Blackpool rock, Kiss Me Quick hats and donkey rides: yes. But punk, genuinely lovely beaches and plenty of bars to rival any in the North too. Blackpool guarantees the good old-fashioned seaside fun you'd expect, but it's also got an energetically modern side that makes a great weekend away or day out. Whichever you're planning, here's our guide to the must-dos.

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_Photo by Luke Ellis-Craven on Unsplash_

Hit Blackpool Beach

The long, wide sandy beaches at Blackpool are still perfect for family fun. It's hard to resist the urge to grab a bucket and spade and start digging, while the shallow sea is ideal for a paddle. If that sounds too strenuous, you can always opt for a deck chair and ice cream, and simply sit back and relax.

The Med it is not, but that's not what you come here for anyway. If the weather does take a turn for the worse, the Sandcastle Waterpark isn't far away along the beachfront. Inside the UK's largest indoor waterpark you'll find 18 slides, a wave-pool and a balmy 84-degree tropical climate.

Give Three Cheers for the Piers

Blackpool has three piers, reaching out into the sea from the stretch of seafront famously dubbed the Golden Mile. Each has a character of its own, with North Pier the oldest and the longest, and home to an Art Deco theatre that played host back in the day to the greats of light entertainment, from Morecambe and Wise to Bruce Forsyth. These days it hosts kid-friendly shows during the summer holidays, as well as regular outdoor film nights, including singalong showings.

The Central Pier includes free shows at the Pirate's Bay Family Bar and a famous Ferris Wheel, while South Pier is a mini-theme park, with white-knuckle rides aplenty making up a modern day 'end of the pier show.'

See the Blackpool Illuminations

Visit between September and November and you can enjoy the famous Blackpool Illuminations. The prom was first lit up in 1879 and the annual festival of light is still a high point of the Blackpool season.

Taking a seat upstairs on an open-top tram is a great way of enjoying the million or so light bulbs that stretch for over six miles (10km) along the seafront.

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_Photo by Kristophers Ozolins on Unsplash_

Head up Blackpool Tower

One of the UK's most iconic landmarks, and a Grade I-listed building, the 158m Blackpool Tower was modelled on the Eiffel Tower, and has been a fixture of the town's skyline since 1894.

At the top of you'll find great views up and down the coast, and if you're brave, go out onto the Skywalk for a look straight beneath you through the glass floor. There's also a 4D cinema that recreates the history of the town.

Visit the UK's Most Famous Ballroom

At the foot of the tower is Britain's most famous ballroom, a space famed for its exquisite interior of glowing chandeliers, decorative columns and golden plasterwork. That and Strictly.

You can join in one of the popular tea dances for a bit of old-timey fun, or have afternoon tea as you watch the dancers gliding across the floor to the soundtrack of the ballroom's Wurlitzer organ.

Enjoy a Bit of Park Life by the Sea

Stanley Park is one of those town centre parks that has it all, with its famous Art Deco café taking centre stage. There's plenty of space to enjoy your own picnic too as you stroll through beautifully tended formal gardens, or venture in to the park's own nature reserve.

The park also has a great children's play area, crazy golf, huge boating lake and model village. You can even take to the trees at the park's own high ropes course, or just pull up a deckchair by the bandstand and enjoy listening to a rousing brass band or a touch of the classics.

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_Photo by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash_

Take a Ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Blackpool's famous Pleasure Beach has been thrilling visitors for over 120 years and remains one of the UK's most successful attractions. ICON is the park's newest ride, hitting speeds of up to 52mph (85kph)as it flies round the park.

There are more rollercoasters here than in any other park in the country. The Big Dipper is a highlight - it dates to 1923 and is completely made of wood. Another old favourite is the racing-based Grand National, which has been hurtling round the track for over 80 years.

See a Show at the Wonderful Winter Gardens

The Winter Gardens opened in 1878 as one of the top entertainment centres of its era and it's still pulling people in today with an eclectic calendar of events. The venue includes the Empress Ballroom, which stages everything from international dance festivals to World Match Play darts.

The Opera House has one of the largest auditoriums in the country, and offers up treats from tribute bands to top TV comedians, musicals and world-famous singers and bands. The building itself is a treat too, especially the Victorian splendour of the Floral Hall and the tranquil setting of Mazzei Café, while the Empress Grill is perfect for a pre-show dinner.