Brighton is arguably the United Kingdom’s foremost city by the sea. It is often known as London on Sea. It is less that 1 hour by train south of London and 30 minutes from Gatwick airport which makes it certainly one of the most accessible.
It is a university town hosting Sussex and Brighton Universities and one of the newest and most popular medical schools in the country. There is an arts institute and several language schools all of which contribute to the young, vibrant and cosmopolitan feel of the town.
It is extremely popular with visitors and so there is every form of accommodation from 5 stars to budget. Whatever your situation the conference organisers will be able to accommodate you. Visitors come to Brighton for the art and culture, the entertainment, the shopping, the history, the night life and certainly for eating out. With over 400 restaurants in Brighton and Hove, you'll certainly never be short of somewhere to eat. For a spot of celebrity fare, try Jamie Oliver's recently opened “Pukka Pasta” restaurant for tasty Italian dishes at decent prices or Fatboy Slim's Okinami for Japanese treats in stylish surroundings. Whatever your taste, you will find it in Brighton. See www.VisitBrighton.com to plan your culinary experience or speak to the Visit Brighton concierge at the conference for ideas. The conference hotel is within walking distance from most of the restaurants.
Culture and the arts
The art community in Brighton is extensive and is showcased once a year by the artist’s open house event during the Brighton Festival. Directly on the beach between the two piers is the Brighton Artists Quarter. Working in a row of Victorian fisherman workshops, and converted into small gallery and studio spaces, are a collection of artists using a variety of mediums and styles to produce high quality artworks that can be viewed or purchased by the general public throughout the year. There is also a museum and art gallery in the Pavilion Gardens, which is part of the Royal Pavilion complex
Brighton festival and fringe
The Brighton Festival is an annual arts festival which takes place in the city of Brighton and Hove each May and therefore will take place during the congress. It was founded in 1966, and is the largest multi-art form festival in England. The festival includes organised processions such as the Children's Parade, outdoor spectaculars often involving pyrotechnics, and a great deal of theatre, music, literature and visual arts in venues throughout the city, some of which are brought into this use exclusively for the festival.
See www.visitbrighton.com to book events to see or take part.
The Brighton Festival Fringe runs alongside the main festival. There are hundreds of events each year. Look at the Fringe web site and see if there is anything you would like to see. www.brightonfringe.org
There are three theatres in Brighton. The Brighton Theatre Royal, is a Grade II listed building in the heart Brighton and offers a programme of shows throughout the year. Many West End plays will start in Brighton and if successful will guarantee success anywhere.
The Brighton Dome is an arts venue that contains the Concert Hall, Corn Exchange and the Pavilion Theatre. All three venues are linked to the rest of the Royal Pavilion Estate. It famously staged the Eurovision song contest on 6 April 1974 where ABBA won for Sweden with Waterloo. The venue now plays host to a varied programme of events; with concerts from every musical style, serious plays and family theatre, ballet and contemporary dance and comedy.
The Komedia is the comedy club in Brighton. Book a table, have a meal, see a show. A real gem in Brighton nightlife. You should consider a visit one evening, perhaps after the Mayors reception. www.komedia.co.uk
There are abundant shopping opportunities in Brighton. All the usual high street outlets are present but in addition there are the special attractions of the Lanes. If you're looking to put a creative edge into your shopping, Brighton Lanes offer independent shops and boutiques. Once the heart of the fishing town, Brighton Lanes' historic quarter is a maze of twisting alleyways, offering a mix of antiques and with jewellery shops, alongside contemporary and designer boutiques. Crammed with unusual and special shops and funky restaurants and cafes, the Brighton Lanes are best explored slowly. You’ll often find buskers livening up the streets, making the Lanes a great place for the battle worn shopper to grab a coffee and soak up the atmosphere. There is additional activity during the festival so prepare to be entertained.
For more about the shops in the North Laine visit www.northlaine.co.uk.
Brighton Marina offers bargain stores with the backdrop of a quayside location. Home to the city's outlet shopping centre, Brighton Marina shopping offers savings on high street ladies, men’s, children and sportswear. You’ll also find a great range of home ware and sports goods, footwear, accessories and books, as well as the largest Yacht chandlery in the South-East of England. And if shopping makes you hungry, why not try one of the many quayside restaurants. If it is entertainment you seek then there is a multi screen cinema, a ten pin bowling alley and a casino. It is a 10 minute taxi ride from the hotel or a 20 minute cycle ride, buses run regularly.
The Royal Connection – The Pavilion
The ancient settlement of Brighthelmstone dates from before the Doomsday Book (1086).
During the 1740s and 1750s, Dr Richard Russell of Lewes began prescribing the medicinal use of the seawater and bathing at Brighton to his patients. It became fashionable for the rich in London to travel to Brighton for a cure. By 1780, development of the Regency terraces had started and the fishing village quickly became the fashionable resort of Brighton.
It is thought that the arrival of the Prince Regent (who later became George IV) marked the birth of Brighton as one of the more fashionable cities. Shortly after the Prince Regent’s arrival, the Theatre Royal opened in 1807 shortly followed by the Brighton Dome and St Anne’s Well Spa (originally a pump room).
The Prince of Wales, who later became King George IV, first visited Brighton in 1783, soon after achieving his majority. The seaside town had become fashionable through the residence of George's uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, whose tastes for cuisine, gaming, the theatre and fast living the young prince shared, and with whom he lodged in Brighton at Grove House. In addition, his physician advised him that the seawater would be beneficial for his gout. In 1786, he rented a modest erstwhile farmhouse facing the Steine, a grassy area of Brighton used as a promenade by visitors. Being remote from the Royal Court in London, the Pavilion was also a discreet location for the Prince to enjoy liaisons with his long-time companion, Mrs. Fitzhurbert. The Prince had wished to marry her, and did so in secrecy, as her Roman Catholicism ruled out marriage under the Royal Marriage act.
In 1787 the designer of Carlton House, Henry Holland, was employed to enlarge the existing building, which became one wing of the Marine Pavilion, flanking a central rotunda, which contained only three main rooms, a breakfast room, dining room and library, fitted out in Holland's French-influenced neoclassical style. In 1801-02 the Pavilion was enlarged with a new dining room and conservatory, to designs of Peter Frederick Robinson, in Holland's office. The Prince also purchased land surrounding the property on which a grand riding school and stables were built in an Indian style in 1803-08, to designs by William Porden, that dwarfed the Marine Pavilion, in providing stabling for sixty horses.
Between 1815 and 1822 the designer John Nash redesigned and greatly extended the Pavilion, and it is the work of Nash which can be seen today. The palace looks rather striking in the middle of Brighton, having a very Indian appearance on the outside. However, the fanciful interior design, primarily by Frederick Grace and the little-known decorative painter Robert Jones, is heavily influenced by both Chinese and Indian fashion (with Maughal and Islamic architectural elements).
After the death of George IV in 1830, his successor King William IV also stayed in the Pavilion on his frequent visits to Brighton. However, Queen Victoria disliked Brighton and the lack of privacy the Pavilion afforded her on her visits there (especially once Brighton became accessible to Londoners by rail in 1841). Queen Victoria preferred the seclusion of Osborne bay on the Isle of Wight. The heyday of the Pavilion and Brighton’s Royal connection had ended.
There will be a special tour of the Pavilion in the Accompanying persons programme and the Mayor of Brighton will host a reception at the Pavilion and Brighton Museum on Wednesday 16th May.