Having lived twenty minutes away from Blackpool for my entire life, in a town that much prefers to disassociate itself with its next door neighbour, the notion that I would have little more than a clue how to go about entertaining myself amongst the lights and sights may seem vaguely preposterous.
Despite the minute mileage, the glitz and gaud of the infamous seaside town is worlds apart from the sleepy retirement haven that is Lytham St. Annes, and, shopping purposes aside, there have been few occasions when I have braved the Golden Mile.
But in the name of journalism, I donned my tourist get-up, booked myself a cheap B&B (all part and parcel of the Blackpool experience) and headed for the not so sunny climes of Lancashire’s answer to Vegas.
Of course, I was overburdened with things to do from the moment I arrived. Blackpool is, after all, attraction central, with a multitude of amusements to keep every day tripper and holidaymaker occupied.
The obvious option is to head for the Pleasure Beach. Home to the tallest ride in Europe in the form of the Pepsi Max Big One, as well as Southport’s traumatising import Infusion, the theme park is certainly not for the faint-hearted, and, for the slightly excessive if not totally worth it price of a £30 wristband, you can experience the white knuckle delights all day to your heart's content.
And if the park’s array of rollercoasters isn’t quite enough,
adrenaline junkies seeking a further thrill can head to South
Pier, where Scad Diving, the Skycoaster and the world’s only
purpose-built bungee tower will really test your limits.
Further down the promenade, North Pier, a grade two listed
building with its original features and traditional pier end theatre,
offers all of the old-fashioned seafront attractions including a
palmist and quaint souvenir shops, whilst there is fun for the
family at Central Pier, with live acts, entertainers and the world
famous Big Wheel.
The Tower has recently undergone a £3 million refurbishment
and now boasts two world renowned circus shows, an aquarium, 3D cinema and Jurassic Walk ride, and those keen to take in breathtaking views of Blackpool’s shoreline can also opt for the Tower Top Ride or the Walk of Faith. It’s not quite the complete Blackpool experience if you don’t see it from 380 feet.
Perhaps key to the glittering seafront are the Illuminations. Lit up in all their glory from September to November each year, the illuminated stretch of the promenade is considered by locals to be the greatest free light show on earth (don't tell Jean Michel Jarre), and if you can stand a couple of hours of practically stationary traffic, you’re in for a treat.
While Blackpool’s shoreline is hardly Bondi Beach, if you’d like to retain some element of a sunny beach holiday, the Sandcastle is the place for you. The indoor water park is a tropical haven of simulated seaside fun, with a supersized wave pool, lazy river and an abundance of slides, as well as the newly-built Hyperzone, which plays host to the longest water rollercoaster in the world and a white knuckle half-pipe slide.
Tired, windswept and chlorine-drenched, I headed home, full of the joys and clutching my souvenir Pleasure Beach photographs. The verdict? Florida it may not be, but for a day filled with laughs, screams and tacky memorabilia, Blackpool ticks all the boxes.
By Ellen Kelly
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Central Pier's ferris wheel; Blackpool seafront; & YouTube clip - Take a ride on the Pepsi Max Big One
(Pictures by Ellen Kelly)
Tropical climes at the Sandcastle
(Picture by Ellen Kelly)