There's a great variety of shows, events and entertainment for all the family at Blackpool Winter Gardens. Read on to find out what's coming in the following months.
You can find more details for all of the events at the Winter Gardens in the Events Calendar at this link.
A stunning once in a lifetime line-up of world-renowned names are set to perform at the North West’s biggest International Soul Festival from 17-19 June.
Over the three days the Festival will see an array of exclusive American Northern and Modern Soul legends take to the stage in the stunning surroundings of Blackpool Winter Gardens.
Among the artists performing on the main stage are soul icons Bettye Lavette, Gerri Granger, Harold ‘Bobby’ Hutton and Dee Dee Sharp, plus there will be an exclusive Q&A session with Motown’s first A+R man Mickey Stevenson.
Richard Searling is the man behind the Blackpool International Soul Festival having organised Northern Soul events for more than 25 years.
As a well-known face on the scene Richard has organised countless all-nighters across the UK but this year he wanted to create an even bigger challenge for himself.
“I’ve wanted to put together a Festival like this for a long time, it’s been on my bucket list you could say, and there isn’t a better venue to do it in,” said Richard.
“We’ve got some big name artists on the bill and some will be performing tracks that haven’t been done live since the day they were recorded which is just incredible.
“Blackpool and Northern Soul go hand in hand and it’s great to see the town continuing to embrace it in such a big way.”
The iconic Empress Ballroom will provide the main stage for the weekend playing host to no less than four big name stars, with its giant dancefloor easily able to accommodate more than 1,000 people.
Festival-goers will be treated to live concert style performances on the main stage from…
Bettye Lavette – with a career spanning 50 years Bettye will be performing some of her rarer Northern and Modern soul hits as well as sharing some tales from her glittering career, including her performance for President Obama at his inauguration in 2009.
Gerri Granger – an intriguing addition to the bill whose 1971 track I Go to Pieces (Everytime) is one of the most popular Northern Soul anthems of all time.
Harold ‘Bobby’ Hutton – a household name in Northern and Modern Soul circles primarily for his 1974 LP A Piece of the Action which includes Blackpool Mecca anthem Lend a Hand.
Dee Dee Sharp – one of the greatest female soul singers of all time, Dee Dee released a string of hits through the 1960s and 70s, including the smash Northern Soul anthem, What Kind of Lady.
The concerts on the Empress Ballroom stage will all be supported by Musical Director Snake Davis and band The Suspicions. With many of the songs set to be performed having never been seen live since they were originally recorded in the studio this is sure to be a treat for Soul enthusiasts.
In the Pavilion Theatre there will be a chance to hear from Motown’s first A+R man Mickey Stevenson in a special Q&A session following the release of his book The A+R Man. During his time at Motown he produced numerous hits. His biggest success Dancing in the Street which he co-wrote with Ivy Jo Hunter was originally recorded by Martha and the Vandellas in 1964, later to be covered by David Bowie and Mick Jagger in 1985.
The Festival also features a further six rooms throughout the Winter Gardens complex filled with soul music and over 50 DJs from across the UK and Europe. Organisers are expecting thousands of fans to descend on the venue to enjoy the music, hear the Q&A session, visit exhibitions and shop in the specially created ‘Northern Department Store’.
Winter Gardens Managing Director Michael Williams added: “We are delighted to be promoting the Festival in association with Richard.
“The Winter Gardens is ideal for hosting such an event and the audience can look forward to a great weekend of entertainment thanks to superb line-up of artistes.”
Call 0844 856 1111 or for VIP tickets call the VIP Hotline on 01253 629666.
26 May - 03 June 2016, EMPRESS BALLROOM
The Festival began in 1920 in the Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, you can find out more by visiting our History section.
Covering a period of nine days this is by far the largest of all the five Blackpool Festivals. The Festival covers Ballroom and Latin American dancing, incorporating the British Open Championships for Adult Amateur and Professional couples, plus Formation Teams. 2005 saw the introduction of two new events, the British Rising Star Amateur Ballroom and Latin Competitions.
Three Invitation events took place this year, the Professional Team Match on the Saturday, the Exhibition Competition and the American Smooth showdance on the Thursday evening, created a vast amount of interest and crowd appeal. 2015 was the event's 90th year and there were 60 countries represented. A total number of 2,903 entries in the 12 events, 2 Ballroom Formation Teams and 10 Latin Formation Teams.
