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Visitor's Guide to Blackpool

Visitor's Guide to Blackpool For those who have been, it will come as no surprise that Blackpool is now being dubbed as the Las Vegas of Europe. And for those who haven’t set foot on the Golden Mile [map], this guide will leave you in little doubt why this seaside resort in the North West of England has won such an intriguing title.

For over a century, holidaymakers have travelled from all around the UK – and beyond – to see the sights of Blackpool, with some 17 million people still heading there today.

Once you arrive here you’ll find an endless choice of white-knuckle rollercoasters, amusement arcades, donkey rides, bingo halls, nightclubs, pubs, fish and chip shops, golden sand and, of course, the 518ft Blackpool Tower [map].

Opened in 1894 to imitate the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the landmark Tower on Central Promenade recently celebrated its 110th anniversary and remains as popular today as it has ever been. Among the highlights within this historic building are the circus, aquarium and the Tower Ballroom, but it’s the Walk of Faith that always gives visitors the biggest thrill of the day. This glass floor panel, which can withstand the weight of five baby elephants and is two inches thick, was placed at the Tower top in 1998.

Located in the shadow of the Tower is Blackpool’s Sea Life Centre [map], which takes visitors on an amazing journey beneath the ocean waves. Here you can see a wide variety of creatures from seahorses and stingrays to the largest collection of sharks in Britain.

Over at South Shore you’ll find the famous Blackpool Pleasure Beach [map], with its breathtaking rides, such as the tallest and fastest rollercoaster in Europe, the Pepsi Max Big One. Other rides not for the faint hearted include the Spin Doctor, Valhalla and Bling, while the theme park is also home to the world’s longest log flume.

No seaside town has quite made it until it has a pier and, well, Blackpool has three, so what does that tell you?

North Pier [map] is the oldest of the piers and still retains its original Victorian charm. Here you’ll find the North Pier Theatre, a pictorial exhibition of pier's history, a family bar and sun lounge areas.

Set in the heart of the tourist area, Central Pier [map] offers a traditional seaside experience for the entire family, with the Big Wheel, hook-a-duck and live entertainment.

Blackpool’s South Pier [map] has a classic fairground with rides such as the waltzers and dodgems. There is also a bungee jump over the sea, a family bar and free entertainment.

You can get between the piers fairly easily by hopping on and off one the old fashioned trams, which run along the Promenade.

Other tourist attractions worth seeking out include Blackpool Zoo [map], which is set in 32 acres and is home to 1,500 animals, and Sandcastle Waterworld [map], an award-winning subtropical paradise with water slides and a wave pool.

When the sun’s shining there’s one place in Blackpool that’s guaranteed to be packed out and that’s the seven miles of golden beach running right along Central Shore.

Nightlife is also high on the agenda in this fun-loving resort, with an array of pubs, clubs and restaurants adorning the seafront.

But it is probably the town’s historic theatres that have established Blackpool as the Northern capital of entertainment. The famous Grand Theatre [map] offers an array of shows, from classic acts like Ken Dodd and Billy Pearce to performances by the English National Ballet, while the Opera House [map] at the Winter Gardens plays host to West End musical and concerts.

Although it’s not renowned as a shopping haven, Blackpool is a thriving town with plenty of high street names, and many more on the way. So once you’ve seen all the sights, check out the shops.

For those planning on staying a while there is a huge choice of accommodation right across the resort from swanky hotels in the quieter North Shore area to cheap and cheerful B&Bs in South Shore.

But ultimately the best thing about Blackpool is that, unlike most other holiday resorts, it doesn’t close when the sun stops shining. In fact the autumn season is one of the town’s busiest thanks to the wonders of the traditional Blackpool Illuminations light extravaganza.

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