For someone who travels to wild and exotic places on a regular basis you wouldn’t expect one of my favourite places to be Blackpool would you? But it is, for lots of different reasons.
Living almost all my life in the North West of England (save for short spells in Oslo and Mannheim in Germany ) I’ve suffered from the depressing weather patterns which affect Manchester and its suburbs. Ideally I’d be living in the Far East with the warmth and my dream, when I’ve persuaded my family to join me is to emigrate to Sydney, Australia, although I fear that by the time I’ve succeeded in my persuasion I’ll be too old to actually enjoy the city. So why Blackpool since its weather is not like the Far East or Sydney?
Well, first off it’s only an hour’s drive from my house and it’s a relatively easy route to travel. Second, despite it still being relatively North Westerly based, the weather is vastly improved since it’s located on the coast. Both these factors make it like a mini holiday whenever I visit whether it’s for a day trip or only a couple of hours. Third it’s by the sea and with the recent investment into cleaning up the beach and renovating the Victorian promenade it’s a beautiful beach at that. Fourth and probably the most enticing thing about Blackpool for me is that it has an amusement park with probably the best rollercoaster in the UK – The Big One!
My family loves rollercoasters and despite everyone having back issues we can’t wait to get on them. Blackpool Pleasure Beach is a particularly good amusement park mainly because it’s small and compact. It’s only £22pp (at time of writing) for a day wrist band if you book online and the queues for rides are never more than 45 minutes long. In fact, for many rides you can just jump straight on them.
The park has it’s fair share of big adrenalin rides: Infusion, The Big One, Tango Ice Blast, and Revolution as well as scream inducing Victorian rollercoasters such as the Mad Mouse, The Grand National and The Big Dipper which possibly give you more of a thrill than the more modern ones.
For the little kids (and the big ones who secretly love them) there’s the aptly themed Nickolodeon Land where little ones can get wet on the Rugrats mini log flume, experience a mini Ice Blast or venture into the fantasy world’s of Dora and Diego. Like Disney and Universal there’s also a chance to meet characters from Nickolodeon programmes and have your picture taken with them.
There are plenty of other rides if those don’t take your fancy. One of the best is Alice in Wonderland (built in 1961) which gives you a psychedelic trip through Lewis Carroll’s book. A more modern version is the Wallice and Gromit ride which is laugh out loud funny in places.
With a small footprint you can easily do all the rides in one day and if you fancy your chances you can also try to win a giant banana or donut by trying many of the ridiculously hard fairground stalls (clearly the funds from these activities subsidise the low entry ticket prices!).
The park is also well catered for food wise with plenty of concession stands offering a large choice of food and drink and its all relatively reasonably priced (note you cannot take your own picnic in these days).
If theme parks don’t take your fancy then Blackpool Tower is also a treat. Run by Merlin Entertainments you can buy a multi ticket for £45pp adult, £32.50 child (at time of writing) which allows you access to seven attractions in the area including Blackpool Tower,Blackpool Tower Circus, Blackpool Tower Dungeon, Madame Tussauds, Sealife and Jungle Jim’s. Merlin also has a sale on its annual pass at the moment which is well worth looking at if you’re staycationing in the UK this year.
If dancing is what you fancy you can buy afternoon tea in the Tower for £25 pp and try your hand with the old pros who regularly take to the stage to practice their Samba.
Harry Ramsdens is also worth a trip if you want to sample the best fish and chips in Blackpool. Newly renovated and relocated under Blackpool Tower we ate there recently and not only was the food superb but it only cost us £153 for a party of 12 (four adults, eight teenagers)!
The promenade is beautiful and has over the years been restored to Victorian splendour in parts. Opposite the Tower is fabulous artwork depicting comedy sketches and if you fancy a spot of shopping Blackpool has a decent high street and shopping arcade with all the usual retailers.
There is no shortage of places to stay in Blackpool with all the usual budget hotels and motels closely situated to all the attractions, not to mention B&Bs which are all the way up and down the seafront.
There’s rock galore and entertainments a plenty, it’s not called Las Vegas of the North for nothing. Be warned though, you can spend as much money here in a day than you can in a week in the sun!