Following a heyday in the first half of the 20th century as the working classes gained freedom and disposable income, Blackpool has struggled to find a new role with the advent of package holidays to the Mediterranean. It has long used the Blackpool Illuminations light show to extend its tourist season into the autumn months, and has been campaigning the government to allow the redevelopment of its central seafront Golden Mile with Las Vegas-style casino hotels in an attempt to become a gambling haven.
While many tourists go to Blackpool nowadays for party weekends (often hen or stag groups), an older clientele enjoys the nostalgia of the town. The Tower Ballroom remains a global mecca for ballroom dancing and many remember Reginald Dixon playing his Wurlitzer organ with songs such as "Oh I do like to be beside the seaside"; synonymous with the town.
Blackpool can be reached via the M55 from the M6, the UK's main motorway through the North West of England. Blackpool has many car parks available to visitors, several of which are very close the town's main attractions and promenade.
By busLocal bus services run from Preston, Lancaster, Nelson, Southport and Fleetwood.
Long distance bus services, and charters, run from virtually everywhere in Great Britain.
Blackpool North is the main station, half a mile from the tower, and near most accommodation. It has frequent trains from York and Manchester Victoria and Airport.
has fewer trains, from Preston, but is closer to Pleasure Beach.
Change at Preston for trains to the Midlands, London Euston, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Manchester Airport (MAN) has a huge range of flights. There are direct trains hourly between the airport and Blackpool North, taking 1 hr 40 min, plus other connections via Preston.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LPL), 35 miles south, has budget flights across Europe.
Blackpool airport no longer has scheduled passenger flights, but remains in use as an air-support base for the gas fields out in Morecambe Bay.
Ferries no longer sail from nearby Fleetwood. The closest ferry routes are from Heysham near Morecambe to Douglas, Isle of Man, and from Liverpool to Dublin and Belfast.
By tramThe Blackpool Tramway runs along the complete length of the sea front from Starr Gate near Blackpool Airport to Fleetwood at the northern end of the Fylde coast. It is the only tramway in Britain to have operated continuously since the nineteenth century and after all other original tram systems in Britain were closed in the post-war era.
If arriving by train, a "Plusbus" ticket allows travel on trams between Starr Gate and Thornton Gate.
The tramway was entirely modernised in 2011-2 with modern low-floor tramcars providing the majority of the service. Heritage tramcars run daily but special tickets are required.
By busThe town is well served by buses; the main operators within the town are Blackpool Transport and Stagecoach. Both operators sell day tickets but with very few exceptions these are only accepted on their own buses.
By horseHorse-drawn "landaus" offer an old-fashioned alternative to modern taxis for journeys along the seafront.
On footThe majority of Blackpool's attractions are located on the promenade and, as a result, most are easily accessible on foot.
Blackpool TowerA Victorian tribute-act to the Eiffel Tower, 518 ft / 158 m high, part of a big leisure complex. The main attractions (some closed winter) are: the Ballroom, ornately decorated, where the Wurlitzer tootles as you dance or sip tea; the Circus; the Dungeon theme-ride; Jungle Jim's children's indoor adventure play area; Dino's indoor mini-golf; and finally the observation deck at the top of the tower, now called Blackpool Tower Eye reached by glass elevator. Various combi tickets online (cheaper than at the door): just the Eye is £12.50, a 3-attraction pass is £32.
North PierNorth pier is relaxed and has a sun trap lounge area at the end. North Pier is the oldest and largest of the three coastal piers in Blackpool.
Central PierCentral Pier has arcades, rides and theatres.
South PierSouth Pier also hosts arcades, rides and family bars.
address: 525 Ocean Boulevard, FY4 1EZOne of Britain's largest amusement parks, with 11 roller-coasters including the original Roller Coaster which gave the rides their name. This has been eclipsed by more modern coasters, including Britain's tallest roller coaster ride the "Pepsi Max Big One" (more commonly known as "The Big One") which is over 200 feet high. Other roller coasters include the Irn Bru Revolution and Big Dipper. Rides require 2-9 £1 tickets, or a £30 all day wristband, which is a few pounds cheaper when bought online. A wristband is needed for entry into the park. In addition to the all day ticket there is a spectator pass which allows entry into the park and access to a small number of attractions. Tickets can then be used for other rides. As well as the adult rides, children's rides area, and sidestalls, the park also has some excellent architecture to see. The park began life as a funfair on the sands in the Victorian era, and by the 1930s some permanent buildings arrived in the style of the day - Art Deco. In particular don't miss the station of the Roller Coaster ride, and the White Tower at the south entrance to the park, both of which have "streamline moderne" influences just like some of the classic trams which operate on the seafront nearby.
phone: +44 1253 830830address: East Park Drive FY3 8PPThe zoo in Blackpool Tower closed in 1969; it was a cramped unhygienic affair. This larger zoo opened on Stanley Park in 1972. There are great ape enclosures, wolf, wallaby, penguins, meerkats . . . and dinosaurs, rare in the wild nowadays.
