Brighton’s reputation as one of the UK’s hippest cities is well deserved. As well having all the traditional trappings of a seaside town - a pier, amusements, and lots of fish and chip shops - there’s also an array of cosy pubs, quality restaurants and boutiques you won't find anywhere else. If you fancy doing your Christmas shopping somewhere that won't make you feel like a sardine being crushed in a can of capitalism, Brighton’s the place to go.
So. Many. Pubs
Someone once told us Brighton has more bars and pubs per square kilometre than any city in Europe. They were probably drunk because a quick Google neither confirms nor denies that, but a short wander proves it has to be up there. Old man pubs sit slap bang in the middle of residential streets, and you can’t take two steps along the seafront without tripping over a pub bench. Coach favourite The North Laine Brewery is a cavernous beer hall with fresh lagers and ales brewed on site, where fresh-faced students rub shoulders with stout-sipping crusties.
Aside from the handful of retro gaming bars popping up around the country, arcade machines are facing extinction, making Brighton Pier one of the last remaining places you can mercilessly lap a child on Sega Rally. Top tip: stick to the videogames and don’t get sucked into playing the tuppence-pushing machine (unless you want be the new owner of enough coins to weigh down a corpse, but still not be able to afford a portion of fish and chips). Last we checked Coach had the top score on House of The Dead – all challengers are welcome.
Burning the Clocks
An annual winter solstice festival that celebrates the shortest day - and longest night - of the year (FYI, it's December 21st this year), Burning the Clocks involves a carnival-style fancy dress procession through the city centre, culminating with a lantern bonfire and fireworks on the beach. It’s a fun, quirky night out for all the family that’s perfectly in keeping with the city’s decidedly hippy-ish reputation.
Amazing Food (That isn’t Meat)
We’re not convinced that some meats are as deadly as smoking, but that doesn’t mean every meal has to feature flesh. Incredible veggie restaurants such as Terre à Terre serve dishes with names far too complex to list here. All of which show just how delicious vegetables, cheese and eggs can be when cooked with a bit of flair. You’ll leave inspired and no longer just see veg as sides, but a worthy main attraction.
Winter sea swimming
The council may have had to cancel the long-running Christmas day swim event last year due to safety concerns – due to too many drunk people in fancy dress – but that shouldn’t stop you enjoying a traditional festive dip in the English Channel on any other day during the month of December, with a dedicated crew of swimmers from Brighton Swimming Club braving the ocean on a daily basis. Wetsuit or Santa outfit, the choice is yours.
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Between 2010 and 2016, Ben was the deputy editor of Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Ben also contributed exclusive features to Coach on topics such as football drills, triathlon training plans and healthy eating.