Welcome back to our bi-weekly blog where we discover more about the UK’s favourite holiday destinations! This week, we’ll be finding out more about our favourite seaside resort–Blackpool—a place that greets thousands upon thousands of tourists each year.
A Little Blackpool History
It wasn’t until the 18th century that Blackpool started to become a fashionable tourist destination, mainly due to people believing the sea was good for ailments. However, Blackpool remained a quiet place until 1781, which was the year Thomas Clifton and Sir Henry Hoghton built a private road to the destination, making the town more accessible.
Supposedly, Hitler saved Blackpool from the Blitz because he wanted to keep the seaside resort as his personal playground and headquarters for his paratroopers! German intelligence was recovered from a military based and showed maps marking the Blackpool Tower and the three piers.
Blackpool Illuminations have been around since 1879. The first “illuminations” were eight electric arches that were erected down the promenade and they caused quite the commotion as thousands of tourists flocked to see them. These days, it takes 22 weeks to put the lights up and 14 to bring them down, which means that the lights are up for most of the year (although only ever lit for two months in the autumn).
Over the years, the Blackpool Illuminations are known to have the lights turned on by a celebrity. The first was Lord Derby in 1934 and since then they have had a range of musicians such as Westlife, Blue, The bee Gees, George Formby, Status Quo to comedians like Ken Dodd, Alan Carr and Canon and Ball. They’ve also had a horse switch on the lights (this was when Red Rum won its third Grand National). Recently, they’ve had five of the British 2012 Olympic winners switch their lights on.
Breaking World Records
In 2012, Richard Rodriguez broke the world record for the most consecutive days riding a rollercoaster. Rodriguez rode on the Big One for 112 days. The attempt was only done during operating hours (six hours per day).
The Famous Tower
Blackpool Tower is an iconic symbol of the North West and was built between 1891 and 1894 when Blackpool was becoming a popular tourist destination. It’s now known as one of the most popular tourist attractions of the UK, as it sees 645,000 tourists every year. The tower was influenced by Paris’ Eiffel Tower and was made out of 2493 tonnes of steel. When you’re next in town, you’ll have to climb to the top where you can walk over the dizzying see-through floor, although if the winds are faster than 35 mile per hour, the tower has to be closed as it’s known to sway!
Famous People From Blackpool
Actor David Thewlis grew up in Blackpool and is known as Professor Lupin from the Harry Potter franchise.
There must be something in the water, as actress Jenna Coleman is also from the seaside resort. She is most famous for being Dr Who’s companion, Clara , and played Connie in Captain America: The First Avenger.
The Cure’s lead singer, Robert Smith, also comes from Blackpool. The band had hits such as “Friday I’m in Love,” “Boys Don’t Cry” and “In Between Days.”
If you know any other “Blackpool celebrities” let us know in the comments!
Barbarians Vs Samoa at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Take a mate to see the Barbarians vs Samoa game at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park! Don’t miss out on the exhilarating action and the chance to soak up the atmosphere with a few beers. You will also be given free time in London on the Sunday, where you will be dropped off at the Southbank area and will be able to see sights such as the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben!
Coronation Street Tour
For all the Corrie fans out there, don’t miss out on our special Coronation Street Tour! It will be closing this December, so remember to get your tickets – and quick! Take a walk along the street’s famous cobbles and get behind one of the most famous bars. We also included a Liverpool/Chester (depending on departure region) excursion, where you can enjoy one of these famous cities!
You and your friend could venture to the capital of Ireland for a holiday bursting with culture, nightlife and famous attractions—there’s so much to do! While you’re there, you must visit the legendary Guinness factory tour and learn how one of the most popular drinks in the world is made—and of course you can enjoy one at the end of the tour! There are also beautiful beaches, such as Killiney Beach, which offers breathtaking views and sometimes you can even spot dolphins! Plus, Dublin offers many cultural hotspots, museums and galleries like the fantastic National Gallery of Ireland and the Temple Bar Galley and Studios.
