Gay Brighton: Britain's Queer Seaside Capital

Just a half hour train ride from London, Brighton is a favorite getaway for big city British gays, with its crisp seaside air, compact walkability, and laid-back bohemian ambiance making it a perfect place to unwind.

The city first gained notoriety as a seaside health resort in the 1700's when the young Prince of Wales, who would later become King George IV, started building his pleasure palace here in the 1780's. It's an elaborate and ornate structure now known as the Royal Pavilion, and one of the city's biggest attractions. (The city's other main landmark, Brighton Pier, appeared in its current form in 1899.) After the railroad came in 1841, Brighton became a very popular day trip for Londoners.

Today, Brighton has a highly visible gay presence, especially around Kemptown, its longtime gayborhood. For a city its size (just over 155,000), it boasts a remarkable number of gay bars, cafes, and B&Bs. It's also a popular destination for same-sex civil partnership ceremonies, and it has surprisingly strong art, music, and nightlife scenes, along with excellent shopping.

Brighton's Pride, one of the biggest in Britain, happens in late summer. Also gay-popular is the annual Brighton Festival in May, a three week arts celebration featuring music, theater, dance, film, and literature.

Restaurants to check out