28 May 2016 7:30 PM, OPERA HOUSE
Killer Queen have been performing their tribute to Queen’s concert since 1993. Their expert musicianship, extraordinary energy and accurate portrayal of the world’s greatest live band have rightfully earned Killer Queen the title of Queen tribute royalty.
Thrilling sell-out audiences across the globe from the UK to Moscow, Killer Queen recreates the high energy, powerful phenomenon that was Queen live.
Fronted by Patrick Myers as Freddie Mercury, ‘Time Out’ described Patrick’s resemblance to Freddie Mercury as "Spooky,” his uncanny likeness was further proven when he recorded a number one hit single singing as Freddie Mercury on Fat Boy Slim's record 'The Real Life!'
This quality, combined with a powerful 3 1/2 octave tenor range, expert musicianship and dynamic stage presence, has captivated audiences the world over. “This guy is not to be missed” – Editor – Official Brian May Website
This show will take audiences back to the magic and music of the early 60s from Tuesday May 31 to Saturday June 4.
Save The Last Dance For Me will take you back to a time when each passing week brought another Rock ‘n’ Roll classic. This nostalgic, feel-good journey will transport you back to music’s golden era as it follows two teenage sisters through the summer of 1963.
The show will feature the classic hits of Pomus & Shuman including A Teenager in Love; Sweets for my Sweet; Viva Las Vegas; Can’t Get Used to Losing You and Save the Last Dance For Me.
The smash hit Broadway and West End musical will bring a host of fuzzy friends to the Opera House from Monday 6 to Saturday 11 June as part of a nationwide tour.
Featuring the naughtiest puppets in town, brought hilariously to life by an ensemble cast of 11 performers, Avenue Q is a Tony Award-winning musical about growing up, dreaming big, and finding your purpose in life.
Aenue Q first opened Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in 2003, before transferring to Broadway later that year where it won three Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. In 2006 it transferred to the West End produced by Cameron Mackintosh, where it ran for five years before touring the UK. It has appeared in more than ten countries all over the world.
Meet Princeton, a bright-eyed graduate who comes to New York City with big dreams and a tiny bank account. Soon discovering that the only neighbourhood in his price range is Avenue Q, he finds himself moving in with some truly quirky characters. There’s Brian the out-of-work comedian and his therapist fiancée Christmas Eve; Nicky the good-hearted slacker and his closet gay Republican roommate Rod, an Internet ‘sexpert’ called Trekkie Monster and a very cute kindergarten teacher named Kate Monster. And would you believe the building’s superintendent is Gary Coleman?! Featuring hysterically funny songs including The Internet is for Porn and Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist, Avenue Q is a hilarious musical with a warm (and very fuzzy) heart.
The cast features Sarah Harlington as Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut, Richard Lowe as Princeton/Rod and Arina II as Christmas Eve. Returning to the show following last year’s tour are Stephen Arden as Nicky/Trekkie Monster, Richard Morse as Brian, Etisyai Philip as Gary Coleman and Jessica Parker as Mrs T/ Bad Idea Bear.
Avenue Q will run at Blackpool Opera House from Monday 6 until Saturday 11 June. Tickets are on sale now priced from £15.
For more information go to www.wintergardensblackpool.com
11 June 2016, WINTER GARDENS, 9pm to 3am
Blackpool pride's first official dance event - the CLIMAX!
For the first time ever Blackpool Pride working with Freak chic presents brings you a night of club/chart remixes to heavy house Music this June!
Saturday 11th June, the CLIMAX will land on the Winter Gardens for the first time EVER and take over the dance arena!
This summers big pride clubnight with HEADLINE artists, DAMON HESS - MTV ARTIST with live PA's, Imogen Blue-Grace Perry-Jason Quainoo-Riddaz-Dance crew and Matt Sax! And THE VIVIENNE - RUPAUL UK DRAG AMBASSADOR AND HIGH IN DEMAND LIVERPOOL CLUB SCENE DJ and JODIE HARSH who has it all – a fierce look and refined taste! The London icon in hot-pink lipstick is without a doubt the most striking DJ, television personality and fashion muse to hit the Capital this Millennium, and is undoubtedly the reining Queen supreme over international nightlife.
