Blackpool has unveiled a dazzling multi-million pounds programme of marketing, events and new attractions to celebrate the start of a new tourism season.

The highlights were revealed to an audience of hoteliers and other tourism businesses by VisitBlackpool and resort partners at the annual season launch in the new £30m Conference & Exhibition Centre in the historic Winter Gardens. These included:

  • More than £15m of investment in new attractions including the world’s first Gruffalo & Friends Clubhouse on the Golden Mile; a new big cat enclosure at Blackpool Zoo; the much-anticipated return of the award-winning Valhalla thrill ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach; a new three-tier Ninja assault course at Ascent Trampoline Park and a new multiplex cinema in the town centre featuring one of the country’s largest IMAX screens.

  • The planned opening of a new four-star Holiday Inn and Marco Pierre White restaurant, a 70-bedroom extension to the seafront Hampton By Hilton, and a much-enhanced hospitality offer with the summer arrival of a Turtle Bay restaurant and newly-regenerated Abingdon Street Market with multiple food and drink concessions.

  • The planned return of the annual Switch-On ceremony to the outdoors where the Illuminations will be turned on as part of a free event with music and family entertainment. For the past three years, the Switch-On ceremony has been performed indoors with a limited audience, largely due to COVID restrictions. Further details will be revealed in the weeks ahead.

  • A right royal celebration on Sunday 7 May to mark the King’s Coronation featuring a magnificent heritage tram parade along the seafront and a Big Lunch outdoor picnic with live entertainment on the Tower Festival Headland. The resort will also take part in the Lighting Up The Nation event that evening with a unique, Coronation-themed Illuminations display.

  • Another two-month extension to the Illuminations season with the lights shining nightly from September 1 until January 1, 2024. Following the introduction of the giant Odyssey installation during 2022, the Illuminations team are working on three brand new installations for the 2023 season which will be unveiled over the coming months.

  • A packed calendar of free events including the two-day Blackpool Air Show with the Red Arrows performing on both days, as well as Ride The Lights, World Fireworks Championship Blackpool, the award-winning Lightpool Festival,  and Christmas By The Sea.

  • A vast selection of West End shows and live entertainment at venues including the Winter Gardens, Grand Theatre, and Pleasure Beach, including Six The Musical, Annie, Shrek The Musical, The Spongebob Musical, The Mousetrap, and a new musical stage adaptation of Winnie The Pooh. Sir Cliff Richard will also mark 60 years since he first performed a summer season in Blackpool with a concert at the Opera House.

  • A repeat of the “Only In Blackpool” destination marketing campaign developed in partnership with Merlin Entertainments and other resort partners, and first unveiled last year. The summer campaign will once again feature resort “ambassador” Nigel C Gull giving TV viewers a whistle-stop tour of the resort’s major attractions.

The launch event also saw the publication of a bumper free entertainment guide containing hundreds of listings for shows, musicals and concerts running from Easter to the end of the year at numerous venues including the piers and Viva Blackpool.

Philip Welsh, Head of Tourism & Communications for Blackpool Council, said the scale of investment in the resort’s tourism offer showed the commitment by resort partners to build on the momentum gained over the past two years when Blackpool showed one of the fastest post-pandemic recoveries in the UK.

He added: “For the past two seasons, Blackpool has seen record numbers of visitors coming to the resort to enjoy all that we have to offer but we can’t be complacent. We have to keep adding compelling new reasons for people to come here.

“This season, it is fantastic to see so much private sector-led investment in new attractions, hotels, bars and restaurants, underpinned by a brilliant programme of world-class entertainment and free events.

“Some of those events attracted record crowds last year and we are delighted that this year we are seeking to take the Switch-On ceremony back outdoors where everyone will be able to enjoy one of the biggest moments in our annual events calendar.”



The Gruffalo & Friends Clubhouse

Beloved characters from the UK’s number one bestselling children’s author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler are set to make a new home on Blackpool’s famous seafront this May in a partnership between Merlin Entertainments and Magic Light Pictures that will create the world’s first The Gruffalo & Friends Clubhouse.

It will bring together six of the best-loved stories to create an indoor play adventure. The £2.3m investment has been 18 months in the making and is part of Merlin’s aim to bring the very best stories and brands to life in their family-friendly attractions.
Due to open next door to SEA LIFE Blackpool in May 2023, the new experience will join Merlin’s seven other attractions in Blackpool including The Blackpool Tower, Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE Blackpool and Peter RabbitTM: Explore and Play, making it a key destination for families of all ages.


Following a £4m investment, Blackpool Pleasure Beach has officially announced the much-anticipated return of the world’s best dark ride, Valhalla, in time for the park’s 2023 season, with technical rehearsals starting in April.

Featuring many of the exciting elements that made the ride so popular when it first opened in 2000, the team at Blackpool Pleasure Beach have hinted that there are some surprises in store now that the ride has been truly brought into the modern era. 

