Katherine MacAlister spends a hedonistic weekend in Blackpool

It took a moment to register that the kaleidoscope of music, light and movement facing us in Blackpool Tower’s legendary ballroom was in fact a tea dance in motion, the metallic organ music thumping out over the circular dance floor.

We were there for high tea, unaware until then that we would be spectators to the main event, as we ate scones and wafer thin sandwiches while sipping Earl Grey, as the ballroom dancers glided their way serenely around us.

The sight concluded our trip to Blackpool perfectly, its ever present desire to entertain as all consuming as ever. Which is also why I had been strapped into the new Icon rollercoaster to experience Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s newest attraction, a £16.25m ride like no other, which only opened in May.

Buckled in, hands gripping the seat, as the introductory music built up to a crescendo, suddenly we were off, pirouetting and screeching through the sky, twisting and turning towards the earth and back again until I was hoarse with screaming, high on exhilaration and weeping with hilarity.

It was a wake up call like no other, and from there we went around the other nine rollercoasters and endless rides. The amusement park is host to many records, including the largest number of roller coasters in the UK, and you can do them all in a day.

As the illuminations were on, and it was Blackpool’s busiest season, the trams and streets were lit up against the dark cold Irish Sea that rings the northern seaside resort.

There had been a world fireworks display the night before, Blackpool’s innovative events schedule packed all year round.

We were staying in The Sheraton on the seafront, where the rooms were cosy and newly decorated, the staff gorgeous and the breakfasts suitably English, the perfect base for a packed schedule.

What else did we do? The choice was bewildering. Should we go to the Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool – the UK’s largest which features more than 18 slides? Or wander off to the famous zoo? Should we take the lift to the top of the tower and stare through the glass floor at the resort below?

Instead we walked along the beaches, visiting the three piers, stopping at Notarianni Ice Cream’s famous parlour and kiosk, before making our way to Madame Tussauds where we caught up with David Attenborough, Lady Gaga and Ant and Dec, before finally making it to the ballroom for tea.

With the Blackpool Resort Pass, all this is possible thanks to the discounted price which allows you to visit all the major attractions including Sea Life and The Dungeons.

And as we clambered into the car on Sunday, the whirligig of the organ was still playing in our ears.


Hotel Sheraton, 54-62 Queen’s Promenade, FY2 9RP.

The hotel has 108 bedrooms, and rates start at £99 per person for 2 nights half board. hotelsheraton.co.uk

The Resort Pass Plus gives access to nine top Blackpool attractions.

They are: Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Nickelodeon Land; Blackpool Tower Eye & 4D Cinema; Blackpool Tower Dungeons; SEA LIFE Blackpool; Madame Tussauds Blackpool; Blackpool Zoo; Sandcastle Waterpark and Blackpool Model Railway Village.

An adult/child pass costs £89 – a saving of more than £69 on individual entry.


Afternoon tea in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom starts at £50 for two including entry to the ballroom. Family afternoon tea costs from £59.95 for a family of three to £99.95 for a family of eight.