When a small group of surfers, led by founder Dave Samuel, decided to bring together the surfing community, a Brighton seafront wonder was born. From a humble 50 people to over 50,000, Paddle Round The Pier has evolved into the world’s largest free charity beach festival.
The ethos of the event has remained the same since its inception – promoting the message of “spread a little aloha-spirit” and having a good time doing it. The foundation of Paddle is about presenting a warm, welcoming enthusiasm into all water activities, encouraging participation, understanding and respect for both the ocean and fellow human beings. Winning the ‘Best Event In The City’ at the Brighton & Hove Business Awards, Paddle also regularly gets onto best festival lists complied by national newspapers.
From the fun to the plain ridiculous, the list of water-sport events grows each year. Serious athletic challenges include the long distance SUP (Stand-Up paddle boarding) races, open water swims, Inshore Rescue Boat (lifeguard) racing and long board races, with competitors coming in from all over the world.
Of all the water activities, the most universal is the fool hardy antics on offer at the “Paddle Something Unusual” event. An opportunity seized by our community’s more foolhardy members, to see what they can pass off as a sea-going vessel. Previous years have witnessed everything taking to the water during the event. From aeroplanes to cranes, from a bed to a shed, the only guidelines are to make it safe, as ridiculous as possible, raise plenty of money and have a spectacularly good laugh doing it.
A ‘Paddle Village’ of retail, exhibition and entertainment complements the weekend of water-based activities. Taking over Hove Lawns for the two days, it offers everything from surfboards and small boats, to high-end ukuleles and surf-art on display. With three stages, there’s also entertainment for a wide variety of ages and tastes. The Main Stage offers a diverse range of emerging musical talent. The Ukulele Stage now commands its own audience from all over the UK, its popularity and growth has seen it grow by 50% over the last three years. Now in its ninth year, The Kids Stage is split between actual kids performing and professional children’s entertainers delighting this relaxed and popular space. There are also numerous outdoor restaurants, land-based activities like skateboarding, BMX and Parkour. There’s also a specially built accessible beach, affording people with disabilities not only access to the beach, but the opportunity to go in to the sea as well.
Despite its enormous size, Paddle Round the Pier still manages to retain its friendly community feel as everyone involved in the event works for free and it has raised £250,000 for charity since it began. A donation of a single pound is suggested to visitors, but you’ll want to give more… For 2015 the chosen charities are: The RNLI, Brighton Surf Life Saving Club and The Rockinghorse Appeal, each one providing a vital service to the local community.
Paddle Round The Pier characterises everything that is great about living in and visiting Brighton, bringing diverse communities together from the city’s broad mix of families, businesses, rock stars, strays and water sports athletes!
Paddle round The Pier comes to Hove Lawns, Brighton & Hove seafront, on Sat 4 – Sun 5 July 2015