Empire State what? Eiffel who? Blackpool has an iconic Tower that you don’t have to travel the world to see - and it’s set in a complex with more attractions than you can throw a croissant at. Standing 518 feet-high, this replica of the Parisian landmark is also home to the Blackpool Tower Circus and the dancing mecca that is the Tower Ballroom, both of which nestle in the red-brick building beneath its iron legs. The Tower itself is a masterpiece of Victorian engineering that’s been attracting tourists since its 1894 opening. Back then, it cost sixpence for admission, sixpence for a ride to the top, and sixpence to get into the circus. Today, a trip up the Tower Eye (the bit at the top with the observation deck and glass skywalk) might be more expensive, but you’re still guaranteed heart-stopping views across the north coast - all the way to the Lake District and North Wales on a clear day.
A trip up the Tower is as much a part of any Blackpool visit as a stick of rock or an ice cream. But what do you need to know before you go?
You’ll find the Blackpool Tower on the Promenade, the postcode is FY1 4BJ and their phone number is 01253 622242. The Blackpool Tower is open daily from 10am and closed only on Christmas Day - closing hours vary depending on the season, but during the summer last admission is as late as 6.45pm. The Tower Circus isn’t open in the winter, but there’s a very popular pantomime that takes its place from the end of November each year.
It’s free to enter The Blackpool Tower and wander around the beautiful building, taking in the shops and admiring the view of the Comedy Carpet from the Sea View Terrace. You can also watch the dancing from the balconies of the Tower Ballroom for a small fee.
The Tower is the collective name for the Tower entertainment complex which includes the Tower Eye (the top bit), and the red-brick building underneath. It’s here you’ll find the Tower Ballroom and the Blackpool Tower Circus. There used to be an aquarium, but that was closed in 2010 to make way for the Blackpool Tower Dungeons - a spook-fest modelled on the popular London Dungeons attraction. There’s also a huge soft play area, called Jungle Jim’s Adventureland.
To access the building, use the Bank Hey Street entrance. Once inside, the Blackpool Tower building has great accessibility, but can’t accommodate mobility scooters (although free wheelchairs are available). There are radar-operated disabled toilets available throughout - just ask staff for the key. You can take a lift up to the main observation floor, but the outer upper levels are only accessible via stairs. Guide dogs are welcome, but may not enjoy the 4D Cinema experience - it’s very loud.
Top things to see and do
Blackpool’s a town that’s all about fun, and nowhere encapsulates this better than its tower which, unlike other iconic buildings, is packed with fun attractions that just keep multiplying. But what’s on offer at each one?
Blackpool Tower Eye
For those panoramic views from the top, you’ll need to do the Blackpool Tower Eye experience. Once you’ve bought your ticket, your visit starts at the 4D cinema, which gives you a glimpse of the Tower’s history - with special effects that keep things interesting for all. Then you’ll take the lift up to the observation floor 380ft up - and do the glass skywalk if you dare. From there, you can go higher but stairs are involved!
Blackpool Tower Circus
The Blackpool Tower Circus may not have missed a single season since 1894, but it’s still moved with the times. Today the best new acts around flock here to perform their adrenaline filled stunts. But while the acts are bang up-to-date, the circus itself is pleasingly nostalgic - think red velvet seats and ornate gold ceilings. And it’s one of only four circuses in the world to have a secret pool, which makes for some stunning water finales.
Blackpool Tower Ballroom
That famously springy mahogany floor, the ornate Wurlitzer that rises out of the stage - a trip to the elegant ballroom at the Tower is a trip back in time. You can pay a small fee to watch the dancers from the balcony, but if you wanted to take a twirl it costs around £10 (although it’s cheaper if you book online). Or why not book an afternoon tea? It’s £50 for two, but that includes your entrance fee as well as the sarnies and scones.
Blackpool Tower Dungeons
The Blackpool Tower Dungeons has a cast of actors, special effects - and some genuinely frightening moments. Like the London version, it’s a walk-through attraction that brings the darker side of history to life in all its smelly, noisy glory. This time though, it’s Lancashire’s history that’s explored. If you’re of a nervous disposition, you may want to give the ride a miss - called ‘Drop Dead’, it simulates being executed by hanging.
Jungle Jim’s Adventureland
Kids will love the soft play area at the Tower. Jungle Jim’s Adventureland is an Aztec adventure with ball pits, huge slides and loads of things to clamber up and down on. It’s very popular, so sessions are limited to an hour and it’s suitable for anyone younger than 14 and under 4ft 9in. Tickets cost £5 online or £6.50 on the day, but it’s free for adults. You’ll need to swap your ticket for a coloured wristband at reception.
Eating and drinking
So where’s best to eat and drink when you’re visiting the Tower? Here’s our pick of the best, both inside the venue and out.
The Tower has its own restaurant - Harry Ramsden’s Blackpool which offers both a takeaway service as well as waiter-served sit down meals. The restaurant has been redecorated to give it an authentic American diner feel, but there’s also tables outside - just watch out for the seagulls. Famous for its fish and chips, there’s plenty of other meals here to tempt you, from Harry’s Pies, to a halloumi and pesto burger in a brioche bun.
One of Blackpool’s most popular restaurants is just a few streets away from the Tower on Clifton Street. Michael Wan’s Mandarin was voted the third most popular Chinese restaurant on TripAdvisor in 2015 - and it’s easy to see why people love it. The atmosphere is as warm as the decor is bright and colourful, while the food is a blend of Cantonese flavours and western dishes. Most popular is the Gu Loh - a sweet and sour dish made with chicken, prawn or veg.
Watch the weather conditions on the day you plan to visit. If the wind is above 50 mph, the Tower will close. Don’t worry if you’ve already booked tickets because they’ll stay valid for 90 days.
Getting to Blackpool Tower
You can’t miss the Tower - it’s so high, it can be seen from virtually everywhere in Blackpool. But here’s our rundown of how to get there if you’re coming by car, train, bus or tram.
From the M55, get off at Junction 4 and follow the brown tourist signs for Town Centre Attractions. Once there, the best place to park is Central Car Parks - it’s a five-minute walk away.
By bus or tram
Most buses stop either just outside the Tower, or in the town centre. But to really ramp up the nostalgia factor, take a tram - it’ll take you right to the door if you get off at the Blackpool Tower stop.
If you’re coming by train, get off at Blackpool North Station because that’s closest to the Tower. It’ll take about 15 minutes to walk - head towards the sea and turn left at the Promenade and you can’t miss it!