Take a coach trip to the Edinburgh Tattoo; a true Scottish spectacle that you’ll be crazy to miss! In the past, performers from over 43 countries have taken part in the Tattoo, showcasing a range of talents from musicians and performers. You can also enjoy free time before the Tattoo, as you can mosey around the historic city and discover places like the Royal Mile (which proves to be excellent for shopping!).
Great Peak District Fair
With over a 100 indoor and outdoor stalls, the Great Peak District Fair is a perfect and wholesome coach holiday for you and your mates to enjoy! The event showcases the best of the Peak District with farmers markets selling some of the best local produce and there are hand-crafted art stalls. Basically, everything that’s great about the Peak District will be sold here! Another reason to go is the real ale festival in the marquee, which showcases the Peak District’s best breweries! There are also plenty of fun activities to do, such as their live falconry displays and food and drink tasters.
Happy Friendship Day!
Go for the Museums!
Edinburgh has endless of intriguing and out-of-this-world museums to offer! The Edinburgh Museum of Childhood is an incredible day out filled with nostalgia and learning about children’s lives of the past and a collection of toys and board games. Try and fit into your trip a visit to John Knox’s house—the leader of the protestant reformation—and experience the medieval history and drama that unfolds in each room. If you’re an art lover, you’ll definitely get your fix with the city’s many galleries such as the Scottish National Gallery, the Talbot Rice and the Queen’s Gallery, which will give you everything from your more traditional to contemporary art.
Enjoy the Jaw-Dropping Scenery!
While on your trip to Scotland, you can’t miss the fantastic scenery and wildlife! The glens of the Trossachs are a spectacle of the Scottish country and perfect for a walk and finding peace outside of your everyday life. It also boarders the tranquil Loch Lomond, which is the mainland UK’s largest body of water.
The Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms are fantastic to see while you’re on your trip to Scotland! It’s great if you’re an outdoor enthusiasts, as there are plenty of walking and cycling trails, plus you can witness some of the local wildlife. There is also lots of history in the surrounding area, such as the folklore around the Deeside and the Cairngorms, the standing stones and historic churches.
The Best Whisky Tasting!
Everyone knows that the Scottish are famed for their whisky, so it would be rude not to partake in a bit of whisky tasting while on your trip to Scotland! The Glenfiddich distillery is a must as the world-renowned whisky offers an insightful tour around their famous distillery, which starts off with a film about the family behind the brand. Of course, the tour ends with the opportunity to buy and taste some for yourself!
Edinburgh’s The Whisky Experience is also a great way to learn about the process of making whisky, as you journey through the replica factory on a barrel ride. The Whisky experience also has a whisky shop for you to stock up, the “Amber Restaurant” for a light bite and whisky tasting sessions.
Explore Scotland’s Castles!
A trip to Scotland has to include a castle or two, as the country is famous for them due to their clan history. Of course, Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s famous landmark, often seen on shortbread tins, but is also home to the Edinburgh Tattoo and some of Scotland’s most important history. It played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence and the Jacobite Rising and it has the title of “the most besieged place in the UK.”
Stirling Castle, located in Stirling, is another place to fit into your trip to Scotland, as the castle is associated with much of Scotland’s war history (another castle that has been overrun many of times), and it’s also crowned a few Scottish Kings and Queens, such as Mary Queen of Scots.
Technically, it’s not a castle; however McCaig’s Tower is a famous landmark in Oban that was built by John Stewart McCaig as a lasting monument to his family, which was based on the Colosseum in Rome. McCaig’s death brought an end to the construction with only the outer walls being completed, as he originally planned on having statues of his family erected within the building.
Home to a Saint
The Whitefriars church is famous for harbouring the remains of St Valentine. Yet, there is a slight problem as nobody knows which St. Valentine is buried tat the church, because there is confusion whether the St Valentine is one person or two.
The City’s Cultural Hub
On the south bank of the Liffey River is the colourful area of Temple Bar. It’s believed that the name is derived from Sir William Temple, who was the provost of the Trinity College at the time and he and his family owned a house and gardens in the area. These days, it’s known as the bohemian district, bursting with galleries and fantastic night-time spots, such as the Temple Bar’s self-named pub, which is known to have the largest collection of whisky in Dublin.
Dublin’s Famous Night Life!
