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1. The beach … build sandcastles or cool down with a paddle in the sea

2. The Comedy Carpet … browse for an hour or 2 & recall the comedy catch-phrases & jokes which have been captured in granite opposite to the Tower

3. Stanley Park … a wonderful park with sports facilities, a great children’s play area, boating lake, herons, ducks to feed, free music in the bandstand on Sunday afternoons as well as a lovely (but quite pricey) art-deco cafe

4. Walk along the new Prom … enjoy the art features on South prom (the wind organ, the giant glitter ball etc), the piers & the Spanish Steps, the giant blades of grass blowing in the wind near the Tower or the views from the clifftops in the North

5. Grundy Art Gallery … not old & fusty but regularly updated with changing exhibitions

6. The Illuminations – starting the first Friday in September & ending on Sunday 10th November in 2013, the Lights provide the greatest free show on Earth! Look out for the illuminated trams … the rocket, gunship & Fisherman’s Friend!

7. The World Championship Fireworks displays … Fridays in September … countries compete to see who can provide the best firework display & we all win!

8. The Air Show … vulcan bombers, spitfires, wing-walkers, the Red Arrows … grab a seat on the Spanish Steps or on one of the Piers for a comfy vantage point … always a great day

9. Showzam … every February Half-term, variety comes to town… centred on the Winter Gardens there is a host of activities to keep the kids amused during the cold, damp weather

10. The Tower … it’s free to enter now & you can sit on the balconies of the wonderful Victorian Ballroom & watch the dancers below while enjoying music from the Wurlitzer Organ. Bars & restaurants are also accessible for free. (other Tower attractions are fee-paying)

11. Stroll around the newly-refurbished Winter Gardens … the architecture is magnificent & the art-deco Mazzei Cafe inside is a haven of tranquility.

I know that’s 11 things … ah well!

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Remember that indoor attractions get very busy when it’s raining but there are plenty to choose from in Blackpool. Here are my top 10 favourites:

1. Tower circus … pass 2 hours (with or without kids!) watching incredibly talented performers in this iconic building. At around ¬£10 per adult it’s a brilliant show!

2. Sandcastle Indoor Waterpark … get wet indoors in tropical heat with a choice of slides & attractions to keep even the biggest kids amused. Ride the roof-top slides if you dare!

3. Madame Tussauds Waxworks … upgraded with new “entertainment” & “variety”-themed models; take your camera along & have a picture taken with Cheryl Cole, Alan Carr, Susan Boyle, The Queen or your favourite performer.

4. The Arena … ice skating anyone?

5. HoundsHill shopping centre … retail therapy at it’s best with all the big High Street names, plenty of seating & places for a coffee or bite to eat

6. Jungle Jims (in the Tower) or The Playbarn (next door to the zoo) … great indoor play areas so the kids can let off some steam

7. Coral Island … the biggest amusement arcade on the Prom with slots, grab machines & rides for the kids; hope you saved plenty of 2p’s!

8. Sealife Centre … sharks, rays, octopus … fish galore

9. The Tower Eye, 4D experience … a 3D film before you go up the Tower is made 4D with other special effects (I won’t spoil it for you!); this is EXCELLENT & not boring at all! Then it’s up the Tower to walk on the glass floor & peer out of the floor to ceiling glass windows (not that you’ll spot the Lake District if it’s raining!)

10. Odeon Cinema in Rigby Road … enjoy popcorn, fizzy drinks & the latest blockbuster

11. The Tower Dungeons … a brilliant interactive attraction (real actors), akin to the Horrible Histories which kids love. A drop ride ends the experience or you can choose not to take this if you prefer.

12. Catch a show in the evening … choose from The Grand Theatre, The Opera House, North Pier, Central Pier & the Pleasure Beach; there’s bound to be something for you!! If not, try the live entertainment in the many bars & clubs. The cabaret at the Talk of the Coast at the end of our street is both free & excellent!

(Yes, I know that’s 12 … but there are so many things to choose from & I could go on). Hope I’ve inspired you!

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Took my grandchildren to Blackpool Zoo this week & it really IS the perfect family day out!

There has been huge investment over the last few years with new enclosures replacing old, out-of-date ones (for example, the sealion area), new animals (such as a new pride of lions), the introduction of completely new animals such as the giraffes & penguins with state-of-the-art, purpose built enclosures (wolves coming this year) & fabulous “up close & personal” areas … my grandchildren LOVED these! Lemur Wood was their favourite as the lemurs were sitting sunbathing on the path, enjoying all of the attention they were getting from the visitors.

