By Lily Davis
Whether you’re new to Brighton or just want to discover something a bit different, this A to Z guide to Brighton is here to offer up some fresh and exciting gems hidden in the seaside city.
By informing you about what’s on, leading you to the best indoor and outdoor attractions and helping both young and old to appreciate the unique culture that Brighton has to offer – this is the only advice worth following…
Aquarium: One of Brighton’s finest attractions, the Sea Life centre opposite the Pier is one of the city’s greatest places to visit. For some reason there is something magical about an aquarium, the mystery of being in a glass tunnel surrounded by water and an array of colourful fish is fantastic. The Victorian charm of Brighton’s aquarium demonstrates the traditional style and culture that is so important to the city and now even features the UK’s first glass-bottom boat.
Buses: “I’m on the bus.” Well, no I’m not technically, but am I the only person who would give anything to be that person on the side of the bus? My personal favourite being Donna the cleaner. One of Brighton and Hove’s best ad campaigns that not only uses the vast space on the side of the bus to promote public transport, but also gives members of the Brighton community their 15 minutes of fame.
Choccywoccydoodah: The now world-famous cake and chocolate shop that is so well-known for being anything but traditional and now even has its own television programme on the Good Food channel. All the cakes are made by hand, “with love and joy” according to their website and it seems nothing is too extravagant: “Our lovely Chocolatiers can make your dreams come true.” Perhaps not so much for Katie Price (whose wedding to Peter Andre had a Choccywoccydoodah cake).
Downs (The South): If you manage to drag yourself further enough away from Brighton town centre then you will undoubtedly find yourself on or near some part of the South Downs. Sixteen hundred and forty eight square kilometres of chalk hills that range from Beachy Head, near Eastbourne all the way to the Itchen Valley of Hampshire. A perfect landscape to explore and discover the rural countryside that is so close to such a major seaside resort as Brighton.
Environment: The culture of Brighton is one that prides itself on looking after the beautiful environment is possesses. This aspect of Brighton life can be seen through the 2010 general election when the people of Brighton voted Caroline Lucas (the leader of the Green Party) into parliament and being the Green Party’s first and only MP to enter the House of Commons.
Festival: In 2011, for the first time ever, Stanford Park in Brighton held Shakedown Festival. A festival that was true to its claim of being the ‘closing party to end the festival scene’ and it most certainly was. Acts such as; Ed Sheeran, Example, Kissy Sell Out, Zane Lowe and Razorlight graced the stage to a crowd of near 10,000 – a lot more than the 7,600 anticipated festival-goers. Due to this, of course, there weren’t enough toilets, you had to queue, it rained and then somehow the sun came out. Brighton most definitely at its best.
Gay Pride: If anywhere’s going to play host to Pride then where would be better than the UK’s gay capital, Brighton. With some of the best gay clubs and bars in the country, Gay Pride in Brighton is one of the UK’s most popular Pride festivals. Next year’s dates have already been confirmed as the first weekend of September. So put it in your diaries now.
Hove: Brighton’s neighbour that unfortunately finds itself slightly lost in comparison to its larger ‘other-half’. During the 1990s the council used the slogan ‘Hove, actually’ in order to promote the town – a slogan that is summed up through the frequent portrayal: “Brighton – well, Hove, actually”. However, its importance is significantly demonstrated in 2000 where the conjoined towns of Brighton and Hove officially gained city status.
Ice Cream: I scream, you scream, we all scream… surely it’s far too cold to eat ice-cream?! Well, yes of course it is for the majority of the year in South East England. But when we are eventually hit with a long-awaited Indian summer then where else would you rather be eating an ice-cream than on the packed West Beach. Full of your English stereotypes each fighting for the best bit of sun and the last sun-lounger, except this time it was genuinely 28 degrees – only in October though. Make mine a ‘99.
Juice 107.2: Brighton’s local radio station that broadcasts live from the city all-day every day. Covering every aspect of the area’s lifestyle from local events, news, sports and music – delivering the action close to you, live.
Kensingtons: Okay, so you’re in Brighton and it’s Sunday morning and let’s guess, you’re hung-over? Well even if you’re not where best to head than one of the best greasy spoons in Brighton. Found down The Lanes is Kensingtons, that not only does a great fry-up but also offers good coffee and a big selection of amazing cakes. It’s simple food at its best, something that is often hard to find, though not it you’re looking in the right places.
