The Best Historical Attractions in Blackpool
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What first comes to mind when you think of Blackpool? For many people in the UK, Blackpool has at one time or another been a family holiday destination. It’s perhaps best known for its amusement arcades, theme park, and theatre performances, but there are a lot of incredible historical attractions in Blackpool that you can visit as well. Some are blatantly obvious, such as the Blackpool Tower, but others could be considered hidden gems in Blackpool too.
Despite its modern appearance, Blackpool’s history dates back to the medieval period, with the first recorded house in the area being built in the 1600’s. In the 18th century, Blackpool became popular with the wealthy upper class as the perfect seaside area to visit during the summer months. By the late 19th century, Blackpool’s population grew rapidly, and some of its more iconic buildings that you see today began to be constructed.
You can still see much of Blackpool’s heritage on display today, even though modern attractions have been built. If you’re looking for a very unique thing to do in Blackpool, hop on one of the heritage trams and take in the views of the seaside resort on one side and the beaches on the other. And if you happen to be in town later in the year, you’ll be treated to the world-famous Blackpool Illuminations, which are a fantastic thing to see in Blackpool in the evening. Here are my top picks for the best historical attractions in Blackpool to visit:
One of the most iconic landmarks in Blackpool has to be the North Pier. There are a total of three piers in Blackpool to visit, but the North Pier is the city’s oldest. It was opened in 1863, and still retains much of its original Victorian charm. At the entrance to the pier is where you’ll find some arcade machines and games, but if you pass through this area and walk along the pier, you’ll come across a traditional double decker Venetian carousel, as well as The Sunset Lounge. The North Pier is one of my favourite places to go in Blackpool so make sure you stop by!
Blackpool Town Hall
Just across the road from the North Pier is where you’ll find the Blackpool Town Hall. This building was completed in 1900, and is often overlooked by tourists as it’s not one of the main attractions in Blackpool. The inside of the town hall features marble walls, mosaic floors, and a statue of Queen Victoria which was finished in 1904. The town hall is worth taking a quick photo of before you head further into the centre.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
When you think of Blackpool, you probably don’t think of historical churches. But you may be surprised to learn that there are quite a few churches in Blackpool dotted around that are worth visiting if you’re interested in the history of the city. Sacred Heart Catholic Church is a Grade II listed building and was built in 1857, making it the first Roman Catholic church in Blackpool. This is one hidden gem in Blackpool you should take a look at!
Abingdon Street Market
Abingdon Street Market is a beautiful example of one of the many historical attractions in Blackpool that a lot of tourists don’t acknowledge. The building was originally constructed in 1862 and was used as the town’s police station. From 1928 onward the building has been going strong as a market, where you can find pretty much everything you need. If you’re looking for free things to do in Blackpool, it might be worth exploring.
St John's Blackpool
Around the corner from Abingdon Street Market is where you’ll find St John’s Blackpool. This Anglican church was completed in 1878, and was built on the site of another church which proved to be too small for its congregation. It sits right in the heart of Blackpool, opposite the famous Winter Gardens, so it’s quite easy to locate and add into your Blackpool itinerary. If you get there early in the morning, you’ll be able to snap a photo without the crowds!
Did you know that Blackpool is home to one of Europe’s largest entertainment complexes? The Winter Gardens opened its doors in 1878 and is still a very popular venue for theatre performances as well as dance competitions, which are hosted in the ballroom. It’s located only a short walk from the seafront, and is surrounded by popular restaurants in Blackpool too. If you have time, I would highly recommend seeing a performance at the Winter Gardens - it’s one of the best things to do in Blackpool!
A very short walk from the Winter Gardens is another popular theatre in Blackpool - the Grand Theatre. It’s Blackpool’s premier venue for shows, and is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture. It was opened in 1894, and during both of the world wars it remained open to visitors. The theatre may or may not be haunted by a Victorian ghost as well, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re sitting in the Upper Circle! The Grand Theatre is a stunning historical attraction in Blackpool to visit, even if you can’t fit a show into your schedule.
Of course, the most iconic attraction in Blackpool is the Blackpool Tower. It’s one of the most famous landmarks in the UK, bringing in thousands of visitors each year to this seaside town. Following a trip to Paris, the mayor of Blackpool was so impressed with the Eiffel Tower that he wanted to build something similar in the seaside resort. It opened its doors in 1894 and now consists of five main attractions: a circus, a ballroom, the Tower Dungeon, an events space, and the Blackpool Tower Eye, which offers incredible panoramic views. No trip is complete without visiting this historical attraction in Blackpool.
The Comedy Carpet
Sitting just in front of Blackpool Tower is the Comedy Carpet. Over the years, Blackpool has played host to an enormous number of comedians at its various venues, and this piece of public art pays tribute to them. It’s similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but celebrates jokes and catchphrases more than anything else. Visiting the Comedy Carpet is one of the best free things to do in Blackpool!
As you make your way along the seafront, you’ll inevitably find yourself in front of the Central Pier. It’s home to Blackpool’s “Big Wheel” as well as the Fun Fair, and is probably the most picturesque of the three piers. It was originally built in 1868 following the success of the North Pier, but its focus was on fun rather than relaxation. Even if you’re not into rides and arcade games, it’s definitely worth strolling through and checking out one of the top historical attractions in Blackpool - entry is free too!
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
You can’t mention Blackpool without the Pleasure Beach popping up. Although it's a theme park with modern rides in it, there are still a number of original rides located throughout the park that are running today. The amusement park was founded in 1896, and the oldest ride in use today dates back to 1904 - the Flying Machines. This was one of the first rides we went on when we visited the park, and it was actually quite relaxing!
If you like traditional amusement park rides you should also check out the Derby Racer, the Alice Ride (a personal favourite), and the Ghost Train. I would recommend getting tickets to the Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the off-season if you can. We visited in September and didn’t have to wait in line for any of the rides! The Pleasure Beach is the perfect historical attraction in Blackpool to visit with friends or family.
Hopefully you have nice weather when you visit Blackpool, because a walk along the promenade is a great outdoor activity in Blackpool. It stretches for 1.6 miles and along the route you’ll be able to see Blackpool’s famous seafront, which as you head more out of the centre and away from the modern day attractions hasn’t changed much since the Victorian period. If you don’t fancy walking, you can also hop on one of the trams for a small fee which runs up to Fleetwood.
Today, Blackpool proudly stands as one of the UK’s leading seaside resorts, and with plenty of things to do near Blackpool, such as taking a day trip to Burnley or the Forest of Bowland, it makes for the perfect base to explore this part of Lancashire from. If you’re not too into arcade games and other modern attractions, there are more than enough historical attractions in Blackpool to visit, whether you’re planning a day trip to Blackpool or will be staying for a few days. A visit to Blackpool certainly won’t leave you disappointed!
Have you been to this famous seaside resort before? I’d love to hear your thoughts on Blackpool in the comments section below! If you happen to be visiting Manchester or Liverpool and have a day to spare, Blackpool is one of the best options for a day trip! Don’t forget to follow my travels through my Instagram account as well - and keep in touch!
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