Riders can expect to be taken on a fantastical journey to Valhalla, boarding a longboat and journeying into a parallel world guided by a brave Viking named Ivàr. There, they will encounter the spirit of Odin and pass into the afterlife to try to make it to Valhalla.  While on their journey, riders will get to experience the elements - fire, ice and lots of water.

Backlot Cinema & Diner

Blackpool’s new cinema complex, due to open later this year, will feature one of the largest IMAX screens in the country.

IMAX has signed up to deliver state-of-the-art, immersive movie experiences at the new multi-screen development which will be known as the Backlot Cinema. The IMAX screen will stand at 10.8m by 19.8m - bigger than two and wider than six double decker buses!

The Backlot Cinema will comprise seven screens and 850 luxury seats and will be the anchor tenant of the Phase 2 extension of the Houndshill Shopping Centre in the heart of Blackpool town centre. The Backlot Diner will open with a classic yet contemporary menu including great shakes and craft cocktails.

Pride Of Blackpool

Blackpool Zoo’s new £1.5m facility for big cats is on schedule to open in late spring 2023.

The previous attraction, which housed Amur tigers and African lions, is currently being extended, renovated and renamed to create a state-of-the-art facility designed around the bespoke needs of each species.

Significantly increased indoor space and a larger off-show management area will be complemented by extended outdoor paddocks and improved keeper facilities that will enable the best possible care for the magnificent animals.

New, larger windows will mean visitors can enjoy panoramic indoor and outdoor views of the lions and tigers.

Ascent Trampoline Park

Blackpool’s Ascent Trampoline Park is bouncing into the new season on the back of a £100k investment in new play equipment.

A new three-tier Ninja assault course opened towards the end of last year, with a dozen features aimed at children aged seven to 14.

The course is included in the attraction’s all-in-one ticket admission.


Coronation Tram Parade

Blackpool’s Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) is planning a special event to mark the King’s Coronation.

The event, on Sunday 7 May, will feature a parade of 11 heritage trams along the seafront and a Big Lunch celebration with live entertainment on the Tower Festival Headland.

There are also plans to extend the celebration into the evening to coincide with the Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle. One of the main features of the concert will be Lighting Up The Nation, as iconic locations across the UK (including Blackpool) are lit up using projections, lasers and illuminations. Look out for further details at

Air Show Weekend

The world-famous Red Arrows display team will return to Blackpool this summer to perform on both days of the annual Air Show.

They will be joined on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 August by the RAF Typhoon display team and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight who are also confirmed for both days of the free event.

Last year, the Air Show was one of the region’s biggest events, attracting an estimated 250,000 people to the Promenade over the two days.

The Red Arrows, one of the world's foremost aerial aerobatic display teams, will perform high above the seafront opposite The Blackpool Tower.

The weekend show will also feature a host of incredible flying machines with a full programme of civil and military aircraft including the Typhoon and Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

To complement the aerial programme, there will be plenty to see and do on the ground with a wide range of stalls, attractions and food concessions in the Air Show Village on the Tower Festival Headland.

World Fireworks Championship Blackpool

Dates for this year’s spectacular World Fireworks Championship Blackpool are now confirmed.

Three countries will participate over three nights in the autumn – Saturday 16 September, Saturday 30 September and Friday 20 October.

The stunning displays, which are set to music, will take place over the beach in front of The Blackpool Tower. All of them are free to access.

Over the years, the firework events have become one of the resort’s biggest draws. In 2022, each of the events attracted more than 50,000 spectators to the Tower Festival Headland.

Details of this year’s competing countries will be announced over the coming months.

Lightpool Festival

The award-winning festival returns for nine nights from October 20-28 with a spectacular programme of light-based art installations (some of them international premieres), live performances, 3D projection shows and family-friendly activities.

Last year, the festival received national recognition when the Arts Council designated Blackpool Illuminations as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) – providing a £700k funding boost over three years to develop the Lightpool Festival.

Programming for the 2023 event is already underway – and it promises to be bigger and better than ever!

Blackpool Illuminations

Blackpool’s annual Illuminations display will be extended by two months once again after another dramatic rise in visitor numbers over the winter months last year.

VisitBlackpool has announced that the Illuminations season will start on Friday 1 September and run through to Monday 1 January, 2024.

The decision follows the release of new figures showing an 18 per cent increase in promenade footfall during November and December 2022 over what was a spectacular performance in 2021. The footfall also shows an increase of almost 60 per cent compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019 when the Illuminations season ended in the first week of November.


A new pocket-sized Events Guide has been produced to mark the start of the 2023 tourism season in Blackpool.

The guide, which covers April to December, is packed with hundreds of event listings ranging from West End musicals, pop concerts, dramas, pantos and variety shows at numerous venues including the Winter Gardens, Grand Theatre, Viva, Pleasure Beach, Funny Girls and the resort’s three piers.

Pick up copies of the guide at the Tourist Information Centre on Central Promenade or view it online here:




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