Lancashire Holiday Planning Guide
Less touristed than its neighbor and friendly rival Yorkshire, the county of Lancashire is often remembered as one of the focal points of the Industrial Revolution. Despite its industrial heritage and heavy urbanization, this region offers numerous vacation ideas, not the least of which is the sweeping countryside dotted with thriving towns and quaint villages. Though this region contains Blackpool, long considered one of the country’s prime seaside resorts, many travelers avoid holidays in the bustling urban centers and head for the region’s largely unspoiled and secluded rural areas. Lancashire’s hidden gem is the Forest of Bowland, internationally renowned for its heather moorland, blanket bog, and rare birds.
Places to Visit in LancashireBlackpool
: One of the UK's most-visited cities, the legendary holiday destination of Blackpool features bumping nightlife, the faded glory of its historic architecture, and a seaside location perfect for a Lancashire vacation.Lancaster
: Home to a massive and imposing medieval castle, Lancaster features far more than just Lancashire's county seat, enchanting travelers and locals alike with its beautiful Georgian-style architecture and quaint riverside charms.Preston
: One of Lancashire's industrial powerhouses, Preston has reinvented itself as the county's premier shopping destination and is also chock full of pleasant parks and miles upon miles of lush nature trails.Morecambe
: Situated next to a picturesque bay and one of the UK's biggest tidal areas, charming Morecambe entices visitors with its lengthy beachfront promenade and easy access to and from nearby Lancaster.Burnley
: Featuring a proud industrial past in the once-vital textile industry, Burnley's delights include a weaving museum, beautiful moorland, tons of canalside walks, and one of the country's most interesting works of art.Lytham St Anne's
: The Victorian pier and historic beachfront stretch make Lytham St Anne's one of the best-preserved small seaside towns in all of the United Kingdom that serves as a relaxing Lancashire holiday alternative to busy Blackpool.Chorley
: With a tradition of farmers' markets dating back to the 15th century, medieval-era Chorley nearly always bustles with activity, and sits enticingly next to vast stretches of wild moorland.Ormskirk
: Ormskirk's position at the crossroads of several major historic trading routes has long made it a hub of local commerce, and it's worth a visit alone to this cheerful town to experience the nearly 800-year-old tradition of market day.
Things to Do in Lancashire
Popular Lancashire Tourist AttractionsBlackpool Pleasure Beach
: Home to an array of waterfront rides, performances, and heart-pounding roller coasters, including the country's tallest, Pleasure Beach is without a doubt one of the United Kingdom's most popular amusement parks.The Blackpool Tower
: Reaching a height of 158 m (518 ft) above the Irish Sea beachfront, the Blackpool Tower is one of the English coastline's most iconic monuments, and this listed historic building offers stunning views and thrilling entertainment.Eric Morecambe Statue
: Presented by the Queen herself, the Eric Morecambe Statue immortalizes one of the town's most beloved figures with a nearly life-sized memorial backed by the spectacular setting of Morecambe Bay.Madame Tussauds Blackpool
: A branch of the famous London attraction, Madame Tussaud's Blackpool features numerous lifelike wax figures of famed celebrities past and present, including worldwide favorites and local British personalities.Lancaster Castle
: Rising above town, the sturdy walls and imposing towers of Lancaster Castle have stood in the city since at least the 11th century, and it's a worthy stop on a Lancaster itinerary, especially for those interested in the region's military history or touring the grounds.Blackpool Zoo
: Tremendous variety and diversity is a hallmark of the Blackpool Zoo, a fun family establishment that tastefully shows off its colorful collection of more than 1,500 animal species from sea lions to orangutans, plus life-size dinosaur statues.Brockholes Nature Reserve
: The lush Brockholes Nature Reserve, complete with a floating visitor center and village, represents a fantastic chance to get an up-close look at an area actively reinventing an old quarry as a vibrant ecosystem.Turbary Woods Owl and Bird of Prey Sanctuary
: Dedicated to protecting and rehabilitating some of nature's most iconic flying creatures, the Turbary Woods Owl and Bird of Prey Sanctuary offers the chance to learn about, and interact with, eagles, owls, falcons, and more.Blackpool Transport Services Ltd
: Hop aboard the historic Blackpool Tramway for a chance to ride along on a rare example of a double-decker tram, which conveniently transports visitors between Blackpool and nearby Fleetwood.WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre
: Countless bugs and birds make their homes in the vast expanses of the WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre, which boasts extensive stretches of nature trails and historical exhibits that document ancient human life in the region, plus the center gives visitors the chance to hand-feed the park's feathered residents.
