Blackpool gets a pretty bad press most of the time, but here’s 15 reasons why I love my seaside hometown.
1. There’s always something to do. Always.
How many other towns can say they have a theme park, a water park, a zoo, a waxworks, a choice of theatres, and a sealife centre? Plus, there’s a prize every time on any of Blackpool’s three piers (yes – that’s three, Brighton).
2. Blackpool Tower is so much more than just a tower
More famous even than the Tower Circus (which has a floor that submerges in water, is completely hydraulic and one of only a few of its kind anywhere in the world) was The Dawn of Time, or “the dinosaur ride” to most people. Jungle Jims, The Christmas Tree Ball and more recently The Tower Dungeon are all things that make the tower great. Not forgetting the beautiful Tower Ballroom, home of Strictly Come Dancing, which has a roof that actually opens so you can see the stars.
3. The Big One really is pretty big
At 235ft high and with speeds of 95mph, the Pepsi Max Big One was once the tallest and fastest rollercoaster in the world. Speaking of which, no matter what time of year you go to the Pleasure Beach there’s always one idiot who’s been on The Big One for four days trying to break the world record for the longest time spent riding a rollercoaster.
4. The phrase “Mr Wriggley only a pound”
Blackpool is the only place in the world where you can buy the unique combination of gas lighters, Running Rats, and Mr Wriggleys “only a pound” from one lone bloke in the town centre. And despite the fact you’ve probably never seen anyone buy any of these items, he must be making a killing because he’s been at it for years.
5. The love/hate relationship with the illuminations
A stroll down the Illuminations with a cone of chips can be really quite delightful, and we always look forward to marvelling at how the Teddy Bear’s Picnic display has made it to another year. But forget to avoid the prom on a drive into town during Illumination season and you’ll find yourself stuck in a really well-lit traffic jam.
6. It has a thriving music and arts scene
Three theatres, various music venues and some weird sort of pop up stadium a la Elton John make for a vibrant music and arts scene that isn’t very well known to people from outside of town. Blackpool was the setting for the Stone Roses’ infamous 1989 Empress Ballroom Gig, the namesake for The White Stripes’ first live DVD, and has hosted countless bands and artists over the years. On the surface the sticks of rock and novelty shops might look tawdry, but scratch below and there’s a lot of culture in there too.
7. You can cheer yourself up by just looking at the floor
No one is really sure when the comedy carpet appeared, or why, but if you want to be reminded of everything that’s ever made you laugh in popular culture, from Frank Spencer to Vicki Pollard, you only need to stroll down the prom.
8. Professor Lupin was born here
Otherwise known as actor David Thewlis. And so was Queen Victoria (or Jenna Coleman, at least.) Other famous people hailing from the town include Zoe Ball, The Cure’s Robert Smith, and the dad from Frasier (honestly).
10. The nightlife is so much more than stags and hens
The Daily Mail can print all the tacky hen do photos it wants, but we know what a real Blackpool night out is. Back in the day it was coming back from the toilet in the Syndicate (RIP) to find your mates had been transported off somewhere on the revolving dance floor, the Green Thing shots in Jenx (RIP x 2), or no matter how much you hated it, getting to the end of the night and knowing you were definitely going to end up in Flamingos. Even now, Bootleg, Scrooges and The Galleon are keeping the live / alternative music scene ticking over splendidly, while Queen Street caters to the more mainstream crowd. And it won’t be for everyone, but if you want to hear the soundtrack from Frozen followed by The Spice Girls, then The Flying Handbag is for you.
11. You can sample the best ice cream EVER
Notariannis. It was established in 1928 and has been serving its famous home-made ice cream to the Blackpool masses ever since. If ever there’s flooding on the prom, everyone’s first question is always “is Notariannis okay?”
12. It’s sitting on a secret underground Labyrinth
Rumour has it that there are secret underground tunnels running from The Tower to The Winter Gardens that were once used by performers. Reports that Tupac and Elvis are currently holed up down there are unconfirmed.
13. It had trams first
Blackpool is home to the world’s very first electric steel tramway, built in 1885, which is still in use today. We love trams so much that when the illuminations are on we’re treated to fancy light-up trams, and up until a few years ago we’d regularly dice with death on that confusing bit of track-cum-road by the Metropole. I suggest anyone who doesn’t think the trams deserve a mention re-familiarise themselves with the Number 14 bus – surely the worst form of public transport in the history of public transport.
14. Celebrities love it
Not just Mick Hucknall either – director Tim Burton said he was “Blackpool’s number one fan” and filmed both a Killers video AND a film here, Lady Gaga once ate lunch in the Devonshire Arms, and even George Clooney was allegedly spotted buying fish and chips when he visited the Fylde for the Lytham Open. During WW2, Hitler wouldn’t allow his army to Blitz Blackpool because he wanted the town for his “personal playground” (but we don’t like to shout about that one).
15. Everyone else secretly loves it too
It might be sneered at by some, but people who live here know how popular Blackpool really is. Eating fish and chips on the pier is Britain’s top “simple pleasure” according to a survey by VisitEngland, and you only need to be stuck in a queue coming off the M55 on a Friday night to know how many people have reserved a special place in their hearts for Blackpool.
Originally blogged for Wow24/7.