- Check local listings for forthcoming events in Blackpool.
- Blackpool Sands extend for miles. The area between North and Central Piers can get busy and trash-strewn in summer. Take a donkey ride, ironically if that helps (not Fridays; 50 kilo rider weight limit). It's all safe (though cold) for bathing but there are gullies near the sea wall that silently flood behind you - if the shore watchman is waving and barking through a megaphone, it's time to return to the Prom. The beach becomes shingly and muddy north of Bispham as you come into Thornton-Cleveleys, but is good all the way south to the sand hills of St Annes.
phone: +44 1253 625252address: 97 Church St, FY1 1HLIt hosts many shows each year including the Blackpool Fringe.
- Funny Girls is a drag cabaret staged at 5 Dickson Rd FY1 2AX.
phone: +44 1253 290190address: 33 Church St, FY1 1HTA 1100-seat theatre designed by Frank Matcham in 1894.
Watch football (soccer) at phone: +44 871 622 1953address: Bloomsfield Road, Seasiders Way FY1 6JJThey play in League One, the third tier of English football.
Blackpool IlluminationsA lights and laser show stretching for six miles along the Prom, from Starr Gate in the south to Bispham in the north. "The Lights", founded in 1879, are usually on from the end of Aug to start of Nov, with a celebrity switch-on; the 2019 dates are 30 Aug to 3 Nov. You can walk, or drive this stretch (either way, but south to north is recommended; suggested donation £5 per car) or take a tram - which sounds cool but the view from within the trams is limited. Astronomer Sir Patrick Moore used to fulminate against the mischief that the Blackpool Lights did to local star-gazing.
ShoppingBeyond these specialities, Blackpool plays host to most other shops that you'd expect to find on a British high street including a Marks & Spencer department store as well as the Houndshill Shopping Centre, home to a Debenhams department store, Boots the Chemist, Next (clothing) and other chain stores.
phone: +44 1253 296296address: 32 Talbot Road, FY1 1LFHuge selection of skate and scooter merchandise alongside a wide range of clothing, safety gear and accessories. A skater-owned shop.
phone: +44 1253 294386address: 60-63 The Promenade, FY1 4QUPart of the "world famous" Harry Ramsden's chain on the promenade near many of Blackpool's attractions and the sea front. Offers eat-in and take-away services.
phone: +44 1253 622687address: 27 Clifton Street, FY1 1JDCantonese restaurant established in the 1960s. A regular recommendation from hotel owners and taxi drivers.
phone: +44 1253 751283address: 5-7 Abingdon St, FY1 1DGA popular restaurant. Winner of Restaurant of the Year 2009 & 2011.
Red Pepperphone: +44 1253 291152address: 51 Central Drive, FY1 5DSA well-respected, family-run, Chinese restaurant and takeaway on Central Drive. Ten minutes' walk from the Tower, this restaurant is not in the poshest part of town, but the food is excellent and as a consequence, in common with many of the other longer-established businesses on Central Drive, the Red Pepper has a loyal local following.
phone: +44 1253 290647address: 60 Topping Street, FY1 3AQVery popular local Thai restaurant. Recipient of the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2014.
- The Last Orders Pub (or Corner House) is at 80 Sherbourne Rd FY1 2PQ, in North Shore. Drink with the locals.
- Barvaian Bierkeller, 168 Promenade FY1 1RE is a complex of clubs near North Pier.
- Tache. Blackpool's alternative/rock night club on Corporation Street.
The Gaveladdress: 235 Lytham Road South Shore FY1 6ETJD Wetherspoons with usual range of drinks and food. Outdoor seating.
The Dutton Armsaddress: Corner of Wateroo Road and the PromenadeHas DJs at the weekend and late closing.
The Albert and the Lionaddress: Promenade FY1 4RUJD Wetherspoons with competitively priced food and drinks. "Albert and the Lion" was a comic monologue by Stanley Holloway about a visit to the zoo, when it was still in the Tower complex; it did not end well for Albert.
Rose & Crownaddress: 22 Corporation Street, FY1 1EJContinental style eating and drinking in the centre of Blackpool. This locally owned pub has the largest outdoor seating area in the town centre.
Pump and Truncheonaddress: 13 Bonny Street, FY1 5AROne of the most famous old pubs in town. The only building on this part of the Golden Mile that survived the great fire of Blackpool. Great real ales and traditionally cooked food. Wooden and stone floors and a roaring fire complement the old style feel.
The Sun Innaddress: 88 Bolton Street, FY1 6AAAn independent local family-owned pub that isn't tied to anyone. With real ales and big screen sport TV.
