Blackpool – great dances in 3 days


Dance was the subject that took us to Blackpool, but I couldn’t skip a couple of hours strolling along the seaside, and across the city.

Four days were enough to collect a few ideas, that I will post in a dozen tips.

​Let’s work!

​Winter Gardens


The centre of my interest in Blackpool, this is a wide classical building, housing several indoor activities.

​Dancing was the subject that took us there, and it was perfectly organized, with the action in the main room, and specialized displays and services around it.

Dance festival


One of the best events of ballroom dancing in the world happens each year in Blackpool, by the end of May.

A full week with… the best.

​Events do take place all day, but the masters only dance at night, in the finals.

​Tower of Blackpool


English copying French? Impossible! Let’s explain this in “English” version: By the end of the 19th century, the world desperately needed a big tower. Several architects were projecting it worldwide, and in England James Maxwell and Charles Tuke planned an iron tower, with several attractions in it. The French knew, and ordered Eiffel to built urgently something alike, so that the French could be the first. Eiffel did it, but in the rush, he built in 1889 a simple tower, very big, but empty at ground level.

Well, the tower was undergoing hard maintenance and the visit to the top would be open only in September. I visited the lovely ballroom and skipped the circus. It’s nice, in the luna park that is Blackpool

Website: Tower



Yes, as I said, dance was the reason that took me to Blackpool, and dance will be the reason to return, if it will happen.

The city is nice, but it’s seen, and it shows no other strong reason to attract me than… I should have danced in the fabulous ballroom in the tower, but Fernanda didn’t follow me in (shopping… you know!).

I must dance in the tower…

Website: Tower



Several people recommended the circus as one of Blackpool’s highlights. I dragged the group to the entrance, but the prices frightened the students, the women used the need to make them company to replace the tower by shopping (what a sacrifice!) and… I was alone.

​I visited the ballroom, but had no guts to go alone to the circus. Maybe next time, but… It is not a priority. The ballroom… oh, the ballroom!

Website: Tower



I enjoyed very much the look of the city, with the small houses all alike in most streets, and a few buildings reminding the old times when it was a privileged destination, but always with clever proportions.

I don’t know how many small houses became a hotel, but, without counting, I saw much more than one hundred.

​My room was so small that it seemed a doll’s room, and, by the external image, that must be the standard, in those door after door hotels. Funny!

Town Hall


Blackpool Town Hall is a massive victorian palace, built in 1900, in a small square facing North pier.

​I don’t know if it is possible to visit, because it didn’t lure me too much

The city of the dolls


I loved the look of the general construction in Blackpool, dominated by the cozy houses with unthinkable economy of space where the extrusion of windows in search of the Sun adds volume and rhythm in a harmonious and welcoming way.

​An image that may seem trite to a northern European, but exceptional for a Mediterranean like me.

Salvation army


…And then, walking without destination across the city, I saw at a small distance a curious building.

I approached it and found that it was the Salvation Army’s quarters. A nice building, but, more than that, a nice quarter. Everything seems to match a global plan or a specific style. I tried to read about it, and found… nothing, so far.

​So, that’s all that I have – around Salvation Army’s building, houses, churches, trees, all combine in a very peaceful and harmonious quarter.

King Edward Cinema


Near my hotel there was a closed but interesting building. In the facade we could read “1913 Central Picture Theatre” but the only “living” signal was the advertising of “Central Cabaret Bar” in both windows.

I tried to discover what it was, and, in the listed buildings of Blackpool Civic Trust, I read:

“Recently in use as a bingo hall, the “Central Picture Theatre” was built in 1913, possibly one of the first purpose-built cinemas in Lancashire. 

The symmetrical facade in Accrington brick features stone-colored dressings, two bulls-eye windows, drum and ball finial and a red/white checkered gable bearing patterns in molded terracotta. 

​The small foyer leads to a balconied auditorium with decorative moldings to cornice, ceiling braces and seat ends. Exterior restored and interior much altered in conversion to “Village Pizzeria” in Spring 1986. Now stands vacant and with door and windows boarded over.”

Well, one more sigh of Blackpool’s old glorious days.

