Written by Lynsey Oxton
If ever there’s a summer tradition here in Great Britain, packing your bucket and spade and heading off to the seaside on a sunny day tops the list.
So, with a day off work and temperatures climbing into the mid-thirties (apparently record-breaking), I jumped in my car, turned up the air-con and headed an hour North to the sandy shores of Blackpool! Turns out the meteorologists were correct – it was a scorcher!
Situated on the Lancashire coast and lying on the Irish Sea, Blackpool is the most visited seaside town in the UK, beating off rivals Whitby and Brighton. It may have a (fair) reputation for stag and hen do’s, pensioner coach trips and ‘kiss me quick’ hats, but it clearly has a feel-good, carefree charm that keeps drawing the crowds in!
Blackpool first became popular in the late 1700’s, thanks to its 7 mile stretch of golden beach. It really hit its heyday in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s with the introduction electric trams, fun in the sun and the place to go dancing -Blackpool Tower.
Good rail links and a lively promenade, offering donkey rides, fish and chips, fortune tellers and fairground rides also added to Blackpool’s appeal. During this period, Blackpool was the holiday hotspot!
The introduction of affordable air travel in the 1960’s meant that the Brits could venture overseas more readily – and no doubt have the guaranteed sunshine that Blackpool could not always offer – and Blackpool suffered as a result. But, it still had plenty to offer and is undoubtedly still a popular staycation location thanks to the rich blend of new and old – or ‘tacky tourism’ and ‘traditional’.
Whereas most seaside towns are lucky to have one pier, Blackpool boasts three! The oldest is North Pier which opened way back in 1863. Although less lively than the other two, it has the best views looking back to the iconic Blackpool Tower, hosts regular shows (from orchestral concerts to Basil Brush!) – and has a fantastic ‘olde worlde’ seaside vibe that will take you back in time, briefly.
Over the years, Blackpool has had a real affiliation with the comedy circuit. North Pier has played host to numerous shows from the well renowned Morecombe and Wise and Paul O’Grady (AKA Lilly Savage), to name but a few. Blackpool Tower and the Grand Theatre have also seen their fair share, with Ken Dodd being a frequent entertainer, Les Dawson too – and more recently, Peter Kay. In 2011, Ken Dodd opened the ‘Comedy Carpet’ at the foot of the tower to celebrate good old British humour.
A 30 minute walk down ‘Golden Mile’ lands you at South Pier where you will find the (also) iconic ‘Big One’ rollercoaster in the Pleasure Beach theme park. I remember when this opened in 1994 (all those years ago when I was 14) and the mass excitement it stirred up as the tallest coaster in the UK. If you like the thrill of theme parks (albeit on a small scale), you should bag yourself a wristband and head to Blackpool Pleasure Beach for the afternoon.
And so, after four hours re-exploring Blackpool (I’ve been before but not for years), I decided I’d seen all I wanted to and got back into my (mega hot) car, for home. As far as days off work and impromptu trips go, this was definitely up there!
If you’re planning a trip to the Great British Seaside anytime soon, Blackpool will guarantee to put a smile on your face. If you’re after a slightly more ‘refined’ British seaside experience, why not try Whitby? Read my blog here!