Planning a Lancashire Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Lancashire with Kids
Lancashire vacations with a kid-friendly focus are easy to find, thanks to the county’s diverse mixture of coastal resorts, developed urban centers, and countryside retreats. Blackpool
is the king not only of Lancashire, but of all of Britain's holiday destinations, so taking the kids to this premier spot packed with fun attractions is always a solid option. The towns of Morecambe
and Lytham St Anne's
offer a more laid-back and low-key experience, and renting a camper van near the sea can be a neat way to make your day-to-day waterfront activities a breeze. Of course, Lancashire boasts plenty of kid-friendly inland towns as well, such as the historic capital of Lancaster
, nature-oriented Chorley
, and the former industrial towns of Preston
Things to Do in Lancashire with KidsBlackpool
alone features enough attractions and things to do to fill an entire trip to Lancashire with the family, running the gamut from the famous Blackpool Zoo
and Sea Life Blackpool
to the ever-popular circus at the The Blackpool Tower
. Of course, it would be unimaginable to mention this seaside haven without highlighting its incredible offering of theme parks, rides, and entertainment venues that are sure to keep the little ones entertained for days on end. Blackpool Pleasure Beach
, packed with fabulous roller coasters like The Big One, is the premier park and has been among Britain's best since its inception in the Victorian era. However, the Sandcastle Waterpark
serves as a wetter alternative with its arsenal of rip-roaring water slides and pools.
If you’d like to visit towns away from the sea, Lancaster Castle
is a good bet, as the impressive architecture and interesting history is sure to intrigue young minds. For animal lovers, try visiting the The Hawk Garden
or Bowland Wild Boar Park
, as well as the better-known WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre
and Turbary Woods Owl and Bird of Prey Sanctuary
, to delight the kids with up-close animal encounters.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Lancashire
Though Lancashire isn't the largest of counties, its many small villages and coastal towns mean that renting a car during your family trip can save you a lot of hassle and heartache when trying to pack in the fun. Buses can be somewhat pricey for short distances, and larger families may find that their seemingly-low fares can add up over the course of an entire holiday in Lancashire, making car travel both convenient and economical. When traveling through the county, keep in mind that the area's many beaches make easy stops for picnics, quick paddles in the sea, or a few hours of relaxation on the sand.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Lancashire
Cuisine of Lancashire
England's love affair with the savory pie is alive and well in Lancashire, and you'll find plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants selling all sorts of tasty homemade morsels. Steak-and-ale, chicken-and-mushroom, and cheese combinations are some of the most common and popular versions you'll see while sightseeing in Lancashire, so be sure to give yourself a chance to sample this famed English delicacy.
The Lancashire hotpot is perhaps the region's most famous speciality. A savory casserole, it's typically made with lamb and onion covered with a layer of potato slices, slow-cooked over a long period and topped off with a healthy serving of black pepper. Glamorous it isn't, but this hearty dish has been serving up the working masses of Lancashire since the 19th century. Don't forget to try some potted shrimps while on your Lancashire holiday--these brown shrimp encased in nutmeg-infused butter were purported to be a favorite of Ian Fleming's James Bond character. Lancashire cheese is a solid alternative, as this crumbly, curd-based product features a distinctly tangy flavor that goes equally well with toast, sandwiches, or atop a hotpot. Afterward, sample a Chorley
cake, a regional sweet treat originating in the town of the same name.
