Day 1. Blackpool – the perfect winter break

I’ve visited Blackpool several times but always either in the summer or during the autumn illuminations when the resort has been in full swing so I was curious to find out what it would be like to visit the resort out of season.

Blackpool Tower and beach
Blackpool Tower and its wide, sandy beach

Plans made, we were up at the crack of dawn (well, earlier than that in fact, as it was still pitch black outdoors) as we made our way to our local rail station.  Two trains and around three hours later we were pulling into Blackpool North station ready for a hearty breakfast and a much needed cup of coffee.

North Pier, Blackpool
The entrance to North Pier

It takes no more than 10 minutes to walk down Talbot Road to the seafront and as work is underway to extend the tramway along to the railway station, soon it will be easier still.  The tram line extension will enable passengers to connect seamlessly to all the seafront attractions and as far as Fleetwood to the north.

North Pier, Blackpool
North Pier, Blackpool

After setting ourselves up for a day’s sightseeing with traditional cooked breakfasts we were ready for action and crossed the promenade towards North Pier.  During the winter months only the front section of the pier remains open so we couldn’t take a stroll along its length but were still able to admire it from the shore.

Festival Place Blackpool
Blackpool Tower from Festival Place

We then strolled along the promenade to Festival Place in front of the famous Blackpool Tower.  Embedded into the pavement are jokes and catch phrases of comic greats and entertainers who have performed in the town so we had fun reading some of them.  The Tower celebrated its 125th anniversary last year and is Blackpool’s iconic landmark.  The lift to the Tower top doesn’t open until the end of March but it was almost as much fun craning our necks to admire its structure.

Heritage tram, Blackpool promenade
One of the heritage trams operating tours along the seafront

Strolling along the promenade there were quite a few people about enjoying the fresh air and the much needed sunshine.  The tide was out exposing a wide expanse of golden sand which looked very different from our summer visits when it’s filled with sun worshippers equipped with their brightly coloured deckchairs, parasols and windbreaks.

Heritage double decker tram Blackpool seafront
One of the heritage double decker trams operating along the seafront

Trams ran along Blackpool’s seafront in their cream and green livery from 1885 until 2011 when they were replaced with a modern fleet with accessible low floors.  The new trams are functional and convenient but although they run along the seafront, they are no longer unique and no different from taking a tram ride in for example, Nottingham or Edinburgh.

Heritage tram, Blackpool seafront
One of the more recent heritage trams operating during our weekend visit

Thankfully, all is not lost though, as on numerous weekends throughout the year, heritage trams are brought out of their tram sheds to evoke memories of times gone by delighting people like me.  Fortunately our weekend visit had coincided with one of the golden tram heritage events and it was so lovely to see different generations of the Blackpool Transport fleet operating tours along the prom.  There was even one tram parked up near North Pier acting as a shop with transport books and memorabilia displayed across the seats.

Marine life in the Blackpool SeaLife Centre
Marine life in the Blackpool SeaLife Centre

Continuing along the seafront we arrived at the SeaLife Centre which is located mid-way between North and Central piers.  Visitors to the resort can either pay to visit individual attractions or purchase a BIG Ticket offering admission to The Blackpool Tower, Tower Ballroom, Tower Circus, SeaLife Centre, Madame Tussaud’s and the Blackpool Dungeon.  This combined ticket is valid for a single visit to each attraction over a 90 day period from first use and offers much better value.

Marine life in the Blackpool SeaLife Centre
Marine life on display at the Blackpool SeaLife Centre

There were only a couple of people ahead of us at the ticket desk and soon we were mounting the stairs to view the tanks filled with large marine life from huge sharks to small, delicate seahorses.  We walked through a concrete glass tunnel with fish swimming all around us and though no-one was using it at the time, we spotted the cage where intrepid visitors who are brave enough, can dare to snorkel with sharks and turtles.

