What to Expect at the Blackpool Dance Festival


Contrary to popular belief, ballroom dancing isn’t reserved for ageing pensioners craving the charm and sophistication of the good old days; it’s actually a very entertaining and physically demanding pastime. Forget cheesy reality shows like Dancing with the Stars and Strictly, the Blackpool Dance Festival is the crème de la crème of ballroom dance competitions. With thousands of couples competing from over 60 different countries, winning actually means something! A cash prize of £2,775 will be awarded to the winners, so if you fancy having a shot at the pot, best start practising, as the competition is pretty damn stiff…

The History

The Blackpool Dance Festival has been held in the Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens ever since it began in 1920. Started by either Mr. Harry Wood, the Musical Director of the Winter Gardens, or local businessman Mr. Nelson Sharples, (who deserves the credit is hotly debated) the first event was held in Easter week and featured an entirely different judging process to what we know today. Since Modern Ballroom (English Style) and Latin American dancing were still in their infancy, the focus was more geared towards innovation than performance. Participants were expected to create new sequences in Waltz, Two Step and Foxtrot tempos. Fast forward to the present and there are now five major dance events in Blackpool, all of which are recognised by the British Dance Council.

Time and Date

The Blackpool Dance Festival 2016 will take place from 26th May to 3rd June, and kick off with the Amateur Rising Stars Competition. The first three days will feature different amateur age groups and conclude with a professional showcase. The flagship performances of the festival, the Professional Latin Championship and the Professional Ballroom Championship, will take place on 2nd and 3rd June. The annual Professional Invitation Team Match draws the largest crowds. At this event four teams are invited to compete, along with a panel of neutral judges.

2015 Highlights

2015 was a year to remember, as it was Michael Malitowski and Joanna Leunis’s final performance before their retirement. They performed in the Professional Latin Rumba category and managed to bag their 8th Blackpool Dance Festival win!

But, it was the the first ever American Smooth event that received the greatest praise. In 2015 some of the world’s most renowned American Smooth couples performed an exhibition, which received a standing ovation and prompted an outcry from both competitors and attendees for a competitive event in the near future.

While tickets are currently unavailable, they can be purchased via the Blackpool Opera House box office. Keep an eye on the official Blackpool Dance Festival Facebook page as day tickets sell out very quickly. Due to the limited number of available seats, special consideration is given to long-standing patrons, making season tickets difficult to come by.

If you can’t get tickets to this prestigious event, don’t worry, a professional film crew will be recording the entire festival. Free videos will subsequently be uploaded to YouTube, and highlight DVDs will be available to mail order via Dance Shopper and Dance Sport.


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