A night not to be missed!
17 June 2016 - 19 June 2016, WINTER GARDENS
A new 3 day festival in summer 16'
Across 6 rooms at the magnificent Winter Gardens Blackpool
Featuring top acts from across the globe
This inaugural Blackpool International Soul Weekender will take place at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool over the weekend of Friday – Sunday 17-19th June 2016
Coming over from the States exclusively to appear with unique “by request” sets are :
BETTY LAVETTE, DEE DEE SHARP, BOBBY HUTTON & GERRI GRANGER
Musical direction will be from SNAKE DAVIS and the Suspicions, Plus enjoy 6 rooms of music and incredible events.
18 June 2016 7:00 PM, OPERA HOUSE
The show is now in its 12th year and is staged to give children the opportunity to experience performing in live theatre, and on a professional stage that has been home to many of the world’s biggest stars throughout the years.
Here at the Opera House, Blackpool we want this experience to be as enjoyable as possible for all of those children involved.
19 June 2016 7:00 PM, OPERA HOUSE
The show is now in its 15th year and is staged to give children the opportunity to experience performing in live theatre, and on a professional stage that has been home to many of the world’s biggest stars throughout the years.
Here at the Opera House, Blackpool we want this experience to be as enjoyable as possible for all of those children involved.
25 June 2016 11:00 AM, OPERA HOUSE
Seven organists will be playing the historic Blackpool Opera House Mighty Wurlitzer for an entire days worth of entertainment!
The organists are as follows:
>Matthew Bason (Also playing an Allen Q316 organ)
30 June 2016 7:30 PM, OPERA HOUSE
Singer and TV star Jane McDonald, one of the nation’s favourite entertainers is returning to Blackpool. This will be a special concert with her brand-new show!
Jane presents an exciting and emotionally charged evening of music and laughter. Featuring many of Jane’s best loved songs and hits from her incredible career, including some of her own compositions and amazing medleys. Together with her fantastic musicians and backing singers Jane brings the audience to their feet with this ultimate feel-good show. This is one night you won’t want to miss!
Doors open at 10:30 am for a 11 am start.
This promises to be a spectacular five-star production from Tuesday 5 to Saturday 9 July.
No details of casting have yet been released, watch this space!
The new stage show of James and the Giant Peach is heading to Blackpool Opera House as part of a world tour.
The classic story by Roald Dahl is produced by Sell A Door Theatre Company with the plot centering on an English orphan boy called James Henry Trotter who enters a gigantic, magical peach and has a wild, surreal cross-world adventure with seven magically-altered garden bugs he meets along the way.
James and the Giant Peach runs at Blackpool Opera House from Monday 18 to Saturday 23 July. Tickets priced from £10.
James and the Giant Peach is adapted by David Wood for Sell A Door Theatre Company. His previous work includes adaptations of well-known books such as Dick King-Smith's Babe the Sheep Pig, Roald Dahl's The BFG and The Witches. Both shows played long tours and two West End seasons. Also for the West End, David adapted and directed Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea.
Sell A Door Theatre Company have previously toured critically-acclaimed productions of Avenue Q, The History Boys, American Idiot and Seussical the Musical. James and the Giant Peach is directed by Bronagh Lagan with all design by Kate Unwin.
For more information about James and the Giant Peach at Blackpool Opera House go to www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk
Cast Announced for Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage
The producers behind the brand new production of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage have announced the cast who will kick off the new tour when it begins in Blackpool this summer.
Blackpool Opera House will play host to the hit show for almost three weeks when it begins a brand new touring production on August 11.
And producers Karl Sydow and Paul Elliott have now revealed who will be taking to the stage in this classic story of Baby and Johnny, featuring the hit songs 'Hungry Eyes', ‘Hey! Baby’, ‘Do You Love Me?’ and the heart stopping ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.
Lewis Griffiths will star as ‘Johnny Castle’, one of the most iconic roles in popular culture. Lewis has had a prolific career in musical theatre, most recently starring as ‘Nick Massi’ on the UK tour of Jersey Boys. Other roles in UK tours include Ghost and Legally Blonde, and West End credits include Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Rent and Whistle Down the Wind.
