The Stylish Way To Brave Blackpool: An Alternative Weekend in Lancashire
Written by Jaillan Yehia
A weekend break to Blackpool probably isn’t the first thing that pops into your head when you think of a stylish staycation, but I found that by combining a visit to the stunning Lancashire countryside with a side trip to the kitsch and cheesy seaside town that’s famous for ballroom dancing and bright lights, you can get the best of both worlds.
I’ll be honest here and admit that it was only pure circumstance that led me to plan a weekend around the Blackpool area.
Even though I love travelling to various parts of the UK for staycations I will level with you and say that Blackpool wasn’t really on my wishlist and I didn’t think it would appeal to me.
But when a famous classical musician was playing just two UK dates and the one at London’s Barbican was sold out, my only alternative was to travel to the Preston Guild Hall. So I set about organising an overnight trip to Preston.
Of course in typical travel blogger style this quickly expanded to become a whistle-stop tour of the Lancashire coast including Morecambe Bay, the quaint old town of Lancaster and of course the famous illuminations of Blackpool. There was no way I was getting this close to one of the country’s best-loved holiday destinations and not checking it out for myself.
My Alternative Weekend In The Blackpool Area
Day 1: The Ribble Valley & Forest Of Bowland
The perfect way to structure the trip was to stay at a country retreat in the Ribble Valley, which is directly inland from Blackpool itself. I decided to spend a couple of nights in a secluded location where I could wind down from busy London life. Even though I wanted to see Blackpool I decided I didn’t need to stay in the town itself and as it’s only about half an hour’s drive between the edge of the Forest of Bowland and Blackpool.
Once I did some research I found that there is an abundance of nature in this part of England, especially for nature-lovers who want to explore the stunning natural landscape of the Forest of Bowland.
This under-publicised part of The Pennines shares the characteristics of the nearby Peak District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks both of which are far more well-known, but on my Autumnal visit it was utterly deserted and therefore incredibly relaxing.
Having packed my favourite North Face hiking shoes I was able to go on some long walks in the ‘forest’ – but just like the New Forest nearer my home in the south of England the area is a bit of a misnomer: it’s not densely forested at all, but it is wild and remote. It has been called ‘the Switzerland of England’ but as beautiful as it is, I don’t know that comparison is quite accurate.
For the evening I headed to the nearby historic University town of Lancaster which is a delightful place to spend some time and has lots of restaurants and bars to relax in after a day of hiking.
Day 2: Morecambe Bay & Blackpool
A fun-filled weekend break to Blackpool is an iconic thing to do for any Brit, so I was excited for my day exploring the well-known Pleasure Beach as well as the lesser-visited seaside town of Morecambe Bay.
The top item on my wish list was of course the 10 kilometre-long illuminations which consist of over a million light bulbs. They include every kind of light display you can imagine from lasers, neon, fibre optics and searchlights to floodlighting and winking lights.
Yes Blackpool is cheesy and kitsch but it’s easy to have a good time in a place that’s set up for fun for all the family. There’s the famous Blackpool Tower (inspired by the Eiffel Tower) , the Blackpool Dungeon (sister to the London Dungeon) and of course the ballroom which hosts the British TV staple, Strictly Come Dancing.
There’s even a Madame Tussauds in Blackpool, though these days it’s a proper full scale wax museum brought to you by the people behind the well-known Madame Tussauds in London. Up until 2010 the same site housed the Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks – which opened on Central Promenade in 1929 and became known for hilariously bad wax representations of famous people. In fact if you have a spare moment and are in need of a laugh, I urge you to look it up.
Add in some other classic Blackpool pastimes like a walk on the pier, a bit of light-hearted fun in the amusement arcades, a tram ride and a stick of rock and you’ve got a perfect English seaside weekend away. Even though I hadn’t planned to go to Blackpool, I’m glad I’ve seen it for myself.
5 Alternative Things To Do In The Blackpool Area
- Hike in the stunning Forest of Bowland
- Visit the historic and vibrant university city of Lancaster
- Explore the medieval Lancaster Castle, which dates back to the 11th century
- Visit Lancashire’s Harris Museum and Art gallery in central Preston
- Check out the Eric Morecambe statue on Morecambe Bay promenade
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