Locals are helping boost trade at Blackpool's Winter Gardens

More Fylde coast residents are attending shows and events at the Winter Gardens - helping to boost the council-owned venue.

Friday, 21st December 2018, 10:43 am
Updated Friday, 21st December 2018, 11:48 am
Michael Williams at the Winter Gardens

More Fylde coast residents are attending shows and events at the Winter Gardens - helping to boost the council-owned venue.

A meeting of Blackpool's Shareholders Advisory Board - which monitors council-owned companies - heard the local audience has grown from 26 per cent last year to 30 per cent for the first six months of this financial year.

Michael Williams, managing director of the Blackpool Entertainment Company which operates the Winter Gardens, said the Victorian landmark had "had a strong performance year to date."

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This was down to events including the expansion of the Blackpool Dance Festival in May, the International Soul Festival in June and various shows in the Opera House and the Empress Ballroom.

He said there was already a packed programme in place for next year.

Speaking after the meeting, which was held behind closed doors due to the commercial sensitivity of some of the information, Mr Williams added: "Following targeted PR and marketing campaigns, we have seen our local audience grow from 26 per cent last year to 30 per cent for the first six months of this financial year.

"We already have a great line up of theatre shows for next year including many shows that have not been to Blackpool before such as Kinky Boots, Motown the Musical, Rock of Ages and other popular shows will return such as Doctor Dolittle, Rocky Horror Show, Joseph and Blood Brothers.

"The annual events we host such as the Pigeon Fanciers Festival, the Magicians Convention, International Fitness Convention and the European Dance Championships are key events not only for the Winter Gardens but for many businesses across the resort including hoteliers, shops and restaurants etc, given the number of guests that attend these events.

"The Winter Gardens celebrates 140 years this year since it first opened its doors and with the plans that we have it will be going strong for another 140 years."

Coun Don Clapham, who sits on the Shareholders Advisory Board, said after the meeting: "I'm extremely pleased to see the local market is growing and residents are increasingly visiting the Winter Gardens.

"The venue needs a sound home base, and then when the holiday-makers are here it boosts the audience further.

"It's good for the company and good for the people going along. A visit to the theatre, whether at the Winter Gardens or The Grand Theatre, makes you feel wonderful and takes you away from the normal run of the mill of things."