Madame Tussauds Blackpool
Madame Tussauds Blackpool

Having learnt a little about marine life we continued a little further along the seafront in a southerly direction until we reached Madame Tussauds.  I’ve visited London more times than I can remember but have never visited the waxworks there so I was intrigued to discover why it’s so popular and high on people’s wish lists.

The Strictly Come Dancing stage at Madame Tussauds Blackpool
The Strictly Come Dancing stage at Madame Tussauds Blackpool

After having our BIG tickets scanned, we began our self guided tour and do you know what, I absolutely loved the waxworks as there’s something for everyone.  The tour starts with a scale model of the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom and the presenters Tess and Claudia looking almost as if they were real.

Ant & Dec the presenters of I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here Madame Tussaud's Blackpool
Ant & Dec the presenters of I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here

The second themed zone was ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ where we walked along a re-created rope bridge into the bush, came face to face with Ant & Dec and even took part in a pretend bush tucker trial!

With the Royal Family, Madame Tussauds Blackpool
Up close with the Royal family

Moving on, we had our photos taken with the Queen, walked through the sporting hall of fame and viewed pop stars old and new from The Beatles to Ed Sheeran.  We then had fun finding our way through a mirror maze (quite easy really) which led us to the T.V. personalities section.

Ed Sheeran at Madame Tussauds Blackpool
Ed Sheeran was among the pop celebrities on display at Madame Tussauds

My favourite zone was of the long running ITV soap Coronation Street of which I’m a big fan.  Here, we could pop into the Rovers Return for a drink and rub shoulders with Bet, Ken and Deidre.  Outside their terraced house on the cobbles were Jack and Vera Duckworth, bringing back fond memories of their long association with the programme.

Jack and Vera Duckworth outside their former home on Coronation Street Madame Tussaud's Blackpool
Jack and Vera Duckworth outside their former home on Coronation Street

What a fun time we’d had in Madame Tussauds and the advantage of an out of season visit was that we could take each other’s photos with the life-like waxworks without having to wait our turn to stand alongside them.  I can’t imagine why it had taken me so long to get around to visiting but after seeing the Blackpool collection I’m now eager to view the exhibits at some of their other locations around the world!

Rovers Return Pub, Madame Tussaud's Blackpool
Bet Lynch and Ken Barlow in the Rovers Return pub

Leaving Tussauds we crossed the tram tracks to continue our stroll along the promenade passing both the Central and South Piers.  Blackpool is pancake flat so getting around on foot is quick and easy and, although it was 1.7 miles, it hadn’t seemed far at all to reach the Boulevard Hotel located next to the famous Pleasure Beach on Ocean Boulevard where we were staying.

The Boulevard Hotel, Blackpool
The Boulevard Hotel, Blackpool

This swish new hotel has only been open a few months and is just what Blackpool needed.  It’s entrance is to the rear of the building making the most of the beachfront views for guests to enjoy from the hotel’s lounge, bar and restaurant windows.

Our sea view room at the Boulevard Hotel, Blackpool
Our sea view room at the Boulevard Hotel, Blackpool

Our sea view room was so luxurious that I was pleased we had a couple of hours to enjoy relaxing there before heading back out into town once again.  As we’d walked quite a distance already we decided to take the tram from the stop just across the road from the hotel.  24 hour tram/ bus tickets offered the best available for our needs (£6 from the driver or £5.60 mobile ticket) so we purchased a couple of these and caught a tram back up to North Pier taking no more than ten minutes.

The Beach House Bar and Bistro, Blackpool
The Beach House Bar and Bistro, Blackpool

We’d reserved a table at The Beach House Bar and Bistro located on the beach side of the promenade between North Pier and the Tower.  As we were heading off to the theatre later we’d arrived at 5.00 p.m. expecting the restaurant to be fairly quiet but it was already buzzing with activity.  We’d been blessed with blue skies all day and what better place to watch a glorious sunset than from our window table overlooking the Irish Sea.

