Blackpool - The UK's Most Famous Seaside Town
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It's unarguably the UK's most famous seaside town – Blackpool – with a history as long as its golden mile and tales to tell as tall as its famous tower.
Though it has suffered in past years due to changing tastes and easier travel abroad, Blackpool's seafront continues to attract millions of visitors every year.
If it's tradition you want and a glimpse of its rich heritage, Blackpool has it in abundance.
The iconic Blackpool Tower still dominates the skyline, though now when you climb to the top a glass-floored area gives you a chance to test your bravery.
Blackpool boasts three different piers, and many of the historic features of English seaside towns such as fortune-tellers, donkey rides, fish-and-chip shops and many quirky outlets selling Blackpool Rock, huge soft toys and "Kiss Me Quick" hats.
Running along the prom is the UK's only surviving first-generation tramway. Riding the tram is undoubtedly on the "must-do" list for visitors, especially during Autumn's Illumination season.
This is when lampposts and displays along the coast road become a dazzling light display after dark. The Illuminations are one of Blackpool's most famous attractions, but are possibly outshone by the town's amusement park.
The Pleasure Beach – which has been owned by the Thompson family since it was founded in 1896 – has consistently lead rankings for UK tourist attractions. It is one of only two amusement parks in the world to still run wooden roller coasters.
But to keep its fame and fortune it's had to keep up with the times, which included building The Big One in 1994. When it was launched it was the biggest and fastest roller coaster in the world.
The Pleasure Beach has clearly been left behind by other theme parks in recent years when it comes to top thrill-seeking. So, by 2018 it will have a new £16.5m roller coaster to add to its offering.
This thirst to keep hold of its place at the top of UK seaside towns – and preferably attract new generations of visitors – is one of the town's most fascinating features.
It is harnessing its heritage to a raft of new offerings and exciting developments, in the hope of retaining what makes it special, while keeping up with changing tastes.
For example, Blackpool's long history of "end of the pier" entertainment used to draw some of the biggest names in show business in its heyday. It passed through an era of being "cheesy and outdated", to emerge as a new form of arts and entertainment innovation.
Blackpool's fabulous "Comedy Carpet" has been created on the sea front to map out quotes and sayings from decades of comedians.
But now arts festivals and entertainment there also include edgy performances and new acts from throughout the globe.
The Illuminations – mainly relying on good old lightbulbs for their creative spark – have been re-ignited by Lightpool. This includes projected displays on to Blackpool Tower and light "art" projects. Even Yoko Ono has contributed to the Lightpool Festival in Blackpool.
The new entertainment era for the town also attracted director Tim Burton, who shot much of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children along the sea front. Rarely, Blackpool even received a "name check" in the film.
Even Blackpool's graffiti strewn back streets now feature "Urban Art" from top names from throughout the World. Global urban artists descend on the town for the annual Sand, Sea & Spray Festival, leaving an impressive open-air art gallery on buildings and car parks.
From its ice shows and world famous Winter Garden's dance competitions, Blackpool keeps on freshening itself up.
However, is it the family friendly place it claims to be? Has it managed to distance itself from the "stag and hen" single sex party town that has marred its weekend trade for too long?
Well, not as much as tourism chiefs would have you believe.
Blackpool's pubs and clubs are still hair-raising after dark. Drunk and drugged wanderers and more than its fair share of rough sleepers still spoil its night time economy.
But if you look passed all that, Blackpool has a great deal to offer day trippers and folk seeking a fun family break.
Not least as the vast array of hotels and Bed & Breakfast establishments compete for trade and keep prices keen.
Blackpool has come a long way since it emerged as a major centre of tourism thanks to a new railways built in the 1840s connecting it to the industrialised regions of Northern England.
It is now known throughout the world. And while it continues to protect its rich heritage and develop new attractions, it can still be a magical place to visit. Particularly foreign tourists who want a window in to England's past.
72790 - 2023-01-26 02:05:00