Blackpool Pleasure Beach
There’s something for everyone at Blackpool Pleasure Beach – from one of the world’s oldest...Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Some cities entice the visitor with classical architecture, well thought-out museums, important art galleries. Not Blackpool. She’s been pulling in the punters for years with a tried and tested combination of bawdy seaside humour, gutbusting attractions and epic nightlife. More than 12 million people every year come to the north-west’s flashing, tinkling, fish-and-chip-smelling streets. From families on a weeklong vacation to stag and hens come to lap up their last nights of freedom, the brassy brilliance of Blackpool’s proper British holiday is big business.
You can visit Blackpool at any time of year and be assured of a spectacle – whether it’s the famous Promenade at Christmas, the thrills and spills of the Pleasure Beach or the Illuminations: five miles of brightly-lit insanity that last from September to November. There are seven miles of beaches, heaving with optimistic deckchair-lovers in all weathers; three piers; and of course the myriad pubs and clubs. Blackpool likes to live large.Read more
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There’s a secret to Blackpool’s success, which becomes apparent when you walk the Promenade with its odd collection of visitors: young groups out for a good time, stag and hen parties in attention-grabbing fancy dress, and older folk popping in and out of the bingo halls. Unlike other seaside towns, which either fall prey to the blue rinse brigade or get a reputation as a lawless drinking hole for teenagers, Blackpool is all things to all pleasure seekers.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Nowhere is this more evident than at the Pleasure Beach: a seaside attraction to end them all. This legendary theme park is one of the oldest in the world, and boasts a rollercoaster (the Big Dipper) that was opened in 1923. At the other end of the spectrum, it’s also got the Ice Blast, which was opened in 1997 and remains one of the biggest thrill-seeking draws anywhere in the UK. And that’s Blackpool all over. In a town where the Tower Ballroom (at the foot of the iconic Blackpool Tower) can still attract a full dance floor every night, while massive modern clubs pull in the young and crazy, there’s room for wooden rollercoasters as well as all-singing all-dancing modern attractions.
British Seaside Town
Blackpool has managed to weather the rise and fall of the British seaside town like no other. While its rivals became deserted once the middle class discovered cheap air fares to Spain and Greece, Blackpool simply cranked up the glitz factor and continued to pull in its own breed of tourist. Continual redevelopment of the town’s leisure facilities, and a willingness to open itself to new markets, has ensured the kind of life for which the town has become famous: bold, loud and enthusiastic.
No-one would argue that Blackpool’s weather is less than perfect – it’s northerly enough to get battered by regular storms during the late autumn and winter months, and can disappear for days under a blanket of freezing sea fog. But the lights, the rides, and most importantly the party just keep going on. Blackpool doesn’t care about location. She just wants to have fun.
Walking is part of the Blackpool experience. The amusement arcades, the Promenade lights and the landmarks and parks are all designed with the leisurely stroll in mind. Bear in mind that the seafront is huge – more than five miles long – so while walking within a district is a good idea, you might want to use the trams and buses to get from place to place. Walking the Promenade during the Illuminations is recommended.
Blackpool is served by Blackpool airport, which links the town primarily with other party destinations around Europe. You can fly to and from Malaga, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Ibiza, Alicante, Faro and Belfast plus some others.
The M55 connects Blackpool to the M6, around Kirkham and Preston. National bus services drop off and pick up in Blackpool, and local bus services run between all the major towns in the area. Blackpool is close to Lancaster, Preston, Fleetwood and Southport.
It’s also possible to access Blackpool by boat, catching a ferry into Fleetwood or Heysham.
Bus routes in Blackpool
Internally, bus routes run well and cheaply all over town. The two major operators in Blackpool are Stagecoach and Blackpool Transport. You can get a travel day ticket on each line, but you can’t usually board a Stagecoach bus with a Blackpool Transport ticket or vice versa.
As well as everyday taxis (where as ever the normal rules apply – don’t get in an unbooked cab on your own, always use a marked cab), visitors to Blackpool can take horse drawn carriages along the seafront.
Blackpool’s tram network is substantial. It runs all the way along the seafront to Fleetwood. The tram lines themselves have been in place since the heyday of British holidaymaking, but there are now modern trams to run on them. During the busiest times of year, the city dusts off its antique cars and puts them back on the rails to cope with extra demand. These have been modified to allow access for wheelchair users and the differently abled.
Two things kickstarted Blackpool’s career as a major UK holiday destination: the Victorian obsession with “the cure” (going down to the sea for the beneficial ozone), and the arrival of the railways.
The former brought more affluent Victorian patrons up to the area, and saw a few leisure amenities being built to amuse them between health sessions. The latter brought vast numbers of tourists into the town, and in less than 20 years Blackpool had everything the card-carrying seaside resort needed: attractions, gas lamps, plumbed water and a Board of Health.
The surrounding Lancashire towns, which were making their own money from the cotton trade, had developed a practice of shutting up shop for a week to clean and service machinery. These “wakes weeks” were arranged for different weeks throughout the year, and in an early example of tourist planning a guaranteed influx of local visitors kept Blackpool growing steadily throughout the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Steam. Between 1863 and 1893, three piers were built, all of which remain. The North Pier came first, and attracted the richer tourist. Central Pier was next, and South Pier was finished and opened in 1893. The stretch between Central Pier and South Pier is now called the Golden Mile, and is the site of Blackpool’s proposed gambling strip.
The famous Winter Gardens building opened in 1875. It’s now renowned as the home of World Matchplay Darts, and has hosted the annual Blackpool Dance Festival since 1920.
Blackpool Tower, the town’s iconic landmark, was opened in 1894 after a program of electrical installations, which began in the 1870s. Blackpool became the first town in the world to have electric lights in the streets, and one of the first to have electrically powered trams. The Tower, which was the most notable of the Victorian landmarks, was based on the design of the Eiffel Tower.
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