Katie Hartland will make her professional musical theatre debut carrying the watermelons as she takes on the role of ‘Baby Houseman’, having graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2015.
Carlie Milner will star as ‘Penny Johnson’. Carlie is part of the Dirty Dancing family; starting as a member of the ensemble in 2014, she covered and subsequently took over the role of ‘Penny’ in 2015.
Joining Lewis, Katie and Carlie will be Julian Harries as ‘Jake Houseman’, Simone Craddock as ‘Marjorie Houseman’, Roger Martin ‘as Max Kellerman’, Jo Servi as ‘Tito Suarez’, Lizzie Ottley as ‘Lisa Houseman’, Michael Kent as ‘Billy Kostecki’, Greg Fossard as ‘Neil Kellerman’, Tony Stansfield as ‘Mr Schumacher’, and Daniela Dobega as ‘Elizabeth’. Also joining the company are Gabby Antrobus, Imogen Brooke, Simon Campbell, Robert Colvin, Katie Eccles, Beth Highsted, Megan Louch, Ashley Rumble, Callum Sterling, Austin Wilks and Karl James Wilson.
This new tour of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage is the first time the show has come to Blackpool and follows two blockbuster West End runs, two hit UK tours, and various sensational international productions.
Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage will play at Blackpool Opera House from Thursday 11 to Tuesday August 30.
Gareth Gates in Footloose at Blackpool Winter Gardens - Credit David Ellis for Boom Ents
Worldwide smash hit Footloose: The Musical is heading to Blackpool Opera House from Monday September 19 to Saturday 24 as part of a major new UK Tour.
Based on the 1984 screen sensation starring Kevin Bacon, Footloose: The Musical tells the story of city boy Ren, who has to move to a rural backwater in America where dancing is banned. All hell breaks out as Ren breaks loose and soon has the whole town up on its feet.
Featuring classic 80s hits including Holding Out for a Hero, Almost Paradise, Let's Hear it for the Boy and the unforgettable title track, Footloose: The Musical is set to take the world by storm once again in this brand new production, bursting with youthful spirit, dazzling dance and electrifying music.
Blackpool singing star Maureen Nolan will play Vi Moore. As well as enjoying phenomenal success with her sisters in The Nolans, on stage Maureen has played Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers in the West End and on tour to critical acclaim. Other credits include Sadie in Girl’s Behind, Jill in Mum’s the Word and Sarah in The Naked Truth.
Gareth Gates will play Willard. Gareth rose to fame through the inaugural series of Pop Idol in 2001, going on to sell more than 5 million records worldwide and have hits across the globe. More recently Gareth has enjoyed a successful career on stage, with credits including Les Misérables, Legally Blonde and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
Luke Baker will play Ren McCormack, the role immortalised on screen by Kevin Bacon. Luke recently played Theo in Green Day’s American Idiot in the West End, with other West End credits including the Olivier Award-winning Sunny Afternoon, Beautiful Thing and I Can’t Sing.
The cast also features Hannah Price as Ariel Moore, Nigel Lister as Reverend Shaw Moore, Nicky Swift as Ethel McCormack, Joanna Sawyer as Rusty, Matthew Tomlinson as Chuck, Natasha Brown as Wendy-Jo, Miracle Chance as Urleen, Thomas Cotran as Jeter and Scott Haining as Bickie. The cast also includes Lauren Storer, Natalie Morton-Graham, Luke Thornton and Alex Marshall.
Footloose: The Musical will run at Blackpool Opera House from Monday September 19 to Saturday 24.
Tickets from £15
For more information go to www.wintergardensblackpool.com
The Rocky Horror Show tells the story of Brad and his fiancée Janet, two squeaky clean college kids who meet Dr Frank’n’Furter by chance when their car breaks down outside his house whilst on their way to visit their former college professor. It is an adventure they’ll never forget, with fun, frolics, frocks, and frivolity, bursting with timeless songs and outrageous outfits. The Rocky Horror Show is a guaranteed party, which famously combines science-fiction, horror, comedy and music and encourages audience participation meaning, of course, getting dressed in your most outrageous fancy dress.
