Winter breaks: Brighton's top attractions

Janine Kelso takes a look at what Brighton has to offer – even in the winter months.

Shop ‘till you drop
If it’s pouring down, don a raincoat and head to North Laine, which heaves with cosmopolitan and wacky shops. The pedestrianised shopping enclave dates back to the 1830s, and is also home to watering holes, four theatres, and pavement cafes. From retro ’50s-style polka-dot frocks to edgy interior design, and from kites to art prints, it’s a shopaholic’s paradise – and the venues are also close to each other – so you don’t have to get too wet. For flea markets in the winter, discover bargains aplenty at Snooper’s Paradise, which houses more than 100 stalls selling second-hand wonders. Nearby, The Lanes teem with antique shops, jewellers, clothes boutiques, art and modern furnishings, as well as restaurants and cafes to shelter in.

Rain or shine, gloriously liberal, Brighton is a magnet for bohemian types. In fact, the free-thinking people of Brighton made political history (fairly) recently by electing Britain’s first Green Party MP. While huddling in a pub or restaurant, you’ll spot transvestites, trendy students (Brighton has two universities), yummy mummies who have escaped London, and stag parties in drag. The town has an eclectic mix of celebrity residents – from Fatboy Slim to Paul McCartney’s ex Heather Mills whose vegan restauant VBites is in Hove actually. (It’s closed in winter but promises informal cooking sessions).

World-class walking
If you are the hardy type who loves nothing better than striding out on a winter’s day then there are over 14,000 acres of countryside around Brighton to choose from. Think about taking the bus up to Devil’s Dyke to get onto the South Downs Way. The Downs have recently been awarded National Park status – but remember that a lot of areas will be very muddy in the winter and dress appropriately! There are nearby woodland trails or you could walk along the sea via the marina to visit Kipling’s home in lovely Rottingdean, with its tradional pubs, village green and duck pond and cake shops.

Hit the clubs
Thanks to its huge student population and higher-than-average proportion of achingly hip residents, Brighton has a stellar nightlife with an abundance of brilliant clubs. The Funky Buddha Lounge is sited in the subterranean arches of the seafront and is shaped like two giant tubes. Music varies from disco to indie to R’n’B. Big name DJs often play at Digital Brighton, while those in the know say Honey Club Limited is the best place to go on a Saturday night (even a cold one).

Pier pressure
One of the town’s most iconic attractions, Brighton Pier is a Victorian architectural marvel. It’s open from 10am to midnight in the winter and if it’s freezing cold why not head to the games arcade – packed with a variety of games and entertainments. For a complete seaside experience, buy fish and chips and scoff them on the pier or head towards Hove and West Street where there is a Walkabout pub. There are also pubs on the pier with views of the sea, live music and even karoake on offer. It’s easy enough to walk towards Hove along the promenade and also back towards the marina. Just keep an eye on what the sea is doing or you could get drenched by a sneaky wave.

Meet and greet
Enjoy a free walking tour with a friendly local, as part of the Brighton Greeter scheme. Greets last two to four hours and the scheme runs all year round. Fill in the online form with 10 days notice.

Podcast info
There are a number of podcast trails to help you explore the city. Download the pods and their maps and get going. There’s an Historically Hove podcast, the Arts and Sculpture Trail and the Brighton film locations podcast. After all, the city has provided the setting for numerous hip movies, including Quadrophenia, Cassandra’s Dream, Mona Lisa and Brighton Rock. Download the Brighton film locations podcast and movie map.


When to go: Any time of the year.
Getting there:
Trains run from Victoria and London Bridge.
Getting around:
It’s easy to explore on foot or if it’s pouring with rain or cold, catch a bus or take a taxi from the station. The sea is literally ‘down the road’.Going out: Chinese, Indian,’s foodie heaven.
A hotel room costs from £50pp but look out for special deals now that winter is here.
Top tip:
If you’ve discovered a liking for real ale, head to the Evening Star pub, a block from the station, which boasts a range of great ales. Ward off the cold with its seasonal ales including Winter Meltdown, brewed with chocolate malt and conditioned with stem ginger.






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