Get your skates on in time for exciting Christmas celebrations in a Blackpool winter wonderland

It might only be August, but Blackpool Council bosses already have some spectacular Christmas events planned to make up for the disappointment of last year’s lockdown.

By Rebecca Beardmore
Monday, 9th August 2021, 3:45 pm

Fancy taking your loved ones for a skate around an ice rink overlooking the beach as the snow falls?

How about resting your legs in a cosy cabin with a steaming mug of hot chocolate, or an adventure through a magical forest before visiting the Jolly Man in Red himself?

No need to worry if you've left the gift-buying until the last minute, either - you can have a leisurely wander around a Christmas market and pick up gifts from local traders.

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A festive village will showcase simulated snowfalls, cosy log cabins, and a magical forest this year, with festive light projection shows and special Santa tram rides.

VisitBlackpool is working behind the scenes to curate a showstopping seasonal spectacle with all this and more, with a brand new programme as the longer nights draw in.

Coun Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “We announced earlier this year that we would make a significant investment in marketing and events to kick-start our tourism economy and help our businesses to recover from the losses they have incurred over the past two years.

“By extending the Illuminations season to four months and complementing that with the strongest resort-wide Christmas offer we have had in years, we are confident that our businesses will enjoy a strong finish to 2021.

“It is encouraging that many of our tourism operators including attractions and accommodation have responded to this investment by remaining open to the end of the year and adding events of their own.

Work is going on behind the scenes to make sure Blackpool bounces back better than ever for the upcoming festive season, after a disappointing Christmas with lockdown restrictions in 2020.

“Our ambition to become a year-round resort remains as strong as ever and the four-month Illumination season running through to Christmas and New Year presents a real opportunity to demonstrate that Blackpool has something to offer no matter when people choose to come.”

The Illuminations will light the way for longer this year, shining bright until January 3 after Strictly Come Dancing star Shirley Ballas pulls the switch on September 3 in the Tower Ballroom.

The Tower Festival Headland will be transformed into a “breathtaking festive village” from November 19 until January 3, VisitBlackpool said.

The festive village will showcase simulated snowfalls, cosy log cabins, and a magical forest, with festive light projection shows and special Santa tram rides.

A Bavarian-style Christmas market will be making its way to the Winter Gardens in 2021.

The Headland will also house an outdoor winter skating rink, which will be free to use for both residents and visitors.

You won’t need to travel to a city to experience a traditional Christmas market this year either, as the Winter Gardens is set to transform into its own wonderland.

From December 9 to January 3, the Winter Gardens will host a Bavarian-style Christmas market with a wide selection of themed stalls, fairground rides, live entertainment and Santa’s grotto.

In November, fans of cult sitcom Friends can also enjoy celebrating every seasonal moment from the TV show at the venue.

Between November 5 and November 19, FriendsFest will be coming to the Winter Gardens to give fans the chance to recreate the show’s titles in the snow with a digital snow globe photo op, and the visitors can check out Monica’s apartment and Central Perk in all their Christmas glory, and visit the Holiday Armadillo’s grotto. The New Year’s Rockin’ Eve disco, made famous by siblings Monica and Ross, will be recreated along with themed food stalls and cocktails.

The resort comes alive at Christmas with panto cries of “he’s behind you”, and this year fun-filled theatre shows will continue.

In 2020, organisers at The Grand Theatre were forced to pull the plug on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs after Government rulings meant it was “simply not viable to put on a full-scale show,” and they wanted audiences to be able to enjoy “the true beauty and tradition of pantomime.”

But Snow White will be back this year, showing between December 3 and January 2.

Aladdin and his genie is also set to grace the stage at Blackpool Pleasure Beach between November 25 and Christmas Eve.

In addition, the Pleasure Beach will host the glamorous Gatsby Christmas Dinner Show between December 3 and 19, and Santa will be in his grotto to welcome youngsters from November 20.

To top it all off, a Christmas Party Spectacular is planned at Viva between December 2 and Christmas Eve, and Hairspray the Musical will show at the Opera House between December 13 and January 2.

Stay Blackpool boss Claire Smith welcomed the planned events, and said it would provide a much-needed boost for businesses who lost out while Covid restrictions were in place.

She said: “I think everything planned so far sounds fabulous, and with events both indoors and outdoors if the weather is bad there will always be something to do.

“The council is really doing their best to help businesses, and we thank them for it.

“People are just so happy to be out and about after lockdown, and even in winter people will still have the appetite to come and support smaller businesses in Blackpool, especially while we aren’t going on foreign holidays.

“On a sunny winter’s day with an ice rink and lights outside, where else would you rather be than Blackpool?"

Last Christmas, the resort was much quieter as the lights went down during the Covid lockdown .

On November 5, the second national lockdown was imposed in England, putting a stopper in the works for thousands of events around the country.

Even before this, myriad events and shows in Blackpool were either cancelled or postponed, as Covid guidance prevented mass gatherings and social distancing would have been near impossible.

Blackpool’s autumn and winter programme became a coronavirus casualty, with events including the World Fireworks Championships postponed and the illuminations switch-on event reverting to a virtual audience.

But last week it was announced both events will return in the autumn, and the news of Blackpool’s winter spectacular will warm the cockles of many festive fans who missed out on last year.

It will also be another step in helping local businesses recover from the pandemic lockdown as the Illuminations are extended into the Christmas season, attracting more visitors.