Winter Gardens officially opens on July 11, 1878

Winter Gardens 1878

The Lord Mayor of London formally opens the Winter Gardens on July 11, 1878. The Winter Gardens include a glass-roofed Floral Hall for promenading, indoor and outdoor ice rinks, and the Pavilion Hall for special events.

Contractors Thomas Mitchell were assigned with the building, which at the time was one of Blackpool's major undertakings.

The first opera house opened on June 10, 1889

Frank Matcham

Frank Matcham, the legendary theatre architect, was working on ideas for the first Opera House in 1888. The contract was let on 19th October 1888 and the 2,500 seat “Her Majesty's Opera House”, costing £9,098, debuted with Gilbert & Sullivan's new opera “Yeomen of the Guard” on 10 June 1889.

The Opera House was closed for reconstruction in November 1910. Its bigger successor, designed by Mangnall & Littlewood, was dedicated in August 1911. The opportunity was also seized to renovate the Winter Gardens' Church Street façade. It was dressed in Renaissance-style white faience.

Directions to The Winter Gardens

On foot: a 6 minute walk from the apartment North along Albert Rd, turning right onto Coronation Street to The Winter Gardens entrance.


The Gigantic Wheel debuted in July 1896

Big Wheel Blackpool

On the location of a bowling green and garden area in front of the Pavilion Horseshoe, a 220ft. Gigantic Wheel with 30 carriages, each transporting 30 passengers, was built in 1896.

The Empress Ballroom and Indian Lounge was opened in August 1896

Empress Ball Room

The Empress Ballroom, designed by Mangnall & Littlewood and plastered by J. M. Boekbinder, was one of the world's largest ballrooms, with a floor space of 12,500 square feet.

The Ballroom is requisitioned during WWI in 1918


The Admiralty had requisitioned the Empress Ballroom in early 1918 to build gas envelopes for the.33 airship.

A year later, the structure was returned and minor repairs were made.

Easter 1920 Blackpool Dance Festival

Blackpool Dance Festival

The inaugural Blackpool Dance Festival was hosted at the spectacular Empress Ballroom in the Winter Gardens over Easter week in 1920.

Directions to The Winter Gardens

On foot: an 8 minute walk from the apartment – head North along Reads Avenue, turning right onto Coronation Street to The Winter Gardens entrance.

Olympia Exhibition Hall was added in June 1930

Winter Gardens Olympia

The Big Wheel was demolished nearly immediately after the Tower Company purchased the Winter Gardens in 1928.

The Olympia show hall's construction began and was completed in less than 8 months.

When it was opened in June 1930, its interior was designed in the shape of a Moorish village by Andrew Mazzei.

The Winter Gardens are requisitioned by the UK government once more in 1939

Empress Ball Room

During WWII, the Winter Gardens was utilised for RAF training during the day and for entertainment in the evenings.

The Third Opera House opens in July 1939. A masterpiece of Art Deco design

Following a major renovation in 1911, the previous Opera House was destroyed in October 1938, and the third and present Opera House replaced it in 1939, with a typical Art Deco style.

The theatre that was built in its stead had 3,000 seats, the largest stage in the country, was constructed in a modernist style with a sweepingly curved proscenium, and was intended to double as a super cinema.

Its magnificent foyers, wood-paneled lounges, and bars rounded out the look. Charles McKeith, Derham's successor, was the architect.

Jessie Matthews and her husband Sonnie Hale launched the Opera House on July 14, 1939, followed by the revue Turned Out Nice Again, starring George Formby.

Over the years, the Opera House has hosted some of showbiz's biggest celebrities, cherished musicals, and, of course, Blackpool's very own Summer Season spectaculars!

Winston Churchill Addresses Conference in October 1954


The 74th annual Conservative Party Conference was held at the Winter Gardens Blackpool in October 1954, and it culminated in a closing speech by then Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, who was named a freeman of the borough in 1946.

Royal Variety Performance in April 1955

The Queen

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were treated to the first Royal Variety Performance outside of London on April 13, 1955. For the event, a period-style Royal box was built. It lasted for many years, detracting from the auditorium's modernist lines.

The Rolling Stones start a riot in July 1964!

The Rolling Stones

Following the infamous incidents, Blackpool Council imposed a ban on Jagger and the lads performing in the town, which was eventually removed in 2008.

The concert ended in a riot, with members of the 7,000-strong audience storming the stage when guitarist Keith Richards got into a fight with an audience member near the front of the stage.

According to witnesses, the violence began as a result of the audience spitting at the band.

The Stardust Lounge in the 1970s

Stardust Lounge

To avoid overcrowding at the Empress Ballroom, its size was significantly decreased in 1970 by temporary carpeting, chairs, and extensive white trellis work. It was dubbed The Stardust Garden and was meant to be a nightclub. It was four years long. However, at this time, the complex's unique architectural legacy was being recognised, and the Winter Gardens acquired a Grade Two Star listing in 1973.

The Winter Gardens Blackpool is given to the public in 2010

The Winter Gardens

Blackpool Council bought both the Winter Gardens and Blackpool Tower from Trevor Hemmings' Crown Leisure Company in a historic transaction, putting the structure into public ownership for the first time in its history.

An extensive repair operation to restore the complex's most vulnerable portions begins in earnest.

The Return of the Summer Season in June 2014

Summer Season

The Winter Gardens saw the return of Blackpool's regular Summer Season performance, Mamma Mia!, in 2014. Blackpool had a successful 2014 season as part of a coordinated push that positioned the resort as an international theatrical destination.

The Blackpool Conference & Exhibition Centre will open in 2022


The Blackpool Conference and Exhibition Centre will be a brand-new event space. It is the first significant building expansion on the Winter Gardens complex since the Opera House was built in 1939.

The site will provide cutting-edge facilities required for holding modern conferences and exhibits, such as cutting-edge audio and visual technologies.

The Blackpool Conference and Exhibition Centre is one of Northern England's major venues of its sort. It is divided into two storeys, with an exhibition area on the first floor and a conference hall with a capacity of 2000 people on the second. The facility can easily hold huge events with a total of 6000 square feet of dedicated area. It is also feasible to combine the area with the other venues in the Winter Gardens complex, for a total event capacity of 7000.









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