Financially ruined by Christmas and the New Year’s shindiggeries (it’s a word)? Fed up with your pockets being empty and not doing anything fun? Well, be fed up no more! (Please imagine a silhouetted superhero arriving in a bright doorway, cape fluttering behind). Here are twenty things to do in Brighton for £10 or less. (Perhaps the superhero was a bit much).
Look down on us all and judge us*
Thought you couldn’t afford to fly BA? Think again! If you’re a Brighton resident you can enjoy a “flight” on British Airways’ i360 for under a tenner. It may not be flying to Magaluf, but then – actually, that’s a good thing. For a £1 annual resident membership fee (proof of address needed), you’re then able to buy a flight for £8.25, and enjoy spectacular views across the Brighton, the channel, and the South Downs, from over 130m above the beach front.
(That said, it’s actually closed for annual maintenance at the moment, but it reopens on Thursday 23rd Jan, so get down there, to get up there! £1 annual resident membership fee, plus £8.25 for the flight).
*Judging not mandatory**
**But fun, though
Walk on the beach
Enjoy the sound of white horses crashing on the beach which, if you’re lucky, will cancel out the sound of sirens and chavs revving their souped-up 2005 Vauxhall Corsas on Kings Road, and Marine Parade. Traffic aside, the beach is a gorgeous place to blow away the cobwebs and the January blues, and find a bit of peace and quiet. Head West to the Marina and Rottingdean or head East to Hove and Portslade; lob a pebble into the sea, take in the view of the piers and the city behind you, or just carve out a bum-groove in the stones, sit down and take a moment. And whatever you choose, you can finish your walk/sit/lobbing, by doing the next suggestion…
Fish and chips on the beach
It may be a cliché, but you can’t beat a bit of fish and chips on the beach (ignore the macabre irony of looking out to the former home of the fish you’re about to scoff): a British classic – especially if it’s cold and windy, to get the full experience! You don’t even have to travel far to get that warming, hearty goodness; Mama Fish, in the Kings Road arches, serves great food and very reasonable prices, meaning you’ll come away with a satiated belly, and with change from your tenner. Dinner for two with a romantic view – come on boys, these are easy brownie points.
Visit the famous Palace Pier
This can be done on any budget, from completely free to re-mortgage your house, depending on your gambling proclivities. Play the penny slots, race some mechanical horses, beat your mate at air hockey, or slide down the old school helter-skelter on a doormat. Or, for the more adrenaline seeking of you, there’s a rollercoaster, or the terrifying-looking Booster: that frighteningly long metal arm at the end of the pier which swings people wildly into the air, carrying their screams eerily across the city…
Coffee, cake and contemplate
Enjoy a sit down and a treat in North Laine with a coffee and some delicious cake. Find a spot by a window and laze away half an hour people watching. You’re spoilt for choice, but Kensington Gardens is always full of crazy outfits and memorable characters, and offers a bustling, ever-changing window into Brighton life. There are a number of excellent cafés on this road alone, including Cloud 9 which offers people a colourful and exquisite range of cakes. Go on, you’ve been so good, you deserve a slice!
Visit Noah’s Ark (kind of)
Have a gawp around St Bartholomew’s church, just off London Road. This colossal Gothic monolith, was supposedly built in the dimensions of Noah’s Ark – although this was told to me by a friend, and may be complete bullhonky, but let’s be honest it’s massive and it kind of sounds believable. Either way, it’s huge and commands your attention when you’re anywhere near it, and boasts a huge rose window at the South end. Religious or not, this is a spectacular building to explore, and take in its sever, steep walls. It’s free to enter, although I’m sure donations to its upkeep would be welcome.
Find some green space
If the sun’s out (I know, but it will be again at some point), why not take advantage of one of Brighton’s many parks. Stanmer Park, Preston Park, The Level, Queens Park, Hove Lawns, Pavilion Gardens… Well, you probably know what a park is. But it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures they can offer. Take a football along, a frisbee, a dog, a child (please ask the bill payer’s permission), a picnic, a mug of coffee, nothing at all and just around like a madman! Just enjoy not staring at concrete walls for a bit. Attention Restoration Theory explains how spending time in green spaces is hugely beneficial for our mental health, especially for people living in cities. You don’t have to hug a tree, but go and look at one, you won’t regret it.
Live like a prince
Take advantage of your resident status by getting half price tickets to visit Brighton’s famous Royal Pavilion. See how the Prince Regent lived in exorbitant luxury whilst his subjects starved all around (yep, he was a great guy). The Grade 1 listed palace of far flung whimsy, is an example of Indo-Saracenic Revival (round tops and pointy), and inside is an extravagant celebration of excess, with every inch bejewelled or adorned with exotic animals. The remarkable dining room features a series of huge chandeliers, the central one featuring a huge dragon, purportedly headier than a car.
Brighton Museum and Art Gallery
With an ever-changing range of exhibitions and displays you can never tire of going to this gem of a museum, right in the centre of the city. What’s more, whilst the price for admission for non-Brighton residents is a very reasonable £6, if you live in the city it’s free! With exhibitions on Brighton, ancient Egypt, 20th century art and design, pottery, portraits, archaeology, and coming soon Anita Corbin’s 100 First Women Portraits, there is something that will appeal to everyone. And even if there isn’t, quit complaining, it was bloody free!
