IT’S the summer we have been waiting for – just a bit late.
Blackpool’s tourism industry is getting a late season boost from soaring temperatures as the hot weather finally kicks in.
Normally the last day of September would have people reaching for their woolly jumpers, but the unexpected heatwave has seen them heading for the beach or beer garden instead.
Businesses say the surprise hot spell is a welcome boost after a poor summer.
Some hotels are fully booked and outdoor attraction operators are shelving plans to close up for the year.
Cheryl Hagop, who operates concessions on Stanley Park including boats, trampolines and ice-cream kiosks, said: “We would normally be winding down but I am getting a few more staff in for this weekend as we are anticipating good weather and hopefully we’ll be busy.
“Last week I decided I wasn’t going to order any more ice-cream but now I find myself ordering more. We have been taking the boats off the lake for their winter overhaul but we have a core group of boats still out for customers to hire.
“We are extremely weather dependent and we have had a horrendous time, so it’s fantastic the weather is so gorgeous now.”
North Pier owner Peter Sedgewick said the warm weather had brought visitors with it.
He added: “This weather is fantastic especially because we have had a bad summer weather wise.”
Michael Brakewell, from the Model Village at Stanley Park, added: “Being totally outdoors, we’re very weather dependent and usually at this stage in the year we are starting to slow down.
“But this week our visitor numbers have been way up on the same time last year and it’s a welcome boost.”
The Met Office said temperatures on the Fylde would reach as high as 24 degrees today and up to 23 degrees tomorrow – the hottest September figures since 2006.
Meteorologist Sarah Holland added: “We’ve seen some nice temperatures around Blackpool.
“Temperatures will still be around 22 or 23 degrees on Saturday.
“Sunday will see a bit of a dip but will still reach around 17 degrees.”
High pressure over central Europe, which has drawn in warm air from parts of France and Spain, has triggered the hot spell.
Businesses including Blackpool Pleasure Beach are also hoping for a bumper weekend.
A spokesman for the park said: “Thousands of guests have been soaking up the sun at Pleasure Beach in the incredible weather.
“The new SpongeBob Splash Bash ride in Nickelodeon Land giving guests the perfect opportunity to cool down.”
Della Belk, of Blackpool Zoo, added: “The sun has attracted more than double the number of people than the same period of last year.”
Mike Gibson, general manager at Toast restaurant on Corporation Street, said: “We’ve had a real influx of people because of the sunny weather.”
Travelodge, which has three hotels in Blackpool, said it was experiencing record bookings in the resort – its busiest UK hotels.
Trading director Charlie Herbert said: “The unexpected heatwave this week has been fantastic.”
Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism and culture on Blackpool Council, said visitor numbers would benefit from the extended summer. He added: “It’s great to see people still enjoying the beach and Promenade at this time of year when the weather is normally getting colder.
“It sounds like it’s going to be perfect weather for people to come to enjoy the fireworks on Friday night and hopefully stay for the weekend.”
At Stanley Park, families basked in the sunshine. Louise Parkinson, from Doncaster Road, Marton, visited with her six-year-old son Jamie.
She said: “This weather is glorious. We had a rotten summer, we’ve got a caravan and didn’t manage to get away the weather was so bad.”
Karrie McCorkell, from Portland Road, Blackpool, added: “We’ve been to the zoo today as well as the park because the weather was so nice.”
Lorna Woods, 35, from Blenheim Avenue, Blackpool, added: “It’s lovely to see some sun, I’ve even managed to hang my washing out.”