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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.

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These are before & after pictures of the Prom South of the Pleasure Beach looking towards the Sandcastle & South Pier. This area has been transformed into a pleasant place to walk, cycle or just to sit with new walkways, seating, state of the art lighting, rotating shelters to shield you from the wind & outdoor works of art such as the giant mirrorball, the wind/tide organ etc.