Blackpool’s Winter Gardens is an opulent collection of theatres, exhibitions halls, ballrooms and event spaces. A vast, Grade II-listed building dedicated to recreation and relaxation, this extravagant entertainment palace has been welcoming locals and tourists alike since it opened its doors in 1878. The years since have seen numerous additions and renovations, including the spectacular 12,500 square foot Empress Ballroom in 1896 and the current Opera House, a 3,000-capacity Art Deco wonder, opened in 1939.
Today the Opera House plays host to some of the world’s biggest touring shows, while the Ballroom is home to the Blackpool Dance Festival, professional darts tournaments and high profile conferences — and that’s not half of it. Each year, the Gardens also hosts a dizzying array of conferences, shows, public and private events spread across the original Pavillion Theatre, the 1929 Olympia exhibition hall, the Arena room, and the must-see themed Spanish, Baronial and Renaissance Halls.
This extravagant entertainment palace has been welcoming locals and tourists alike since it opened its doors in 1878
You could fill volumes with the histories of the Winter Gardens. The complex has seen everything from government requisitions during the World Wars, to visits by the Queen, speeches from Winston Churchill and a notorious concert by the Rolling Stones, the violent events of which led to the rockers being banned from performing in the town — an ordinance which was only lifted in 2008.
Interested parties can book onto one of the different tours, which whisk you off behind the scenes, through backstage and onto the boards, allowing you to relive the venue’s historic glories or marvel at the grandeur and variety of its architecture. Of course, if you’d prefer to catch a glimpse of the Winter Gardens in a less structured way, then you can always stop by for a meal or a drink — there are a number of cafes, bars and fine dining options to choose from.