Once when the Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino visited Dublin, he was refused a pint in one of the city’s bars. He used the “Do you know who I am” line and was quickly rebuffed as it was after hours and one rule applies to all! See, Dublin doesn’t care who you are, when the last bell rings it’s home time!
Home to Literary Icons
The famous playwright, George Bernard Shaw, was born in Dublin and was known for his play Pygmalion, which was adapted into the popular musical, My Fair Lady. When Shaw died, he donated the royalties of Pygmalion to the National Gallery of Ireland, as he stated that the gallery was a huge inspiration to him as child. With the success of My Fair Lady, this proved to be a substantial sum of money that helped the gallery buy top works of art.
Dublin is also one of the six UNESCO cities of literature, as some of the most prolific literary icons have been based in the city, such as Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, Seamus Heaney and Samuel Becket. The other five cities are Edinburgh in Scotland, Iowa City, USA, Norwich in England, Melbourne in Australia and Reykjavik in Iceland.
“And the winner is…”
Dublin is also connected to a famous part of Hollywood history. The iconic golden statuette what is given to Academy award-winners was designed by Dublin born Cedric Gibbons in 1928!
The Story Behind Ireland’s Houses of Parliament…
Leinster House, now known as the Irish Houses of Parliament, was originally owned by the Duke of Leinster. He built his house on the south side of Dublin, when at the time the north was known to be more fashionable. When asked why he did this, the Duke responded, “Where I go, fashion follows.” To this day, the southside is (supposedly) known as being the more stylish part of Dublin. Although, I’m sure this is up for debate!
Famous People from Dublin
The rock band U2 come from Dublin! They have been given the title of “Freedom of the City” and what comes with this privilege (weirdly) is that they can shear sheep free of charge at St. Stephen’s Green.
Another Dublinite (or Dubliner?) is Oscar Wilde, known for the popular stories such as Gothic horror The Picture of Dorian Grey and The Importance of Being Earnest.
Dublin born Bram Stoker became one of the Fathers of the horror genre by giving us vampires with the world-wide famous, Dracula.
Famous Hollywood actor Colin Farrell comes from the Baldoyle area of Dublin. He broke out in BBC’s BallyKissAngel and in recent years has become famous for films such as In Bruges, Phone Booth and Total Recall.
Interested in a holiday to Dublin? Click here for full details and prices.
It might seem early, but you need to book in advance to experience the magical Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park! Enchanting, sparkling and with tonnes of things to do, the Winter Wonderland is the ideal festive break to spend with the family!
The Winter Wonderland Christmas Park is known for its ice-rink, which circles around the band stand and is the biggest ice rink in the UK. It’s open to everyone, as they offer skates from a child size 9 to an adult size 13, plus wheelchair users are welcome onto the ice. You can also spend time in Winter Wonderland’s Magical Ice Kingdom; an enchanting forest made entirely from ice! With giant icicles, sculpted woodland animals and large ice walls it’s an experience you won’t forget!
Video by Fotowhizz
The Winter Wonderland is also a fantastic attraction for the thrill-seeker in you, as the park boasts over 100 different rides! From the adrenaline-packed roller-coasters to gentler carousals and helter-shelters—there is something for everyone! There is also an observation wheel where you can enjoy romantic views of the bright lights and the backdrop of London.
You won’t run out of grub to munch on at the Winter Wonderland, as the park offers plenty of warm meals and sweet treats! While you’re there, you must check out the German market stalls, where you can grab a bratwurst or a roast sandwich–definitely up there with some of the food highlights. If you enjoy a tipple, there are plenty of bars that sell traditional Christmas drinks like mulled wine, hot cider and eggnog and the park also offers themed bars with real fires to cosy up to, except for their ice bar (for obvious reasons), where they sell drinks in glasses carved out of ice!
If you’re interested in going to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, we have a selection of tours* for you to choose from with added excursions where you can really experience London and enjoy the Christmas season, such as our Winter Wonderland and Covent Garden tour or a trip to see a Christmas Show at the Royal Albert Hall! Search for the tour in the holiday finder on the left hand side or you can request a brochure here.
*Tours are subjected to pick-up points.