Christmas By The Sea: Skaters perform Mary Poppins on Ice at grand opening of festive market outside Blackpool Tower

Blackpool Tower transformed into a shining beacon of festive cheer over a winter wonderland with twinkling lights, cosy log cabins, tram rides on the Golden Mile and a 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' ice show.

Saturday, 20th November 2021, 8:17 am

Children from BIDCA laced up their skates and took to the ice rink, set up on the Tower Headland, to perform routines from Mary Poppins on Ice in front of a massive crowd at the grand opening of 'Christmas By The Sea' this evening,

The 40m ice rink, which forms the sparkling centrepiece of the illuminated village, will now remain open from noon until 3pm each day until January 3, except Christmas Day.

Kerry Ashton, chairman of BIDCA, said: "We rehearsed in the wind and rain the past two nights to prepare ourselves. I think the kids did exceptionally well, but then they always do. They always pull it out of the bag whenever they come to perform.

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The Mary Poppins on Ice show at the Christmas By The Sea opening on the Blackpool Tower headland

"It has been a challenging two years because the children haven't been skating, because all the ice rinks have been closed due to Covid. Things only fully opened back up in August, so they are really only just gathering speed again, and we wanted to give them the opportunity to perform at Christmas again, which is something BIDCA has done every year since 1939.

"Before these past two years, we have never missed a year. Not even the Second World War could stop us.

"A lot of our skaters have gone on to perform all over the world - America, Germany, France, Spain. They all love to perform and they all love to skate. We have defeinitely got a few future stars with us today."

Anna Williams, whose 16-year-old daughter Sienna performed in the show as a chimney sweep, said: "It's amazing to be back on the ice. The children love it and missed it so much."

Festive market stalls served sweet treats

Sienna added: I was nervous. but I'm so relieved to finally be back. It means a lot to us. When we all came back, we were thrilled. I think it went really well; I wasn't expecting this many people to come."

Also taking pride of place on the headland, log cabins adorned with fairy lights served up mulled wine, hot chocolate, hot Vimto, carnival-style chilli dogs and sweet treats like cookie dough and brownies. Gift stalls flogged Christmas gifts and Blackpool-themed merchandise.

Meanwhile, the Magical Express tram tour, from the North Pier to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and back, embarked on its maiden voyage, and will continue to run every night until January 3.

The event attracted massive crowds

David Walsingham, who choreographed the ice dance, said: "I think it's lovely to see so many people out. The huts look great, the faciltiies are brilliant, and what a joy it is to perform under the Tower. It's such an epic place to be."

Kelly McGough, whose 13-year-old son Taylor performed in the show, said: "Considering we have had such a bad few years, to be able to come out now for an event like this really gives people something to look forward to. Something like this is needed in Blackpool. I don't know why we've never had a Christmas market before. The turnout has been fantastic; definitely it's something people are interested in.

"The atmosphere is really buzzing. Now everything is set to carry on over Christmas - the Pleasure Beach, the Illuminations - it's only good things for Blackpool from here."

Stallholder Danny Gee, of the Selenite Guest House, added: "I think the word extravaganza seems fitting. It's nice and busy, and people are happy and enjoying themselves, and the atmosphere is absolutely wonderful. It's electric. If there's one thing Blackpool does well, it's events."

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