Many stars including Russell Crowe, Tim Curry, Jerry Springer and Meatloaf have appeared in The Rocky Horror Show over the past four decades. Ready to thrill you with fun and naughty moments, O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show is the boldest bash of them all. Be warned, this show has rude parts!
GHOST is a timeless fantasy about the power of love. Walking back to their apartment one night, Sam and Molly are mugged, leaving Sam murdered on a dark street. Sam is trapped as a ghost between this world and the next and unable to leave Molly who he learns is in grave danger. With the help of a phony storefront psychic, Oda Mae Brown, Sam tries to communicate with Molly in the hope of saving and protecting her.
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film of 1990, GHOST won numerous awards worldwide and is one of the biggest grossing films in the UK. It starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Tony Goldwyn and Whoopi Goldberg and was directed by Jerry Zucker. Bruce Joel Rubin's script won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and Whoopi Goldberg won the Oscar® for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The film's iconic love scene at a potter's wheel was famously performed to The Righteous Brother's Unchained Melody
The sounds of the 60s will be well and truly heard in Blackpool as hit jukebox musical SHOUT! heads to the resort this autumn.
This smashing revue tracks five groovy gals as they come of age during those liberating days that made England swing, and with a packed soundtrack of some of the biggest hits from the 60s SHOUT! promises a fantastic family show when it comes to Blackpool Opera House from October 19 to November 03.
Tickets are on sale priced from £15.
SHOUT! flips through the years like a musical magazine and takes you back to the music, fashion and freedom of the 60’s with hits from the likes of Petula Clark, Lulu and Dusty Springfield. Using letters to an advice columnist, true confessions, quizzes and advertisements SHOUT! boasts terrific new arrangements of such chart-topping hits as “To Sir With Love,” “Downtown,” “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” “Son of A Preacher Man,” and “Goldfinger.”
With its irresistible blend of hip-swivelling hits, eye-popping fashions and psychedelic dances from the 60’s, this fun-filled musical will make you want to throw your head back and SHOUT!
SHOUT! is presented by Peter Frosdick who most recently produced both A Christmas Carol and Tommy The Rock Opera at Blackpool Opera House.
SHOUT! will run at Blackpool Opera House from Wednesday October 19 to Thursday November 3.
Tickets from £15
For more information go to www.wintergardensblackpool.com
New Stage Production - Heads to Blackpool Opera House
Oscar nominated film The Shawshank Redemption is to become a new stage play in a production visiting Blackpool Opera House this year.
Based on the short novel by Stephen King, The Shawshank Redemption is regularly voted as Britain’s favourite movie ever. And now West End theatre and film producer Bill Kenwright is to bring a new production of the play, which examines desperation, injustice, friendship and hope, to the stage.
The Shawshank Redemption will run at Blackpool Opera House from 14 – 19 November.
Tickets go on sale from 10am Wednesday February 24 and are available from www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk
The production celebrates 22 years since the release of the 1994 movie starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins and is adapted by Owen O’Neill and Dave Johns and directed by David Esbjornson.
Winter Gardens Managing Director Michael Williams said: “We are very excited about The Shawshank Redemption coming to the Blackpool Opera House. This is a completely different kind of production for us but one we are sure will be incredibly popular.
“Millions of people have enjoyed this classic film over the years and it is now time to see it transferred to the stage in what is sure to be a truly fantastic production.”
Based on the 1982 novella Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption, the play examines desperation, injustice, friendship and hope behind the claustrophobic bars of a maximum security facility. The 1994 feature film, regularly voted Britain’s favourite ever movie, was nominated for seven Academy Awards.
Despite protests of his innocence, Andy Dufresne is handed a double life sentence for the brutal murder of his wife and her lover. Incarcerated at the notorious Shawshank facility, he quickly learns that no one can survive alone. Andy strikes up an unlikely friendship with the prison fixer Red, and things take a slight turn for the better. However, when Warden Stammas decides to bully Andy into subservience and exploit his talents for accountancy, a desperate plan is quietly hatched.
Tickets to see The Shawshank Redemption at Blackpool Opera House are priced from £14 and go on sale at 10am Wednesday February 24 from www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk
Hit musical and classic story Great Expectations is to be added to the 2016 season at Blackpool Winter Gardens.
