Blackpool Museum Project staff have been exploring what makes Blackpool special. Each week a museum team member will publish a post about the places, behaviours, attitudes or events that they think makes Blackpool so unique, dynamic and exciting. This week the Community Engagement Assistant, Rachel Sykes shares her experience of Blackpool Dance Festival.

My first visit to the Wonderful World of Dance

Each May the Blackpool Dance Festival lights up the town attracting dancers and audiences worldwide.
I first fell in love with the Dance Festival in 2011 when I attended the Dance Championship finals in the spectacular Empress Ballroom. I was amazed by the talent effort and energy on the dance floor. I was soon immersed, along with other spectators, in the tension and drama being played out as dancers to impress the adjudicators patrolling the dance floor quietly scoring participants.
Champion dancers come from all over the world to compete in what is seen as the premier dance competition.


It’s amazing to see Blackpool turn virtually overnight into an international resort with visitors from China, Japan, Russia, Italy and Eastern Europe mixing with traditional visitors and local residents alike.
The Empress Ballroom, Winter Gardens has been host to the Blackpool Dance Festival since 1920. The glitz and glamour of the festival spills over into the street, as tan-clad contestants pulling suitcases arriving for early rehearsals, costume changes and gruelling days of competition.

Blackpool Best kept Secret

Blackpool’s best kept secret is there for all to witness, even if you just pop into the Winter Gardens Mazzei café to people watch.

However, the true intensity can only be witnessed in the Empress Ballroom itself as several heats take place during the day leading to the best dancers making it through to the evening finals.

Adjudicators and audience members keep themselves refreshed during long days and nights of dancing.
The Empress Orchestra and Dance Band strikes up the band, and the MC, Marcus Hilton announces the next round of heats.


A swirl of colour, glitz and glamour

Glitz and glamour takes over the Winter Gardens at the dance festival. Credit: Keeley Bentley Photography

Glitz and glamour takes over the Winter Gardens at the dance festival. Credit: Keeley Bentley Photography

Credit: Keeley Bentley Photography

Credit: Keeley Bentley Photography









It is a feast for the eye to experience the array of colours swirling around the beautiful Empress Ballroom, as well as numerous stalls located in the horseshoe exhibition area displaying sparkling dresses, silky dance shoes and an array of beauty and hair accessories. You can even find your next dance partner there.











This truly glamourous industry is intriguing, as it recognises the importance of Blackpool in the history of dance, and the ‘right of passage’ gained by dancers who have performed here. The Winter Gardens is the perfect setting for those who are wishing to experience a night at the Dance Championships whether it be by purchasing a ticket to the competition or just popping in to get caught up in the atmosphere of dance glamour.
This superb nine day festival will be celebrating 100 years of dance competition in five years’ time celebrating Blackpool as the international home of dance! A variety of dance festivals are held throughout the year displaying the skills of amateur contemporary dance groups to northern soul and local tea dances. Dance is such an important symbol of Blackpool’s history, loved by all generations, a source of endless stories, memories, glamour and passion.


If you want to see more film of dancing in the Winter Gardens click the link