Blackpool’s world famous dance festival is being extended next year in a move which will boost visitor numbers.
Another two days is being added to the event which currently attracts dancers from across the globe to the Winter Gardens over nine days.
It is great news the festival is being extended to include a pro-am event for the first time
The festival, which incorporates the British Dance Championships, will run for 11 days next year from Tuesday May 23 until Friday June 2.
It means the event will have more than doubled in length since 1998 when it ran for only five days, and there are hopes eventually it will run for two weeks.
The 91st Blackpool Dance Festival, which ends today, has seen dancers competing from around 60 countries ranging from America and Australia to China and Russia.
Festival organiser Sandra Wilson said: “The competition has been excellent this year and the atmosphere in the Empress Ballroom has been fantastic every day. The festival is going from strength to strength.
“Next year we are adding on another two days and will start on the Tuesday with a pro-am competition, which will be the first time we have had this in Blackpool.”
The festival draws in around 4,000 people a day to the Winter Gardens.
Michael Williams, managing director of the Winter Gardens, said: “It is great news the festival is being extended to include a pro-am event for the first time. It enhances the competition, brings more visitors to the resort and means more economic benefits for the whole town. The hope is to have a two-week festival eventually.”
Tourism leaders say they are delighted the dance festival is continuing to grow.
Clare Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said: “This week is one of the biggest of the year, second only to the October half-term.
“We have people from New Zealand, America, Cyprus, the Ukraine and Russia staying in our hotels and they are long stays, booked in for eight days.
“Adding more days to the festival means there will be more people spending money in the town - not just in the hotels, but in restaurants, shops and on taxis.
“It is also good to have a boost at this time of year.”
Mick Grewcock, who owns the Queens Mansions in Bispham, said: “We are booked out throughout the dance festival, with visitors who have got money to spend so they are vital to Blackpool. To me, the dance festival is as important to the town as the Illuminations so it is great news it is being extended by two days next year.”
As well as the pro-am competition, a Hall of Fame dinner in the Empress Ballroom on the first Wednesday of competition is also a new addition to the programme.
This year for the first time, the festival has also been franchised to China, with Blackpool Dance Festival (China) due to be held in Shanghai in August.
The 91st Blackpool Dance Championships taking place this week.