Earlier this summer, we were lucky enough to be invited to Blackpool Pride to see the wonders of the nation’s favourite seaside resort. I’ve always had fond memories of Blackpool from childhood, and back in my twenties I was a judge for Mr Gay UK in Flamingos there. This was my first journey back there in about 10 years.
Things to do
Stepping off the train, we hopped in a cab to the seaside, where we promptly headed to Madame Tussaud’s to pick up our Blackpool Resort Passes. These nifty little cards provide free access to the resort’s top attractions, so they’re a steal (with prices starting at £55 for a seven-day pass).
Madame Tussaud’s is heaps of fun. The wax works are famous internationally, with models of top celebrities from around the world. Expect to see Sir Bruce Forsyth, Sir David Attenborough and Ant & Dec, alongside actual royalty in the form of Prince William, The Duchess of Cambridge and Her Majesty The Queen. You’ll also find The Beatles, Lady Gaga, Susan Boyle and Michael Jackson and sports stars like Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Mo Farah, Lewis Hamilton and Tiger Woods.
Of special interest to we Northerners (and Salfordians at that) was the Coronation Street section, where you can walk down the cobbles and pop into The Rovers Return for a pint.
We then headed for the most prominent sight on the skyline: The Blackpool Tower. Built in 1894, the Tower is a gorgeous piece of architecture, housing a number of attractions – but first we wanted to check out the elegant Blackpool Tower Ballroom.
With a Wurlitzer taking pride of place, and intricately adorned ceilings, we enjoyed a spot of ballroom dancing and afternoon tea. This was an exquisite start to our trip, and allowed us to revel in a spot of glorious Blackpool tradition!
The Blackpool Tower also boasts an exciting 4D experience in The Blackpool Tower Eye. Don your goggles and the world onscreen seems to burst out in vivid life, misting you with water and blasting you with gentle jets of air to create an immersive sensory experience. The 4D cinema is on the way up to the top of the tower itself, and after your visit, you can head on up to the very top of the city.
From this vantage point, the whole of Blackpool unravels beneath you. You can see from the foot of the tower to the sea on one side, and on to the hills on the other. It’s a marvellous sight – but if you’re not one for heights, don’t stand on the glass and look down!
Next, we headed to the world-famous Blackpool Pleasure Beach! A lot has changed there since I was a kid. With over 125 rides and activities, the Pleasure Beach is probably my favourite UK theme park.
First we took a ride on The Big One, swiftly taking in a number of roller coasters, trying the all-you-can-eat food options at the in-house dining spots, and even paying a visit to Nickelodeon Land, where Spongebob awaits!
This year’s Blackpool Pride was held at the Winter Gardens – a stunning roofed venue that should be the envy of any city.
Unlike other prides – which so often have to contend with rain and religious protesters on the streets – Blackpool Pride starts with a parade alongs its Golden Promenade, before winding up for a good, old-fashioned, celebrity-drizzled shindig in the Winter Gardens stage indoors. This historic venue is a sight to behold, and large enough to contain indoor stalls, several bars, and a massive stage with VIP balcony seating area!
The Winter Gardens also hosts the wonderful 3,000-capacity Opera House, where we were lucky enough to catch the phenomenal Jane McDonald live in concert! Greats to grace the stage have included Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra, Peter Kay and Gary Barlow.
Where to stay
We were lucky enough to stay at the gorgeous Sheraton Hotel. Located on Queens Promenade opposite the Irish Sea, the Sheraton is a 108-room hotel with a fantastic dining service for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We had an exceptionally friendly and professional greeting upon arrival, and the restaurant staff were of silver-service quality. With free wi-fi throughout, a welcoming bar and an indoor swimming pool, there’s plenty to do without even setting foot outside!
It’s no surprise Sheraton Hotel has 4.2 stars on TripAdvisor.
Where to eat
We would like to thank Merlin Entertainments and Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Visit Blackpool and Gabriella at Brazen.