Blackpool Winter Gardens and Opera House

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Blackpool Winter Gardens and Opera House

Following the dramatic rise in the number of tourists visiting Blackpool and their growing need to be entertained the Blackpool Winter Gardens was opened on the 11th July 1878. This beautiful Grade Two listed Victorian building has changed over the years, with many additional structures being built and refurbishments being made to create the spectacular present day Winter Gardens Complex where you can experience four and a half acres of historic grandeur.

The main entrance to the Winter Gardens is located on Church Street, Blackpool. Upon entering you pass into this spectacular area that boasts an octagonal dome made of glass and iron that reaches 140ft high. This area that once housed numerous plants and bronzed statues is the first taste of the delights that exist inside this spectacular building.

Opera House

Building of the Opera House started in 1988, opening with Gilbert and Sullivan's Yeoman of the Guard in June of 1889. It had a seating capacity of 2,500 making it one of the UK's largest theatres. In 1910 it was closed for rebuilding and expansion re-opening a year later.

In October 1938 the old Opera House was demolished and the present 3,000 seater theatre erected. It has hosted numerous conferences and major west end shows throughout its lifetime boasting names such as Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Ronan Keating and Peter Kay and can stage full size musical productions such as Lord of the Dance, Fame-the musical and The Full Monty.

Empress Ballroom

Opened in 1896, although not totally completed until the following year, the Empress Ballroom was the largest ballroom in the country.

During the First World War the Winter Gardens opened its doors to Naval and Military forces stationed nearby. In 1918 the Admiralty requisitioned the Empress Ballroom to assemble gas envelopes for the R33 airships. A year later it was handed back and some minor restoration works were undertaken. The next refurbishment was in 1934 when the ballroom was refloored. The Empress Ballroom continued to flourish even through the 1950's when 'no be-bop or jive' was allowed. 1967 saw a change in management and in 1970 the size of the ballroom was reduced by carpeting and trellis walls to create an area known as the Stardust room, intended for use as a nightclub.

Over thirty years later the Empress Ballroom continues to flourish having been the backdrop for some of the most important and influential political broadcasts in recent history and the home of the World Ballroom Dance Championships. It can be used for many functions holding up to 3000 people, the ideal location for large groups.


Adjacent to the Ballroom was the Indian Lounge named after its oriental decor. In 1964 this became the Planet Lounge Bar and Cabaret and remained so until 1986 when it underwent another total refurbishment to become The Arena, a multi purpose self-contained function area, housing up to 600 people. Decorated in Roman style it has a 'starry night' ceiling and impressive staircase, guaranteeing that it is a delightful room for any occasion.

Spanish Hall

The Spanish Hall was added to the Winter Gardens in the 1930's. A beautiful hall decorated in rich colours, based upon an Andalucian village, it retains all of its original features. It is interconnected to the banquette complex, including the Renaissance Room which incorporates the Windsor Bar and the Baronial Hall that it decorated in the vein of a Hollywood period drama with heavy oak panelling and large furniture. Self-contained with bar and entertainment area it is ideal for meetings large and small.


The Pavillion is a Victorian theatre used for smaller shows and concerts. In 1897 the Pavillion was altered to become a raised theatre. In 1929 in a bid to move with the times it became a cinema. In 1986 the floor was levelled to that of a Horseshoe to create a conference room. Nowadays it has resumed its role in the theatre, playing host to small shows including old time music hall performances.


The Horseshoe is a semi-circular promenade that surrounds the Pavilion, a supreme example of Victorian architecture that has now been converted to cater for banquets, concerts, dinner dances and conferences. Holding up to 700 people it is ideal for receptions and exhibitions. The partitions that divide these two areas can be folded back to create a very spacious exhibition area with access to the Arena and Olympia, the main exhibition centre at the Winter Gardens.


In 1896 a 220ft giant ferris wheel with 30 carriages each carrying 30 people was built in front of the Pavillion and Horseshoe as a rival to the Blackpool Tower. However this attraction did not prove as popular so in 1928 it was demolished and a year later construction of Olympia began. Only 8 months later the doors were thrown open with an eclectic mix of stalls and attractions based on an idea from a Moorish village. Today Olympia plays host to a wide range of events including the ever popular Antiques and Collector Fair.

The Winter Gardens complex is open all year round for a variety of events including weddings, political conferences, theatrical performances and concerts.


By Post:  The Winter Gardens, Church Street, Blackpool, Lancashire. FY1 1HW.
By Tel:     +44 (0)1253 625252
Website: Winter Gardens and Opera House

Please visit our other pages on Blackpool Tourist Information:
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