Lanes (The): Brighton is renowned for its culture and one of the aspects that makes it so unique is the famous Brighton Lanes. A boho haven of boutiques, hidden pubs and cafes, independent shops and antiques found amongst the twisting, narrow maze that forms this creative hub. Be sure to check out The Dorset’s poached eggs (random, granted) and The White Rabbit.
Music: The music scene in Brighton is buzzing. New bands frequent the city every day of the week and old ones are always willing to return to play to their dedicated fans. Whether you’re going to see JLS at The Brighton Centre or The Horrors at the Concorde 2 there are venues and a variety of musical tastes to suit everyone.
Nudist Beach: A little piece of private culture that Brighton (and its residents) prefer to keep hidden away. Or do they? Brighton Naturist Beach is the UK’s first public nudist beach and only a mile from Brighton Pier. Known to those who regularly frequent it as the Cliff Bathing Beach and open all year – always worth knowing.
Oceana: It must be hard to achieve ‘city’ status without having an Oceana. Every big university town seems to have one, complete with disco room and now the new pre-club bar Woo Woo. If student night wasn’t tempting enough before, they’re now offering 2-4-1 cocktails and free entry into Oceana itself on a Friday.
Pier: As well as the iconic West Pier that was the scene of numerous fires during the 00s, Brighton Marine Palace and Pier is the pleasure pier that attracts tourists and locals throughout the year. With rides, food kiosks, stalls and amusements that every traditional seaside resort and pier should have. Blackpool, eat your heart out!
Queues: Brighton is busy, so expect to queue pretty much everywhere. Whether it is to get into the town centre or to get out, to park (hence the appeal of the bus) or to pay for your shopping or to get into a club. However, it is exactly this ‘buzz’ that creates the active vibe that Brighton is so famous for.
Rock: Meaning both the hard sweet and the 2010 film, Brighton Rock starring Helen Mirren and filmed in and around Brighton and Eastbourne. Both seem to be a regular seaside hit or miss, depending on your personal taste. But if anything is staying true to the serious culture of a traditional seaside resort it’s Rock.
Seagulls: Whether it be the ones in the sky or the ones on the pitch. Just as suggested above, seagulls are at the heart of Brighton’s society and both seem to be on some tables at the moment. However, while the birds keep the sound of the city alive it is perhaps only the footballers that have local support.
Taxi drivers: Just like men and buses. Not one to be seen and then ten come along at once. All asking for far too much money and making you late home.
Universities: Brighton is a well-known university town, home to both the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton. Since who wouldn’t want to go to a uni near the sea with a lifestyle and culture that rivals London.
Vegetarian: Down the Lanes is a vegetarian’s haven. Terre a Terre is a very popular vegetarian restaurant that attracts even the most hardcore meat-eater and clearly it is the new and original menu that creates the hype. The food is organic and there are even biodynamic wines to take your fancy. Talking of organic, Brighton also has a vegetarian shoe shop that boasts a wide range of vegetarian shoes that are definitely not made out of leather.
Wheel: As of October 2011, Brighton is now the owner of its own ‘Brighton Wheel’. It boasts similar assets to the London Eye and a view to compete with the best.
(ame)X Stadium: After 14 years without a home, Brighton and Hove Albion’s new stadium was officially opened on the 30 July 2011, with their first friendly game against Tottenham Hotspur. This was undoubtedly a long anticipated venture and one that had a lot of support, but also a lot of people against the idea. However, planning permission was eventually accepted and all ideas of the team’s extinction were put to bed. An amazing stadium that has brought the community need for sport and great architecture together.
Young people: There are a lot of ‘young people’ in Brighton. Of course, it’s a hub of excitement that has a diverse cultural vibe and yet it is also the home to a lot of ‘old people’. Just like its neighbouring town of Eastbourne people like to retire at the seaside. However, Brighton is a city for all. The divide between young and old is blurred and there is no need to comply with stereotypes. It is this miscellaneous aspect of the city that has granted its title, UK’s second capital.
Zoe Ball: As in, seeing her down The Lanes and then Norman Cook in the car beside you. Patsy Palmer in Churchill Square, Preston from The Ordinary Boys outside HMV and maybe if you’re really lucky Katie Price in Primark.