We used to go every year, I think, always buying some Blackpool rock and having chips for tea. I remember as a child, it was always exciting to do something unusual at night time. It felt like a break of the routine to be heading out after dark, and to not get home until late into the night. I can remember leaning my head against the car window, watching the illuminations pass by as we started the journey home.
We took Ebony last year, more for us I suppose. She wasn’t walking yet, so she was in the carrier, her eyes peeking out from under her knitted hat, taking in the sights. It’s a bit strange visiting Blackpool Illuminations as an adult. As a child, it was magical and awe-inspiring. As an adult, it’s hard to ignore the hen parties staggering past dressed in skin tight PVC police uniforms, the puddles of vomit in the street, or the sadness behind the eyes of the people pouring money into the slot machines in the arcade. But ignore them we did.
We planned to walk along the beach when we first arrived, of course not taking into account the tide or weather. As we reached the steps to the beach, we noticed the waves lapping angrily at the wall, and the distinct lack of beach below, and decided we should probably walk along the seafront instead. After 30 minutes or three metres later, the challenge of walking at a toddler pace combined with the stormy winds persuaded us it was actually a much better idea to get the tram.
One overly crowded tram ride later, and we had reached our destination: the world’s most depressing arcade. Ebony played on a 2p machine for a while, before we made our way down the pier. We were looking out for age-appropriate rides for her to go on, but we didn’t see anything suitable. There was a carousel but we weren’t sure whether Ebony would hold on for long enough, so we decided not to risk it.
As we walked back along the front, Ebony had fun pointing out the illuminations and telling us what everything was. Apples, apparently. Two portions of chips, four bathroom breaks and one PVC clad uniformed hen party later, we were almost back where we started. If you’re not familiar with the illuminations, they’re split into two parts. There are the over the road illuminations that you can drive past (or more accurately, sit in traffic in), and the walking bit. The walking bit is the best bit because the illuminations are huge and set back from the road, so you can walk alongside them.
We were parked at the end of the walking bit, so we crossed the road to walk past this section of the illuminations. Ebony was wrapped up warm and wearing wellies so she could walk through the illuminations herself if she wanted. Some of the illuminations are new, but most have been the same since I was a child.
One of the newer exhibitions is a Diwali celebration that features a few peacocks. We showed it to Ebony and she immediately repeated the word “peacock” back to us which is handy because she can now say her name. As we reached the end of the illuminations, we passed a street vendor selling light up toys, Ebony chose a similar toy to the one we got her last year and it kept her entertained the whole way home.
I loved the annual visit to Blackpool Illuminations when I was growing up, and I’m glad we are embracing it as a family tradition for Ebony too.