Tourism season will be 'spectacular'

By Ged Henderson

20 Mar 2018

Blackpool has officially launched its 2018 tourism season with the unveiling of three new major visitor attractions as part of a £100m investment drive.

And a £600,000 campaign under the ‘Blackpool Has It All’ title will include a new TV advert as well as extensive digital and PR activity.

The season launch at Blackpool Pleasure Beach was attended by several hundred hoteliers and tourism-based businesses who heard that more than £100m of new investment had poured into in the UK’s favourite seaside destination.

That include the £16m rollercoaster, ICON, which will open at the Pleasure Beach shortly and is the UK’s first double launch rollercoaster.

A newly-completed £5m elephant house at Blackpool Zoo, will provide breeding and conservation facility for a new herd of Asian elephants.

And a new and interactive Marvel Comics super-heroes attraction within Madame Tussauds will open in time for Easter.

On top of that work is continuing on the electrification of the Preston to Blackpool railway line - opening up direct links to the resort from throughout the UK.

A new Hampton by Hilton is the first of a series of “next generation” hotels planned for the resort over the next two years.

And there will be a programme of circus-themed entertainment throughout the season, celebrating Blackpool’s designation as one of Britain’s six “cities of circus”.

Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “Apart from the investment in new attractions and tourism infrastructure, 2018 promises to be the most spectacular season of live entertainment in living memory.”

The audience heard that in addition to major annual tourism events such as the two-day Blackpool Air Show, World Fireworks Championship Blackpool, and the Switch-On of the world-famous Illuminations, summer 2018 will also include a series of live outdoor music concerts on the Tower Festival Headland.

Performances are planned from the likes of Britney Spears, Kenny Rogers, and Boyz II Men, with more big names to follow.

Blackpool will once again host the UK’s only Nickelodeon SLIMEFEST shows over the October half-term, with performances already lined up by the likes of Diversity and US YouTube phenomenon, JoJo Siwa.

Councillor Campbell said: “The 2018 season promises to be an incredibly exciting one given the sheer scale of investment that is being made in the visitor economy.”

Marketing of the destination will be led by VisitBlackpool, Merlin Entertainments and Blackpool Pleasure Beach, supported by other key partners.

Meanwhile, Blackpool Council has reunited an iconic Stan Laurel bowler hat with other rare show business artefacts which were all once part of the same private collection.

 

[caption id="attachment_102469" align="alignnone" width="500"]Blackpool tourism Stan Laurel's hat Kerry Vasiliou from Blackpool Council with Stan Laurel's hat[/caption]

The town is now hoping that a Heritage Lottery Fund bid for a new museum, the first in the country set to be devoted to the history of popular entertainment in the UK, will give the hat a home worthy of its cultural significance.

The black bowler was originally given to a Blackpool magician, Cyril Critchlow, in June 1947 when Laurel and Hardy played the town’s Palace Theatre.

Cyril was an avid collector of entertainment memorabilia and was especially interested items connected with Blackpool.

After his death in 2008 the Critchlow family donated to the resort his Blackpool collection totalling over 200 objects and 10,000 printed items.

However, it transpired that in 1989 the signed bowler hat had been sold by Cyril to another collector. Earlier this month it was officially acquired by the council.

Curator Emma Heslewood said: “We now hope that Blackpool’s plan for Britain’s first museum devoted to comedy, circus, magic and variety can be realised, and that everyone coming to the resort will get the chance to see this piece of incredible cultural history in a venue which will celebrate the nation’s enduring love of showbusiness.” In addition to a Heritage Lottery Fund bid, Blackpool’s entertainment museum project is also in the running for a grant from the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund (NCRF).

Enjoyed this? Read more from Ged Henderson

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