There was some brilliant news in last week’s local press, namely that the Winter Gardens welcomed one million paying visitors from the year June 2013 to 2014. The figure is set to rise by the end of the year, and has seen visitors up twenty five percent on the previous year’s figures.
This is great news for locals and fans of the Winter Gardens alike, and proves the dear old lady is moving in the right direction.
Described in the past as having “little purpose in the modern day world,” you have to give credit where credit is due to the council for having the ambition to snap up the Winter Gardens, along with the Tower, and Waxworks for a controversial 40 million pounds. The investment and pride-driven faith in the grand venue is paying off.
This summer, when I attended a concert by spoken word performer John Cooper Clarke, I was a little taken aback by just how busy the Winter Gardens and surrounding areas of St John’s Square were. Walking around the recently renovated and beautiful Winter Gardens I bumped into friends who were there to see a performance of Mama Mia, so it was great to see different entertainment voyeurs there to enjoy the variety on offer that night.
Also that weekend Blackpool heralded the sold out Rod Stewart concert at Bloomfield Road which totally dispelled the myth that no more than one big draw event could run on the same night and still be successful.
So, as the season draws to a close and the red marks of the back slapping start to disappear, it is time for much needed reflection. And I mean reflection rather than basking in glory. Our next move has to be to build on this year’s success, as we are certainly only half way there to getting things right with this magnificent venue.
The forthcoming museum will make a brilliant addition to the town’s cultural offering, as proved with the runaway success of the fabulous Illuminasia exhibition.
If you haven’t been to the latter yet, you are missing out on a treat. It’s a great and much needed evolution of the town’s Illumination draw.
But what else could the Winter Gardens offer?
With the recent opening of the cinema and the announcement of a planned pre/post theatre eatery at the front of the complex the venue has the potential to be a word class venue of arts and culture.
The abundance of space inside is as flexible as it is stunning, so is the opportunity to build upon the success of past art fairs and go outside their comfort zone to put on experimental performance, fringe comedy, art exhibitions/installations and gigs for up and coming bands in there.
Just imagine a vintage tea room grasping the popularity of shows like The Great British Bake Off by offering lovely afternoon teas in such radiant surroundings, whilst at the other end of the Winter Gardens locals dine out at a Michelin star restaurant.
Wishful thinking or Bickerstaffesque ambition? I like to think the latter.
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