Brighton

Effortlessly funky and so hip it hurts, this seaside city is the chill-out zone of choice for DJs, rock stars, actors, artists - and anybody looking for a good time. Less than an hour from London.

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aid-back beach life spills over into stylish city streets and the edges blur.

Stroll along the beachfront, with its cool bars and cafes or join in a game of beach volleyball on the new sand court. Enjoy carousels, candy floss and hoopla on Brighton Pier as well as state-of-the-art white knuckle rides.

Shopping is fun, if you’ve got the stamina, with more labels than you’ve had hot decaff lattes. Start with the off-beat North Laine, where fashionistas go to pick out the next big thing. You’ll find great bric-a-brac, ethnic treasures and independent record shops too. Next stop The Lanes, famous for antiques, jewellery and uber-chic designer names. And there’s Churchill Square shopping mall for all your favourite high street names.

As for nightlife, Brighton’s club scene is legendary, an eclectic mix of music and home to world famous DJs like Fatboy Slim. It’s feelgood and friendly, and anything goes. What more could you want?

Art city by the Sea

Brighton is home to artists, designers, writers, pop stars, actors and creative people of all kinds. Perhaps that’s why the arts are so much part of everyday life here. Just walking round you’ll see art and sculpture on the street and Beachfront, and there are galleries and studios showing up-and-coming work by local talent.

There’s history and heritage next to shiny and modern, and somehow it all mixes perfectly. The Royal Pavilion was as controversial as the Millennium Dome in its day, but it’s hard to imagine Brighton without it. The museums are treasure houses of inspiring objects from all eras and cultures, from dinosaur bones and butterflies to Yoruba sculptures, Lalique glass and contemporary crafts.

Every May, the Brighton Festival takes over the city with the biggest arts fiesta in England. For three weeks, thousands of people come to see hundreds of events from contemporary dance and lunchtime recitals to street theatre performances and artists’ open houses. Throughout the year there are festivals of jazz, dance and animated theatre, heritage weekends, plays, live music, opera, fringe theatre, cinema, comedy and cabaret.

Brighton is a great base for exploring the Sussex arts scene. Spend a night at Glyndebourne opera or take in open air Shakespeare at Arundel Castle. Visit the many historic houses from the Bloomsbury charm of Charleston Farmhouse to the Rottingdean home of Rudyard Kipling,

Cultural capital of the South East, Brighton is the arts city by the sea.

Beach Front

Brighton Beachfront has undergone a transformation. Twelve years 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.

A string of seafront sculpture makes Brighton’s front unique, from Afloat, affectionately known by locals as the green donut, to Passacaglia a giant iron wave that rises up from the beach, through to the Kiss Wall on the prom.

Shopping

Explore the intricate maze of twisting alleyways and hidden squares in the 17th century Brighton Lanes. Once the heart of the old fishing town of Brighthelmstone it is now home to an extraordinary mix of antiques, jewellery and designer labels. It is also the best place outside of London to find collectibles from all eras.

Alternatively, experience the laid-back bohemian chic of the North Laine. Developed in the 1770’s as an industrial and commercial area this bustle of criss-cross streets is full of eccentric shops selling everything from unicycles and kites to bonsai trees and vegetarian shoes! The North Laine is also a great hunting ground for retro and kitsch objects in its antiques emporia.

Bargain hunters can browse in the weekend markets or go to Brighton Marina for discount shopping at factory outlet shops. Each district from Rottingdean to Hove, Seven Dials to Kemp Town throws up surprises and delights for people who love to shop.

High street favourites can be found at the award winning Churchill Square and along the main thoroughfare of Western Road.

If you want to delve deeper into the city then a walk east into Kemp Town or West towards Hove will reveal the city’s more hidden districts all with their unique shopping experience. Try Hove’s Church Road for some of the chicest interiors outlets.

Gay

Ever since George IV, the Prince of Wales, brought fun, fashion and frolics to Brighton at the end of the eighteenth century, the destination has flourished as a pleasure retreat. And with its laid back, bohemian atmosphere and reputation for cheeky, free thinking, Brighton has long been considered the UK’s gay capital. Gay Pride, which runs for a week every summer, has become the largest and most successful gay and lesbian festival in Europe and gay, lesbian and transgender people flock to the city each year to relax and have fun in the city’s gay quarter.

Kemp Town, known as Brighton’s ‘gay village’, offers a thriving and diverse scene to gay and lesbian visitors. Everything from pink parlours and techno clubs, to specialist boutiques and hotels. Whilst across the city, gay friendly five star luxury and seafront style sit comfortably with traditional B&Bs and smaller exclusive contemporary hotels, with some lesbian and gay owned establishments offering attractive packages to gay visitors.

And with shopping to die for gay and lesbian visitors can bask in designer label shopping in the Lanes and pink pampering in Kemp Town, before sashaying into one of the gay and lesbian run café bars to re-fuel with an energy boosting espresso, organic juice or relaxing latte.

An array of gay and lesbian pubs and clubs in the St James’s and Kemp Town ‘Gay Village’, offers a multitude of entertainment for the disco diva or dancing queen! Regular disco and cabaret nights, special party-nights, live music and diva and drag shows abound for dancing feet to boogie the night away. Many of the clubs in the city, with the most clubs per square mile, host specific gay nights, such as Audio’s Dynamite Boogaloo where hilarious guests take to the stage for midnight cabaret. And for those that don’t want to strut their stuff into the early hours, Brighton offers a range of more tranquil gay friendly cafes, tea shops and Regency splendour to while away the hours.

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