Wave sculpture


Reading in internet about the sculpture by St John’s church, I found:


“London-based, architectural practice leit-werk won a £3.5million competition to re-design a key public space in the heart of Blackpool. The redevelopment of the St John’s Precinct area forms part of the greater regeneration plan being delivered by ReBlackpool – the town’s urban regeneration company. St John’s Precinct project is being managed and delivered by Blackpool Council through its Townscape Heritage Initiative with additional funding from the North West Regional Development Agency (NWRDA). … 

A key element of leit-werk’s design is the New Horizon sculpture: a 12 metre hollow-spiral of mirrored steel, with a two-directional stage at its base. ​​Through intensive investigation the team, in collaboration with Ron Packman of Packman Lucas, has fine-tuned a sculptural solution, which provides changing reflections of the sky, the horizon and the sea. In this way the new work creates an urban vista linking the beach and the town.”


“SOARING metal costs have forced council chiefs to scrap a dramatic steel sculpture which should have been the centrepiece of a major town centre regeneration scheme. A hollow spiral of mirrored steel with a stage at its base for performances was to have been the iconic centerpiece of the 3.5m St John’s Precinct scheme outside the Winter Gardens.”

In, finally:

“The focal point of the square will be a 10.5 meter high sculpture named The Wave. Designed by artist Lucy Glendinning, the piece was designed to reflect Blackpool’s coastal location and resort status. A giant curl of steel representing a breaking wave is studded with coloured resin inserts whose shapes were inspired by detail in the stained glass at St Johns Church.

These inserts are lit internally by LED color change lights that give the sculpture a feel of constantly changing when seen from different angles. The top of the wave is pierced by a twice life size figure diving through it and which are internally lit. A series of funky pebbles around the base of the sculpture echo the seaside theme of the main work.

Again, internally textured and lit with the same color change lighting as the sculpture they emit a soft glow of color through jewel like internal faceting. Illuminated dancing water flumes that can be programmed to act as simultaneous jets will spring to life at the East/West/South/ North end of the square. The jets are computer controlled and will be capable of a number of functions from dancing jest to Mexican waves of lit water.”

I would like to see the Portuguese politicians showing the same respect for money!



Will it be possible to travel in time?

Maybe! Look at this precious building – the past is present in all its details and beauty, but if you enter, you will meet the future.

No… it is not a school, nor a church, nor even a palace, it is a … cybercafe.

How nice!

​Well, the church is next door…

Birley street


Grand Theatre




The tide has great amplitude making a great difference from low to high tides. We saw some fun in the sand, during low tides, but no one approaching the water, dark and with bad look.

Yes, I know that it was the beginning of June, but… I really don’t know if it is is suitable to bath or not, and if so, during what period.

​It’s good for our eyes, but… maybe not to the skin.



Luna park

It’s a odd idea, transforming a pier in a Luna park, but that seems to be what happened in Blackpool. We strolled with pleasure around it, observed the impressive image of the big wheel, but our fun was… dancing, so, we skipped it.

In our beaches, ninety per cent of the dwellers go to the water, but, though the beach was wide and attractive to walk (in low tide…), with a few additions to the attractions of the pier, the water was something “forbidden”. Well, if you don’t dance, forget Winter Garden, forget the tower, and head to the pier. If we return with children we surely imitate you!

Website: Central pier

North Pier


Built to be used as a promenade over the sea, the pier was later enriched with some amusement, with bars and theatres. In the good old days it was aimed to attract the upper market.

​Now, after fires and damages… it is there, and people keeps walking along it.

Website: North pier

Tussaud Museum


Are you trying to find a place without a Mcdonald’s restaurant or a Madame Tussaud museum? Then forget Blackpool – it has both.

No surprise – in a city betting in youth and entertainment both are absolutely natural. When you saw a Madame Tussaud museum you’ve seen them all – some of the dolls are repeated, some different, but wax is wax and only marketing approaches justify the differences.​

However, if, by miracle, you haven’t seen a Tussaud museum, you may use this one. It is there. ​

The difference is that this one was not created by the famous Madame Tussaud, but by her great-grandson Louis, and after moving from owner to owner is now operated by Merlin Entertainment group (at least, it was when I read about it, but I may not guarantee that wax didn’t melt, or change hands again).