Lancashire's many small towns, country lanes, and seaside communities are ideal settings in which to experience traditional English pub culture, and many of these local drinking establishments are housed within attractive historic buildings. Stopping by for a pint or a meal of delicious pub grub, like a Sunday roast or "bangers and mash," is a great way to immerse yourself in a culture still thriving in the United Kingdom's quieter corners. Snarfing down some fish and chips along the waterfront is also a classic treat that's not to be missed, particularly when served traditionally in a cone made from newspaper. Blackpool
, and even the inland towns of Chorley
, and Preston
will all have an overabundance of options.
Shopping in Lancashire
While on the sea, try swinging by the historic piers in town, such as the famous Blackpool Central Pier
in its namesake city or d3583951St Anne's Pier in Lytham St Anne's
, both remnants of the seaside's Victorian heyday. Not only do they often feature refreshment options, such as ice cream, cotton candy, and more, but usually are hotspots for souvenirs both tacky and classy, so picking up a memento here to commemorate your Lancashire vacation is convenient and fun. The region's famous cheese is another good buy for those more inclined towards gastronomical gifts, so keep your eyes peeled while in cities both large and small for small, family-run shops selling their own lovingly-crafted curds and wheels.
For a more traditional shopping experience, Blackpool's Houndshill Shopping Centre
has plenty of well-known brands and chains on offer, ranging from Build-a-Bear Workshop and Superdrug to more upscale names like Debenhams and River Island. You can shop until you drop and then chow down afterward at the on-site food court. Alternatively, head to the Blackpool
suburb of Thornton Cleveleys
, accessible via the Blackpool Transport Services Ltd
, to browse its promenade packed with a variety of brand-name shops and stores.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Lancashire
History of Lancashire
Officially established in 1182, Lancashire's roots stretch back even further to the Roman invasion of Britain. Forts in the area are thought to have originated as early as the first century CE and helped provide the foundation for many future settlements like Preston
. The Ribchester Roman Museum
is a great option for those wanting to explore Rome's influence and remnants in the county. Medieval Lancashire saw the construction of many stately homes, mansions, and fortresses for its ruling classes, including the 1,000-year-old Clitheroe Castle
A rivalry between Lancashire and Yorkshire and their respective ancestral families erupted in the 15th century into the War of the Roses, which raged for more than 30 years across the country. Though the House of York saw victory at first and established a degree of control over the throne, it was the House of Lancaster that ultimately emerged victorious, ending with the accession of Henry Tudor to the throne. His dynasty would rule for nearly a century and a half, and became one of the most famous in English history, giving birth to famous figures such as Henry VIII and his daughter, Queen Elizabeth I. This legacy, and rivalry, is still a common trope in Lancastrians' pride for their homeland.
After Elizabeth I's death in 1603, a new wave of Protestant fervor fell upon the country. The year 1612 saw a series of witch trials sweep the county, the most infamous of which occurred around Pendle Hill
and the towns of Burnley
. Nine women, accused and found guilty of witchcraft, were executed by hanging. You can learn more about this dark chapter in local history by visiting Lancaster Castle
, where several victims were held during their trials.
The advent of furnaces, steam engines, and other heavy machinery between the 1750s and 1850s brought incredible change to Lancashire, which blossomed with mills, factories, and production plants, helping it to become one of the driving forces in the Industrial Revolution. The textile industry in particular transformed and developed towns like Burnley
, which bulged with the influx of laborers joining in on the burgeoning cotton trade. Head to the Queen Street Mill Textile Museum
or Helmshore Mills Textile Museum
to learn more about the importance of this industry in Lancashire's history. Along the coast, Morecambe
all catered to the mill workers and their families in the area, and saw the inception of their amusement parks and leisure areas to accommodate the growing holiday industry. Check out Blackpool
waterfront, the The Blackpool Tower
, and Central Pier
to experience the kind of weekend entertainment that served the working classes of Lancashire.
