Pleasure beaches and seaside funfairs to make you squeal

Pleasure beaches and seaside funfairs to make you squeal

After decades in the doldrums, over the last few years people have been flocking to the piers, funfairs and pleasure beaches of British seaside towns. As Gareth Rubin points out in the Guardian:

From Essex to Yorkshire, Somerset to Cornwall, bookings are up and up, sometimes by more than 500% over the past few years. In 2015, Brits made 19.4 million trips to the English coast, a 10% increase on the year before.

The exodus to the British coast is likely to be even bigger this summer, with the fall in value of the pound making foreign holidays more pricey.

So if you like your fish and chips with a side order of toe-curling thrills, here’s a selection of resorts in England and Wales, with funfairs and pleasure beaches to make you squeal.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Vintage rollercoaster in Blackpool. Picture copyright of the Family Adventure Project.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s attractions can be dated back to 1896. The seafront of this town in the north-west of England has a collection of stomach-churning rides, gentle carousels and an original 1930s roller coaster.  Blackpool itself isn’t known for its clement weather, but if you’re rained off the beach, there’s the world-famous Tower, circus and waterpark. Best of all? If it rains for more than three hours, you get a free Rainy Day Return to the Pleasure Beach the next day.

Pleasure Beach wristbands vary in price, from £6 to £32.50. You can read more about the Pleasure Beach in this post by the Family Adventure Project. For more information on Blackpool, see the Visit Blackpool website.

Dreamland Margate

Dreamland Margate

Dreamland’s Hall of Mirrors

Rivalling Blackpool for old-school charm is Dreamland Margate, which opened in 1921 and which we visited last summer. Nestled on the easternmost tip of the Kentish coast, the seaside funfair has been through hard times, with a trip into receivership last year. Undaunted, it battles on, with every sign that its cool, retro redesign by Mark Hemingway and a new pricing structure will bring in the punters. We hope so: it’s a stylish mass of all the rides you would expect from an old-school funfair – dodgems, a ghost train, hall of mirrors, a helter skelter and the UK’s oldest rollercoaster. The food is good value, and afterwards there’s the wide, sandy beach of Margate to explore.

Dreamland Margate is free to enter, with pay-per-ride or wristbands available. As well as our post you can read about Dreamland in this post by Family Travel Times; or check out the Visit Thanet website.

Pensarn Beach

If you prefer your beaches a little quieter, then Pensarn, in north Wales, could be for you. No vintage roller-coaster at this pleasure beach. Instead, there’s a simple round of penny slot machines, a shop selling candy floss, a cafe, and a promenade for a stroll. Of all the vintage pleasure beaches mentioned, Pensarn’s is probably the most ‘genuine’ – ie, it’s been untouched for decades.

You can read more about Pensarn Pleasure Beach in this post by Mini Travellers.

The best of the rest


Deal in Kent is another town with a small set of seafront attractions. You can read more about it here.

Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach

This funfair on the Norfolk coast boasts rides for both thrill-seekers and toddlers, a 4D film and a rollercoaster which people have ridden since 1932. Norfolk and neighbouring Suffolk are good places if you’re looking for weekend breaks for families. Companies like Holidays for all Seasons offer holidays that include a pass to Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach.

Barry Island

Barry Island has been entertaining the youth of south Wales since 1929. Anyone who watched hit  comedy show Gavin and Stacey will be familiar with its penny slot machines, as well as the gloriously colourful waltzers, big dipper and fun house. A brand new ferris wheel will open in 2017.


Botton’s Pleasure Beach in Skegness, Lincolnshire is blessed with a wide range of funfair rides and attractions, like the pirate boat, and ‘cups and saucers’. You can watch a video from blogger Zena’s Suitcase on her family trip to Skegness here. This year, Skegness will host the SO Festival, the largest free family-friendly outdoor arts festival in the UK.


Other UK coastal resorts are also on the up – like Whitley Bay, near Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, where £36m is being pumped into the regeneration of the seafront. There’s never been a better time to be beside the seaside. Just read this post by Mummy Travels if you need convincing.

Where have I missed? And which is your favourite pleasure beach?

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Pleasure beaches

This is a collaborative post. All views are my own.









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  1. February 13, 2017 / 8:38 am

    Such a lovely post! I’d love a trip to the seaside rather than the office this morning!

    • Nell
      February 15, 2017 / 3:11 pm

      Me too!

  2. February 14, 2017 / 4:50 pm

    Oh I love this! We’ve actually never taken ours to anything like this, even the rides at Barry Island always seem to be closed when we go. We’ll definitely look to go to one of them this year.

    • Nell
      February 15, 2017 / 4:10 pm

      Theme parks are great fun Nat! x

  3. February 16, 2017 / 6:38 am

    Seaside fairs always take me back to my childhood. My kids too love them.

    • Nell
      February 24, 2017 / 1:32 pm

      We think they’re fab!

  4. barjerow
    February 16, 2017 / 7:08 pm

    We have very fond memories of Pensarn Beach and the slot machines!

  5. February 16, 2017 / 7:17 pm

    Oh I love a traditional fairground. It’s hard to resist a carousel isn’t it! A trip to Barry Island is on my list of places to visit over the next few years x

    • Nell
      February 24, 2017 / 1:33 pm

      I really want to go back. Haven’t been since I was 8!

  6. Jen
    February 23, 2017 / 11:35 pm

    I re-discovered Pleasurewood Hills last summer with my family (having been an annual trip as a child!).
    Was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was – not too crowded, good mix of rides for all ages + space for picnic and all the staff were friendly… would add to your list for your Easter holiday

    • Nell
      February 24, 2017 / 1:50 pm

      Thank you!

  7. January 20, 2018 / 11:23 am

    I’m not really a fan of rollercoasters but I do love a good pier. I’m hoping to make it to Southend this year!

    • Nell
      January 23, 2018 / 7:12 pm

      We haven’t been there yet. One for the list!

  8. January 22, 2018 / 5:30 pm

    We had a lovely time at Frinton-on-Sea in the summer. Walton Pier, at Walton-on-the-Naze, next to Frinton, one day. The next day, round the coast to pier at Clacton-on-Sea. Both had rides and wrist bands with more rides at Clacton… great fun.

    • Nell
      January 23, 2018 / 8:33 pm

      I love it. A tour of the funfairs!

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