The original Blackpool Carnival was a spectacular, huge event held in 1923. Local volunteers resurrected it in 2017 in a bid to create an event for local people and the community. A few years ago, the Blackpool group gained £10,000 from the Lottery fund to pay for its revival.
Modern Day Blackpool Carnival
July 1, 2 & 3 2022
Sadly the 2020 and ’21 events were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s back again this year! If you would like to get involved please get in touch with organisers.
It begins on the evening of Friday 1st July and from noon on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd. Taking place at Waterloo Headland, St Chads Headland and the area in between.
This event is totally FREE. Starting on Friday evening at 6pm and concludes on Sunday with the procession, packed full of amazing classic cars, dancers and bands.
The Grand Procession starts at noon on Sunday at the Solaris Centre and proceeds along the promenade road to Manchester Square. It’s sponsored by the ever popular @CORAL ISLAND, Blackpool’s largest free indoor attraction area, well worth a visit especially considering the offer of the children eating for free. Wow!!
How to Take Part in Blackpool Carnival
Blackpool schools, children’s groups, sports groups, adult organisations and businesses are all welcome to join the Blackpool Carnival Parade. As with the other Fylde Coast galas, there’s a Carnival Queen and Retinue. All of the Gala Royalty from other local events are invited to take part.
- The event is free to attend, with acts, activities and events taking place on Waterloo Headland.
- Taking part in and organising the event is for us – for the people of Blackpool.
Blackpool Carnival is NOT organised by Live Blackpool. Please contact the event organisers for more information. All details correct at time of publication.
The Early Blackpool Carnivals
Did you know? In 1879, Blackpool became the first place in Britain to have electric street lights.
Visitor numbers had fallen during the recent national depression, but on 18 & 19 September 1879 Blackpool celebrated ‘The Inauguration of the Lighting of the Town by Electric Light.’ 8 Siemens arc lamps were erected on the promenade, with one on each of the two piers (North and Central) to create a massive arena for carnival night.
On the night of 19 September 1879 a ‘Grand Carnival at Sea’ was held. A grand torchlit procession set off from the Drill Hall on Yorkshire Street. After a banquet of sumptuous foods a grand, mock naval battle was staged on the beach. 100,000 people came from miles around to see the ‘artificial sunshine’ provided by the arc lamps, and a ‘large ship on fire on the sea’.
This artificial sunshine was the precursor to the Blackpool Illuminations. Find out much more about how the Lights began here.
Blackpool Grand Carnival
The first Blackpool Grand Carnival was held from 9-16 June 1923. What a massive event that was! 2 million visitors attended, arriving on 200 extra trains and 51,000 extra vehicles. Based on the world-famous carnival in Nice, it was an attempt to replace the Illuminations.
Doodles the Clown (real name William McAllister) appeared at the Tower Circus from 1915, but was also Carnival King in 1923. He arrived by aeroplane onto the beach – unfortunately the plane turned over as it landed! His Queen was Fred Walmsley – the ‘Dame’ from the Pier Show.
The King and Queen led a huge procession, including people wearing papier-mache heads. Craftsmen from Nice made them, working in Blackpool at the tram works.
Did you know? In 1924 an old hangar was erected at the side of the Corporation Donkey Stables on Rigby Road. Known as the ‘Carnival Shop’ it was where floats were made. Then Blackpool Corporation decided not to hold any more carnival events, and in 1936 it became the Illuminations Department.
Take a look at this British Pathe clip of the first event –
Florence Stevenson, a local music hall singer, was face of the carnival. Her face featured on thousands of commemorative pin brooches and badges of the time. And South Shore Open Air baths opened on 9 June to coincide with Carnival week.
It was such a success that organisers decided to make it an annual event – incorporating Blackpool Children’s Carnival dating back to 1897.
Between 11 and 21 June the following year the second Blackpool Carnival took place. But the 1924 event proved to be the last. Several days were event-free and, without anything scheduled, many of the visitors just got drunk. Little changes over the years! With all the problems that so much drunkenness created, the Council decided to hold a festival of Lights from 1925 instead. Of course that was to become the world famous Blackpool Illuminations.
While you’re here…
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