Lancashire threw its industrial might behind the national effort during World War I and World War II, and many of its young men fought and died on battlefields around the world in service of the United Kingdom. Delve deeper during your Lancashire vacation at the Museum of Lancashire, which documents the region's wartime contributions and showcases extensive collections of artifacts from throughout its history.
Landscape of Lancashire
Vast stretches of beautiful Irish Sea coastline complemented by equally beautiful expanses of rugged moorland and rolling countryside characterize Lancashire's diverse landscape. You'll likely spend a great deal of time along the ocean while on holiday in Lancashire, and rocky points and sand bars jutting out into the waves are a common sight, as are expansive tidal flats and coastal marshes. You can find great examples of such vistas along Morecambe Bay and near the small town of Silverdale
. Though the interior's green hills were once dotted with belching smokestacks, 21st-century Lancashire features a revitalized environment relieved of the excesses of the Industrial Revolution. Wild areas like the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
, near the town of Clitheroe
, and theRibble Valley
, boast steep canyons, rocky hills, and gently winding rivers that add a great deal to its natural elegance.
Holidays & Festivals in Lancashire
Lancashire celebrates the same set of holidays as much of the United Kingdom. City streets and country homes alike are decked out with Christmas gear in December, and on November 5th you'll likely see plenty of fireworks commemorating Guy Fawkes Day, also known as "Bonfire Night."
Music festivals large and small pitch their tents and set up their stages across Lancashire in the warmer months; consider grabbing tickets if your Lancashire vacation dates coincide with a genre or performance you find interesting. In towns and cities like Blackpool
, and Morecambe
, you can find festivals year-round that celebrate the region's local foods, drinks, and crafts, so keep your eyes peeled for signboards advertising dates and times. One of the more popular family-oriented events is the Blackpool Illuminations
festival, a free light show of epic proportions running between September and November most years.
Lancashire Travel Tips
Climate of Lancashire
Similar to much of Great Britain, Lancashire features a mild climate that normally sees neither blazing high temperatures nor freezing cold. Summers are warm with chilly nights, while winters can see occasional snowfall, and both fall and spring see combinations of the two. Simply put, Lancashire's status as a major holiday destination doesn't stem from its weather. However, rain is certainly a constant possibility, so be sure to bring along a reliable waterproof or water-resistant jacket while sightseeing in Lancashire. The long coastline features even less temperature variation, though wind coming off of the Irish Sea means that you should pack decently warm clothes regardless of when your travel falls during the year.
Transportation in Lancashire
Keep in mind that bus routes can be somewhat limited outside of major cities, so traveling in the countryside and between smaller towns can be extremely difficult when relying solely on infrequent (and pricey) public transportation. As mentioned earlier, renting a car for the duration of your stay can help you make the most of your Lancashire trip, as it will give you unfettered access to Lancashire attractions that lie outside of city boundaries. The M6, an artery of the UK's freeway network, runs up and down through Lancashire, so traversing large stretches of beautiful countryside is quick and efficient. What's more, you can hop on a variety of different routes branching off and merging with the M6, giving you easy access to major urban centers across the country. As through much of Britain, the train network is extremely well-developed, and often makes for a pleasant way to get from town to town.
Language of Lancashire
English is the native tongue of Lancashire, and though the local accent falls in line with much of the north of England (sounding similar to neighboring Yorkshire and the urban center of Manchester), there are plenty of variations in towns like Burnley
. Pronunciation and sometimes sing-song speech used in the region can certainly make locals difficult to understand for North Americans, particularly among the older generation of Lancashire natives. You may notice while on your Lancashire tour that there are plenty of vernacular words alive and well, some of which trace their lineage back nearly 1,000 years to medieval Scandinavian invaders.