There are fairy lights, there are Christmas lights, and then there are Blackpool illuminations. The lights that brighten up this Lancashire town each autumn are seen by thousands, and are a rite of passage for many, especially families with young children and those looking for a bit of seaside kitsch.
If, like me, you grew up in the north of England, chances are you have memories of driving up to Blackpool, squeezed into the back seat of the car with your siblings and probably your gran. ,
Once there, you may have stopped for fish and chips before your dad drove slowly along the the prom so you could ooo and aahhh at the lights through the steamed-up windows.
Our eldest child is now five and with it being half term, we thought what better time to treat him to the delights of this technicolor spectacular? He loved it of course, embracing the windy prom (we’re used to those living on the Wirral), penny arcades, trams and tableaux. Tableaux, for those who don’t know, are the huge lit-up scenes at the Bispham end of the illuminations, the ones the kids all love. This year we saw Daleks, Noddy, a haunted house and Alice in Wonderland. All for free! So if you’re thinking of taking a trip to Blackpool, here are some top tips from me to you.
1. Think about how you’re going to see the lights before you arrive. I have a friend who lives in Blackpool, and she advised me to park in Bispham and take a tram down the prom, as driving at peak time can be so busy.
As we arrived in the afternoon, we travelled down to Blackpool Tower and went into the immense Coral Island arcade to kill some time before the lights went on at 5pm. We walked a little way down the front before trying to catch a tram back to Bispham, but they were so busy we ended up walking a couple of stops before a tram stopped that had room to let us on.
So if you’re getting the tram, I’d say make sure you get on at either end of the prom and avoid the middle stops at peak times. If you’re going to drive, expect long queues down the sea front.
2. The best lights for little ones are on the Bispham end of the prom, so make sure you plan to spend a bit of time there looking at the big, lit-up scenes before you go home.
3. Wrap up warm as it gets pretty cold and windy as the sun goes down, and even before that it’s usually pretty chilly.
4. Make sure you take plenty of snacks and drinks, especially if you’re taking young children. We struggled to find anywhere to eat on the front, so were glad we’d taken supplies.
5. If you’re going for fish and chips, try Bispham Kitchens. There’s a takeaway and cafe, which my friend who lives round the corner says is a must, with the best cream cakes in town if you still have room.
6. Finally, have fun and relive your childhood a little bit! From our cheesy afternoon there, we certainly came away thinking Blackpool rocks.