Blackpool Pleasure Beach

In the time of budget package holidays, the joy of visiting a British seaside has taken a back seat. One destination though, refuses to be sidelined – Blackpool is enjoying a new era of popularity with families looking for a fun-filled and stress-free holiday. Henry Turner finds out more…

As a born and bred Lancastrian, visits to Blackpool were a huge part of my childhood – from donkey rides to spotting sights from the top of the tower, my early memories are punctuated by these halcyon days beside the sea. It wasn’t until I started taking care of my own nieces and nephews that I realised quite how much the town has come on and how much you can pack into a family holiday. So I headed up there with two of the world’s toughest critics – my three year old niece and nine year old nephew – to see if their experiences could mirror my own wonderful memories.

First up was a visit to that icon of the town – Blackpool Tower. The experience has certainly changed from my visits before. The Tower Eye 4D Experience not only includes a walk along the thrilling glass SkyWalk but also a 4D presentation (that’s smell and touch – cue ocean spray and the smell of the coastline!) of the vibrant history of Blackpool as a resort town.

The Tower has lots of other experiences on offer, including a visit to Jungle Jim’s soft play, a trip through the equally hilarious and terrifying Dungeons, the Tower Circus and of course, the majestic Ballroom. Thankfully, not everything is new and this wonderful room remains just as I remembered it – famous across the land and a regular on screens thanks to Strictly Come Dancing. Even the little ones couldn’t fail to be amazed by its grandeur. You can also save some money by purchasing the combined attraction ticket for £45 – giving you entry into all seven of the Tower attractions.

Just outside of the Tower is a new fixture that is such a lovely nod to Blackpool’s history as a fixture on the comedy circuit. Referring to the work of more than 1,000 comedians and comedy writers, the ‘Comedy Carpet’ gives visual form to jokes, songs and catchphrases dating from the early days of variety to the present.

As much as they loved the attractions, it appeared I had two little thrill-seekers in my midst, so it was off to the one and only Pleasure Beach. First opened in 1896, this is another iconic Blackpool experience. Today, many of the older rides are still running alongside the state-of-the-art additions, creating one of the most fantastic theme park experiences in the UK. Even more magical, the park is right on the beach, meaning you have panoramic views of the coastline from many of the rides, including one of Europe’s tallest rollercoasters – the amazing Big One. As well as the big rides, the park is filled with smaller attractions too – perfect if you haven’t got a head for heights or if little ones are in tow.

The beauty of many of the attractions here are how central they are – from the Pleasure Beach we were in easy reach of the Promenade. The kids loved walking along to Harry Ramsden’s for a very tasty fish and chips before heading back into the heart of the action again!

Apparently that dose of adrenalin wasn’t enough, as by the next morning we were ready to head to the Sandcastle – the UK’s largest indoor waterpark. Whilst my niece was content to play on the smaller slides and shallows, my nephew and I headed up into the Hyperzone – a thrilling group of faster paced rides with maximum splash. He was giddy with excitement – as was I – and we were both shrieking with delight from start to finish!

One of the biggest events in the Blackpool calendar is the Illuminations – kicked off by a concert and a series of spectacular fireworks displays over a number of weekends. This year the Illuminations will run from 1st September – 5th November, and I can’t say enough how much I loved these events. Whether it was the lights or just the thrill of being out late and munching on a fresh seaside doughnut, the ‘Luminations will always hold a special place in my heart! Blackpool has a long history of collaborating with light technologies. Light is synonymous with the town’s history and development since the first eight arc lamps that graced the Promenade in 1879 to in excess of the 1,000,000 lamps that now feature in this year’s display. This year there are spectacular new arrival points for Illuminations visitors at the north and south gateways to the resort providing you with a warm welcome as you begin your Illuminations journey along the world famous promenade.

If you intend to take in as many of the attractions as we did, I’d highly recommend the Blackpool Resort Pass (www.blackpoolresortpass.com). For £80pp the following attractions are included:

Blackpool Pleasure Beach (wristbands for the rides)

Nickelodeon Land

The Blackpool Tower Eye & 4D Experience

The Blackpool Tower Dungeon

SEA LIFE Blackpool

Madame Tussauds Blackpool

Blackpool Zoo

Sandcastle Waterpark (Including Hyperzone tickets)

Blackpool Model Village & Gardens

This saves £55 per ticket and means you can really make the most of all the sights without worrying about the cost.

There can’t be many places in the country with as much to offer the whole family – from tiny tots right up to grown men (yes I loved every second) Blackpool has thrills, laughs and iconic sites aplenty. For me, it was more than a trip of nostalgia – it was wonderful to take my family around the sites that were so familiar to me and make new memories with them at the same time. Even though we had a packed schedule, we still didn’t manage to fit everything in – looks like we will be back again soon…