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Brighton & Hove Beaches
Visiting the beach in Brighton? Groundbreaking, yes, but hear us out. There are parts of the city that can get rammed with tourists in summer – The Lanes, North Laine, the area around the Pier – but you only need to take a few footsteps off the beaten track to be rubbing shoulders with locals instead. Salty air makes for a great, if windswept, stroll; from the Palace Pier, trace the shore east along Madeira Drive past the nudist beach to Brighton Marina (hopping on the Volks Electric Railway if you get tired) or head west past the burnt-out West Pier, the i360, the Victorian bandstand and colourful beach huts to Hove Lagoon, where you can have a go at watersports before dipping into the briny deep.
Discover local artists
A hotbed for creatives, Brighton spoils visitors with a plethora of ways to immerse themselves in its artsy community. Among our favourite galleries are ONCA, which focuses on social and environmental issues, and Fabrica, a Recency church-turned-contemporary art space that has displayed work by the likes of Anish Kapoor and Brian Eno. Artists Open Houses run twice a year (every May and November/ December) – with walkable trails connecting diverse crafters’ homes and alt venues.
Take a class
Inspired by the city’s creative community? There’s ample opportunity to get involved. Join a weaving workshop with Shiv Textiles, which upcycles waste yarns from British mills, or learn how to throw bowls, cups and the like at Potter’s Thumb. Small Batch Coffee also runs courses in latte art, becoming an SCA-accredited barista and how to open your own café from its underground training lab in Seven Dials.
It’s thanks to Prince Regent George (later King George IV) that Brighton is blessed with an onion-domed Royal Pavilion. While it’s beautiful enough from the outside, inside it’s an extravaganza of flamboyant decoration, fantastical murals, chandeliers held by silver dragons and a replica feast that makes your stomach groan by simply looking at it. Stuffy stately home, this is not. Like this? Head across the glorious Pavilion Gardens studded with hollyhocks to the nearby Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, which has an eclectic collection including Egyptian treasure, 20th-century fashion and contemporary photography.
Visit Brighton in May, when the city’s answer to Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival sees an already creative scene transform into a veritable orgy of pop-up theatrical performances and readings, up-and-coming comedy acts, gigs, open-house exhibitions, fairs and much more.
Brighton & Hove Pride
When it comes to Pride celebrations in the UK, Brighton is unparalleled, drawing around 450,000 people (double the normal population) to the city in the first week of August. The all-singing, all-dancing Pride Community Parade is a carnival of colour – literally, there’s a 50m-long rainbow flag. Preston Park is transformed into a playground of stages and dance tents as LoveBN1 Fest and Pride in the Park take over. Alternatively, head to Kemptown for the Pride Village Party. It’s as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.
Duke of York’s Picturehouse
Easily recognised by the disembodied striped legs can-canning on the roof, the Duke of York’s is England’s oldest functioning movie theatre and, in 2012, 102 years after opening, it was voted the UK’s best cinema. Check online for its calendar of art-house flicks and cult films. Like this? Visit its younger sibling, Duke’s at Komedia, in the city centre.
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This Grade I-listed neo-gothic church is just five minutes’ walk from North Laine, and serves as a peaceful yet awe-inspiring respite from the thrum of central Brighton. It’s often cited as England’s tallest church, so you’ll spot it way before you reach the entrance on Ann Street. Cavernous is the best way we can describe its interior, said to replicate Noah’s upturned ark, which means the acoustics are fantastic here – it regularly hosts non-religious concerts.
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