25,000 visitors descend on Blackpool for the largest & longest running Dance Festival in the world

22 May 2024
Credit: Tomasz Reindl

Blackpool’s Winter Gardens Dance Festival is set to boost local economy by £6m over two weeks of largest international dance show of its kind
Each year, the resort of Blackpool prepares itself for the arrival of over 25,000  visitors for its annual international dance festival. Held at the town’s iconic Winter Gardens and in its 98th year, the festival welcomes over 24,000 audience members watching the 2,000 official competitors.
With 3000 dances performed over 13 days, more than 50 countries are represented in the categories of Ballroom and Latin American dancing.
Tourism is already the central industry of Blackpool, and with this annual event generating an additional £6m, it is the largest single contribution to the town’s existing £1.7bn tourist-wide industry worth*.

The Winter Gardens Complex includes the well-known, historic theatre and ballroom, but also a newly refurbished state-of-the-art conference centre, and together the whole site accounts for almost 5 acres of space in the heart of Blackpool with much of it in constant use throughout the festival.
The Winter Gardens Empress Ballroom is the largest in the UK and since 2023, an exact replica of the ballroom’s dancefloor (34m x 14m) has been temporarily erected within the Winter Garden complex for practice use ahead of the competitive performances. 

To highlight the economical significance of this, we interviewed a selection of town and business leaders in the area to see what the festival really means to them.

Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council commented, “The Dance Festival is a unique part of our history. With each passing year, it grows in stature and numbers, bringing thousands of competitors from across the globe.

It is unrivalled in terms of raising the profile of Blackpool, and the wider region, and has an enormous economic impact in creating accommodation bookings, and spends in shops, bar and restaurants. Not only that, it also brings a real energy and vibrancy to the town centre and we are delighted to roll out the welcome mat once again for this year’s competitors and enthusiasts.”

Shaun Quilligan, owner of Quilligan’s Café bar echoed the above, “The Blackpool Dance Festival is without doubt one of the highlights for our business. The event attracts dancers and visitors from around the world and many of them enjoy dining at our café.  As a small, family-run business, it is so important that Winter Gardens can host such amazing events.”   

Andrew Whittaker of Mode Apartments, added, “The whole team here is grateful for the success of the dance festival. Not only does it bring the influx of visitors, but the vibrancy of the event gives a real buzz to the area.”

Michael Williams, Winter Gardens Managing Director summarised, “Year on year, the Winter Gardens opens its doors to an array of shows, exhibitions, and events, all brilliantly exciting in their own ways.”

But the Dance Festival feels momentous, not only in terms of longevity and size, but also in how it brings such an all-encompassing excitement to the whole town, which undoubtedly resonates with the wider community.

“We welcome international adjudicators, ex-finalists and champions – who all hold the Empress Ballroom in their hearts. We are so proud to host this annual event with everything that it brings to the town, its businesses and residents.”
*Newsroom (blackpool.gov.uk)

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