You should take care in the Central Drive area at night, and avoid back-alleys anywhere in the town centre after dark. In particular there are a few street prostitutes operating in these areas after 11PM, who approach single males who are under the influence of alcohol. Do not accept any offers of sex; you will be risking being mugged by the prostitute and/or a male accomplice.
Gay male visitors should avoid the Middle Walk cruising area; a gay man was murdered here and there have been several violent homophobic attacks. Lighting in this area has been improved and there are regular police patrols. The "gay quarter" around Talbot Road, Dickson Road and Queen Street is as safe as the rest of the town centre. It is now being heavily monitored with CCTV.
At the higher end of things, Blackpool has a number of larger hotels, including the Imperial Hotel which is used by politicians during political party conferences which take place at the Winter Gardens.
address: Mythop Road, FY4 4XN
address: 23 Withnell Road
phone: +44 1253 346870address: 15 Alexandra Road
phone: +44 1253 624803address: 12, Coop Street, FY1 5AJ
phone: +44 1253 344769address: 35 Lytham Road
phone: +44 1253 345979address: 5 Wellington Road FY1 6ARPet-friendly 3-star hotel, 2 Family Rooms (up to 4 people) 7 doubles, all en suite TV and tea/coffee making facilities. With bar lounge.
Robin Hood Hotelphone: +44 1253 351599address: 100 Queens Promenade FY2 9NSTen rooms, rooms 1, 5, and 9 have sea views, relaxing lounge, non-smoking.
phone: +44 1253 345110address: Osborne Rd FY4 1HJSmall 3-star, good location, gets very mixed reviews for room comfort & cleanliness & reception. Not connected to the Osborne House Hotel on Read's Ave.
phone: +44 1253 624238address: 91 Read's Ave FY1 4DGClean friendly 3-star with 13 rooms. The ground floor room has disabled access. Relaxing lounge with licensed bar, non-smoking. Free parking.
phone: +44 1253 344385address: 26 Moore St FY4 1DA3-star, ground floor rooms and free parking, relaxing lounge with licensed bar, non-smoking.
phone: +44 1253 620200address: 78 Hornby Rd FY1 4QJClean & friendly 3 star, some rooms cramped. No pets, free parking may be available.
Salendine Housephone: +44 1253 346749address: 44 St Chads Rd FY1 6BPFriendly family run B&B, licensed bar.
phone: +44 1253 294440address: 15 Albert Road FY1 4TAVery central 3-star with 13 rooms en suite. No parking here, use public parking for £14 / night
phone: +44 1253 623476address: 248 North Promenade FY1 1RZ15-bedroom licensed 3-star hotel, gets very mixed reviews for cleanliness and room comfort.
phone: +44 1253 290501address: 288 Promenade FY1 2EY30-bedroom licensed sea-front hotel. Karaoke on Fridays. Free parking if available.
phone: +44 1253 405757address: 555 New South Promenade FY4 1NFClean welcoming 3-star. No pets, no lifts.
The Wembley Hotelphone: +44 1253 346154address: 275 PromenadeFamily hotel, all 16 rooms en-suite, licensed bar. Prices start at £17.50pppn.
- Britannia Group run four mid-range hotels in Blackpool: Norbreck Castle, the Grand, the Savoy, and the Metropole:
address: Queens Promenade FY2 9AAVast fortress of a place on north Prom, often used for conferences. Facilities include a swimming pool and gym.
- Grand Hotel (formerly Hilton) Promenade FY1 2JQ, run by Britannia, has B&B double from £80.
- Metropole Hotel 146-148 Promenade FY1 1RQ is a 3-star run by Britannia, B&B double from £75.
- Savoy Hotel Promenade FY2 9SJ (one mile north of tower) is run by Britannia, B&B double from £70.
phone: +44 1253 400045address: Clifton Drive, Pleasure Beach FY4 1ND4-star contemporary hotel next to Pleasure Beach, friendly clean & efficient.
phone: +44 1253 623971address: North Promenade, North Shore FY1 2HBVictorian 4-star with 120 rooms, showing its age. Car park £7 / night, no pets.
- Take a tram north to Fleetwood, formerly one of the UK's major fishing ports. Visit its famous market and go to the outlet mall called Freeport. For peacefulness catch a bus or train to Lytham, Ansdell, Fairhaven or St Annes-on-sea. Under the resort name of Lytham St Annes, these charming family seaside towns offer something different and traditional to Blackpool.
- Liverpool is easily accessible from Blackpool and is undergoing something of a renaissance. The port city is now home to a thriving shopping and cultural culture, building on its history and legacy in popular culture.
- Manchester can also be easily reached from Blackpool: direct trains run regularly from Blackpool North to the city centre. This 'Cottonopolis' has now hung up its clogs and welcomed in a world of culture, business, music, art, shopping and fine dining.