Off the Beaten Track in Brighton
Posted on 2013-04-23 by Swaprtment
After you’ve toured the Royal Pavilion, eaten doughnuts on the Palace Pier and shopped your socks off in the Lanes, you might be wondering what else there is to do in Brighton. Look no further. Brighton revels in its reputation for all things alternative, and the city is packed with offbeat events and experiences. Here are six ideas to plunge you into the quirkier side of Brighton life:
1. Wander around the city’s sewers.
For a truly unique experience, book a guided tour with Southern Water, whose engineers have been taking visitors around the city’s Victorian sewer system for more than fifty years. Popular with tourists and locals alike, the sewers were named, a few years ago, ‘the best place to visit in Brighton’ by local businesses. It is definitely one of the most remarkable attractions in the area and is a must-do if you prefer your sightseeing a bit on the strange side. Sensible footwear is strongly recommended.
2. Have a cup of tea and slice of cake with some local artists.
Every weekend throughout May, artists across the city open their homes to the general public. With their living rooms, kitchens and even their gardens transformed into art galleries, the Open Houses event is an ideal opportunity to browse affordable artwork while chatting to the people who created it. Whether it’s pottery or painting or sculpture that’s your passion, these events genuinely have something to appeal to everyone.
3. Do the Undercliff walk.
This is not a traditional stroll on the beach. Stretching from Brighton Marina eastwards to the town of Saltdean, the walk is on a seawall separating high chalky cliffs and crashing waves from the English Channel. While the countryside surrounding Brighton is well-renowned for its beautiful walks, this remains one of the most inspiring. You can choose to do the whole 4.5 kilometres of the walk, or turn around at any point and return the way you came. Several cafes are dotted along the way.
4. Hang out with ‘Water Gypsies’ along the River Adur.
You can find a bizarre collection of forty-odd houseboats behind a row of beach huts in Shoreham, just a few miles to the west of Brighton. Comprised of old torpedo boats, decrepit oyster catchers and vessels that look like they’ve been designed by Dr. Seuss, the houseboats are home to a close-knit community of writers, musicians, Buddhists and others who have moved there to pursue alternative lifestyles. The houseboats are rich in history, and many of the residents are happy to share their fascinating stories with passers-by.
5. Check out an Advent calendar with a difference.
If you’re visiting Brighton in December, then the Advent calendar of beach huts – yes, beach huts - is something you should really try to see. The huts, which are otherwise rarely used in the winter months, are temporarily taken over by festive installations of every description. Each night the doors of one beach hut are opened to reveal a beautiful surprise inside. In recent years, a local retailer has contributed more conventional chocolate as part of the event.
6. Sit in a comfy chair with some wine and catch an art house film.
The Duke of York’s Picture House, the oldest cinema in Britain, is as famous for its relaxed and inviting atmosphere as it is for the large cancan legs that dangle from its upstairs window. Forget popcorn and fizzy drinks; at the Duke of York’s it’s cake and beer. Beloved by locals and visitors alike, some are now even choosing to get married there.
If you explore the city with this list, you will virtually be Brightonian by the end of it. Then you can do some sunbathing on the beach, safe in the knowledge that you have earned your quirky stripes.