Huge aquarium


One of the attractions that we didn’t enter was Sea Life. It is big and it seems to be well conceived, but, with a group of adult dancers, it didn’t become a priority.

​Located facing the sea. it must be, for sure, a great idea for families

Website: Sealife

Coral Island




St John church

This outstanding church in the centre of town is a modern building, in Early English style, transforming the old one, built in the 1878.

​It respects the traditional styles and references, with the most recent works ended in 2006.

​Baptist tabernacle


Built in 1905, it´s a heavy and dark construction, where the red bricks dominate. Seeming in regular use, I didn’t enter it.

Sacred heart


I recommend Empress



Located inside Winter Gardens, with good presentation and during a large event, I was expecting this restaurant to be expensive, slow and confuse in service.What a great surprise – the service was efficient (well, almost always…), gentle, the food excellent, and the price reasonable.All these qualities made Empress “our” restaurant in Blackpool, having there at least half of our meals.The menu is not very large, what may turn the food very repetitive, but for isolated or only a few meals it’s almost perfect.

Favorite Dish: All kind of risottos

Address: Winter Gardens

Doubtful impression Nando


To forget – or not!

Ai Nando, Nando! Onde é que tu andavas, pá?

The worst experience in Blackpool – we arrived late to this restaurant, curious to find how did this Portuguese adapt our great food to the doubtful English tastes. Well, the employee was already “out” and, for one hour, she made all the possible things to force up to give up, even inviting us to pay in advance for a dinner where no one knew exactly what did they have to serve, nor even her. Yes, we did give up. We left and moved… to Empress, of course.

Positive impression Quilligan’s


​A Familiar place

I have very bad idea about english food, and after a (obviously to forget) snack in MacDonald’s in our arrival night, our first lunch was in this restaurant. maybe because the expectations were low, maybe because they are really good, I enjoyed the meal. The food looked typically british, but… with taste! Well done, well served, the roasted beef was totally approved.

Address: 75 Victoria Street

Price Comparison: about average

Positive impression Bella Italia


Good solution

Our favorite restaurant outside Winter Garden was this one. Good food, reasonable price, the only problem was… to get a table. Maybe because of the many clients, the service was a little bit slow.

Favorite Dish: Good pizza

Address: 75 Victoria Street

Website: Bella Italia

Doubtful impression Mc Donalds


The risks of youth

I hate fast-food, that well tasting poison that fools our children. I accept a pizza now and then, but that is as far as I can go.

Mac Donald is fast-food icon and I banned it. However, travelling with young people, sometimes with a tight schedule, it may be impossible to resist.

TWICE! Twice I had to go there! The first to “eat something” late in the night (I had a tasteful milk shake with cement – I mean ice cream) and the other one for lunch (fried chicken). I survived, and the allergic bubbles in the fingers that dipped in the french fries package have disappeared (forgive them, grand grand father, the fork was really your greatest invention!)

Bar2 Cookies

Good coffee

Blackpool bars
Blackpool bars

A pleasant surprise!

​The place was nice with a small esplanade under the cold but bright sun, and the ladies decided to risk it for a coffee. For a Portuguese it is hard to find a good coffee outside Portuguese or Italian restaurants, and we didn’t find “our” coffee there. However, it was a reasonable drink, and the ladies really appreciated the pastries they ate with the coffee. A positive impression.

Address: 24, Church street

Positive impression Bel Reve Hotel


Cozy and welcoming

A very small hotel, with very small rooms, including an even smaller bathroom, all with a small price. It’s fair. Family managed, the owners are a nice couple, treating the few possible guests as friends or family.I enjoyed very much the simple but tasteful english breakfast. I knew that the owner died some time ago. Sorry for that, and… does she continue?

