Anyone who grew up in the north of England will be familiar with Blackpool — a seaside resort town on the Lancashire coast. This northern tourist hot spot is known for Blackpool Pleasure Beach, its landmark the Blackpool Tower and the Blackpool Illuminations — an annual light show along the promenade.
When I was a kid, we use to go to the Blackpool Illuminations every year. I remember it always being freezing yet super exciting so I wanted Joe to experience it. We booked a cheap as chips room (£15!) at OYO Bank Street which is a 2-minute walk from the seafront promenade. The receptionist was lovely and the room was small yet had everything we needed for a one-night stay.
We were lucky to arrive in Blackpool when the sun was shining so we enjoyed a lovely wander around to get our bearings, including looking up at The Blackpool Tower. It opened in 1894 and looks a bit like a small Eiffel Tower. On those drives to Blackpool as a kid, we use to play a game of who will be the first person to spot the Blackpool Tower?
If we weren’t so skint this week I’d have loved to have gone inside to visit The Blackpool Tower Ballroom as it looks stunning in the photos but alas, I will have to return another time for afternoon tea there. Just outside of the tower is The Comedy Carpet — a 2,200m2 work of art on the ground which gives visual form to jokes, songs and catchphrases dating from the early days of variety to the present.
After a quick tea break back in the room, while waiting for it to go dark, we ventured out to see the lights— just as the heavens opened! Typical. Nevertheless, with warm coats on and hoods up, off we went. The illuminations cover 10km using over 1 million lightbulbs. Sometimes they’re just pretty lights to look at and in other sections, a theme is incorporated such as Sooty the hand puppet or princess tiaras. Passing trams are often lit-up and in typical Blackpool fashion, there are heaps of fish and chip shops, hot doughnut stores, arcades and tacky gift stores (which I love!).
We also found an absolute gem of a Wetherspoons — The Velvet Coaster. We were lucky enough to get a spot in front of a fire pit on the ground floor which we welcomed with open arms after walking in the rain for an hour.
While I enjoyed the evening for nostalgia, the Blackpool Illuminations are not the same as they were 20 years ago. Or now that I’m all grown up, perhaps I view them differently? 😢 I think they’d still be magical for a child and one silver lining is that I won’t be moaning every October now that I’m missing out!
The following morning, we enjoyed a long walk on Blackpool Beach while the tide was out, followed by a little window shopping in Houndshill Shopping Centre. I even managed to fit in a gingerbread and cream latte at Costa Coffe so it was a trip worth making in my books — although not sure Joe would agree! 😆 Brighton wins the award for the best seaside town this year.
NB: I recently wrote this article for work (before this trip) on 10 Family-Friendly Reasons to Visit the Blackpool Illuminations.