Blackpool

Introduction

England - Blackpool

Blackpool -- England's Classic Seaside Resort

Blackpool is often derided by the English as being tawdry and old-fashioned. It is. But that is the joy of it – Just let go and enjoy the ride!

The beach

Note that away from the attractions of the ocean, Blackpool is one of the most deprived cities in the UK so stray a bit away from the Promenade and you will enter a completely different Blackpool…

Introduction

Blackpool is an old English seaside resort located on the east coast of England (in the north). It is stretched along the seaside off of the Promenade which has a large number of hotels, fast-food shops, “casinos” (mostly consisting of slot machines and the like) as well as various theatres showing live entertainment (including the famous Winter Gardens located near the North Pier). Late at night this area can get a bit…rowdy (you have been warned).

Of particular note is the Blackpool Tower which is a tall tower a la Eiffel in Paris offering great views along the seafront.

The Promenade

There are three piers in Blackpool: North (near the tower), Central and South (near Pleasure Beach) none of which charge any entrance fee but have a number of amusements (including rides).

People DO swim in the ocean but the water here is VERY cold. On the plus side it is fairly shallow and there is lots of sand.

Accommodation

Lord help you. There is a lot of accommodation available though much of it is a) overpriced and b) not terribly nice. Even though it is even more expensive it is suggested that you look on the Promenade for accommodation as B & Bs away from the waterfront tend to be much smaller and not as well maintained.

Classic English Seaside (The North Pier)

Eating

Eating is not a problem as long as you are not interested in food. Fast-food establishments generally serve anything that can be fried and little else. Fish & chips can be found but it is recommended that the shops on the seafront be avoided as oil will have been seldom changed.

Blackpool Rock is to be found just about everywhere and tends to be very cheap. This is a hard candy cylinder varying in size from only a few inches to longer than a foot! Eat at your own peril (though they do taste quite good…).

Getting Around

Getting around Blackpool is actually not that difficult with regular tram services operating up and down the Promenade. Of course the traditional method of getting around is to simply walk up and down the street (it is a LONG walk – more than 5 miles in total!).

The Famous Trams on the Blackpool Promenade

Take the trams though. Great fun and make the distances a LOT shorter. Pay the conductor for the distance you want to travel (the transit information booth is on the Promenade near the north pier).

There are multiple car parks in the area that have large numbers of spaces and can be paid using an App installed on your phone. Parking can be expensive.

The Illuminations

The Illuminations

The Illuminations are a yearly event held every fall starting roughly in September and mostly finishing just after the Christmas holidays and intending to increase tourist traffic to the area in what is normally an off time of the year (in recent years it has finished before the Christmas holidays but with COVID this has changed). The Illuminations consist of colourful light displays running along the promenade, above the street and on the street lights, from Pleasure Beach in the south to well past the tower to the north where there are a series of large static displays where the trams turn around that you can take in on foot.

Tram Lit Up

A tram is one of the best ways to take in the whole experience, particularly an older double-decker sitting on the top deck but equally good is to drive the length of the lights. There are tram tours specifically of the lights but just taking a normal city tram is sufficient to take it all in. Often you will see trams decorated with lights themselves making it even more fun. Driving is quite slow with traffic during the Illuminations but that gives you plenty of time to take in the displays. Walking is certainly an option but the distance is quite long to see everything…certainly walking the far northern section with the static displays is reasonable.

View from a car

The lights featured are often quite old, “vintage”, but new displays are included every year featuring the latest television or cartoon stars. There is also a market opposite the Blackpool Tower with a video/audio display projected onto the tower itself.

Market

Tower Lights

The displays are free to enjoy but they do encourage a donation with collecting booths for cars visiting the area at either end of the route.

Lights

See https://www.visitblackpool.com/things-to-do/blackpool-illuminations/ for further details.

Pleasure Beach

One of the biggest amusement parks in England with the highest and fastest roller-coaster in Europe (Pepsi Max Big One) this can also be one of the most expensive amusement parks…Located at the southern-most end of the Blackpool Promenade (past the South Pier).

See https://www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/ for further details.

Facilities

Entrance to Pleasure Beach is no longer free with timed tickets available allowing unlimited number of rides within a given time period. There are a few places to eat on the site (including the ubiquitous Burger King).

The Rides

There are surprisingly a good variety of rides on offer. Great thrill rides such as, of course, the Pepsi Max Big One and the truly thrilling Spin Doctor – where you are strapped into a cage at the end of a LONG rotating vertical arm. The “family rides” are also very good with some such as the Derby Racers not quite what I would call something for younger visitors…

Many, many rides -- This one is the Derby Racer

Walking through the park I was struck with a sense of nostalgia at some of the older rides kept in such good working order. It was a chance to go on rides I have heard of many years ago but never actually seen in a theme park.

Further Information

For further information, please see: