Top shows rake in £70m cash bonus

Cabaret starring Will Young - spelt the German way Kabaret - was a top performer at the Winter Gardens
Cabaret starring Will Young - spelt the German way Kabaret - was a top performer at the Winter Gardens
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Bob Dylan and a string of big-budget musicals have netted the resort a bumper £70m in extra business, tourism bosses say.

Winter Gardens chiefs are hailing 2013 as one of their best years ever.

It is a far cry from just a few years ago when the venue was run down and in danger of going under.

But since Blackpool Council bought the venue in 2010 and ordered a big refurbishment, it has gone from strength to strength.

In the past 12 months shows like Blood Brothers, Joseph and Cabaret have attracted big audiences, while the likes of Dylan, Gary Barlow and Arcade Fire sold out in minutes. More than 2,000 people flocked to an open day to celebrate the venue’s 135th birthday.

In figures announced today, Visit Britain calculates the Winter Gardens has generated more than £70m for the town during the year, as visitors dine in local restaurants and stay overnight.

“It is an incredible amount of money, which is very important to Blackpool,” said Michael Williams, Winter Gardens managing director.

“It has not generated that sort of money before, certainly not since I’ve been here, and it underpins the importance of the venue to the town.”

Blackpool Council paid £40m to purchase the Winter Gardens three years ago when the venue’s fortunes were at an all-time low and there were concerns about its future.

Williams, who works for Crown Entertainment – which runs the venue on the Council’s behalf – believes the key to the revival has been investment and refurbishment.

“The building looks so much better now than it did,” he added. “That impresses promoters and artists who are now more inclined to perform here.”

Claire Smith, president of Stay Blackpool, said: “There have been an amazing run of shows that have most definitely bought people into the town. Speaking as a hotelier it hasn’t been one of our better seasons, so thank goodness we have had those shows otherwise it would have been a lot worse.”

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