Have a ball by the sea in grand old Blackpool

I want to take my wife on a weekend break to England. I would ideally like somewhere away from the big cities but which still has plenty to keep us entertained. Can you recommend somewhere suitable, places to stay, and things to see and do for first time visitors?

I want to take my wife on a weekend break to England. I would ideally like somewhere away from the big cities but which still has plenty to keep us entertained. Can you recommend somewhere suitable, places to stay, and things to see and do for first time visitors?

If you are looking for a fun-filled weekend away from the city, then look no further than Blackpool. Considered the grand dame of England’s seaside resorts, the town is famed for its tower, piers, ballroom dancing and its world famous Illuminations which usually take place from September to November. It is also easily accessible from Ireland with Aer Arann flying directly to Blackpool while Aer Lingus offers flights to nearby cities such as Liverpool and Manchester.

The first thing you should do when arriving in Blackpool is take a walk along the town’s three piers. Each boasts its own visitor attractions and if the weather is good, it’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon. The north pier has a wonderful Victorian character with a fabulous two-storey carousel and sun pavilion, while the central pier hosts a Big Wheel offering stunning views of the promenade and surrounding beach. The south pier has a little bit of everything for the whole family to enjoy including some fun souvenirs such as traditional sticks of rock.

One of Blackpool’s most visited tourist attractions is the Pleasure Beach theme park which is an ideal place for a day of fun. With over 125 fast rides and roller coasters, this is one of the most popular outdoor attractions in Blackpool. If you are a thrill seeker, the park houses one of Europe’s fastest rollercoasters reaching speeds of up to 85mph. For the less adventurous, there are a number of other attractions including an ice-rink, bowling alley and traditional arcade.

If you’re an animal lover then Blackpool Zoo is certainly worth a visit. The Zoo is home to over 1,500 animals including lions, tigers, zebras and elephants and 400 types of birds and insects. There are nine different areas in the Zoo including the Hot Forest where you will find animals, plants and insects from the Asian and African tropical forests, the Hot Grassland where the zebras and lions reside and the Hot Desert, one of the toughest habitats on earth where you can see Gazelles, Meerkats and Camels.

No trip would be complete without a visit to Blackpool’s iconic tower. Inspired by the Eiffel Town in Paris, it is one of the most dramatic structures on the town’s skyline and can be seen from a 30-mile radius. The tower is home to a range of attractions including the world famous Tower Ballroom where BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing broadcasts one of its shows each year. If you fancy tripping the light fantastic while you are there, you can dance the day away to the sounds of the Wurlitzer amidst this spectacular setting, or watch from the sidelines as you enjoy a delicious traditional afternoon tea.

Blackpool is also home to an array of museums and art galleries including Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks featuring over 150 waxwork models of celebrities, rock stars, royalty and politicians. The Doctor Who Museum celebrates the acclaimed sci-fi television series and has information about the history of the show including many of his most loved arch-enemies. Last but not least, the Blackpool’s highly-regarded Grundy Art Gallery is a must visit, with its surprising collection of paintings and many year-round temporary exhibitions

The Big Blue Hotel at the Pleasure Beach (****)

Prices start from €80 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking

This modern, four-star hotel is in the ideal location for a break away at an affordable price. The hotel is located right next to the Pleasure Beach, Blackpool’s biggest tourist attraction, and is within easy reach of all of Blackpool’s main attractions so guests are guaranteed to get the most out of their trip. The hotel has a restaurant, bar and guests can enjoy complimentary use of the gym.

The Hilton Blackpool (****)

Prices start from €75 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking

This four-star hotel is located on Blackpool’s promenade and is close to Blackpool Grand Theatre, Blackpool Town and Blackpool Beach. The hotel has an indoor pool, steam room and sauna for guests to enjoy. Each room has a modern feel and features a 32-inch flat-screen TV, tea/coffee and a work desk and the majority of rooms enjoy views over the Irish Sea.

Grand Metropole Blackpool Town Centre (**)

Prices start from €48 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking

The Grand Metropole Hotel is the only hotel in Blackpool which is located between the sea and the promenade, offering uninterrupted views out across the Irish Sea.  Close to both the North Pier and the famous Blackpool Tower, this hotel is perfectly located for all of Blackpool’s attractions and entertainment venues.  The hotel combines the quaint charm of a Victorian hotel with modern facilities.

For more information and travel tips on planning your holiday visit www.hotels.com or call 1800 55 3338 to wake up happy on your holiday!