Ah Brighton: the awesome activities, the off-the-wall oddities, the flamboyant flair, the unique boutiques, the eclectic entertainment, the creative cuisine, the superlative sound, in short, the first-class fun.
Curious about this city with the vivacious vibes? (Stop with the alliterations already, you say? OK, OK.)
Less than an hour by train from London, or a mere half-hour from Gatwick Airport, there’s no reason not to get on that train next time you’re in The Big Smoke. (Although to be fair, London isn’t as smoky anymore. Don’t get me wrong: pollution levels are shocking, but it’s nothing like the 19th century black killer fog. That’s at least something. But I digress.)
Here, in no particular order, are 11 things you’ll love about Brighton.
1. The Palace Pier with all the trappings
The Palace Pier is 200 years old and has rides and amusements and ice cream and fortune tellers, like any self-respecting pier. If you’re a Midsomer Murders fan, you’ll remember this is where Captain Darling (well, the same actor) had his head chopped off in the Haunted House. Head out at dusk for some superb sunset shots.
2. West Pier
Brighton’s other pier, on the other hand, is abandoned. Back in 1866, the West Pier was built to draw tourists and had a whopping 2 million visitors in 1919! It gradually fell into disrepair, and suffered partial collapse and 2 fires in the early 2000s. Various renovation schemes have been proposed, but for now it remains a ghost pier. I find it weirdly fascinating as it stands.
3. Bodies in the sand, tropical drink melting in your hand
Well, we’re not in Kokomo. A little less tropical, but Brighton’s lively beach is good any time of the year. Take a walk past the beach huts and check out the cheerful cafes and the upside-down house.
Blues, bikes, beach, British.
4. British Airways i360
Zip 137 metres up in the air (that’s 450 ft for you Imperialists) to have a look at the city, the lovely Sussex coast, and quirky rooftop art from above. And there’s English wine to go with the views. At dusk, the i360 looks like a UFO.
5. Public art
Along the beach and the prom, there’s plenty of public art. I like these rusty columns all lit up at night. Maybe I’m partial because we share a name. Well, nickname at least. Φ is all about nature’s very own mesmerising golden ratio.
But people, we still haven’t left the beach. As great as that is, Brighton has much more to offer.
So, we’ve veered from the beach, but aren’t finished with outdoor art just yet. This city has quite the rep for graffiti, see. You can’t miss it. It’s bright, it’s creative, it’s colourful, and at times raw.
Is Brighton England’s most interesting shopping spot? Very likely, with 200 quirkilicious shops and boutiques in the charming old Lanes alone. This labyrinth of winding alleys was once the heart of the fishing village that was here. Vintage toys, vegan shoes, you name it, Brighton’s got it. How’s ’bout a life-size dancing girl, made entirely of chocolate?
Nearby is the North Laine, home to all sorts of alternative places – more than 300, in fact. Second-hand book shops, retro clothes, fancy dress, the list goes on.
8. The Royal Pavilion
Oh, that deliciously, kitschily, weirdly wonderful beach hut of Prince George’s. In fact, you (and I) are totally excused for the overuse of adverbs and other linguistic no-nos. More – much more – on the Royal Pavilion in this post.
9. Fabulous food
Not only is Brighton a contender for LGBTQ capital of Europe, it must surely be a contender for the foodgasm capital, too. We’ve covered that extensively in this post, so all I’m saying here is you’ve so much to look forward to.
Since we’re on food and drink, let’s head out of town a bit to have a look at the lovely South Downs landscape. OK, so that’s an excuse (albeit a good one). What I’m really talking about is wine. That’s right, English wine! The Sussex countryside has wineries galore. My fave is the sparklies from Wiston Estate. I can’t decide which I like best, the Rosé 2014 or the Blanc de Blanc 2011. So I’ve one of each sitting on my kitchen counter just now, waiting for a proper occasion.
11. Is this the best gin drink there is? I think it just might be.
Since we’re on the subject of fizz and the like: you just can’t leave town without trying a Brighton Gin with a piece of Brighton Rock in it, known as a Brighton Gin Rocktail – dangerously delicious.
No reason to wait! Brighton wants you here! Cheers!
Disclosure: I’m in Brighton as part of a collaborative campaign between Sparkling Happiness (my lovely blogger collective), Visit Britain Norway and Visit Brighton. As ever and forever, total editorial freedom is mine, otherwise this would be meaningless.