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Planning Retirement Online

Travel & Holidays in later life


A Regency terraceBrighton's one of the few seaside resorts where the seasons don't count. Winter, summer or in between, there's always something happening. Any time when Londoners want a quick weekend away from The Smoke, thousands choose Brighton to blow away the cobwebs.

It's a habit that started over two centuries ago. In earlier times, Brighton was just a small fishing village. Then, in mid-18th century, a physician proclaimed the health-giving virtues of sea bathing, and people began arriving for a dip.

The big fashionable boom started in 1783, when the Prince of Wales - who later became Prince Regent and then King George IV - took a liking to Brighton. He returned often with his womanising and heavy-drinking cronies. That's what started Brighton's somewhat rakish reputation.

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Transport: Go by train or coach, or go by car and 'park and ride'. Central car parking is very difficult.

Events in 2010

Brighton Racecourse meetings: Apr 20, 29; May 10, 18, 20 & 28; Jun 6, 15, 22 & 29; Jul 4 & 13; Aug 5,6, 17 & 25; Sep 1, 13 &28; Oct 14 & 21.

May 1-23 - Brighton Festival - Britain's largest mixed arts
gathering, with over 800 events in varied venues, and
featuring local, national and international talent.

Sun Nov 7- London-Brighton Veteran Car Run - formerly known as
the Old Crocks Race, celebrating the 1896 lifting of the speed
limit from 4 to 14 mph.

More information

Visitor Information Centre at Royal Pavilion Shop, Royal Pavilion
4-5 Pavilion Buildings
Brighton, BN1 1EE Tel: 0906-711-2255 (costing 50p a minute) for brochures, accommodation service, details of What's On and
general enquiries. Web:

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The Prince secretly married a young widow, Maria Fitzherbert, when he was 23 years old. But the marriage didn't count because the royal heir didn't have the consent of his father, King George III.

 Take a leisured view of BrightonHowever, the Prince remained relatively faithful to Maria Fitzherbert even when he had to clear his debts by undergoing a more legal marriage to the German princess Caroline.

Beside a fondness for women and food, the Prince also had a keen eye for art, and a good ear for music. Artists and musicians were made welcome. The tradition continues today with Festivals and Exhibitions to keep the culture vultures happy. 

Brighton has five theatres, several art galleries and specialised museums. You can choose from a traditional seaside show, fringe theatre or a straight pre-West End performance.

When the Prince became Regent, he was also able to indulge his taste in architecture. His aristocratic pals fuelled a housing boom with building elegant Regency-style squares and crescents. They are now mostly converted to apartments but still keep their stylish look.

The Royal Pavilion was built 1815-1823 by the great architect, John Nash, who also designed London's Regent Street and Regent's Park and even the Regent Canal. The location he chose was on the Old Steine, which had once been used for drying fishnets.

This ornate Indian-style palace with onion domes, minarets and a Chinese interior has been one of Brighton's most popular sights ever since. 400,000 visitors a year tour through the Royal Pavilion, completely furnished and decorated in opulent 19th-century style.

Opening of the steam railway from London to Brighton in 1841 gave the resort its big Victorian leap forward, with major expansion in hotel and guesthouse accommodation and facilities for day trippers. Brighton has never looked back.

Part of the original fishing-village layout still survives in The Lanes, a delightful area of boutiques, pavement cafes, old pubs and restaurants of every description, from vegetarian to ethnic.

 For collectors of antiques or cast-off junk, Brighton is prime hunting territory. The Lanes and the North Laine are loaded with every kind of bric-a-brac and collectible, arts and crafts, or clothes that were trendy in the 70s.

Royal Pavilion If you're looking for old furniture go to Hove in the areas of Church Road, Portland Road or George Street. Early on any Sunday morning at Brighton Railway Station you'll find a car boot sale and flea market that's lively and jumping in the car park.

Along the seafront, all the traditional attractions are available. If you want a breezy walk, Brighton and neighbouring Hove offer seven miles of pebble beaches, backed by a promenade most of the way.

En route from Brighton Pier (formerly known as Palace Pier) is an Artists' Quarter selling everything from prints to original paintings and even wrought iron beds. Further along is a Fishing Museum, open weekends Easter till September. In Hove the International Vintage Electronics Museum is open 335 days a year.

For a less energetic stroll, four million people a year amble along Brighton Pier to watch anglers trying to catch fish. Or they just sit in the sunshine with an ice cream while punters try to hit the jackpot in slot machines.

Brighton Pier is the resort's focal point, with the Royal Pavilion, The Lanes, a Sea Life Centre and Volk's Electric Railway - reaching to Brighton Marina - all within a couple of minutes' walk.

The 126-acre Marina - the largest in Britain - holds 1300 boats. It features a shopping village and a leisure centre including an 8-screen cinema.

For steam buffs, the Victorian age of steam engineering is seen British Engineeriumin working action at the British Engineerium in Hove, where working steam in all varieties is displayed in a superb Victorian pumping station. It's universally popular with visitors, whether they are normally steam freaks or not. Engines are 'in steam' on the first Sunday each month and on Sundays and Mondays of public holidays. Vintage cars and motor-bikes are also on view. The musuem recently faced trheat of closure and sale of exhibits but aat the last minute a private sponsor stepped in and saved it. The building is currently closed but due to re-open so check with the website before visiting.

If it rains, many family groups migrate to the Toy and Model Museum beneath Brighton Station, where 10,000 period toys and model trains are displayed. Brighton Museum and Art Gallery with its Art Deco and town-history displays has been greatly modernised, at a cost of 10 million. It includes a Fashion and Style Gallery. 

Hove Museum has likewise been redeveloped to show wide collections of ceramics, toys, world art and local history.

Or why not wallow in Edwardian nostalgia with a visit to Preston Manor, with its antique-filled family rooms and the housemaids' spartan bedroom in the attic? 

Sportlovers can watch football, horse racing at Brighton Racecourse or greyhounds at the Coral Stadium, Hove. More active visitors have a go at windsurfing, sailing or hang-gliding. Or how about some dry skiing, golf, squash or fencing?

Among the other possible activities, visitors can take a rollercoaster trip on Brighton Pier, get married in the Royal Pavilion or ride the waves aboard a Zapcat. Anything is possible in Brighton.


Consider these other South Coast reesorts:

ISLE OF WIGHT - Taking a walk

PORTSMOUTH - Visit this new-look Portsmouth and Southsea

"Books to read - click on cover pictures" or click on the links below

The Brighton Book - A collection of 20 viewpoints of crazy wonderful Brighton! A complete entertainment in itself.

A History of Brighton and Hove by Kenneth Fines - Excellent choice for those who like to explore deeper into the engrossing past of the royal resort.

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene - One of the novelist's finest works, set in the seedy underworld of prewar Brighton.

South Downs and the South Coast (AA 40 Pub Walks & Cycle Rides) - A family-friendly guide to 25 walks and 15 cycle trails. 

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