The Beach House Bar and Bistro, Blackpool
The Beach House Bar and Bistro, Blackpool

The Beach House combines a relaxed atmosphere with friendly service.  The menu is varied from delicious brunch options to sushi, tapas, seafood and a selection from the grill.  I was thinking of a tuna steak for my main course but due to the restaurant’s popularity it was unavailable.  It didn’t really matter as I was soon tempted into a Chicken Shish with saffron rice and a mushroom sauce.  This tasted as good as it sounded and was served off the skewers.  Coincidentally, across the table, chicken was also the preferred choice but in a creamy white wine sauce.

Dinner The Beach House Bar and Bistro, Blackpool
My delicious chicken shish at the Beach House Bar and Bistro, Blackpool

As is usually the case, we sampled a little of each other’s and liked them both.  Our verdict, a lovely restaurant with a lively atmosphere.  There’s live music at weekends which was actually just being set up as we were leaving.  After lingering awhile over glasses of wine we braved the cold and crossed the promenade to walk the short distance to the Grand Theatre to see the Russian State Ballet perform The Nutcracker.

Grand Theatre Blackpool
Taking our seats in the beautiful Grand Theatre, Blackpool

The Grand Theatre really is grand and is one of Britain’s premier heritage theatres.  Last summer it celebrated its 125th anniversary and the elaborate four tier theatre holding over a thousand people appeared to be a sell out for the ballet which was wonderful to see.

Grand Theatre Blackpool  coffee lounge
The elaborate coffee lounge at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool

As for the ballet, it was absolutely delightful.  I’d not seen The Nutcracker before but was familiar with the music from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Waltz of the Flowers.  It was absolutely enchanting with the orchestral accompaniment also being superb.  We were both so happy to have timed our visit perfectly and been able to attend the performance in this most wonderful of theatres.

After the curtain came down we caught a tram back to our hotel reflecting on what a lovely day we had spent in Blackpool.

To be continued …..

If you have enjoyed reading this post you may also be interested in the following:

Blackpool highlights

A short break in Lancashire’s Ribble Valley

For suggested accommodation in Blackpool I recommend:

The Boulevard Hotel Blackpool

 

34 thoughts on “Day 1. Blackpool – the perfect winter break

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  6. jasonlikestotravel

    So long since I visited Blackpool but this brings back good memories. Such a shame to see the trams have been phased out.

    I’ve never had much interest in Tussaud’s either but glad you enjoyed your first visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We were so lucky with the weather that weekend Jason making Blackpool look so nice. Perhaps resorts like Blackpool and Bournemouth might prove to become more popular again as people can’t travel overseas at the moment. Thanks for commenting Jason, it’s much appreciated.

      Like

  7. I’ve never been to Blackpool, but whenever the name comes up, I immediately think of the annual holiday of northern factory workers in times gone by. Must have read one too many novels. I doubt they would have covered as much in one week as you manage in a day!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post.

    Grew up in Liverpool so Blackpool was always a place to go for the lights.

    To bad you did not do the classic guest house with the oppressive landlady!!!

    Agree about Tussauds, much better experience when there are no lines, we went at Christmas to the London Tussauds, oh my, what a time.

    Thanks for this post and others.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It is literally decades since I was in Blackpool and the last time was for work. I have not been there for pleasure since about 1989 or so. I must admit I wouldn’t have thought of going in winter but it looks as if you had a great time with some decent weather thrown in.

    The Bistro and your hotel both look excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jepsy Babu

    I have no words to comment on today’s post. It is amazing, the TRAMSSSSSSS……………….. I love them. The BLACKPOOL TOWER is awesome. TUSSAUD tour was great. I like the THEATRE, I hope it was good. I love all the photos.

    Like

  11. Jepsy Babu

    I have no words to comment on today’s post. It is amazing. TRAMSSSSSSS……………. I LOVE THEM. THE BLACKPOOL TOWER is awesome . TUSSAUD TOUR was great. I love to watch THEATRE SHOWS, I hope it was good. I like all the photos.

    Liked by 1 person

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