There's a famous seaside place called Blackpool that's been noted for fresh air and fun for more than 150 years. And now the entertainment heritage that has enthralled and excited generations of holiday makers has a new home.

Showtown, which opens on March 15, is the first museum dedicated to the events, shows, venues and people who made Blackpool the nation’s capital of fun.

The museum stands on the Golden Mile, close to the Tower and the Comedy Carpet, and has six galleries celebrating dance, comedy, shows, magic, the Illuminations and the seaside. The newly-built Sands Building will also house the resort’s first five-star hotel.

Great British Life: The Showtime Gallery pays homage to some of the greats who have performed in BlackpoolThe Showtime Gallery pays homage to some of the greats who have performed in Blackpool (Image: Showtime Museum)

Each gallery in the £13m development - which has been dubbed an a museum - is filled with interactive exhibits and fascinating memorabilia charting the resort’s illustrious entertainment history.

And as befits a museum of fun, this is as far removed as possible from the old image of a museum with dusty artefacts in display cases. The galleries are filled with bright colour and each room contains interactive exhibits so visitors can get involved.

Jennifer Tegg has been involved with the project for two years. She said: ‘Blackpool is a remarkable place and the museum brings together the stories and the characters that make it the greatest showtown on earth.

‘It’s hard to walk through the museum and not have a big grin on your face – it's full of oohs, ahhs and wows.

Great British Life: Items from Blackpool's circus past will be on show. Items from Blackpool's circus past will be on show. (Image: Blackpool Council Heritage Service)

‘Every room has things that take you back and there is something there for everyone – people of all ages and interests. For me, it’s the reminders of people I watched on television when I was growing up in the 80s, Morecambe and Wise, Cannon and Ball, those sorts of things.

‘Blackpool does sometimes get a negative press but it still has a huge global appeal – you only have to see the numbers of people who visit and the events held here every year, such as the dance festivals and magic conventions.

‘The museum is a big part of a very exciting time for the town, with regeneration projects and new developments underway and it’s a thrill to play a part in attracting new visitors to the town and to be creating new opportunities for local people.’

The museum is run by the Blackpool Heritage and Museum Trust and is expected to welcome about 300,000 visitors a year.

Great British Life: Showtown is the first museum of Blackpool's entertainment heritage.Showtown is the first museum of Blackpool's entertainment heritage. (Image: Claire Griffiths)

The development was delayed by Covid, but plans for a museum in Blackpool have been discussed for years – when Lancashire Life celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2017, a souvenir of Blackpool’s Victorian big wheel was part of our History of Lancashire in 70 Objects. It was displayed at the Winter Gardens which was at one time considered as a venue for the museum.

Jennifer added: ‘Blackpool Council has long had an ambition that their collection should have a home and the museum also holds long term loans from other institutions such as the V&A as well as private loans from performers – it was a huge and painstaking task to select which items would be on display.

‘We aimed to select pieces that showcase the diversity and the range of stories and personalities involved in making Blackpool the greatest showtown on earth.

‘The museum had a few incarnations and a lot of time and effort has gone into making it right. Covid was an interruption and caused a slight delay but the community engagement, and our work and collaborations with performers and the people of Blackpool, continued. And we will continue to hold masterclasses, workshops, talks and events with schools and the people of Blackpool as well as community events.’

Great British Life: Stan Laurel's bowler hat is in the museum's collection. Stan Laurel's bowler hat is in the museum's collection. (Image: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian)

The Get Dancing project – jointly run by Showtown, arts organisation Left Coast and dance collective House of Wingz – involved communities around Blackpool in creating a dance called the Blackpool Way. And Open up the Mic saw local writer, comedian and performer Ruth Cockburn lead a stand-up comedy course to help young people in the town express themselves and build their confidence.

The museum leads visitors through six mainstays of the town’s entertainment industry and throughout the galleries there are lots of opportunities to get involved – try your hand at Punch and Judy, magic tricks, circus skills or designing theatre posters.

And Jennifer added: ‘Throughout the museum we have fun interactive exhibits visitors can get involved with, but it is all underpinned by serious research. The museum is very much about getting behind the scenes and there are opportunities to engage with the academic research. The Museum Charitable Trust is also managing the Showtown History Centre at the library. We don’t want the museum to be a static thing and we are gathering oral histories from people so their stores and that heritage isn’t lost.’

Tickets cost £15 for adults and £11.50 for children and are available now from


Great British Life: Entertainment in Blackpool began on the beach, with characters like Mr PunchEntertainment in Blackpool began on the beach, with characters like Mr Punch (Image: Getty)

Punch and Judy
In the Seaside Gallery, visitors will be able to watch a stunning 17-metre seaside scene come to life. Join oyster sellers, fortune tellers and deckchair dwellers on Blackpool’s golden sands. Meet the people who helped Blackpool grow into a world-famous resort, including the four generations of Professor Greens and their Punch and Judy shows. They entertained holidaymakers for over 100 years.

Great British Life: Udo's roller skates, as used in the Tower CircusUdo's roller skates, as used in the Tower Circus (Image: Showtime Museum)

Udo Schone’s roller skates
In the Circus Gallery ringmasters will keep you in check, acrobats will have you flexing your muscles and clowns will share face paint designs. Learn about death-defying daredevils such as Udo Schone, who would take to the circus ring wearing a blindfold and carry other members of the group while spinning on roller skates.

Great British Life: The museum celebrates all aspects of dance in BlackpoolThe museum celebrates all aspects of dance in Blackpool (Image: Showtime Museum)

Northern Soul
The Dance Gallery encourages visitors to let loose and have a boogie. Blackpool has a history of beautiful ballrooms and the world’s best dance competitions, as well as big bands, nightclubs and Northern Soul venues – as commemorated by this embroidered badge from about 1971.