Price Comparison: less expensive than average

Directions: Excellent location near the tower and winter garden

Website: Bel Reve

Hotel7 Metropole hotel



Searching for a hotel, weeks before the departure, I got the idea that this hotel should be the best for our purposes, with a perfect location and apparent quality. We were in a group, with some students included, and the prices were impossible for them, so I didn’t even suggest it. In location I confirmed the good look of the hotel and its perfect location, but it was all. Funny thing: checking the actual prices, they announce a room for £29, only a lit more than we paid in our small family hotel. Yes, we were there during a festival and the prices were… let’s say… totally different.

Address: Princess Parade, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 1RQ, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 1253 628321

Website: Metropole



Yes, it is a sport, and one of the best. So good, that dancing was the reason that took me to Blackpool, and, maybe, that will make me return to Blackpool. Dancing in the fabulous ballroom in the tower was one of my purposes, but I couldn’t satisfy it because… shopping is more important, and I entered alone. Next time, if there will be a next time, she will follow in chains, but, till then, if you go there, would you mind to dedicate me one of your dances?



Our image of the tower was disturbed by the hard works that it was undergoing.

​I thought that they should be over now, but in recent news I verified that something was still being done. Yes, that the problems of the big constructions: everything needs always to be repaired or improved…

​First contact


​Ictio Therapy

I had already heard about this kind of therapy, but didn’t ever seen, until the visit to a shopping mall in Blackpool. There, in display to anyone passing by, a few ladies made a line to… feed the fish.

Just an event, or a regular service? Next time in Blackpool I will check it out.

​(No need to – ictio therapy arrived to Portugal)



We didn’t see it much, but we saw a few severe cases.

As a young destination Blackpool may be a naturally exposed place.

​We didn’t go out late, didn’t step outside the central touristy area, but we faced a couple of in-consequent provocations.



Is this still a hotel?

I was curious about this building – it says Empress hotel, and Empress was also the name of the orchestra performing in Winter Gardens for the dancing championship. Same organization?

​Coincidence? The building was nice, but I couldn’t read nothing about such hotel, which should be a big hotel for Blackpool standards.

Who wants to help?

At last in 2014 Gazette explained everything. Interesting history:

An historic Blackpool pub could be converted into flats after failing to attract enough trade.The Empress Hotel, on Exchange Street, North Shore, which in its heyday boasted the likes of Mae West, Sir Edward Heath, Johnny ‘Tarzan’ Weissmuller and Sir Robin Day among its customers, has been closed since June. Now proposals have been submitted to Blackpool Council seeking planning permission to convert the building into nine flats and a shop. But applicant Richard Crawley says the architectural features of the building will be retained.

The Empress Hotel was built in 1847 and is included in the council’s local listings in recognition of its historic merit…. 

Yes, the times are changing…

Allow my laughing


No, no, no…Don’t try to make what I did, risking to make serious mistakes!

Walking along the seashore, in Blackpool, we passed the small park in central pier, and approached what seemed to be a bigger amusement park. For us, adults concentrated in the dancing events in Winter Garden, it was only one more to skip, so, I made a picture from distance, and went back.

In the map it was mentioned as a theme park called Pleasure beach (said n.1 in UK), but, writing down my notes far from the map, I wrote Paradise beach.

When, starting to write this post, I decided to get the link to their homepage, the word “paradise” in Blackpool only took me to a swingers hotel.

​No! The attraction that we didn’t visit was “Pleasure beach” and not “Paradise…” anything. That we didn’t visit either, I must say!

Address: 525 Ocean Blvd., Blackpool, Lancashire FY4 1EZ, UK

Directions: Watson Rd, between Ocean Blvd. Promenade and Bond St,

Phone: +44 871 222 1234

Website: Pleasure beach



I’m not a good player, and snooker is something that I play only once in each 23 years. I felt sorry in Blackpool that only 14 years have passed since my last game, impeaching me to try the Riley’s snooker club. As a matter of fact I didn’t check if it was close or open, and never saw anyone entering or exiting it, but the exterior look was extremely inviting. However, my sport in Blackpool was dance, in full time.

Bar2 Rolly’s bar

Blackpool bars

For an evening drink

This small hotel, near Winter gardens, has a bistro bar open from 11AM until late. Typically british, is a nice place for a last drink and conversation.

Address: 55-61 Albert Road, Blackpool

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