Blackpool is a large town and seaside resort in North West England with a population of just over 140,000.
Every week in the holiday season saw the arrival of hundreds of trains to Blackpool, packed with factory workers from Lancashire, Liverpool, and Manchester. It became the UK’s first working class seaside resort.
In recent years the rising popularity of foreign holidays has bitten hard into Blackpool’s core business. Visitor numbers have fallen quite sharply but the town is fighting back with an ambitious regeneration plan and plenty of new developments and things to do.
In recent years Blackpool has built many new tourist attractions and made overdue improvements to existing ones.
With its white-knuckle rides like the Pepsi Max Big One and Infusion, Blackpool Pleasure Beach is the UK’s most popular tourist attraction. Nickelodeon Land, a new £10 million area of the park with rides and attractions themed around characters from the children’s TV channel, opened here at the start of the 2011.
The world-famous Blackpool Tower is also getting a makeover after being purchased by Blackpool Council in 2010. The local authority brought in Merlin Entertainments, Europe’s biggest leisure group, to manage the attraction and big changes are in the pipeline. The Blackpool Tower Dungeon and the Blackpool Tower Eye are both set to open in time for the 2011 Illuminations.
In 2011 Merlin also opened the UK’s second Madame Tussauds, a long overdue replacement for the old Louis Tussauds waxworks.
Sandcastle Waterpark, the UK’s biggest indoor water park, is also building two new rides for the 2011 season and work is also progressing on restoring the Winter Gardens to its Victorian splendour.
The Tower Festival Headland is another major development. Situated at the foot of Blackpool Tower this outdoor arena will be able to accommodate 20,000 spectators and will play host to major events and concerts. It will also be home to the Comedy Carpet, a unique art installation featuring the catchphrases of the famous classic and modern comedians.
Public artwork has featured heavily in the regeneration of the town. It started in 1996 with the Great Promenade Show, a series of 10 sculptures running from Squires Gate to the South Pier. More recent additions include The Wave; a 10.5 metre high metallic sculpture at St John’s Square and Brilliance, a light and sound show on Birley Street incorporating six huge stainless steel arches.
Hotels and places to stay in and around Blackpool include:
- Golden Strand Hotel
- Rivers Vale
- Pleasure Hotel by the Beach
- Belroy Hotel
- The Merlin Hotel
- Rockcliffe Hotel
- ibis Styles Blackpool
- The Winter Garden Suites
- Sam Residence Hotel
- The Garnett
Nightlife and Entertainment
Lovers of cabaret will find the show at Funny Girls is an unforgettable experience. The town also boasts a good selection of theatres and other live entertainment venues such as the Empress Ballroom, Opera House, Grand Theatre, Legends on the Central Pier, and the Merrie England Bar on the North Pier.
The £30 redevelopment of the Houndshill Shopping Centre was completed in 2008. The new mall is anchored by a massive Debenhams department store and is home to all the popular high street shops.
The M55 connects Blackpool with the M6 and the UK’s motorway network. Leave the M6 at junction 32 for the M55.
The M55 goes almost all the way to the town centre. All major attractions are well signposted.
Blackpool’s trams run from Starr Gate (near Blackpool International Airport and Squires Gate train station), along the Promenade, and through to Cleveleys and Fleetwood.
Blackpool North is the busiest of Blackpool’s four train stations. It’s located on Talbot Road in the town centre. The other stations are Blackpool South, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and Squires Gate.
There are many options for getting to Blackpool by train. Direct services to Blackpool are provided by Northern Rail and First TransPennine Express.
Northern Rail runs a train service from Hazel Grove to Blackpool, calling at Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Bolton, and Preston. They also run trains from Manchester Victoria to Blackpool.
Northern Rail also runs a train service from Colne to Blackpool South. Stops include Burnley, Accrington, Blackburn, Preston, Lytham, St Annes, Squires Gate, and Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Northern Rail trains from York to Blackpool North call at Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, Burnley, Blackburn, and Preston.
Trains from Liverpool to Blackpool are provided by Northern Rail. Services depart Liverpool Lime Street and call at St Helens, Wigan, Preston, and Blackpool North.
First TransPennine Express runs trains from Manchester Airport to Blackpool North. Stops include Manchester Piccadilly, Bolton and Preston.
Passengers can connect with the West Coast Mainline at Preston. Virgin Trains offer high speed train services from here to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Carlisle, Penrith, Lancaster, Warrington, London Euston, and many other destinations.
For train fares and times to and from Blackpool visit the National Rail Enquiries website.