A Hippy Guide to Brighton

Brighton has long been a magnet for new-agers and alternative types, everyone from students to real, live original hippies from way back in the '60s. We have a couple of the planet's finest vegetarian restaurants, Terre a Terre and Food for Friends, both famous well beyond the city limits. We have a Buddhist primary school and we're the first constituency in Britain to have a Green Party MP.  

That's why we joke about our city being 'right-on'. Be-right-on is a fabulous place to live if you're a bit (or a lot!) out of the ordinary, whether you're a burly bloke who loves wearing frilly dresses with your hipster beard and dockers or a hippy bird with a shaved, tattooed head or a splendid mohawk. Whatever you look like, whatever your preferences, attitude, sexuality, habits or obsessions, you'll get a warm welcome here.

Add the famous Brighton gay scene, chuck bucketloads of students into the mix, shake in a few thousand web and media types, add a hundred hen and stag weekends for flavour and you get a unique vibe that's both peaceful and in-your-face, a place where hippies roam free. So what are the best hippy-inspired attractions in Brighton? 

A guide to Brighton - A hippy, happy city

Here are some of Brighton's best-loved and most popular hippy hangouts..

The Lanes - A treasure trove of independent shops

You might be a zillionaire. Or you might be a poverty-stricken student. Either way there's something for you in Brighton's famous Lanes, a brilliant blend of posh and funky, studded with super-expensive jewellers and independent boutiques, souvenir shops, cheap thrills, funky pubs, cool cafes and more. Oh, and our shop of course!

The North Laine - Stuffed with hippy shopping fun

The North Laine - without an 's' on the end - was once a series of thin strips of land rented out to grow fruit,  vegetables and other market garden produce. It describes a large square bounded by the railway station, North Road, Trafalgar Street and York Place. 

The streets are stuffed with independent shops, everything from snowboarding and kiting to fashion, jewellery and accessories, antiques and collectibles, books, food, vegetarian shoes, hand crafted gifts and 'objets art' plus proper pubs with real carpet, old blokes, and dogs on bits of string. Oh, and the occasional artisan pub too, serving superb food and weird beers.

The North Laine is also famous for its street art, with entire shop walls and great expanses of inner city real estate smothered with brilliant graffiti. Keep your eyes peeled and you might even spot a Banksy - his famous kissing policemen were brought to life in the city.

There's also an excellent weekly Saturday flea Market down upper Gardener Street and a really good Farmer's market in Diplocks Yard off North Road. And if you're looking for a Head Shop, there are several to choose from. We even have a couple of really good hat shops. And if you fancy bringing you skateboard, the skate park at The Level is brilliant fun. 

George Steet, Hove - Hippy charity shop heaven

It's Hove, actually... We joke about Hove with its comparatively posh reputation. But it also has a hippy happy feel, especially around George Street in Hove where the city's bargain hunters gather to trawl the wickedly good charity shops, at least eight of them. Because it's a wealthy area there are some amazing bargains to be had.

There's a superb retro and vintage emporium on Blatchington Road and, a few doors down, an amazing shop called Jugs selling all sorts of exciting imported hippy stuff from Africa, India and Thailand. 

Kemptown - Going underground

St James Street is Kemptown's main drag, studded with really good cafes, pubs and independent shops, many with a LGBT slant. If you fancy an outrageous night out in a gay bar the Poison Ivy holds Karaoke nights to remember and regularly features members of our large and well-loved transgender community.


(photo : telegraph.co.uk)

Brighton Festival and more

Turn up at any time of year and there's almost always some form of festival or other going on in our city. But the biggest is Brighton Festival with its arts and street performances, music, theatre, comedy and Fringe, rivalling Edinburgh for the sheer variety of entertainment. It usually runs throughout May.

But there's more. We have an annual science festival, chilli festival, chocolate festival and a host more food-inspired happenings. There are regular pop up street food events and you'd be hard pressed to traverse the city without encountering a good handful of more-than-decent buskers every weekend. 

We also have a couple of excellent comedy clubs. We host an annual naked bike ride. And we celebrate the winter solstice with our quirky Burning the Clocks parade.   

The music scene

If you're in the city on a mission to explore the wonderful world of music and music equipment, you're spoiled for choice. We have lots of vinyl and CD outlets, independent shops that have been selling vinyl in the city for decades.

The Guitar and Amp Centre, affectionately known locally as GAC, is on North Road in the North Laine, a splendid place stacked floor to ceiling with guitars, amps, sheet music and essential music kit. Plus shops selling cigar box guitars and other hand made instruments, including one focusing wholly on percussion - hit the bottom of Trafalgar Street, go uphill and it's on your left.

There are all sorts of open mic events to choose from, all over town, usually held in pubs. We have Fatboy Slim in town, who regularly puts on massive events. The Amex Stadium, home to the Seagulls, our footie team, is also a popular gig venue and becoming more so as time passes. And plenty of our pubs offer live music.

Arts, crafts and antiques

We have more than our fair share of art and craft galleries where you can pick up lovely artwork and local hand-crafted gifts. If you want to learn how to make stuff yourself, there are all manner of workshops and courses offered by local creative types, everything from glass slumping to throwing pottery and learning to draw. 

You'll find large antique emporia on Kensington Gardens in the North Laine (Snooper's Paradise), one on Upper Gardener Street and another up St James Street in Kemptown, going east.

Seaside stuff

Our beach is all pebbly, made of flints, so there's no chance of sand in your knickers! The main drag below the seafront road, down at beach level, is stuffed with great little independent shops and galleries selling shells, paintings, souvenirs and other handcrafted goodies.

Events for 2015

If you fancy popping down to visit the city this year, there's all this and a great deal more to look forward to:

  • Whalefest 2015
  • 25th Sussex Beer and Cider festival
  • Pioneer Motorcycle Run
  • UK Vegan Comedy Festival - VegFest Brighton
  • The Brighton Chicken Run
  • Brighton & Hove Food Festival
  • Brighton Marathon
  • London to Brighton Jaguar Run
  • London to Brighton Classic Car Race
  • Brighton Festival 2015
  • Pride 2015

If you want to check out what's on before coming down, try Visit Brighton.