It's been announced that the Charles Dickens’ classic will mark the Opera House’s Christmas season for 2016 running from Saturday December 10 to Saturday January 7.
The show will be produced by Peter Frosdick, who is also producing this year’s festive production of A Christmas Carol, starring Paul Nicholas.
Tickets for Great Expectations go on sale at 9am Monday December 7.
With the opening scenes on Christmas Eve, Great Expectations begins with escaped convict Magwitch being pursued by soldiers. As Young Pip appears through the mist he encounters the gross Magwitch and so begins the tangled tale of the young gentleman, the beautiful Estelle, the jilted Miss Havisham and of course, the convict.
With a spectacular musical score the audience will follow Pip and his great expectation as he journeys through life and hardship to eventually find love in the arms of the woman who has had him spellbound since childhood.
Great Expectations will run at Blackpool Opera House from Saturday December 10 2016 until Saturday January 7.
Tickets go on sale at 9am Monday December 7 priced from £20 to £39.50. Special offers are in place for families, children and groups. There is a special Early Bird offer of 25% off the top priced tickets until December 31 and a further Early Bird of 15% off top priced tickets until March 31.
For more information go to www.wintergardensblackpool.com
Following sold out seasons in Tampa, Texas and Tokyo, the multi Grammy, Tony and Drama Desk Award nominated Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland receives its UK and European première in this brand new British production.
Wonderland is an enchanting musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, with a huge heart, a medley of magic and a whole lot of wonder.
Here a timely and touching story of love in all its forms, it’s an adventurous exploration of who we are, who we want to be and the power of everyday magic in our lives.
In the tradition of the best stage musicals, Wonderland boasts a catchy score full of songs by Frank Wildhorn, writer of pop hits including Whitney Houston’s ‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go?’ and theatre classics including ‘This is the Moment’ from his internationally acclaimed show, Jekyll & Hyde.
Blackpool Winter Gardens has won £50,000 funding from the Government to help restore the historic Pavilion Theatre.
The 137-year-old theatre was placed on the Theatre’s Trust’s ‘At Risk’ register in 2014 – an indication of the vital need for investment to protect the venue’s long-term future.
Communities Minister Brandon Lewis today announced the Pavilion Theatre – part of the world famous Grade II* Winter Gardens building – is among 77 projects across Great Britain to receive a share of £3 million coastal revival funding.
The £50,000 granted to Blackpool Winter Gardens will be used to restore the walls of the Pavilion Theatre which is the proposed location for the Blackpool Museum.
Created as a concert hall in 1878, the Pavilion was converted to a theatre in 1889. A major re-building took place in 1897, resulting in a splendidly opulent apsidal-ended music hall.
The beautiful plasterwork, designed by J M Boekbinder, was completed in 1904. In the 1920s it became a picture palace and by the 1950s was used for summer shows. Household names such as Morecambe & Wise and Tommy Cooper performed there.
Blackpool Council is currently formulating plans for a multi-million pound, interactive heritage museum – situated within the Pavilion – which will tell the story of how Blackpool became one of the world's biggest tourist resorts.
The announcement sees 77 national projects – ranging from theatres to piers and lidos to lighthouses – each receive coastal revival funding grants of up to £50,000 to kick-start restoration work.
Blackpool Winter Gardens is being celebrated for putting customers first as it is awarded WorldHost Recognised Business status.
The venue has become the latest organisation in the UK to gain national recognition for its commitment to customer service, after being awarded WorldHost Recognised Business status.
WorldHost is a world-class customer service training programme that has already been used to train almost 150,000 people in the UK, including tens of thousands of staff and volunteers for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The status is awarded to businesses that have trained 50% or more of their front line staff using any of the WorldHost training programmes and signed a commitment to delivering excellent customer service.
The Winter Gardens is one of the founding members of the Blackpool Tourism Academy, a consortium of key leisure attractions within the UK's premier seaside resort dedicated to boosting the skills of their workforce. With the assistance of funding from the Government's Employer Ownership Pilot, a range of training is being delivered to equip the workforce with skills which will not only enhance their personal abilities but also add value to the businesses in which they work.