They also loved Amazonia (a recreation of a tropical rainforest) with tiny monkeys & parrots running & flying free; watch your bags as the monkeys are very adept at locating food! But it’s just lovely being able to get so close to the animals.

There is a play area for the kids & a cafe for when you need to get a second wind & if the kids STILL have spare energy at the end, there is a price reduction for zoo visitors for Playbarn entry.

Can’t be beaten for a family day out!

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Montezooma & Aztec Falls are 2 new slides for 2012 at the Sandcastle, Blackpool; you can’t fail to spot them even before you enter the building as both slides come off the roof of the building, run part of their courses outside (above the prom) & re-enter the building for a final splash. Both are fast & furious rides, one in the dark, with various spins & turns, one with a “bowl”, too, which you spin around before eventually dropping out for the rest of the ride. Add to these 2 new slides the Master Blaster & Side Winder & the Hyperzone is really the place to get the adrenalin flowing!

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Many of our guests ask us the best place to buy fish & chips when they come to Blackpool & we always recommend Senior’s, which was recently crowned Britain’s best fish & chip shop. There are 3 branches on the Fylde Coast … one in Thornton (near Marsh Mill), one in Normoss (near the Blackpool Victoria hospital) & one in Lytham St Annes High Street. They serve a wide range of fish, John Dory being their speciality, the chips are crisp on the outside & fluffy in the middle & the mushy peas taste the way mamma used to make! The premises are modern & clean & the staff well-trained… well worth a visit!

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For those of you who love splendid architecture, fabulous features or a bit of history, the Winter Gardens, Blackpool is a real hidden gem. Much of the building has been symapthetically restored to its former 1870’s glory & the new Heritage Tours take you into rooms & areas which visitors would not normally get to see. For example, you can stand on the stage of the Opera House where people like Morecambe & Wise & Elton John have performed & which has played host to two Royal Variety Performances infront of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. Then there’s the magnificent Empress Ballroom, renowned not only for its sprung dance floor but for its excellent acoustics & where heads of state like Margaret Thatcher & Winston Churchill have addressed the party faithful & where bands such as the Rolling Stones & White Stripe have performed. Nearby is the Empress Grill (a division of Heathcotes), serving the needs of theatre goers & diners at weekends & this has been restored in art-deco style. Opposite, in what was more-recently an amusement arcade, is a splendid art-deco cafe area, the modern panelling having been removed to reveal the original features & friezes in perfect condition. Further along the Floral Hall sits a bar which is decorated in the style of a Spanish galleon, perfect for pre-show or interval drinks & upstairs are the Spanish Halls, used for private functions & dance events.

There will be one scheduled tour per month but others may be booked subject to numbers. Just ¬£5 per tour … amazing value for money & well-worth 90 minutes of your time!

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It has taken a long time (& even more money) but Blackpool Prom is looking magnificent! Gone is the straight beach, replaced with sweeping curves & headlands which will house new attractions. Steps down to the beach along the whole length of the Prom have created new seating areas with excellent views of the sea & events such as the Airshow & the World Fireworks Championships. Bikes are available for hire & can be returned to other stations around the resort. The Tower Headland is the last to be finished & will be open by July; this houses a wedding chapel overlooking the sea & the “comedy carpet” … a hollywood-style tribute to famous comedians … with their catch-phrases captured in granite.

If you’ve not seen it yet, it is well-worth the journey.

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The area around St John’s Square has been pedestrianised & cobbled & the eateries there are able to make use of the space for al fresco dining.

Birley Street has been transformed into a Freemont Street (Las Vegas)- style attraction with huge Loch Ness Monster-style arches bathng the area in soft lighting & music. This pedestrianised street is full of cafes & more al fresco dining.

The Houndhill Centre is Blackpool’s under-cover shopping mall with national chains such as Primark, Next, Deichmann, Clarks, New Look, Jane Norman, La Senza & the flagship development, Debenhams. There are plenty of places to eat & drink here or even just to sit & people watch.

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This square is just on the edge of the town centre, at the entrance to the Winter Gardens; it is now a traffic-free zone with dancing fountains & sculptures on a modern cobbled floor. It has become an open-air entertainment venue for events such as the Christmas lights switch on & Showzam in February.