Blackpool has always been famous for its attractions
A rococo explosion of golden swirls, ruffles and frills ripples across its underbelly and down the walls of the ornate theatre. Yet as we sat staring upwards, open-mouthed, nobody was giving the opulent decor so much as a second glance.
All eyes were fixed upon the acrobat, who had already performed a series of heart-in-mouth trapeze stunts from the very top of the arena and now appeared to be walking across the ceiling. As he hung upside down, moving his feet through a series of rope loops, my nine-year-old son Harry whispered: “Mum, what happens if he falls?”
The truth is I didn’t know. Not only was Brazilian trapeze artist Alex Michael Campos performing more than 40ft up in the air, he was doing it all without a safety harness or net.
This was one of the exciting new acts at The Blackpool Tower Circus, which has been running beneath the giant metal feet of The Blackpool Tower for more than 100 years.
Blackpool has always been famous for its attractions, from the spectacular illuminations to the adrenaline-fuelled rides as well as the bustling bars, clubs and restaurants that dominate the seafront’s Golden Mile.
The thrills started before we’d even left our room in The Big Blue Hotel, when I opened the curtains and saw the Pleasure Beach’s most famous ride, the Big One, running right past our window. We saw the train climb the twisted red steel track, reaching 235ft before plunging to the ground and completing a series of terrifying loops and drops around the park.
“That’s the first roller coaster we’re going on,” announced Harry, as I made a mental note that my husband Alasdair would accompany him on that ride. The main bedroom, which was decorated in neutral tones, had a king-size bed while Harry and his brother James, five, had a separate area with bunk beds, a PlayStation and a giant game of magnetic snakes and ladders stuck on the wall.
There’s so much to do in Blackpool
That’s the first roller coaster we’re going on
First stop was a walk along the famous bustling seafront.
Twinkling amusement arcades, souvenir shops and palm readers jostled for space along the pavement as we headed for Sea Life to check out the new Sea Stars exhibit.
Just opened, this interactive exhibition about starfish was a big hit with both boys who loved crawling through tunnels to look inside the tanks. There was also a fun rock pool attraction where they could get up close with crabs and anemones. Also new this year is Clip ’n Climb – a technicolour climbing centre where children aged five and up can scale a succession of challenging vertical terrains.
There were walls mimicking a green giant’s beanstalk with twisted branches to hang on to and a mountain of stacked plastic balls covered in hand grips that went up to the ceiling.
Once the children were strapped into harnesses they were free to go, clambering up the walls before floating down again on their safety ropes.
After all that activity it was time for something a bit more sedate and we visited Illuminasia at The Winter Gardens. We were all entranced by this exhibit of indoor illuminations, with beautiful Chinese lantern sculptures filling the rooms with light and colour.
James really liked the tyrannosaurus in Land Of The Dinosaurs while the exhibit’s takes on Tower Bridge and The Blackpool Tower were my favourites.
At the end of such a busy day we’d worked up an appetite for dinner and headed for The Beach House Bar and Bistro.
This chic restaurant and bar is the perfect place to unwind. White walls and exposed brickwork give it a chilled-out sophisticated vibe, while the floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining area offered beautiful views of the beach as we tucked into king prawn linguine and seafood pizza covered in plump prawns and mussels.
After dinner we headed to High Jinx, a family-friendly magic show. The high-octane mixture of illusion, dancing and comedy from young magician Michael Jordan kept us all entertained and to his delight, Harry was called up on stage to help perform a trick involving a signed £20 note and a walnut.
By the end of the show Harry and James were transfixed and, truth be told, so was I. As we headed back to the hotel under the seafront lights we couldn’t have been happier. Our short break in the classic British seaside town left us spellbound.
The Big Blue Hotel (0871 222 4000/bigbluehotel.com) offers one night from £105 (two adults, two children sharing), B&B.
The Blackpool Resort Pass (01253 478222/blackpoolresortpass.com), from £55, includes one visit to six attractions including Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Nickelodeon Land, The Blackpool Tower Eye & 4D Experience, Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Blackpool and The Blackpool Tower Dungeon.
Additional attractions, including The Blackpool Tower Circus, can be added separately.
Clip ’n Climb (01253 769569/clipnclimbblackpool.co.uk). High Jinx Magic and Illusion Show (01253 297297/vivablackpool.com). Illuminasia Blackpool (01253 629801/illuminasia.co.uk). Beach House Bistro and Bar (01253 749899/beachhouseblackpool.co.uk).
Blackpool tourism: 01253 478222/visitblackpool.com