as I love watching BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing (or “Dancing with the Stars” if you are from the States), it’s liked you’ve stepped into another era.
Inside the Tower Ballroom
However, if you are not proficient in a Waltz or a Tango like us, you can just sit and admire others as they elegantly glide across the floor.
The Wurlitzer inside the Tower Ballroom
If you are confident enough and you don’t mind an audience, you can even take to the dance floor yourself. There is the traditional ballroom and Latin music being played on a lovely old Wurlitzer organ.
The dancefloor of the Tower Ballroom
Unfortunately, due to the high winds, we were unable to visit the top of the tower (Hurricane Ophelia had a lot to answer for).
Blackpool Tower tickets can be purchased at the Tourist Information office opposite the tower, at a discounted price. The Tower Ballroom ticket was £2.95 cheaper per person, and you were even able to jump the queues.
The Comedy Carpet
A more recent bit of fun to be added to Blackpool promenade is the Comedy Carpet. Situated just opposite the Tower is a fantastic 1880 square-metre floor covering, which include whimsical quotes from 850 writer and comedians.
This free piece of public art is just full of funny quips and lines from famous geniuses past and present.
Dont Mention the War
The South Pier
Blackpool is one of those British seaside resorts which is steeped in history. Although, it is a bit tarnished by modern influences, it still hugely fun to enjoy.
The Central Pier
Hidden behind some of the showy facades, with a little bit of TLC, a bygone era is crying to be let out.
The North Pier at low tide
Even its three piers mix the past with the present, with the North Pier being a Grade II listed building.
Unfortunately, again the North Pier was closed due to the weather.
A short stroll back from the promenade and the Grand Theatre comes into view, the wonderful Victorian theatre was built in 1894 and is still used today.
The Grand Theatre
Just beyond the theatre, the Winter Gardens complex can be found. Also, a Grade II Listed building built in 1878. It appears to be currently undergoing a facelift.
The Great Promenade Show
A more recent installation is “The Great Promenade Show” which is a free display of ten pieces of artwork, along Blackpool Promenade, by the Pleasure Beach.
Our favourite here was the High Tide Organ. However, as the waves were lashing over the sea wall, we didn’t hang around too long. We had recently returned from a trip to Croatia so wanted to compare Blackpool’s to Zadar.
Perhaps it was the time of year, but Zadar won it for us (sorry Blackpool).
The High Tide Sea Organ
To check the high tide times for the Organ
The Giant Glitterball
Desire - The Great Promenade Show
But also along the New South Promenade was the world’s largest mirror ball, which is covered in 47,000 mirrors & weighs six tonnes.
If you want to see “The Great Promenade Show”, which includes the High Tide Organ, catch a tram to Starr Gate and head north to the Pleasure Beach. We found it easier this way.
As with most places and Blackpool is no exception, the best way to explore and discover, is to put on your comfy shoes and start walking.
Heritage Tram and Blackpool Tower
However, the promenade here is long and a day on your feet can take its toll. The trams are so easy to use, you can just jump on and pay the conductor on board. If you didn’t want to use the modern trams there is also a Heritage Line, for a bit of nostalgia. (these are a little more expensive)
Where we stayed
Our accommodation for the two nights we were in Blackpool was at “The Imperial Hotel”. Sitting high on the North Promenade, this elegant 19th-century hotel has over the years been frequented by Royalty, politicians and the legendary Bruce Forsyth.
The Imperial Hotel
The busy hotel bar is called No.10, as currently eight British politicians have stayed at the Imperial and now all have a mirror inscribed to them.
Its location was ideal for us, about 10/15 minutes walk north of the Tower and had ample parking at £6 a night. (2017)
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Visited Blackpool to watch the illuminations, or did you go for a spin in the wonderful ballroom, we’d love to know what you enjoyed?
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