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A Guide to Brighton, UK

Posted on | June 16, 2010 | Comments Off on A Guide to Brighton, UK

Article by John McElborough

As one of the liveliest spots outside of London, Brighton is a destination that draws a lot of attention. Whether you’re after a traditional British seaside holiday, experience of the legendary local gay scene, markets to wander, shops you won’t find anywhere else or some of the best vegan food in the country then Brighton has it all.

First and foremost Brighton has always been a seaside town and with its long, long stretch of pebbly beach there’s plenty of room to plant your deckchair and fall asleep in the sun. The legendary Palace Pier provides for all the best kind of vintage seaside attractions, from hot donuts and candyfloss to a hall of mirrors and a games arcade. Then there’s the promenade that runs all the way along the front and makes for a wonderful blustery walk on a winters day or a warm and sunny stroll in summer. Shops, cafes and bars line the promenade so whether you need warming up or cooling down, everything is catered for.

The seafront is also home to the largest concentration of Brighton hotels with sea views being a big draw for visitors to the city.

Further back from the front, Brighton has a thriving shopping centre with a mix of high-end shops and individual boutiques populating The Lanes area and bigger brands and chains at the shopping centres at Churchill Square and Brighton Marina. For a particularly retro chic experience, head to North Laine, which has an excellent selection of funky kitsch and where you can buy from a number of local studios selling jewellery, sculpture, ceramics, glass, metalwork and paintings. In total, the Lanes have 300 unique shops in less than half a square mile and the largest selection of independent retailers on the South Coast, so it’s a shopping hotspot with a bit of a difference.

In terms of things to see and do, once you’re sick of the beachfront, Brighton has plenty more to offer. The Brighton Pavilion kind of sticks out like a sore thumb, looking more like an Indian palace than a British seaside home. Constructed for the Prince Regent (later George IV), this fascinating building was modeled on the Indo-Saracenic style prevalent in India for most of the 19th century and has some of the most extravagant chinoiserie interiors ever executed in the British Isles. Brighton also has a wonderful selection of parks, including the historic Kipling Gardens in Rottingdean, with its woodland garden, herb garden and a croquet lawn. If you want to venture further afield, Brighton is also a great base for walkers as it is on the edge of the South Downs National Park.

Entertainment-wise, you can enjoy an evening at the Brighton Royal Theatre, which regularly hosts all manner of plays and shows, often with famous faces, or indulge in a little comedy at the Brighton Centre or Komedia. There’s even a Brighton Comedy Festival, which takes place for three weeks every October. In fact Brighton plays host to a range of annual events, many of which are worth combining with your trip to the south coast. There’s the Brighton Festival, an arts and performance event that in 2010 was curated by Brian Eno. There’s also the Brighton Fringe, a version of the Edinburgh Fringe, and finally there’s the legendary Brighton Pride.

Brighton has a wide range of drinking establishments from sophisticated wine bars, to traditional English pubs and happy hour specials so you are very unlikely to go thirsty in this town. This is complemented by restaurants for every taste, from takeaway and fast food for post drinking session munchies, to Spanish tapas and vegan curries.