On a dark November afternoon, the Winter Gardens threw open their doors with a warm welcome to industry guests, to showcase the best that this wonderful attraction has to offer, showing off the Empress Ballroom, the newly refurbished Derham Room laid out for a banquet, the Empress Grill with fabulous catering which really looked too good to eat. Come take a look at what we saw...
The magnificent Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens Blackpool, getting ready for a ball!
The Derham Room at the Winter Gardens, set for a banquet
The Empress Grill at the Winter Gardens...
The Empress Grill at the Winter Gardens, dine in style!
The front of the Winter Gardens building was tented with scaffolding and sheets, and the areas around the doorways boarded off in late 2014. The work was part of a refurbishment and repair programme which saw the 'faience' - the cream stone cladding - cleaned and damaged areas repaired. This work also uncovered a Royal Seal dedication plaque from the 1930's that hasn't even been seen since the early 1960's.
This huge and magnificent building has 11 main separate spaces over two floors.
The variety of events the Winter Gardens has to offer means there will always be something to offer locals and visitors to the resort, especially with Mamma Mia! reviving the summer season long show in 2014.
New, upcoming bands have played in the Opera House including the like of Little Mix, along with old favourites such as Jane McDonald and Daniel O'Donnell who continue to return and some of the world's best bands including Canada's Arcade Fire - who selected the Winter Gardens as only one of three venues to play in the UK.
Throughout the summer of 2014, the West End smah hit Mamma Mia! played a summer season here in Blackpool at the Winter Gardens.
Mamma Mia! is now officially in the Blackpool Winter Gardens “Hall of Fame.”
The international smash hit musical has ended its 12 week Blackpool Summer Season, and in the tradition of all top shows and acts performing at the Winter Gardens, the Mamma Mia! name is now etched in gold.
Since 1889 top performers or shows have had their names permanently displayed in the Winter Gardens history by appearing on the official Roll of Honour in the entrance to the Floral Hall.
The first name to be honoured was English actor and playwright Wilson Barrett and last year American music legend Bob Dylan was the latest name to be added alongside the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Gracie Fields, 42nd Street and the Royal Variety Performance.
And now Mamma Mia! is there too.
With 98 performances in Blackpool, Mamma Mia! is also the highest grossing show of all time in Blackpool.
Regular Visit Fylde Coast reader Peter and his wife went to the matinee of Let It Be at the Opera House this week - having had a thoroughly good time, they sent in this review.
There was a good turn out, especially in the stalls. The show got better as it went on, the first half was enjoyable but the second half was even better.
They make several quick changes as they go from the Cavern Club to the Summer of Love and beyond, and film sequences from the time are shown in black and white.
You might think that 40 songs would have some weak spots but it seems not. Although I wondered how many would know 'Do You Want to Know a Secret', covered by Billy J Kramer or 'I Wanna Be Your Man' covered by the Rolling Stones for their second release.
All the performers did a great job and for me the drummer was brilliant playing in the driving style of Ringo Starr. When they sat down and played the acoustic numbers, without drummer, the vocals and guitar were like the real thing, with wonderful tracks like 'Here Comes the Sun'.
In the second half you realise how their music evolved, 40 great numbers and you say why didn’t they play that. Well worth seeing.
The magnificent Empress Ballroom is just as comfortable staging the World Dance Championships each year as it is hosting some of the world's best rock and pop acts in concert.
2014 saw the opening of Illuminasia at the Winter Gardens.
Illuminasia is a unique walk-through attraction that blends the tradition of Chinese lantern craft with modern technology to create an incredible larger than life experience.
Giants Under the Sea at Illuminasia, Winter Gardens, Blackpool
You'll be amazed at the sheer scale and vibrancy of the exhibits and enjoy the surprises round every corner.... immersive and interactive - it's perfect for families, yet captivating for any age. Plus, it's all indoors - an attraction that the weather can't spoil!
In 2014, Illuminasia welcomed 110,000 visitors through the doors, and they have optioned their two additional years taking the attraction to 2017.
Illuminasia reopens for the 2016 season on 13 February.
Find out about this magnificent building with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Winter Gardens
The Winter Gardens is an incredible building with a long history. It first opened on 11 July 1878 and since then has grown and developed as an entertainment complex which mirrors the growth of the seaside town of Blackpool.
