10 great reasons to visit Blackpool
It’s a bucket and spade. It’s fish and chips on a tray. It’s a slow waltz to a Wurlitzer. It’s bingo in your B&B. It’s a glitterball on a neon prom. Blackpool is a holiday resort that knows what it is, and delivers what it promises on budget. And for a family of five, that’s pretty valuable…
I’m tired of being ripped off
I can’t begin to list the amount of time I’ve been ripped off on holiday. But a few spring to mind. Like the expensive hotel chain that tried to charge us 28 euros to put our bikes in the car park. Like the ‘guided tour’ of a Polish city given by a bored student that began with us buying her elevenses at an expensive café and ended with goodbye at midday. Like the packet of dried spaghetti in an Aland Island mini-market that cost more than a round of drinks back home. And it’s not just us. Who didn’t read about the fifty euro ice creams that a family visiting Rome accidentally splashed out on?
But Blackpool is different
You can say many things about Blackpool, and many people do. It may not be to your taste. It may not have the sun. Subtlety is not its thing. It is overrun by stags and hens. It may not be sophisticated or luxurious, but unlike some other destinations, it does what it says on the tin. And it lets you put your hand in your pocket without wincing. Here are ten good value reasons to visit this traditional seaside resort.
1 The Blackpool Big Ticket
The Blackpool Big Ticket is a seven attraction pass that gives you entry to the Blackpool Tower Dungeon, Madame Tussauds, The Tower Circus, Jungle Jims, Sea Life, The Blackpool Tower Eye and the Ballroom. While the ticket price may seem a lot to fork out in one go (£45 on the day or £40 if you book online), especially if you are a larger family, there are so many things to do on this tour of Blackpool’s Merlin attractions that it will last you a week if you take your time. It’s also valid for ninety days; so you can always come back if you run out of time or energy. Visit Blackpool also offer other Blackpool resort passes giving entry to multiple attractions at a discount.
2 Blackpool Tower Dungeon
This is as much fun as I’ve ever had in a dark space with my kids in tow and a torturer just round the corner. And it’s one of the best attractions I’ve visited in a while. From the moment you enter the lift and are carried down to the maze of gloomy passageways, human actors entertain you with blood and guts, pestilence and plague and a large helping of humour. The Blackpool Dungeon is also an education into the past of Lancashire; a county that hosted its fair share of darkness , from the hanging of the Pendle Witches, to Viking attacks and Black Death.
3 Blackpool Tower Ballroom
I love Blackpool Tower. I love everything about it, from how it looks at night all lit up, to the view from the top. I love the fact that once upon a time its visionary mayor went to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris and thought it would be appropriate to stick a copy of it on the prom in a British northern town. And partly funded it with his own money! If you do one thing in Blackpool, visit the ballroom. It takes you straight back into another time, and I’m convinced it slows down the heartbeat. The sound of the Wurlizter, the old couples dancing, the afternoon teas, the nostalgic tunes and the well preserved grandeur of the space (famous for providing the venue for Strictly Come Dancing specials) all add to the atmosphere. If I come back to this planet I want to be the organist in Blackpool Tower.
4 The Tower Circus
My nieces have been entertained by Mooky the clown at The Tower Circus every year since they were born. And have gone on and on about him. I was therefore expecting Mooky the clown to be far funnier than he was. If I’m honest, I found this circus a bit rough around the edges. The acrobats fell off the trapezes (thankfully onto a safety net.) There was one trick that they tried three times to pull off and had to abandon. And the finale was two pole dancers standing awkwardly while the crew pointlessly flooded the stage. (Did someone pull the plug out in the aquarium?) But wow, what a space this is. The tiny stalls, the traditional ring, the red drapes, the live band, the excitement of the kids creates such an electric and intimate setting that you can easily forgive a few bad jokes and a slip up or two. They used to keep the elephants backstage and I keep trying to imagine that entry and exit! The Blackpool Tower Circus is not something you’ll see anywhere else and whiles away an afternoon very pleasantly. But get there early as the stalls soon fill up.
5 The Blackpool Tower Eye
I’ve done the Skywalk a couple of times, and it always makes me deliciously dizzy. I previewed The View From The Shard a while back and while the Blackpool Tower Eye doesn’t have the iconic views of London, but it still has that head-spinning sense of being on top of the world. You can see for miles. The kids enjoyed the 4D film, although it’s little more than an (admittedly inspiring) promo for the city.
6 The Comedy Carpet
If you’ve always held classic British comedy close to your heart then you should get yourself down to this northern town’s new piece of art. The Comedy Carpet takes quotes from the UK’s biggest and best, and puts them under your feet. Part of the enjoyment is to watch people’s interaction with it. Some stop and read every word, some hop and skip, some fly across it. For Cameron the fun was skating across some of the world’s most famous catchphrases in his Heelies shouting ‘Don’t mention the war!” There is also a wider sculpture trail in Blackpool worth checking out. From dolphins’ tails to sea powered organ pipes to a giant mirrorball the town has invested millions into some great public art.
7 Sandcastle Centre
I’m not crazy about huge indoor water parks, but the Sandcastle Waterpark one is clean and well designed, there’s lots to do, huge changing rooms and a range of slides. Try and steer clear of holiday time if you can. The queues for the slides were half an hour long when we visited, and the lazy river was more like the rush hour water corridor.
8 The Pleasure Beach
You can’t do Blackpool without visiting this. Blackpool Pleasure Beach is more than a theme park or fun fair, it’s a moment of nostalgia and an education in rollercoaster history. Check out our review of Pleasure Beach here.
9 The illuminations
The Blackpool illuminations are always worth a visit. The lights start in August as the light nights start to fade and stretch until half term. If you can only visit over the summer The Tower is often lit up at night, and you’ll just have to imagine the rest!
10 The trams and transport
Blackpool is famous for its trams and 2012 brought 16 shiny new state of the art ones to ply the prom. You can buy a family day pass for under a tenner in the newsagent’s shop and use it on all of the Blackpool buses and trams, although if you want to ride back in time on the Heritage trams you will need to pay a little extra. Whichever tram you go on you’ll be glad you did; you don’t realise how long that prom is until you are doing it on foot. The trams are a fun and stress free way of bombing around and the heritage ones a great journey back in time. If you want to slow it down you can jump on a horse and cart. Or a Cinderella carriage. If you want to slow it down even further you can hook a ride on a donkey on the beach. Slow travel in the age of a car? May the reins reign foerever.
Disclosure Note: Our thanks to Merlin Entertainments, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Sandcastle Waterpark whose ticketing support enabled us to bring you this story. The views, opinions and experience remain, as ever, entirely our own.