English Tourism Week

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The annual week dedicated to celebrating England’s tourism industry is fast approaching with Visit England putting out a call for people and businesses to get involved.  

Our vibrant city is built around tourism, and our visitors are the beating heart, providing a vital economic boost all year round for the many independent shopping outlets and hospitality venues and attractions. With this in mind, Discover Brighton has teamed up with Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance to help raise awareness of English Tourism Week and the jewels on our very own doorstep. Visit England Director Andrew Stokes said ‘With spring upon us and the Easter break just ahead it is timely to shine the spotlight on the outstanding tourism offer here on our doorstep, and on an industry which supports millions of jobs and local economies right across England.’

English Tourism Week will take place on 15 – 24 March 2024.

Explore Brighton Heritage Attractions.

Discover Brighton caught up with Julia from Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance to get her top tips on our family friendly heritage attractions across the city. She shared her fondest memories of regular time spent with her family and grandson Wilber when they visit from Copenhagen. 

I’m at least 4th generation Brightonian, and many of these heritage attractions were a big part of my childhood, so for me it’s heartwarming to see that my 6 year old grandson Wilber clearly has the same excitement and enjoyment when visiting them with me now, as I did visiting them with my Nan when I was his age….a VERY long time ago!.

Never a family visit goes by without a trip or two (or more) to Brighton Palace Pier which opened on May 20th,1899 and is celebrating its 125th birthday this year. What can I say – the Pier just offers so much for everyone, regardless of age or interests, be it funfair rides, food and drink, stalls, amusements, entertainment, heritage … the list just goes on. 

I stash my 2p coins throughout the year to play on the ‘pushers’ in the Palace of Fun – ‘high rollers’ play with 10p coins! I’m not sure if it’s skill or luck but we each spend some time checking out which slots offer the most potential for a BIG payout – hoping to hear the satisfying clatter of several coins falling into the tray (14p) – get in! 

We also spend time in Palace Play, a fantastic four storey indoor soft play area – great for keeping kids happy and active on those inevitable bad weather days.

The Pier is free entry so anyone wanting a more relaxed experience can just take a stroll, grab a free deckchair, and enjoy magnificent views of the coastline.

I can’t swim, so I’m very cautious when Wilber is near the sea in Brighton as it can shelve quite steeply. My gentle advice, ‘Don’t go too close to the water’ can quickly progress to bellowing, ‘Get out of the water!’ like a scene from the movie ‘Jaws’ thus causing some slightly anxious looks from other children (and adults) playing in the water! Therefore, Saltdean Lido is a great place to enjoy a day by the water in a fun and safe environment. Opened in 1938 this grade 2* listed architectural gem features a 40m heated outdoor pool with a shallow end for families, a paddling pool, a splash zone with water jets, sunbathing lawns and a good choice of food and drink options. Currently open shorter Winter hours their Summer season starts in May.

Brighton Sea Life

The whole family loves a visit to The Brighton Toy and Model Museum, opened in 1991. The museum occupies four Victorian arches under Brighton station. Built in 1841, these arches originally stored beer barrels and were home to delivery horses. Stepping through the small doorway into the toy museum feels like entering a Tardis into a nostalgic, Willy Wonka style wonderland of toys. With over 12,000 exhibits from the late 1800s to early 1960s, there’s something for visitors of all ages to enjoy here. 

Wilber LOVES Lego, so he really likes the Lego minifigure trail and searching through every cabinet looking for the next Lego character. The museum, a registered charity, is currently crowdfunding for much-needed improvements to its frontage.

Operational from Easter, a trip or two on Volks Railway is always on the cards, and it’s my favourite way to ‘commute’ between the Pier and the Marina. Opened in 1883, it’s the world’s oldest operating electric railway, and in February this year was named UK Railway of the Year by the Heritage Railway Association. Their Aquarium Station, near the pier, also incorporates their visitor centre which is free to enter.

Brighton’s Aquarium, opened in 1872 is the oldest operating aquarium in the world, and certainly has a fascinating past! In 1991 it became part of Merlin’s Sea Life family, and their continued investment in the venue has seen the aquarium’s spectacular arcade restored to it’s former glory. Sea Life also do some great work around Marine conservation and education, and this is really evident as you walk around the venue.

There’s plenty of fish and sea creatures of all shapes, colours and sizes here, but I think Wilber’s favourite area is Rainforest Adventure. Here you will find Eugene -an iguana adopted from RSPCA Reptile Rescue – and lots of Terrapins, also rescued from people who unfortunately couldn’t look after them properly. Personally, I could spend hours in here just watching the ants working their way along the many metres of see-through tubes carrying big bits of leaves, which is more fascinating than it sounds – yes honestly!

Also, walking through the glass tunnel under the main pool is such a wonderful immersive experience – and one not to be missed.

P. S quick top tip – sometimes they open evenings as well for adults only!

Looking ahead to May, the Spiegel Garden setting up at the Old Steine signals the arrival of festival season – and my start of summer. The 1920s vintage Spiegeltent holds a special place in the city’s heart. I took Wilber for the first time last year, to see their children’s circus show, and he absolutely loved it – so that’s another addition to the ‘must-do’ list this May!

Thanks Julia, It’s amazing to hear about generation after generation enjoying the same attractions many years apart – we get old, some move on but the city’s historical tourism sites will always be there for all to enjoy.

Steven Graham
Author: Steven Graham

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