Catch a matinee
If you’re bored this Saturday, and fancy something highbrow, why not see what’s on at the theatre (for extra poshness, pronounce the “a” in theatre). If there’s something you like the look of on at the Theatre Royal, you can head down there on Saturday morning and see if there are any matinee tickets available: if so, you can grab them for a tenner each! You can’t guarantee that you’ll get one of course, but if you can’t, you can take that tenner and go to one of the nearby pubs instead: it’s win-win! And if you get in and enjoy some culture, be sure to bang on about how much of a culture vulture you are to all your friends that evening (which is half the fun of going, after all).
Swim in the sea
Not content with looking at the sea? Feel that winter’s fine but a bit too warm and dry? Then the sea’s the place for you! I take my hat off to any of you brave (mad) enough to do this, but I’m told this is extremely invigorating (which I take to mean, ball-shrinking), and many people swear by it. Tips: 1) pick a day when it’s not too choppy 2) put your phone down and stop Instagramming 3) make sure someone knows your doing it 4) maybe just don’t do it. If you like the sound of going with people, Brighton Swimming Club (the oldest in the country, founded in 1860) swim in the sea every day of the year. So, there’s no excuse! (But I’ll think of one).
Enjoy one of Nature’s great shows for free
This is the peak time of year to watch the starlings gather in their vast murmurations and perform spectacularly choreographed air displays, just off the beach in Brighton. Thousands of birds come together, as if they just want to show off, and perform with the West Pier as a stunning background prop. Take a hot chocolate down with you and watch our balletic feathered friends show us how crowd control is done properly.
Spend a day in the cells
Perhaps one of Brighton’s best kept secrets, and a treat for all ages, is a visit to the Old Police Cells Museum. Hidden under the city’s Town Hall, this is the sight of a historic murder scene, as well as prison cells that have hosted many a notorious felon. The creepy subterranean jail is now open to the public and is free to enter. You need to book online or call ahead to arrange a tour, as it’s only open at certain times, but well worth a visit – if you can handle the spectres that are rumoured to still lurk within…
Unleash your inner child
Less than a stone’s throw (barely a stone’s drop, in fact) from the Train Station, is the Brighton Toy and Model Museum. Enjoy a healthy dose of nostalgia and look back to a world before green screens and smart everythings. Enjoy a multitude of miniature in this world-famous celebration of the golden age of British and European toymaking. Set in Victorian cellars under the bridge at the top of Trafalgar Street, the museum boasts a collection of over 10,000 items. And with entrance costing just £6.50 for an adult, that’s over 1,500 items per pound. Bargain.
On ya bike!
I’m loathed to suggest that our porky-pie-spouting, ethically-questionable, scarecrow-haired Prime Minister has done anything worthwhile, but his tenure as London Mayor did at least see the start of colloquially-known Boris Bikes. So popular they proved, that in 2017, Brighton introduced a similar scheme. So why not hire a bike and explore parts of Brighton you’ve not seen before. It costs just 3pa minute, and there are pick up and drop off sites all over the city. A great, cheap and environmentally friendly way to see the city. See here for details of where and how you can get on your bike.
Find a bargain at the Open Market
Situated on London Road (near St Bartholomew’s – two for one!), this is Brighton’s only covered market, and offers shoppers and browsers an eclectic mix of cafés, shops and artists studios. Apothecary, pet shop, florist, patisserie, haberdashery, furniture shop, vintage shop, photography shop, music shop, even an egg shop, this quirky and friendly place has got some things you’d expect, and a lot you wouldn’t.
Watch top level sport for £4.00
Four pounds!! You can watch Brighton and Hove Albion W.F.C., currently sitting ninth in the Women’s Super League, for under a fiver. Their home ground is currently The People Pension’s Stadium in Crawley, so you have to add in travel expenses, but this is still an insanely cheap price to watch a team in the top league of professional football, managed by ex-England manager Hope Powell. FOUR POUNDS!!!
Buy a round, play some darts
If, like me, you’re looking for a cheap round and a game of darts, head to The Black Horse on Church Street. Last time I was in there I bought a round of three Guinnesses (Guinni?) for under £10, borrowed the darts and went on to claim victory in a dubiously-scored game of Round of Clock. I can think of no better way to spend an hour or so on a cold winter’s evening.
Two course meal for £5
To help us all through the January blues, our friends at Donatello’s, in the heart of the Lanes, are once again offering us their amazing deal of two courses for a fiver. Available Mondays to Thursdays you can choose either a starter and a main or a main and a pudding, and, frankly, is too good to be missed. ‘Nuff said.
Release your inner diva
Inspired by the recent battle for the Christmas Number One spot? Reckon you can do better? (I think we all could, to be fair). Why not head down to Lucky Voice and belt out some classics in the seclusion of your own private room? Prices range from £5-£10 per person, which gets you a room for two hours, a bucket load of songs to butcher – I mean, sing – as well as access to room service from which you can buy snacks and drinks including a range of cocktails. Finish the evening off in the bar area and get a memento in the photobooth. I know all the extras take this one over the initial £10 budget, but after you’ve done all the others (as I’m sure you will have done), you’ve saved enough money to go nuts and celebrate. Cheers!