Blackpool's Winter Gardens first opened to the public on 11 July 1878, with a lavish ceremony attended by the Lord Mayor of London and Mayors and Mayoresses from 68 towns throughout the country. Its aspirations as a venue since then have continued to mirror the development of Blackpool as a seaside resort, which expanded as part of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth century boom in leisure time. From the 1860s onwards, the appetite for a wide range of entertainment grew in the resort and The Winter Gardens developed as an entertainment complex and adapted to cope with a disparate range of visitors. The scale and sheer architectural richness of The Winter Gardens provided a vibrant theatrical and entertainment experience for both the audience and the performers. Over the years, holiday-makers enjoyed concert parties, exhibitors, ballroom dancing and international stars of stage, screen and radio. The scope and ambition of The Gardens as an entertainment complex was always national if not international in ambition, with the casts of thousands who have trodden its boards over the past century reading as a roll call in performance history. Text above taken from the book "The Most Magnificent Palace of Amusement In The World" In March 2010 Blackpool Council purchased the Winter Gardens. Funding for the purchases and investment was secured from Blackpool Council, European Regional Development Fund, Homes and Communities Agency and Northwest Regional Development Agency. Following the acquisition the Winter Gardens is undergoing a major programme of refurbishment projects that has already seen extensive work to the entrances, Dome and Floral Hall, and the opening of 2 new dining options.