Blackpool’s cultural heritage is set to lead a bid to be the venue for a new Great Exhibition.
The resort is aiming to host the two month exhibition showcasing the best in art, culture and design in the North of England.
Blackpool is up against rivals such as Bradford, Halifax, Harrogate, Scunthorpe, Sheffield, St Helens, Whitehaven, and Newcastle in a battle to get on the shortlist at the end of this month.
Key partners Blackpool Council, Marketing Lancashire and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership have submitted the bid.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced the competition in April and invited towns and cities across the northern regions to compete to host the event, which will take place in 2018. Blackpool will be the proposed lead venue for the Lancashire Great Exhibition.
It will have a Pleasure Palaces theme where visitors, residents, investors, artists, academics and entrepreneurs can explore the “state of the art” across art, design and culture on a journey that gives the experience of a lifetime.
Marketing Lancashire said Blackpool had historically been the “playground of the North”, with its thriving visitor economy and a world famous Victorian infra structure. A new visitor economy strategy for Lancashire aims to grow visitor numbers from 63 million a year to 70 million by 2020.
Ruth Connor, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire said: “Lancashire has the ambition, talent and creative flair to host a Great Exhibition of the North and where better to locate the core of this activity than in Blackpool; the UK’s favourite seaside resort.
“This opportunity gives Blackpool the chance to showcase some of the best artists, cutting edge designers, leading entrepreneurs and innovators from Lancashire and the North of England, in the county that led the world’s first industrial revolution and knows a thing or two about spectacular events.”
Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for Blackpool.
“Not only would it give the millions of visitors to Blackpool a new attraction to experience, it would also bring new visitors to town boosting the local economy.”
“We are the perfect location to celebrate the best of art, culture and design across the North of England.”
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The Great Exhibition of North will celebrate the very best of Northern art, culture and design.
“Not only will it provide a real boost to tourism but leave an important cultural legacy for the region.
“Lancashire’s stunning countryside, creative attractions and arts scene attract millions of people every year and I am sure it will enter a strong bid.”
Sir Gary Verity, chairman of the Great Exhibition of the North board, said: “The Great Exhibition of the North will showcase the best of our art, design and culture to the world in 2018 and will help bring the whole region together.
I look forward to seeing the high quality bids from towns and cities across the North.”
The Government is contributing £5m towards the exhibition itself and a further £15m into a legacy fund to attract further cultural investment in the Northern Powerhouse.
A shortlist will be announced by the end of July, with the chosen venue announced in the autumn.