England

City break in Blackpool | classic seaside meets modern beach life

There's more to Blackpool than meets the eye. Venture into this historical, artistic town to learn what this coastal gem is really all about.

I remember the grand allure of the Blackpool Tower and the Blackpool Illuminations light festival as a kid. And then there was The Big One: a sky-high rollercoaster that I didn’t dare ride but watched as my siblings did. I told everyone at school I’d been on it. I also wasn’t brave enough to admit that I hadn’t.

Flash forward to today and I still won’t ride The Big One, but there are plenty of other attractions that see me coming back to visit. Whether it’s the classic seaside sights or the modern highlights that I’ve only discovered recently, I’ll be showing you the best places to visit and my favourite Blackpool hotels to stay in while you’re here.

SEE | classic Blackpool seaside and contemporary sights

It’s all about the seaside but also about modern art and theatre in Blackpool.

Classic

Illuminations

I’ve mentioned the Illuminations and the Blackpool Tower – they’re the classic tourist attractions in Blackpool. The Illuminations are usually here from August until November, spreading across the promenade for six miles, with a projection also cast onto the Blackpool Tower building. Go traditional and hop on a tram to take them all in, or do it my favourite way, with a steaming portion of fish and chips on a dark night. Wander to the end of the South Pier for a glorious view across the prom.

Music and dancing at the Ballroom

The Ballroom is one of my favourite places in Blackpool. It’s glorious with its Victorian gold leaf and sparkling chandeliers, and it’s celebrating 125 years in 2019 – so expect some special attention being paid to this national treasure. Lunchtime tea dances are beautifully retro with the wurlizer organ singing in the background. Get on the dancefloor yourself, or, if you’re not feeling all twinkly toes, grab a seat in the balcony for the best views.

Contemporary

Grundy Art Gallery

I’m always on the hunt for an art gallery when I take a trip, and Blackpool doesn’t disappoint with its Grundy Art Gallery. It boasts an eclectic mix of Victorian oil paintings and watercolours, with modern icons such as Grayson Perry and my personal favourite, David Hockney making appearances here in the past. Late last year they hosted a series of Grayson Perry tapestries, so you can only expect great things from this gallery.

The Great Promenade Show

The Great Promenade Show is a good excuse to wander along the promenade. You’ll likely bump into it without even knowing; it’s a collection of outdoor art installations and sculptures that are sporadically dotted along the shoreline.

Hotels in Blackpool

1234 Hotels
from 18
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STAY | quaint and classic to stylish seaside: Blackpool hotels for every taste

Whether you prefer classic bucket and spade charm or modern comforts, you’ll find it all in Blackpool’s hotels.

Classic | Victorian seaside stay with restaurant and ocean views

1/3

Traditional seaside spirit oozes from The Imperial Hotel, found in a grand Victorian building facing the North Promenade. As I wandered through this hotel I could imagine the seaside goers of the 19th-century arriving with their buckets and spades ready for a jolly on the beach. It’s classic with a whiff of luxury with its old school patterned wallpaper and carpets, chandeliers, and the Palm Court restaurant with its sea views.

The Imperial Hotel

Blackpool, 1.5 km to Blackpool Beach
7.8 Good (2402 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.5 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Car park
Pets allowed
Wellness centre / Spa
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Classic | boutique stay in a friendly local guest house

1/4

Guest houses are aplenty in Blackpool, but boutique Number One South Beach stands out from the crowd. Rooms are decorated with luxury touches, there’s lots of rich jewel tones, textured fabrics and even some with four-poster beds. Whirlpool baths bring a slice of grandeur to the seaside, while owner Claire will often greet you with lots of local knowledge and a friendly Blackpool welcome.

Hotel Number One South Beach

Top rated
Blackpool, 3.3 km to Blackpool Beach
9.0 Excellent (273 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.5 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Car park
Restaurant
Hotel bar
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Contemporary | minimal chic hotel with sea views

1/4

Hampton by Hilton brings its contemporary signature style to Blackpool with a brand new hotel that opened just last year. Rooms are modern and minimal, with bright white decor, and some boast floor to ceiling windows and sea views. Little touches around the hotel nod to town’s seaside charm, such as old photos of Blackpool on the walls and jars stuffed with Blackpool rock at reception, but there’s also fun talking points like an oversized deck chair that is popular with families taking selfies. There’s even a waffle maker at breakfast… need I say more?

Hampton By Hilton Blackpool

Blackpool, 3.2 km to Blackpool Beach
8.3 Very good (422 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.8 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Car park
Pets allowed
Wellness centre / Spa
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Contemporary | resort feel in a modern hotel with spa and its own pub

1/4

With the feel of a resort, the Village Hotel Blackpool has all the features you’d expect from a trip abroad – a plush spa, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, a well equipped gym, a restaurant, and even a pub. Rooms are modern and chic, with colourful style touches and squishy beds. You could just park up and enjoy some downtime here, or if you’re feeling adventurous, wander down to nearby Blackpool attractions such as the zoo and Blackpool Model Village.

Village Hotel Blackpool

Blackpool, 3 km to Blackpool Beach
7.8 Good (2086 reviews)
Very good Facilities 8.4 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Car park
Wellness centre / Spa
Gym
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EAT | fancy fare and foodie finds in Blackpool's restaurants

Beachside fine dining, chips on the beach and an Asian fusion restaurant that’ll impress any foodie – Blackpool’s dining scene is just getting started.

