'I went to a hidden village with a pub, castle and a waterfall - but there’s a catch'

The Tudor houses in Blackpool Model Village
Blackpool has a hidden village, tucked away in the corner of Stanley Park -Credit:MEN Staff

You may not know it, but Blackpool has a secret village. It has everything you could imagine: a pub, two churches (one old, one new), a waterfall, rows of pretty cottages, a castle, a school and more.

It’s a pocket of old-fashioned countryside only 30 minutes’ walk away from the buzzing seafront. Ah, but there is one key thing I should mention - it’s in miniature.

Blackpool Model Village and Gardens may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of the iconic seaside town, yet it really deserves to be higher up tourists' to-do lists. During my recent trip to Blackpool I thought I’d check out this hidden attraction and having not been to a model village since I was a child I had high expectations - and boy did it surpass them.

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The village is tucked away in the corner of Stanley Park, which is around a 30 minute walk from the beach (or a short bus ride away) and sits beside East Park Drive. I approached it via the park, and I must admit I was doubting its existence right until the last minute.

The village has rows of charming cottages
The village has rows of charming cottages -Credit:MEN Staff

From the road side it’s clearly marked, yet from all other sides it's hidden by a tall and rather ominous wooden-fence topped with barbed wire, so as I walked along the path from the park I had no idea what lay beyond. Once I rounded the corner I came across the small entrance area where you buy your entrance tickets, along with ice cream provided by Anita's Ice Cream Parlour and soft drinks.

Although you’re free to explore the village at leisure, visitors are given a quiz to complete which acts as a guide around the village. It poses questions based on the various scenes and it’s a lot more fun than having a bog standard map which would ruin all the surprises.

Passing through a gate, my trusty quiz and pencil at hand, I set off around the village. One of the first things that took me by surprise was the size of it.

The entrance to the village
The entrance to the village -Credit:MEN Staff

It calls itself ‘The Biggest Little Village in Lancashire’ and you know what? It actually is rather big. Well we're not talking massive, but you certainly can't see it all with just once glance. It's set across a beautiful 2.5acre garden with scenes of idyllic - and sometimes not so idyllic - village life beautifully spaced out.

Following the quiz, I was led along narrow paths, passing all sorts of delightful scenes. There was a working windmill, a wedding taking place at the church (which even had its own graveyard that reminded me of Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice), and a row of bustling shops.

There’s a few surprises along the way too. Blackpool’s model village may seem old fashioned, but it's actually very forward-thinking with its own recycling centre. Oh, it also has its own prison, playfully called ‘HM Prison Porridge’ (there are a lot of puns throughout the village).

The village scenes are spread across a 2.5 acre landscaped garden
The village scenes are spread across a 2.5 acre landscaped garden -Credit:MEN Staff

I followed the path along footbridges, beside waterways and even admired a waterfall along the way. Among the scenes are a fairy glen, a Tudor Market and a farm. I won’t go through them all as I don't want to spoil them, but they're guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

The village is very much aimed at all ages. There are loads of fun aspects for kids to spot and fuel their imaginations with, yet the buildings are beautifully hand-crafted, almost like works of art, which adults can appreciate.

I was alone during my visit on a sunny spring afternoon and it was wonderfully tranquil - it felt like I had escaped to a different world. Throughout the garden are benches and seats where you can pause for a moment and take it all in.

After completing the quiz and heading back to reception I received a sticker for my achievements (now you don't get that when you visit Blackpool Tower do you?). Given the sunny weather, I rounded off my visit with a scoop of Anita's Ice Cream, a sweet ending to one of Blackpool's most delightful of attractions.

Blackpool Model Village and Gardens are open daily from March 28 until November 3, 2024, from 9.30am, with last entry at 4pm weather permitting. Prices are £10.50 for adults (aged 16-59), £8.50 for children (aged 2-15) and £9.50 for concessions. There are family tickets available for from £33.50 (two adults and two children) and £37.50 (two adults and three children).

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