The Pavilion - Winter Gardens

Plans have been announced to restore Blackpool’s historic Pavilion Theatre and turn it into a creative hub that will stage works accessible to northern audiences.

The so-called Northern Powerhouse is a joint venture between Selladoor Worldwide - a leading UK regional theatre producer - and the Blackpool Entertainment Company.

The project will bring a fresh lease of creative life to the historic theatre, based in the 140-year-old Grade II listed Winter Gardens complex.

The theatre was part of the original 1878 build and was an entertainment hub, catering to large crowds at the turn of the 20th century. Although a stunning and richly decorated building, with opulent interior designs, it is no longer used as a theatre and is currently listed as ‘at risk’ by the Theatres Trust. 

Selladoor’s executive creative producer David Hutchinson said: “With a new and stimulating programme of work to feature at the Pavilion Theatre, complemented by a broad selection of Selladoor’s touring productions that regularly perform at the Winter Gardens, we are extremely excited to see a town that is very dear to our hearts, flourish and succeed.”

Michael Williams, managing director of Blackpool Entertainment Company, which operates the Winter Gardens, said: “This heralds an exciting new direction that will offer unparalleled opportunities to the local community while bringing back into year-round use of the Pavilion Theatre.

“In addition, we will be utilising other spaces in the venue for a wide range of exciting and engaging projects over the coming years.”

Tom Stickland from the Theatres Trust said: “Restoring performance use to this historic space will unlock one of Blackpool’s jewels and help protect it for the future.”

Winter wonderland

Blackpool Winter Gardens first opened to the public on 11th July, 1878, with a lavish ceremony attended by the Lord Mayor of London and mayors and mayoresses from 68 towns throughout the country. 

One of the UK’s biggest theatres, the Winter Gardens Opera House has seen a cast of thousands tread its broads since it first opened in 1939. With almost a 3,000-seat capacity, the splendor of the venue oozes sophistication and character as it boasts unforgettable performances year after year. 

Hollywood stars such as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Bob Hope have all graced the Opera House stage, and more recently, the likes of Little Mix, Bob Dylan, Peter Kay and One Direction have performed to sell-out audiences.