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Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- Brighton’s Sea Life Centre is the world’s oldest operating aquarium (1872).
- The Royal Pavilion was used as a military hospital during World War I.
- Brighton’s earliest bathers entered the sea camouflaged by bathing machines (18th century).
- Brighton was the site of Britain’s first purpose-built pleasure pier (1823).
- In July 1940, Brighton’s beaches were closed and mined as part of Britain’s war defenses.
Sand, sun (yes) and a king
Brighton is exactly as billed, a seaside resort through and through. And it is a successful resort on the southern coast in, of all places, England — a place generally noted for some dreary wet weather.
However, summer days are long and the sun does shine. It shines on sandy beaches plus a whole range of facilities designed to engage the vacationer.
North Americans don’t generally cross an ocean for a beach holiday in England, but Brighton can provide just that, at least for a short break from educational sightseeing or successive nights of theater elsewhere, for swimming, beach volleyball or windsurfing. Besides, there is sightseeing to be done in Brighton and theater to consider, as well.
The coastal Brighton, a fishing village for centuries, morphed into a resort due to two course-changing events. In the mid-18th century, its seawater was said to have healing powers for those who drank it or immersed themselves in it. Its first customers entered the water surrounded by horse-drawn dressing rooms from which they were dipped into the waves.
Then, the future King George IV visited in 1783 and built the fabulous Royal Pavilion as his local residence. His presence brought the fashionable set to town.
That early development produced the cityscape that the sightseers among us come to admire. Brighton is noted for its collection of Regency architecture, an elegant early 18th century style. It has its fair share of striking Victorian architecture, too, including the aquarium and the pier. The Brighton Pier may be an entertainment palace, but it is an eyeful deserving of attention for itself.
Major seafront hotels opened in the 19th century. Additional entertainment sites embody the history, too, including the historic Theatre Royal for stage shows and the Duke of York’s cinema house. They and other venues host a full roster of options for music, theater, dance and more.
The city has its bohemian aspect, too. It is home to avant-garde theater and art, plus a wide selection of restaurants, pubs and clubs, the better to appeal to many tastes. Finally, for the record, the city’s real name is Brighton and Hove.
Things to do for Venturers
- Save an evening for at least one of Brighton’s decadent beach parties.
- Head to the South Downs National Park for on-road and off-road cycling. Or, join a guided cycling tour after dark to see the critters that come out in the park at night.
- Try one of several venues for fringe theater: Brighton Little Theatre, New Venture Theatre, Sallis Benney Theatre and Tower Theatre. Or, simply come to town for the Brighton Festival Fringe, which offers alternative events during the May Brighton Festival.
- Check out a string of Brighton’s pubs and clubs, and make a night of it. Look for nightspots with live music or name disc jockeys.
- Water sports choices include windsurfing and kite surfing.
- Or, try hang gliding at Devil’s Dyke, which is the site of a dramatic dry chalk valley outside of town.
Things to do for Centrics
- Ride along the seafront on the Volks, the world’s first public electric railway.
- Time your visit to attend events at the Brighton Festival, an international arts fest held each May.
- Join a game of petanque. Never heard of it? It is a French game (a cousin of the Italian bowling game called bocce) pursued vigorously in Brighton. Players of all abilities are welcome to throw hollow metal balls toward a target.
- See the horses run at the Brighton Racecourse, or make that greyhound racing in Hove.
- Play volleyball on beach courts. Or try beach soccer.
- Take a ghost tour at Preston Manor, an Edwardian manor house that is described as Brighton’s most haunted house.
Things to do for Authentics
- Keep the plastic handy and head to The Lanes, a chic area, to do your shopping, or to the bohemian North Laine, also noted for its antiques and designer clothes. Or go to the Brighton Marina for factory outlet shopping.
- While away an afternoon on the Brighton Pier, sampling the fish and chips, playing games in the Palace of Fun arcade and admiring some of the structure’s original architectural features.
- Take a good look at the inside, as well as the remarkable exterior, of the Royal Pavilion, once a seaside palace built for King George IV.
- Visit the Victorian-era Sea Life Centre. You don’t have to travel with children to get a kick out of holding a crab or feeding a ray.
- Take in a show at the Theatre Royal before the production moves to London’s West End.
- If the history of this resort grabs your attention, make time for the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery and for the Brighton History Centre.
For more information, consult VisitBrighton at www.visitbrighton.com