Martin Gardner posted on Nov 23 2021

Dancing On Ice star Dan Whiston is to open Blackpool’s Christmas By The Sea skating rink.

Blackpool-born Dan will open the 40m-long synthetic rink on the Tower Festival Headland together with young cast members from children’s charity BIDCA who will perform excerpts from the musical, Mary Poppins.

The hour-long launch event will take place from 4.30pm on Friday 19 November to mark the official opening of the Christmas By The Sea outdoor village, which also includes simulated snowfalls, log cabins, a magical forest, larger-than-life light installations, festive light projection shows and Magical Express tram rides along the Golden Mile.

Dan has performed in all series of the Dancing On Ice ITV show since its inception in 2006 and has won the series on three occasions.

Since 2019, he has been the show’s Associate Creative Director, responsible for creating professional routines and training all celebrity contestants. Both he and his sister, Emma, started out as skaters with BIDCA.

BIDCA usually perform a children’s Christmas ice show at Blackpool Pleasure Beach Ice Arena during December featuring a cast of 70 young skaters, all aged under 18. The show raises thousands of pounds for local children’s charities. Sadly, due to COVID, they have had to postpone their planned show, Peter Pan, for the past two years but are planning to go ahead in December 2022.

Instead, a small group of 17 cast members will join the opening of the Christmas By The Sea village from 4.30pm on Friday to perform some of their favourite routines from Mary Poppins On Ice, which they staged in 2018.

A spokesperson for BIDCA said: “We are really excited to be performing at the launch of the Christmas By The Sea skating rink. We promise it will be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”

Standing in the shadow of the iconic Blackpool Tower, the skating rink will be free to use and includes skate hire. There will be 40-minute sessions from Thursday to Sunday from November 19 until December 17, and then daily until January 3. No advance bookings are required, simply turn up to the session you wish to attend.

Supported by Northern, the Christmas By The Sea village will remain in place until January 3 as part of an extended Blackpool Illuminations season.

Alongside the rink will be a magical forest with 35 twinkling Christmas trees, a dozen log cabins serving a range of food, drink, gifts and souvenirs, light installations including a giant illuminated bauble, and regular artificial snowfalls to create the full alpine experience!

The opening of the Christmas By The Sea village will also see the world premiere of Frost Fairies, a newly-created 3D light projection show on the front of the Blackpool Tower building.

Specially produced by video projection artists Illuminos, Frost Fairies is an enchanting children’s story of fairies, fireflies, precious jewels and ice palaces. It will be premiered at around 5pm on Friday 19 November, immediately after the opening of the skating rink. It will then be shown nightly along with several other projection shows until January 3.

Blackpool Transport is adding to the festive feel with nightly Magical Express Tours on a Christmas-themed heritage tram, guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit. All tours will depart from the North Pole, a specially renamed tram stop located next to the Tourist Information Centre and otherwise known as the North Pier and Tower Heritage Tram Stop.

Tours will take you on a 25-minute journey and run every 30 minutes. Tickets are priced at £4 for adults and £2 for children. You can book your ticket in advance online or simply turn up on the evening.

Just a short walk away from the Christmas By The Sea village, visitors will find the Winter Gardens Wonderland with a fantastic range of indoor and outdoor Bavarian-style market stalls, funfair rides, virtual reality experiences, a Santa’s Grotto with animated reindeer, and entertainment suitable for all ages. In the adjacent St John’s Square, there is a spectacular 40ft Christmas tree. Find out more information here.

Most of the resort’s major attractions, including Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Sandcastle Waterpark, The Blackpool Tower, Sea Life, Blackpool Zoo, Coral Island, and Madame Tussauds, will be open at selected times during the Christmas season, many offering a unique seasonal flavour.

There is also a fantastic range of shows and entertainment on offer across the resort including:

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, traditional panto at its very best in the glorious surroundings of The Blackpool Grand Theatre. Performances from December 3 until January 2.

 Aladdin, starring Kevin Simm and Emmerdale’s Kelsey Beth Crossley, and showing at the Blackpool Pleasure Beach Globe Theatre from November 25 until December 24

And for those who prefer an alternative way of celebrating Christmas, the hit West End musical, Hairspray, will be at the Winter Gardens from December 13 to January 2.

Two of Blackpool’s most popular free events are also returning for the festive season.

The annual Ride The Lights event, which usually takes place at the end of August ahead of the Illuminations Switch-On, will see a repeat performance on Sunday 5 December. Ride The Christmas Lights will give cyclists of all ages a chance to ride along a traffic-free promenade beneath the famous Illuminations. It will start at 4pm in the afternoon and finish at 8pm.

And families will be invited to say “goodbye” to 2021 and get ready to say “hello” to 2022 with a celebratory fireworks display that will take place late afternoon on the Tower Festival Headland on New Year’s Eve. The free fireworks display, which will be launched around 5pm on December 31 from the beach in front of The Blackpool Tower, will create a stunning finale to end the year.

It has already been announced that from November 17 until January 3, visitors to Blackpool will be able to park on the majority of Council-owned car parks for just £1 for three hours. The offer, which is being funded by Blackpool Council and Blackpool Town Centre BID, is available using the PayByPhone app.

For full details of Blackpool’s Christmas programme, including opening times, booking details, Illuminations switch-on times and more information on shows, entertainment, Christmas nights out, accommodation and shopping go to www.visitblackpool.com/Christmas.

Christmas Ride The Lights, New Year’s Eve Family Fireworks and some of the elements of Christmas By The Sea are part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.