From the original 50 people who attended the first ‘Paddle’ back in 1996, the event has evolved into what is now regarded as the world’s largest free charity beach festival, with average visitor numbers of over 50,000 people! Yes, you heard that right – the world’s biggest free charity beach festival is in Brighton & Hove. Who’d have thought all those pebbles would have been so inviting? So, what is Paddle and why don’t you know more about it? Briefly, it’s a fun-packed summer weekend of watersports and beach-based activities helping to raise money for charity, supported and surrounded by a ‘Paddle Village’ based on the beautiful Hove Lawns.
Paddle began life back in 1996 as the brainchild of Director Dave Samuel. He was looking for a way of campaigning for clean seas along the coast, but also as a way of bringing the surfing community together. From that first year with just 50 people turning up, it progressed to 100 people by year two – only this time people stuck around to have a few relaxed drinks on the lawns and enjoy the sunshine a little longer. “By year three I think someone bought a frisbee and a couple had an impromptu jam on guitars,” Dave said. The freespirited feel and vibe of the event was set there and then. Brighton naturally had its own take on how a beach festival should be run, and for 21 years Dave has cultivated and developed that on the city’s behalf. The event is run by volunteers, which means after costs (around £90k each year) all profit goes to charity. It’s a really special event which Brightonians and visitors alike seem to have taken to heart, and that’s the reason the BN1 team just had to get involved.
There are now four entertainment stages catering for a wide variety of age and tastes, numerous outdoor restaurants, water and land-based activities and literally hundreds of exhibition and retail spaces too. The event also reaches out with its support in many ways, offering strong community engagement to ensure it is fully inclusive. A prime example is the Access Beach (sponsored by B&H Bus Company), allowing children and young people with disabilities a safe, supported and controlled access to the sea, delivering what promises to be a life-changing experience for those involved.
In 2014, Paddle Round The Pier won ‘Best Event in the City’ in the Brighton & Hove Business Awards and was highly commended in 2015. It has been voted one of the ‘Top Ten Summer Festivals’ by the Times and ‘Top 15 Summer Destinations’ by the Guardian. The Independent even noted it as “a highlight of the summer”, as well as the Express, The Sun and the Mail on Sunday pinning Paddle as one of the ‘Top 30 Festivals to Visit’. It’s a fantastically fun weekend which we thoroughly recommend you get involved in. Trust us, there really is something for everyone.
Paddle Round The Pier beach festival comes to Hove Lawns on Sat 1 – Sun 2 July 2017