Brighton wears its heart and its heritage on its sleeve: from large billboards of native DJ Fatboy Slim to name dropping classics like Quadrophenia, filmed on Brighton pier.
Our first impression of the pier was of a heady tangle of tourists, arcades, fairground trapsters, and rip-off merchants (£2.75 for a 99 flake!).
But as we walked a little further along the beach, a holiday mood washed over us. Waves tumbling onto rocks, seagulls sailing low overhead, clouds threatening rain. A proper British seaside scene.
‘I can see the London Eye!’ Jed joked (I hope), pointing at the Brighton Wheel, one of the newest attractions on the famous seafront. Next year will bring i360, a massive observation tower that aims to draw visitors from around the world.
Brighton Fringe Festival
We’d been invited** by Brighton Fringe to check out the UK’s largest arts festival over the weekend. The month-long festival is in its final week and has featured popular family acts like: Monski Mouse Baby Disco Dance Hall, John Hegley, Comedy Club 4 Kids, plus tons of local talent.
Arriving Saturday, we made our way to Fringe City in the city centre, where we watched a singer on the second stage and some school kids theatre (they shouted at us, mostly) in Pavilion Gardens.
We’d planned to see the Soweto Spiritual Chorus, a 27-strong gospel choir, in the Spiegeltent only to find they’d cancelled and been replaced by a choir I’d never heard of.
We made up for our disappointment by buying some giant candy floss and heading back to the beach. I was happy to spend the rest of the evening watching the boys skim stones on the water, looking out to sea and thinking about my mum.
Punch & Judy at Brighton Fishing Museum
On Sunday, I took photos of the boys in their brand new Rockabye Baby clothes (full feature coming soon). We watched beach tennis and windsurfing, rode the carousel and had a fish and chips lunch. Perfick.
The highlight of our Brighton Fringe experience was visiting the Brighton Fishing Museum — all about local history rather than just fishing — and watching a Punch and Judy show.
Punch & Judy was really very funny and it was wonderful to see my babes and other kids cracking up over an act that’s more than 350 years old. After the show there was a treasure trail around the museum and while the boys’ collected their pirate’s booty, we chatted with the Professor and his assistant who had connections to Little Angel Theatre in Islington.
We caught a couple more acts in Fringe City, including a mini flash mob from the English Disco League, and enjoyed stumbling across random sights and scenes. It seemed the whole town was in a festival mood.
We enjoyed being in Brighton: it has some of the buzz of London, but you’re almost always walking distance from the beach. Only half an hour from Gatwick and 50 minutes (express train) from London Victoria, it’s certainly worth a day trip or longer.
Our weekend break at Brighton Fringe felt too brief. But we’ll be back to take advantage of our Friends of Brighton Fringe membership** and hope to explore more of the festival next year. Thanks for having us!
Brighton Fringe: Weekend Highlights (May 28-31, 2015)
Funk the Family Festival at Hove Park
Omar and Kalakuta Millionaires perform at this sell-out family event with street food, live acts, circus, theatre, workshops, outdoor games and more (May 30)
We also like: Seska The Magic Beard (May 29-30), Spiegelcircus (May 28- 30) and Circus of the Streets (May 28-31), A Dog Called Snoop (May 31).
Visit http://www.brightonfringe.org to see what’s playing until May 31. Ticket lines are open from 10am-6pm (Mon-Fri) and 12 noon-4pm (Sat). Brighton Fringe Box Office: 1 Stop Travel Shop, 26 North Street, Brighton, BN1 1EB. Email: box-office (at) brightonfringe.org
**press trip and comps