There is more to Brighton than rock, pebbles and seagulls (though all of these things are guaranteed). Here are a few of our favourite things to do in Britain's most popular seaside destination, from wildlife-watching to celebrity-spotting.
Stay in a Quirky B&B
Snooze Guesthouse, Kemp Town by © Abi Silvester.
Brighton excels at interesting, one-off boutique hotels and B&Bs, so if you're planning to stay by the seaside it's worth looking into the off-beat accommodation on that's offer. Many of the city's independent guest houses are located in its iconic regency townhouses, and are themed in a wide variety of decorative styles. The most famous is the Pelirocco, which has a 'rock 'n' roll' theme with rooms including a rhinestone parlour dedicated to Diana Doors and the mod-themed 'Modrophenia', which comes with its own Lambretta head rest.
Prices vary depending on location and season, but most of these fun hotels offer reasonable value for money for the experience they offer. Other fun and stylish places to stay include Snooze in Kemp Town - a 'funky' temple of 1970s kitsch, and the Twenty One; a quaint, period-styled townhouse that has won multiple awards.
Watch the Starlings at Sunset
Image by Les Chatfield under Creative Commons license.
The seafront at Brighton is one of the best places in the UK to witness the incredible wildlife phenomenon known as a 'murmuration', when tens of thousands of starlings flock together in huge 'clouds' that appear to darken the sky. The gatherings reach their peak in the autumn and winter, as the birds vie for the best and warmest roosting-spots along the coastline. The ruined West Pier is a particularly popular spot for the birds to come together, and the swarms make for a dramatic backdrop that will soon have you reaching for your camera.
Go Celebrity Spotting
Brighton and nearby Hove is home to many members of rock royalty, including Nick Cave, Noel Gallagher and Norman "Fatboy Slim" Cook. Other famous faces you'll see around the city include comedian Steve Coogan, former boxer Chris Eubank, who also holds the (purchased) title of Mayor of Brighton, and TV and radio presenter Zoe Ball. Spend some time here and you're likely to run into one of these local celebs.
Snoop around the Laines
Image by lozwilkes under Creative Commons license.
If you enjoy retail therapy, Brighton is a great place to window-shop and browse for unusual items in particular. In the winding streets known as the Laines and North Laines you'll find everything from vintage clothes and jewellery to beauty treatments and wholefoods. Snoopers' Paradise in Kensington Gardens, North Laines, is a great place to pick up unusual artifacts. The brightly-painted shops in the Laines make for a cheery browsing environment, while nearby Churchill Square and Western Road cater for more day-to-day shopping needs.
Soak up Some Culture
Image by ©G. Silvester.
Brighton is one of the most UK's most culturally engaged cities, with dozens of theatres, cinemas and smaller arts venues dotted throughout its streets. You can catch a show at any time of year in Brighton but the best time of to enjoy its thriving arts scene is the spring, when the Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe come to town, bringing theatre, dance, comedy, visual arts and musical talent from up and down the country for a month-long event. Many performers are 'warming up' their Edinburgh shows at this time of year, so this is a great way to catch some of the hottest tickets in the fringe theatre and comedy before the rest of the country's culture vultures catch on.
Artists throughout the city also welcome visitors to their homes during the month of May, in a series of "open-house" weekends. This is a great way to enjoy some of the best local talent in a relaxed environment, free of charge and often with a cup of tea and slice of homemade cake in hand. For many local residents it's also the perfect excuse to have a good old snoop around neighbours' homes!
Image by Food for Friends.
Brighton is one of the best cities in the world for vegetarian and vegan diners, so even if you normally eat meat you might want to enter into the local culinary spirit by trying out some of its veggie restaurants. Terre-a-Terre and Food for Friends offer the best higher-end meat free dining in town, while smaller cafes like Wai Kika Moo Kau and VBites are great for a quick meal in the daytime.
Coming Soon: Go Up in the i360
Image by Brighton i360.
Visitors to Brighton will soon be able to view the city and surrounding sea and landscape from a dizzying height, when work on a new observation tower is completed on the seafront. Due to open in summer 2016, the i360 has been designed by the architectural team behind the London Eye, and will be Britain's highest observation tower outside London; taller than the London Eye itself. This tower will offer previously unseen views over the South Downs, the chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters and winding streets of the city - but you can't wait for the 'Eye' to be completed, take a ride on the Brighton Wheel, which is a comparatively tiny 50 metres high, but still a great way to view the skyline.