Blackpool venue battles its way back
26 August 2020
Reporter: David Upton
One of the country's largest theatres, inside one of its oldest entertainment complexes, is battling back against the COVID crisis.
The Winter Gardens in Blackpool is to reopen with a revised autumn programme featuring live daily entertainment, the latest cinema releases and an exhibition featuring material from York's Jorvik viking centre.
Live theatre—'socially distanced' inside the Opera House's vast auditorium—is set to return from October with Sir Ranulph Fiennes as well as two new shows from veteran rock opera performer Steve Steinman including Anything for Love—The Meat loaf Story and Vampire Rock—Ghost Train.
Closed for more than 150 days, the historic venue has had to cope, like so many others, with the postponement of shows, concerts and conferences.
The Opera House will reopen from September 3 with new cinema releases including Marvel's The New Mutants screened alongside modern blockbusters and broadcast cinema events including Kinky Boots the Musical, 42nd Street and Elvis: That’s The Way It Is.
The Opera House cinema will be complemented by the reopening the Mazzei Café and Gillows Bar with musical duo Pineapple Jack.
From September 19, Fearsome Craftsmen is a touring exhibition from Jorvik in York, showing how 1,000 years ago the Vikings turned simple materials into complex objects.
Councillor Amy Cross, chair of the Blackpool Entertainment Company Limited Board, said, “The Winter Gardens has been pivotal to the development of Blackpool for more than 140 years, and we hope to continue these traditions for years to come.
“Due to the business being closed for a number of months and the restrictions now in place, we must reassess our offer to the town and its visitors. This means our building access and our regular programme of events have been very much reduced.”
The venue has been awarded the Visit England 'Good to Go' Standard, meeting government and public health guidance to ensure a safe visit. This includes limiting capacity with unoccupied seating between groups, temperature checks on arrival and contactless experience.