"When Blackpool realised their tangerine dream of reaching the top flight of English football, fans across the country no doubt circled the trip to the Lancashire seaside resort as one not to be missed"

Take a punt in Newcastle

It may be famous for its football team but Newcastle is also popular with racegoers. National hunt racing (the kind with the jumps) is now a world apart from its stuffy image and combines the thrill of the race with fine food and family fun. Key dates in the diary are 27 November, which is the Fighting Fifth Hurdle race (considered to be the highlight of the jumps season) and the Northumberland Chase Christmas Raceday on 18 December.

Hungry for a change?

Blackfriars Restaurant claims to be the oldest dining room in the UK, dishing up its first meals in the 13th century. Luckily for visitors, the food has moved on now. Making the most of local produce, the (unsurprisingly!) traditional menu suits every pocket.

After the races end

While Newcastle nightlife is the stuff of legend, if you're after something a tad more genteel, you could catch some folk music. The Bridge Hotel (dating back to 1870) is famed for it, while The Castle Keep (see below) hosts live sessions.

Try something new

A stone's throw from the train station you'll find The Castle, one of Newcastle's most popular attractions. It was built by Henry II, way back in 1168, on a site used as a fort as long ago as the second century. Now, what's left of The Castle that gave the city its name remains in two parts, The Castle Keep and The Black Gate.

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newcastle-racecourse.co.uk

blackfriarsrestaurant.co.uk

bridgefolkclub.co.uk

castlekeep-newcastle.org.uk

Score a try in Leeds

In a land where rugby league dominates, rugby union club Leeds Carnegie dares to offer something different. Coached by World Cup winner Neil Back, this season they want a place in the top six. It's affordable, too, with adult tickets costing £17 and juniors just £5.

Late-night nibbles

Pop down to Clarence Dock and nab a table at the Bird Restaurant at Alea Casino. The menu combines ground-breaking Indian cuisine conceived by Vineet Bhatia, Britain's first Michelin-starred Indian chef.

After the game

The Light combines fashion, film and funky bars in the centre of the city. Stock up on new-season looks at Joy, Superdry and Henri Lloyd, then settle down for beer and a boogie at Tiger Tiger.

Try something new

If you fancy even more blood and guts, the Thackray Museum is a must. You get to experience the sights and sounds of Victorian Leeds and discover just how gruesome Victorian surgery was. It'll make a rugby union match look like a teddy bear's picnic! And if your partner doesn't fancy the rugby, book her into the Waterfall, the city's award-winning ladies-only spa. Bliss...

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leedsrugby.com

aleacasinos.com

thelightleeds.co.uk

thackraymuseum.org

waterfallspa.co.uk

Have a ball in Blackpool

When Blackpool realised their tangerine dream of reaching the top flight of English football, fans across the country no doubt circled the trip to the Lancashire seaside resort as one not to be missed. The feat of Ian Holloway taking Blackpool (average attendance 8,611) into the world of the football galacticos (Manchester United: average attendance, 75,769) is not to be sniffed at. A true hark back to the good ol' days before every billionaire picked up an English football club with their small change, it's a chance for a bit of romance as the plucky underdogs take on the cash-rich squillionaires of Premier League football.

Beyond the matchday pie

Being a seaside resort and having the fishing port of Fleetwood nearby means you can get decent fish, and one place worth trying is Kwizeen, just off the Golden Mile. It aims to source its ingredients within a 30-mile radius of the town centre and serves up everything from sea bass in curried lime butter to tea-smoked wild mallard.

After the game

You'll be spoilt for choice. Blackpool Tower remains as iconic as ever, the Pleasure Beach with its white-knuckle rides opens at weekends during the winter and there's the old-fashioned romance that comes with breezy walks along the promenade, the beach and the trams.

Try something new

Louis Tussaud's Waxworks gives you the chance to meet the stars. Then, after dark, take a walk down Birley Street and watch 'Brilliance': every night of the year, lights and lasers swirl and swoop to music beneath huge, sparkling silver archways. Only in Blackpool!

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blackpoolfc.co.uk

kwizeenrestaurant.co.uk

theblackpooltower.co.uk

blackpoolpleasurebeach.com

louistussaudswaxworks.co.uk

visitblackpool.com

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