Brighton is packed with the kind of vibrance and fun that some might mistake for insanity. Known to many as ‘The City Where Anything Goes’ because of its open and liberal attitude to life, and as ‘London on the Sea’ because of the variety it offers up in a more manageable scale (and by the sea, of course), Brighton is an excellent place to explore the best of modern British culture and city life. Here are our top 10 reasons to love Brighton – and to fall head over heels for its quirky charms.
1. Happy diversity
This city’s celebration of diversity and equality make it impossible to feel like a misfit and most newbies can’t help but join in the fun with the local community. Every August, Brighton becomes the home of the largest Pride event in the UK. Brighton Pride doesn’t just consist of a parade through the city center, but also a festival at Preston Park and numerous parties in local clubs. There’s also a large international student community that organizes events and campaigns all year round, so if you’re planning to study here you’re sure to be busy.
2. Impressive architecture
Brighton became known as ‘London on the Sea’ because the royal Prince Regent George IV came down from London in the 1700s to build a pleasure palace – a building created purely for his vacations. The ornate architecture of his Royal Pavilion lends Brighton a certain amount of grandeur not often seen in British coastal towns. Hidden amid the modern builds of today, there’s also numerous churches and manors which have been standing since the medieval ages when the city contained a fishing village called Brighthelmstone.
3. Relentless fun
Since Brighton is full with eccentric people from all over the world, it has an abundance of recreational activities. You can rent a Brighton Beach Bike and cycle along the coastal paths, take snaps at the top of the Brighton Wheel or, more unusually, combine laughter yoga with your love of chocolate. Or how about a comedy night at the Komedia? Or listening to geeky lectures at Nerd Nite? And if none of that takes your fancy, rumor has it that there’s enough pubs in Brighton for every day of the year. That should keep you busy enough.
4. Festivals, festivals and more festivals
The fun doesn’t stop with comedy nights, cycle rides and pub tours. Brighton is also known for its exceptional amount of festivals and events. Not only is Brighton Festival a celebration of pretty much everything (arts, music, theater, film, debates…), there’s also the Brighton Fringe literary festival, the celebration of transgender Pride at the Pink Fringe and the three-day long music event at the Great Escape Festival. Oh, and don’t forget the shows at the Brighton Dome for culture-lovers and the annual Paddle Round the Pier for watersports enthusiasts.
5. Scenic walks
Once you’re done with all that partying, dancing and singing, take a leisurely stroll along the coast towards the Palace Pier and watch the sunset. Or, if you need a whole day to recover, the city has an array of winding streets to wander around and coffee shops for you to put your feet up. You’ll find most of the twisting alleyways at The Lanes, a hub of independent artisans and tearooms.
6. Food (and coffee) heaven
Cool coffee shops are in abundance in the center of the city, each more hipster than the last. Food-wise Fish and Chips is a staple here, but so is tasty, inventive veggie-vegan fare. International cuisine is also well represented, particularly Indian food. You’ll be absolutely spoiled for choice no matter what you fancy.
7. Alternative shops
Brighton is the perfect place to shop for a gift that’s truly one-of-a-kind. If you make your way to Brighton’s Kensington Gardens (and be sure not to get this confused with London’s Kensington Gardens, that’s a longer train journey…), you’ll find that tucked away behind a turnstile entrance is an emporium of eclectic gems – this is Snoopers Paradise. Antique-collectors and vintage-hunters will feel like kids in a candy shop here. Inside you’ll find stacks of second-hand knick knacks you never thought you needed but you’ll buy anyway. And if you’ve still had no luck finding that perfect gift for you ultra-hip friend, you can also head to the Kemptown to browse through classic vinyl collections at the flea market, or sift through offbeat fashion at the numerous boutiques dotted around the city.
8. Art – everywhere
Creative types will adore wandering the streets of Brighton; art is inescapable here. It fills the walls of every other street corner, making a stroll through the city both colorful and inspiring (and totally Instagram-worthy). You’ll see everything from Banksy’s famous ‘Kissing Policemen’ to less well-known artwork by local artist Snub. For those of a different artistic leaning, the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery contains a Fine Art collection from the 15th to 20th century, an Applied Science and Design collection dating from the 17th century up to today, and a World Art collection with over 15,000 objects.
9. Unique tourist attractions
Once you’ve seen the more famous attractions like the Royal Pavilion and the Palace Pier, it’s time to give some of Brighton’s quirky activities a try. Join a ghost walking tour through the winding streets of The Laines; spend a day in the 200-year old police cells under the town hall; visit the unconventional Brighton Earthship building made from old tires and recycled materials; or go on the ‘Only in Brighton’ walking tour to hear the hilariously strange stories about the city and its locals. You can even see hints of the city’s Victorian past on the underground Brighton Sewer Tour…
10. Wacky traditions
Brighton hosts a nudist bike ride as well as the ‘The Burning of the Clocks’, a lantern parade and bonfire for the winter solstice. Some participants dress up with clock faces to mark the passing of time. Then, by Christmas morning, it’s not unusual to find multiple swimming Father Christmases in the sea and many oddly dressed characters hanging out at the beach.