There are no pleasures more simple than the flashing lights and the temptation of sweets of the Palace Pier. And many flocking to the pebbled seafront, both young and not-so-young, are captivated by the penny machines and the nostalgia lingering in the old-fashioned stalls. Grab a 99 ice cream or some fish and chips and float down the promenade, through the noisily joyful arcade and video games to the dodgems and roller coasters at the end. Or stop for a moment on an iconic striped deckchair and take in the gently rippling waves; on a sunny day, there’s simply no better place to be.
May is the month of mayhem in Brighton – but it’s a thrilling kind of chaos. The renowned Brighton Festival, curated in 2017 by Kate Tempest, spans the month – as does the Brighton Fringe (one of the world’s largest arts festivals) and plentiful artists’ open houses. And for music lovers, The Great Escape rounds out a month of ground breaking performance and creativity. It’s impossible to see everything, but check out free comedy at Caroline of Brunswick, award-winning circus at the Spiegeltent on the Old Steine Pleasure Gardens and be moved by innovative street performers on New Road.
It wouldn’t be a trip well made without a dip in the sea. But for those seeking a more heightened adventure, the yearning to surf is easily quenched. Pick up a board at Brighton Watersports and become a master of the sea for a day. In July, the famed Paddle Round the Pier allows you to create your own vessel for a scramble over the hopefully tiny breakers – it’s the world’s biggest free beach and watersports festival.
The renaissance of Brighton’s culinary scene is real – and it’s happening now. Many, like the youth-led Isaac At in the North Laine, are dedicated to sourcing local, seasonal fare for their inventive cuisine. The Michelin-starred chef Matt Gillan now resides at the revamped Redroaster coffee house in Kemp Town, with his restaurant Pike and Pine; and over in Hove, the spread of quality, trending eateries like Rootcandi and Farm Tavern across Western and Church Road. After a day on the water, there’s no shortage of places to satisfy a sophisticated palette.
There’s no more compelling reason to visit Brighton in August than to make a pilgrimage to the UK’s most dazzling, dizzying gay Pride Festival. The city’s residents turn out in force to celebrate inclusivity and community in the best way they know how – with a party. Kicking off with a parade from the seafront to Preston Park, the entire weekend is one giant glitterball of delight. This year’s performers include the Pet Shop Boys, M.O and Years & Years; Brighton truly is ‘one family’ during this fabulous shindig.
From the marina, with its sparkling views, to Saltdean in the east, this 4.5 mile trail must be conquered. Whether by bike or by foot, the Undercliff Walk affords spectacular vistas of the city left behind and the chalk cliffs ahead. There’s plenty of time for an ice cream on the way – but the joy of reaching the beach at Rottingdean should surely be punctuated with a tasty reward; it’s a unique way to see this ancient coastline at its finest.