Notarianni

Classic

Seaside dinner

I’ll take a dreamy dinner with a view any day, and the White Tower Restaurant will give you just that. Facing the sea, with sweeping views across the water, it’s the place for a special meal. Dishes are created with local produce, you’ll find modern twists on classics such as the prawn and crayfish cocktail and lobster bisque. They serve some great classic cocktails at the bar too, and the restaurant sits above the casino if you fancy a post-food flutter.

Fish & chips

Even though I love fancy dining, when I visit Blackpool, I cannot leave without devouring some chips on the beach. I know a great portion of chips when I see one, and local fave Bentley’s (near the South Pier on Bond Street) gets it just right… super crispy on the outside and all fluffy in the middle .

Classic ice-cream

No trip to Blackpool would be complete without a visit to Notarianni’s. Another local haunt, this ice cream parlour has been around since the 1920s. My boyfriend is only ever interested in simple but scrumptious vanilla ice cream, and he adores their homemade version.

Contemporary

Vegas flair

It’s no surprise to find Viva Blackpool is the ‘Vegas of the North’. Bringing some U.S. flavour to the Lancashire coast, Viva combines variety acts with food in an American diner setting. I was half expecting Elvis to bring my fries.

Asian fusion

One of the most exciting recent restaurant openings in Blackpool has got to be Michael Wan’s Wok Inn. It’s a bright eclectic restaurant filled with retro Asian posters and bric-a-brac, echoing its varied fusion menu. We tried tiffin tins filled with Asian fare, and the best sticky Cantonese spare ribs we’ve ever eaten.

Nearby Lytham St Annes is fast becoming a North West foodie hotspot whether you want gourmet pub food, Mediterranean seafood or refined Italian.

DRINK | classic Blackpool entertainment and cocktails by the sea

The nightlife is all singing and dancing in Blackpool, but you can find a few chic retreats for a good cocktail too.

Classic

Classic Cabaret

I cannot mention Blackpool’s classic nightlife without telling you about Funny Girls. Colourful and all-out extravagant, this former drag bar is a showstopper of cabaret, burlesque and entertainment. This will definitely be the most entertaining drink you will ever have in Blackpool.

Quirky Victorian gin bar

Being a gin and tonic fan, I had to visit Hogarth’s Gin Palace, a Victorian-style gin bar with an interior that made me feel like I’d stepped back in time. You won’t find any standard ice-and-a-slice G&Ts here, the staff are experts at navigating their way around their 100 plus gins, garnishes and botanicals.

Contemporary

Classy seaside drinks

After a day of grazing on chips and cups of tea, I was glad to find Beach House, a stylish seaside bolthole that’s all about champagne, cocktails and views. Pop in at sunset to admire the pink skies, they spread for miles from the deck.

Indie nightlife

Quite the contrast is Scrooges Bar, home to the oldest indie night in town. This Blackpool institution has been open since the 80s, and it hosts a series of open mic nights and DJ sets. Or head over to Bootleg Social, another great place to hear live music.

Escape Blackpool's spirited nightlife by heading to nearby Lytham for more laid back pubs and bars, like The Deacon and Cafe Grand.

DO | let Blackpool entertain you

Of course, Blackpool is all about entertainment, everything from classic shows to hidden highlights.

Classic

Show stopping entertainment

Comedy, cabaret and music have been in Blackpool’s heart for years, and you can find it all between the Winter Gardens, The Grand Theatre and smaller venues such as Fosses Theatre and the North Pier Theatre. Also, check out the high flying acrobats at The Blackpool Tower Circus.

Cinema

It may sound odd to spend two hours inside a cinema while on holiday in Blackpool, but if you’re a film fan, or if the weather is bad, the Regent Cinema gets my vote. It has all the charm of an old school indie cinema, showing classics and serving glasses of wine… perfect combo.

Stanley Park

Most visitors stick to the promenade, but head inland and you’ll find Stanley Park, a local favourite and a beautiful spot with Italian Gardens, a lake with rowing boats, and a crazy golf course.

Contemporary

Comedy Carpet

As I wandered out of the Blackpool Tower, it was impossible not to stumble across the Comedy Carpet. It’s scattered with quotes and jokes from the best British comedy talent. Everyone from Monty Python to Spike Milligan to Ricky Gervais grace this funny floor. It’s also a great place to people watch.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

The Pleasure Beach theme park is great entertainment, even for a rollercoaster-phobe like me. Although it is home to classic rides like the Big One and Captive Flying Machines (one of the oldest fairground rides in the world), it also sees constant new, white-knuckle additions. The latest is ICON, a double launch rollercoaster that produces the same G force as felt by a Formula 1 driver. I wasn’t brave enough to ride that one either…

Climb the Blackpool tower and try to read some of the comedy carpet jokes from the top.

Laura Feasey Author

It's known for its candyfloss, kiss-me-quick character, but Blackpool's seaside charm is only part of the story. Discover its regal art deco past, its ancient buildings, impressive artwork and cuisine beyond the expected fish and chips. Yes, it's an old-fashioned seaside town at heart, but it also has lots of unique cultural sights just waiting to be discovered.