Blackpool has a history of glitzy entertainment. This showbiz town has long been known as the home of variety, hosting everyone from Frank Sinatra to Bob Hope in the 1950s, through to One Direction and Peter Kay today. And don’t worry if you miss the summer season, because there are plenty of entertaining reasons to book into a Blackpool hotel all year round. Just when you think the town is winding down for the winter, the Illuminations turn the Promenade into the North’s version of the Las Vegas Strip, drawing visitors in their millions. And while the festival of lights really is a must-see, there’s also a fireworks festival and an airshow. All these fantastic events won’t cost you a penny, either, so there’s more money to spend on candy floss!
Entertainment in Blackpool
From punk to pop, reggae to rap, Blackpool offers plenty of ways to get your toes tapping.
The fabulous Winter Gardens in the heart of Blackpool is so huge, it actually consists of 12 venues. One of them, the Empress Ballroom, is famous as a live music venue, with the likes of Radiohead, Stone Roses, the Pet Shop Boys and the White Stripes playing here in the past. With space for 3,000 gig-goers, over the last few years it’s been the main Northern Soul room for the three-day Blackpool International Soul Festival held each year in June. Booking into our Premier Inn hotel near the Winter Gardens Blackpool means you can walk home after your gig.
Love to hear the sound of an authentic Wurlitzer band organ? Head to the Tower Ballroom. Full of elegant, old-world charm, it’s magnificently decorated in gold, complete with chandeliers and the bounciest sprung floor made of mahogany, oak and walnut. Come on a tea and dancing afternoon and you’ll find the atmosphere is just incredible. Don’t want to join the whirling throng? It costs around £4 to sit on the balcony and gaze at a ballroom still in its full glory. And, thanks to Strictly, there’s a younger audience of dancers which should keep the Ballroom going strong for years.
Blackpool has a rich history of theatre, dating back to Victorian times. But where will you find the hottest ticket in town?
The ornate, Grade II-listed Grand Theatre near our Blackpool Beach hotel is also known as the National Theatre of Variety - and it’s easy to see why. It shows a wonderfully diverse mix of dance, opera, comedy and panto, alongside serious dramas. But you may find it hard to look at the action on the stage at all - the theatre’s interior is dazzling. If you don’t have tickets to a show, the theatre has open days where you can take a tour and soak up some of its history instead.
Fame, The Wizard of Oz, Rocky Horror… the biggest shows hot off the West End can be seen at the Opera House in the Winter Gardens. With seats for 3,000 theatre-goers, the stage is one of the biggest and widest in Europe meaning everyone gets a good view of the drama. And then there’s the auditorium itself. Known as a theatrical masterpiece, it still retains a lot of its original features.
Theatrical entertainment of a different kind can be found beneath the four legs of the Blackpool Tower. The Tower Circus is the oldest permanent circus in the world and it’s opened every summer season since 1894 - an impressive achievement considering there were two world wars in between. Everything about it looks and feels traditional, from the ornate gold stalls to the red velvet seats. The ring hides a surprise - it’s suspended over a huge tank of water complete with fountains, which makes for a thrilling water finale. But while the circus has the nostalgia factor, the acts have moved with the times - expect an adrenaline-filled show full of death-defying stunts. It opens from April to early November.
If you’re a lover of all things classical, you may be staying in one of our Blackpool hotels to catch an orchestral performance. Some of the best musicians in the world have appeared in the town, from full orchestras to talented soloists.
Andre Rieu, Katherine Jenkins... many a classical superstar has graced the stage at the Opera House in the Winter Gardens. And that’s not all. The Opera House is the place to watch Wurlitzer organ recitals, while its recent summer programme has featured one of Britain’s most adventurous orchestras, the Manchester Camerata.
Often known as Blackpool’s ‘hidden gem’, the Grand Theatre is a great place to watch a classical performance. Highlights of the past season include a breathtaking production of Swan Lake from the Russian State Ballet and performances from a ukulele orchestra. The annual Christmas concert is also a not to be missed event - expect choirs and a live brass band.
The Tangerines may have their ups and downs, but Blackpool Football Club still draws loyal crowds to their Bloomfield Road venue.
If you’re in town to watch a big match, you’re in for a treat. Bloomfield Road is known for having a great atmosphere and, even better, and Premier Inn hotel near Blackpool FC is just a 15-minute walk away. Even if you’re not lucky enough to be watching the Tangerines play, you could always book a stadium tour. Lasting two hours, you’ll learn about the club’s 100-year history, peek into their trophy cabinet and poke your nose into the dressing rooms.
A year-round calendar of exciting events keep Blackpool buzzing with life, whenever you visit. Be dazzled by the Illuminations, enjoy the exuberance of the best fireworks displays you’ll ever see, or watch vintage aircraft take to the air over the sea. Will your visit coincide with one of the festivals Blackpool is famous for? Find out here.
The end of the summer season is usually a sad time in seaside towns - not so in Blackpool, thanks to the town’s version of the Northern Lights. For 66 days every autumn, three million visitors descend upon the town to view the six mile stretch of lights. The Big Switch On weekend is one of the biggest dates in Blackpool’s calendar and sees performances from some of the UK’s chart-topping stars. Hailed as the biggest free light show on Earth and costing nearly £2 million to stage, the Blackpool Illuminations were recently listed by Visit England as one of the top 101 things to do before you go abroad. It’s free to be dazzled, but donations are welcomed. Staying at one of our Premier Inn hotels near the Blackpool Illuminationswill give you front row seats.
Blackpool Air Show was the first of its kind in the UK and it’s now one of the most long-running in the world. The August event is free, just head to the promenade and join thousands of excited plane spotters, both young and old, to watch classic and modern aircraft do their acrobatics over your heads. The Red Arrows always perform, and there’s even the chance to watch daredevils doing a wing walk. When you’re tired of craning your necks, you’ll find stalls, bands and plenty of entertainment laid on for the kids in the games zone. It’s a great day out - even if you don’t know your Harrier from your Hurricane - but get there early as it gets busy.
If you thought the Illuminations were dazzling, just wait until the Fireworks Championships blast into town. For four days every September, the world’s firework elite try to outdo each other with night after night of incredible displays - with the winning team chosen at the end of the event by a panel of local judges. The competition’s rockets are let off from the Tower Festival Headland, but there’s great views to be had along the whole of the seafront. It’s free to stand and ooh and ahh, and even if fireworks aren’t normally your thing, the sheer artistry involved can’t fail to impress you. The build-up starts at 7.30pm, with the first rockets fired at 8.30pm.
You only have to see the huge piece of public art called the ‘Comedy Carpet’ to realise the importance of comedy in the town. From Ken Dodd to Peter Kay, Blackpool is a magnet to stand-up comedians of all kinds.
Where’s the best place to watch new comedy in Blackpool? The Winter Gardens! It regularly features stand-up comedy from some of the industry’s biggest names - Jimmy Carr and Russell Brand have both performed here recently.
Yes, it’s a bit saucy, but Funny Girls is consistently voted Tripadvisor’s number one comedy night out in Blackpool. This burlesque cabaret show has been held in the art deco splendour of the former Blackpool Odeon since 1994, but it’s still on top of its games. World-class drag acts perform high energy, acrobatic dance routines in sky-scraping heels, with a wise-cracking, acerbic host to hold everything together. Even if you go early in the season when it’s quiet, these ‘girls’ give it their all - and the costumes and headdresses are works of art in their own right. Make a night of it by getting a ticket that includes a restaurant meal along with the show. You won’t regret it! And staying in our hotel near Funny Girls means you can really let your hair down.