righton, one of Britain’s liveliest cities, has a bohemian, artistic and eccentric atmosphere that can’t be found anywhere else in the UK. Combining the modern with the traditional, Brighton has a heritage that is rooted in the Regency era and is brought up to date with a unique cultural offer.
Ever since the Prince Regent first visited in 1783, Brighton & Hove has been England’s most exciting seaside city, and today it’s as vibrant, eccentric and cosmopolitan as ever.
If you’ve never visited, you too will fall for Brighton & Hove’s rich cultural mix — Regency architecture, pleasure pier, specialist shops, pavement cafés, lively arts and of course the exotic Royal Pavilion. Everything’s in walking distance, so take time to explore and enjoy what the city has to offer.
The famous Brighton Beachfront has undergone a transformation. A couple of decades ago it was a bit shabby round the edges. Now it’s one of the ‘coolest’ parts of the city and a hive of activity winter and summer.
At beach level the restored Victorian seafront arches are alive with bars, cafés, restaurants and clubs. Attractive sweeps of paving with traditional timber boardwalks lead out across the beach towards the sea, new lighting has made the area safe and attractive after dark, and there are unusual artist-designed bollards and seating.
Twenty of the smallest arches have been turned into artists’ studios, and at the Fishing Quarter, with the free Fishing Museum at its heart, fishermen mend their nets and sell their freshly caught fish. The Ellipse is a natural arena and a focus for outdoor events including Samba competitions, street theatre and music showcases. There are also courts for beach volleyball and 3-on-3 basketball, a fantastic children’s play area and a paddling pool.
Be sure to ride the Brighton Wheel for stunning, panoramic views of the city’s famous landmarks and coastline and fascinating commentary of Brighton and Hove’s heritage. A transportable Ferris wheel installation erected in October 2011 on the seafront, it has planning permission to remain in place only until 2016, so don’t wait too long to give it a try.
Traditional and modern seaside fun can be had on the famous Brighton Pier with its full-size funfair, candyfloss stalls and arcade games. Catch the Volks – the world’s first public electric railway – along the seafront to Brighton Marina admiring the elegant seafront squares as you go.
A visit to the Royal Pavilion, with its Indian exterior and Chinese style interior, is not to be missed. Originally the seaside palace of the Prince Regent, later George IV, this amazing building has been restored to its full splendour and is open all year round. Get a fascinating insight into the development of Regency Brighton & Hove’s urban lifestyle at the Regency Town House in Brunswick Square.
Home to England’s largest arts festival, every May Brighton & Hove has a lively arts scene all year round. Enjoy pre-West End productions at the beautiful red-and-gold Theatre Royal, concerts at the magnificent Dome theatre, international artists at the Brighton Centre and renowned theatre and dance companies at the Gardner Arts Centre. For a more intimate experience, try the Komedia, the Lift, the Concorde Club, or one of Brighton’s many thriving small theatres.
Don’t miss Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, with its famous collections of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, and Ethnography, Archaeology and Fashion galleries, as well as paintings and special exhibitions. At Hove Museum & Art Gallery there are collections of delightful 20th century paintings and stylish contemporary crafts. Following major redevelopment, it has been transformed into a centre of learning and enjoyment for people of all ages. Here you will step into a world of toys, cinema, local history, and fine art. Hove Museum & Art Gallery also boasts one of the finest craft collections in the country, and is an oasis of learning and enjoyment for everyone. Admission is free.
If you love to shop till you drop, you will not be disappointed:
- The Lanes: A delightful maze of narrow, paved streets full of shops selling antiques, jewellery, hats, designer clothes and much more.
- The North Laine: Brighton’s Bohemian Quarter. Home to over 300 Individual shops as well as cafes and pubs. North Laine’s quirky and unusual shops offer a bohemian bustle of gifts, textile, furniture, bric-a-brac, pottery and much more for a unique shopping experience- everything from bonsai trees to vegetarian shoes, and Saturday street market.
- Churchill Square: A state of the art indoor shopping centre with 84 shops, restaurants and cafes all under one roof.
- Hove & Brunswick: A mixture of antique shops and places to stop for lunch and examine your bargains. Brunswick has a distinctive character of its own full of interior design and upmarket clothes outlets, set amongst the white stucco villas of the Montpelier district.
- Brighton Marina: Offers factory outlet shopping the Waterfront, with top quality goods at discount prices.
- For all the best high street names try East Street, North Street and Western Road. (Upper North Street has a range of antique shops.)
- Brighton Station: For the region’s biggest and best selection of second-hand goods try the giant car boot sale and flea market every Sunday morning.
Chinese, Goan, Indian, Italian, Lebanese, Tex-Mex – you can sample food from all over the world in Brighton and Hove’s 400 cafés and restaurants. Foodie areas are The Lanes, Church Street in Hove, Seven Dials and Kemp Town.
Relax in the pubs, clubs, bars and cafés, or choose from jazz, soul, R&B, funk, house, gay, salsa, 60s, 70s, and 80s. There’s live music and big-name DJs too. See a blockbuster film at the multi-screen cinemas, or an art-house film at the Duke of York’s.
For the healthy alternative, try windsurfing or rollerblading along the seafront, hang-gliding from the dramatic Devil’s Dyke or golf overlooking the sea. Spectator sports include county cricket and greyhound racing in Hove and horse-racing at Brighton Racecourse. (Please note that if you think baseball is a boring game to watch, you will likely not enjoy cricket…)
There’s plenty to see and do for kids – visits to the Sea Life Centre, the Booth Museum of Natural History and the Sussex Toy and Model Museum. Enjoy funfair rides on the Pier, water flumes at the King Alfred Leisure Centre plus a year-round programme of events for the whole family.
If you are into castles and historic houses, this is the place to start. Sussex castles within easy range include:
- Bodiam Castle– Soak up the wonderful atmosphere of this magnificent medieval castle with its spiral staircases, battlements and drawbridge.
- Pevensey Castle– Step back in time in this ancient and historic castle, from which William the Conqueror marched on Hastings and Battle.
- Lewes Castle– Dominating the town of Lewes, a Norman castle with a flint knapped keep.
- Arundel Castle– A Norman castle and home to the Dukes of Norfolk for over 850 years.
- Hever Castle– Romantic 13th century moated castle and the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.
- Herstmonceux Castle– This 15th century moated castle is set in beautiful parkland and superb Elizabethan grounds gardens.
Brighton & Hove is a great base for exploring the beautiful Sussex countryside – cream teas and castles, English Wines and windmills, there’s something for everyone. From the picturesque little villages of Alfriston, Lindfield and Petworth, and the famous gardens of Leonardslee, Nyman’s and Borde Hill, to the historic houses of Great Dixter, Parham and Standen, and much more, there’s so much to see and do.
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