It might be infamous as the home of an incredible array of tacky English tat (a not entirely undeserved reputation, it has to be said), but the northern seaside resort of Blackpool still draws an incredible 6 million visitors a year, most of them attracted by the selection of arcades, shows, drinking culture and a quick few days sprawled on the sands.
It’s hardly the Spanish Riviera, true, but Blackpool does have its charms, not least: the Blackpool Tower (an aging copy of The Eiffel Tower which hosts regular events, and is the undisputed symbol of Blackpool), the Pleasure Beach (an oversized fairground featuring everything from traditional donkey rides to supersized rollercoasters) and three different piers, each with their own unique character. Blackpool's famous sea-front also boasts traditional trams, horse-drawn carriages and a huge Sea-Life Centre, with a stunning glass ceiling walk-through shark aquarium - where you can stare a shark straight in the eye, an eerie and intriguing experience.
The tourist 'tat' that Blackpool is so well known for is down to the town’s notoriously old-school take on tourism, with everything from ‘kiss me quick’ hats to traditional ‘rock’ – a solid, flaky form of candy – dominating the high streets. Look a little harder and you’ll find the sleazier side aimed at stag parties and barely-legal drinkers, such as ball dresses for the drunken man, and plastic breasts.
It’s not all about the sleazy side, though you might find it more than a little hard to avoid. Blackpool’s other draws include a range of stage shows (though some of these tend to be pretty trashy, too), the surprisingly beautiful sight of six miles of sea front illuminations and a frankly ludicrous array of ‘chippies’, selling Britain’s traditional seafood dish, battered Cod or Haddock served with chunky French fries. Gambling is another major pastime here: Blackpool is hardly Vegas, but if you feel like flitting away your earnings in a backstreet casino, you will be find yourself well catered for.
True, it’s far from classy, but Blackpool is a working class side of Britain that still attracts mainly domestic tourists, and is worth a trip – if only a day trip – to see an entirely different side of the UK’s culture, a far cry from the more high-brow outlook of spots like London and Oxford. Arrive in Blackpool with a sense of humour, and you’ll have as good a time as anywhere.
Southport is situated in the North West of England and is a beautiful place mainly visited by neighbouring towns and cities who fancy a nice day out and a wander across the beach.