Blackpool

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Tiles in the Winter Gardens

Today we had to be in Blackpool for a Florence and the Machine gig, and we arrived thinking we might be early enough to do some sight seeing.  In contrast to the weather a month ago, when we got sunburned, it was a miserable, cold, overcast day.  This was a shame, because Blackpool is genuinely bleak if the sun isn’t shining.

 

One hundred years ago, Blackpool was a gem of a resort, attracting people from all over the North of England and South of Scotland to have a weekend on the coast.  If you look behind the modern facades of the bed and breakfasts, you can still see some gorgeous Victorian houses and tile work.  The Winter Gardens represent a sort of high point of British Entertainment complex design, with spectacularly beautiful tiling work and indoor bars, ballrooms and promenade space, and the Blackpool Tower must have been extremely impressive in its day.

Blackpool Pier
  It’s still quite impressive today, and there are far more mad towers around now  than there were then.   As the popularity of the British holiday faded, the resort managed to hold on as a cheap place to have a stag or hen do, and is now several miles of candy floss stands, sideshow attractions, gypsy fortune telling booths and shops selling tacky souvenirs.  And as it was the off season and miserable weather, it was pretty much shut by the time we got there. 

 

The winter gardens were stunning when we went there first, although crowded with small girls who seemed to be there for a dance competition.  the tower, on the other hand, had already shut – I can’t tell you about the impressive ballroom or the views, so I will have to carry on imagining it must be impressive.

Gig
  The sea front was wind lashed, but the wide sandy beach was actually far nicer than I expected. 

 

We decided not to pay into the pleasure beach, as it was almost shutting too, but it does look impressive and we might go back in summer.  We decided to get some fish and chips, which was really good, in Pablo’s café.  The batter was nice and crispy, and I got some feeling back into my hands. 

 

Then we went to play air hockey on the central pier.  I wouldn’t recommend going there in off season, as you have to run a gauntlet of bored fairground workers wheedling you to throw darts at targets or shoot ducks – “scuse me miss, love, love, where you from love?  I can’t shout love.

Winter Gardens, obscured behind some really poorly thought out regeneration
  Come over here, he’ll tell you what to do… where you from mate?  Mate?”  It was hard to walk past without being rude, but we didn’t want to play fair ground games for giant toys.  It must be easier when you aren’t the only people on the pier.  The wind was bitter, too.

 

Thankfully, by this point, it was time to go to the gig.  Florence and the Machine were utterly amazing, and the Drums were OK but not really worth the hype.  Florence chatted with the crowd and is one of the most amazing live performers I’ve ever seen, so it was good to see her in such an amazing venue.  The Empress Ballroom is genuinely impressive by any standards, and the sprung floor made jumping up and down much easier on my poor old legs.  It’s worth travelling through to see bands in such a great space, although in fairness she wasn’t playing Manchester and I don’t think anyone else could have filled the room the way she did.  I’m still slightly awe struck.

 

We drove home – there was no point trying for a train when all British public transport seems to grind to a halt half an hour before every gig in the country stops.  But it was relatively trouble free and a great night. 

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Tiles in the Winter Gardens
Tiles in the Winter Gardens
Blackpool Pier
Blackpool Pier
Gig
Gig
Winter Gardens, obscured behind so…
Winter Gardens, obscured behind s…
Florence
Florence
Florence
Florence
How many venues have lighting like…
How many venues have lighting lik…
Blackpool tower
Blackpool tower
Florence and the machine
Florence and the machine
aarrrrgggghhhh!!!!
aarrrrgggghhhh!!!!
Blackpool Pleasure Beach - in this…
Blackpool Pleasure Beach - in thi…
Blackpool Nightlife & Entertainment review
Empress Ballroom
The Empress Ballroom is a fantastic venue in the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. The Winter Gardens are themselves something of a diamond in a dunghill … read entire review
Blackpool
photo by: klaaRA