People have inhabited this part of the Sussex south coast since the Stone Age, but Eastbourne’s time to shine only really came with the advent of steam, quickly turning the town into a top seaside resort. Hordes of Victorian passengers piled off trains to enjoy the sunshine, the beaches and the attractions on Eastbourne’s Grand Parade or listen to music at the Bandstand. Eastbourne’s suitability as a holiday destination was hinted at earlier though – in 1793 George III brought the kids (Edward, Octavius, Elizabeth and Sophia to be precise) to Eastbourne for their summer hols.
Eastbourne does not do seaside tack and in many respects it attracts for the same reasons it did in Victorian times. Back then, just as now you could hire a deckchair, or take a constitutional along filigree-trimmed Eastbourne Pier with its quirky Camera Obscura.
But, unlike the Victorians, you can now hire out a kayak from the beach opposite Wish Tower Hill or take the Hop on Hop off City Sightseeing Bus to get your bearings. Alternatively jump aboard the cute little Dotto Train which stops at Treasure Island, Fort Fun, the Sovereign Centre and Atlantic Drive.
EASTBOURNE’S TOP 10
10. Eastbourne Speedway Get your thrills on the excellent race track or watch the Elite Eagles perform.
5. Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway Dinky locomotives travel a mile around a lake.
9. Sovereign Harbour Marina For sailing, walking shopping and eating, plus boat trips.
4. Beachy Head is the highest chalk sea cliff in the UK – 530 feet high with staggering views – better watch your step though.
8. Allchorn Pleasure Boats set off from the Lower Promenade with cruises and commentary from the beach to Beachy Head.
3. Eastbourne Lifeboat Museum and Shop – the history of lifeboats from 1822 onwards.
7. How We Lived Then Museum Over 100,000 exhibits from the past 50 years, recreated rooms and shops over 4 floors.
2. Helen Garden – Pleasure Ground is a clifftop delight. Play mini golf, lawn bowls or petanque and then collapse in a stripy deckchair.
6. Holywell Retreat is a quaint little enclave with a popular café, plus beach huts and chalets. Roll up your trousers, get your knotted hankie out and enjoy.
1. Eastbourne’s Redoubt Fortress is a circular Napoleonic brick structure and home to the biggest military museum in the South East.
The Aegon International Tennis Championships are held in Eastbourne, yearly during June at the headquarters of the Lawn Tennis Association.
During August the sky’s the limit when Eastbourne Airshow takes over town.
The Eastbourne Beer Festival takes place in the award-winning Winter Garden in October so get your beer goggles on. Book early for this though, since it’s the biggest of its kind in East Sussex.
The Eastbourne Lammas Festival takes place in July/August at the Western Lawns and on the Seafront and involving Morris dancing and a Carnival Parade.
The 1812 Firework Concerts take place at the Bandstand, Grand Parade on various evenings throughout the summer.
Enjoy all the fun of the fair when the Funfair comes to Eastbourne’s Princes Park during the month of August.
Enjoy messing about on the water at the Eastbourne RNLI Regatta which takes place during August at the Lifeboat Station.
The Bonfire Society Procession & Fireworks take over Eastbourne’s Seafront during October.
Eastbourne’s Beachy Head Marathon is a highlight on the events calendar. This run for charity takes place during October each year.
Enter into the Xmas spirit by attending the Christmas Day Concert at the Bandstand on the 25th December.
WHEN TO GO
· Eastbourne holds the record for most amount of sunshine ever recorded in a month in July 1911. No wonder it is promoted as the ‘Sunshine Coast’. Best months to go for the sun are July and August, but the occasional long hot summer can extend well into September.
· Temperatures during summer have average highs of around 21°C and low of just 14°C. Winter temps average out at highs of around 10°C and lows of between 3 and 4°C.
· Wettest months are October and November based on previous years’ statistics, but just like any other British seaside resort showers can turn up at any time of year. Take a brolly or dash for cover.
· Eastbourne is just 44 miles south of M25, on the south coast, with the M23, A27 and A22 other approach routes. For a scenic drive take the A259. National Express run a daily service to Eastbourne from a host of UK cities.
· A frequent rail service operates from London Victoria into Eastbourne station which also has direct links to Gatwick and Ashford International (for Eurostar).
· London Gatwick is just a half an hour away by rail or car. Stansted and Heathrow are around two hours. If you have your own plane or helicopter you can fly into Shoreham airport or use Boship helipad.
England has a plethora of idyllic, throwback seaside towns, each with a singular brand of charm and eclectic ensemble of attractions. Of the lot, Eastbourne surely has to rank as one of the best. The East Sussex town of 98,000 people is a venerable destination that sits across the English Channel from Dieppe, France and the Seine-Maritime department of Haute-Normandie.
Eastbourne’s development as an elegant coastal town took off in earnest in the late Victorian period. Remarkably however, this enviable span of south coast England was a settlement as far back as the Stone Age. The Roman Empire kept a small outpost in what is now Eastbourne and throughout the Middle Ages, the town was well-regarded. In the mid-18th century, Eastbourne was proclaimed as “The Empress of Watering Places" and indeed, while the name hasn’t stuck, the reputation certainly has to some degree. In addition to the expansive coast, the nostalgic town unfurls a lovely array of landmarks, from the 13th century Saint Mary’s Church to Eastbourne Downs. South Downs is a magnificent recent addition to England’s national park system and the spirited Eastbourne Festival offers a great excuse to visit the south coast. Other worthwhile points of interest include a vintage Camera Obscura (come at sunset), the Eastbourne Heritage Centre and Museum of Shops.
- Camera Obscura
- Museum of Shops
- Eastbourne Heritage Centre
- Eastbourne Downs
- South Downs National Park
- Fort Fun
- Treasure Island Eastbourne
- Spray Water Sports Centre
- Eastbourne Festival
Restaurants & Nightlife
- Little Britain Restaurant
- Curry Leaf
- The Thai House
- Siam Orchid
- Pomodoro e Mozzarella
- Loft Lounge & Bar
- Kings Nightclub
- The Eagle
- Coda Bar
- The Buccaneer
Eastbourne has a temperate oceanic climate, with moderate precipitation and copious sunshine throughout the year. Annual average temperatures waver between 3°C and 21°C.
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