Right in the centre of the complex, in what is now the coffee shop, still stands the original building of the site around which the whole of the Winter Gardens has been built.
You can find out more about the History of the Winter Gardens here
Tour dates, times and more information
If you'd like to see more of the Winter Gardens and hear tales which bring the building and its past to life, why don't you book on a Heritage Tour?
Meeting at 11am in the Floral Hall, these tours will enthral and delight you, with memories of long forgotten events, fascinating facts you didn't know, and plenty of peeps behind-the-scenes of this magnificent and much loved building.
Individual Tours can be found in the Events Calendar, and you can also find more details about Winter Gardens Heritage Tours here
The Winter Gardens offers a wide variety of venues for events ranging from small private business lunches to large scale conferences. You can also hold your wedding at the Winter Gardens. What could be better than a reception or banquet in the newly refurbished Derham Room? (pictured below).
The main rooms include the 2,900 capacity Opera House (the largest theatre stage outside London), the grand Empress Ballroom with a capacity of 3,250 people for concerts, and the 2,600 sq metre Olympia Exhibition Hall.
More than 90 years after its original inception the world renowned Blackpool Dance Festival is to launch its first overseas event which will see it expand into China.
Working in partnership with International Special Attractions (ISA) the Blackpool Dance Festival will promote and be responsible for a brand new festival almost 6,000 miles away in Shanghai.
The event’s global expansion is part of an on-going relationship with ISA, the creators and investors behind Illuminasia which opened in April 2014 at the Blackpool Winter Gardens. Illuminasia has attracted more than 100,000 visitors since opening and recently announced a three year extension in the resort.
Based in Shanghai, ISA will work with the team in Blackpool on the organisation, branding and management of the prestigious dance event which will be promoted under the name Blackpool Dance Festival (China).
The first ever overseas Blackpool Dance Festival will be held at the Grand Stage, Shanghai, China from 19th – 23rd August 2016, with the annual May Festival continuing to take place at The Winter Gardens, Blackpool.
The Blackpool Dance Festival has become one of the world’s most prestigious annual dance tournaments attracting in excess of 20,000 competitors and spectators from more than 60 countries over the course of the nine-day festival. Since the first event in 1920 the Festival has become one of the key attractions in Blackpool’s annual tourism calendar.
Michael Williams, Managing Director of Winter Gardens Blackpool, said: “This is a great opportunity for Ballroom Dancing and will further enhance Blackpool’s position as hosting the number one Festival in the world. Over the past few years we have seen an influx of Chinese dancers competing in Blackpool and for us to take elements of our Festival to China can only increase the number of dancers that will want to come and experience the magic of dancing in the magnificent Empress Ballroom.
“This is an historic occasion to take such a prestigious event to China which will further strengthen the Blackpool Dance Festival as the world’s most prestigious and foremost dance event.”
Over the past 20 years Ballroom dancing has been a fast growing business in China and formed part of the Government’s drive for citizens to lead a heathier lifestyle, with more than 50 million people now registered as ballroom dancers with official Chinese bodies. The rise in popularity has also seen an increase in participants at the Blackpool Dance Festival who now regularly visiting from the Asia Pacific region to compete each year.
Michael added: “The expansion into China with ISA will allow more people from across the globe to compete in the world renowned event but will also raise the profile of our own Festival held each May providing an invaluable opportunity to introduce Blackpool across East Asia.”
The Blackpool Dance Festival (China) will initially take place over 3-5 days with plans to grow the event each year. Competitors will be able to compete in a full range of Latin and Ballroom dancing disciplines.
Gary Fjelstad, ISA’s Vice President/General Manager, said: “ISA is very proud to have the opportunity to work with Blackpool to introduce the Blackpool Dance Festival to China.
“With our deep understanding and working relationship with people and patterns in China we are confident this adventure will bring fruitful results to all parties involved. ISA is excited and looking forward to working with all our friends in the dance world in China.”
Entries and ticket applications for the Blackpool Dance Festival (China) will open on 15th July 2015 at: email@example.com
To find out more about the Blackpool Dance Festival visit www.blackpooldancefestival.com
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