6 reasons to visit Eastbourne this summer

By Mark Hodson

Some of the beach resorts on England’s south coast have struggled in recent years with holidaymakers preferring to head abroad, but Eastbourne is bucking the trend. Along with a genteel charm, it has a great beach and a dramatic setting alongside chalk cliffs and the South Downs National Park. It also hosts a great calendar of summer events – here are six reasons to visit in 2016.

"Aegon International Eastbourne - Commercial Creative"

Photo: Lawn Tennis Association

1. Watch some of the world’s best women tennis

As a tennis fan, I try to get down to Devonshire Park every summer for the Aegon International, which invariably features some of the world’s best women players. This year’s tournament starts on Saturday 18 June and includes Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Belinda Bencic and local favourite Jo Konta. Go early in the week and you can get in with a ground pass for as little as £10, and see tremendous matches. The setting is lovely and less corporate than Wimbledon.


2. Things are looking up at the Airshow

Eastbourne’s annual Airshow was recently voted the best free show of its kind in the UK. It returns to the seafront on 11-14 August to celebrate 80 years of the Spitfire, along with the RAF Red Arrows, a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a Chinook and Europe’s only flying B-17 Flying Fortress. There’s also live music on the beach, twilight pyro-aerobatics, concerts and fireworks.


MCS Big Sea Swim 2015 in Eastbourne - Image Credit Graham Huntley copy

Photo: Graham Huntley

3. Throw yourself into the Big Sea Swim

The Marine Conservation Society chose Eastbourne for its Big Sea Swim because of the cleanliness of the beach, and it returns for the fifth year running on 16 July. There’s a 1k race and a 3k race, or you can simply dive in as a personal challenge. Register here to take part.


Photo: Visit Eastbourne

4. Watch Shakespeare beneath the cliffs

Alfresco performances of Shakespeare are always a little risky in this country, but there are few more bucolic settings than the wooded amphitheatre carved out of Beachy Head’s chalk cliffs near the foot of the South Downs National Park. To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death, the Eastbourne Dramatic and Operatic Society will perform As You Like It there from 27 July to 6 August. Book tickets.



Photo: Vintage Motoring Company

5. Hop aboard a vintage Rolls-Royce

Take a tour with a difference in the back of a chauffeur-driven1927 Rolls-Royce Tourer. The Vintage Motoring Company has a choice of three tours – starting at £60 for four people – and including a drive up to Beachy Head. It will also tailor-make a trip to your own requirements.


The Flint Barns please credit Rathfinny Wine Estate copy

Photo: Rathfinny Wine Estate

6. Tour the vineyards of Sussex

Sparkling wines from Sussex wines have been winning hatfuls of international prizes over the past few years. Rathfinny Wine Estate is the UK’s biggest upcoming wine producer with 185 acres of vines and you can take a tour of the estate with a winemakers lunch, or stay overnight in their newly-restored Flint Barns and join Fizz on Foot the following day for a walking and wine tasting tour.

* Check out Visit Eastbourne for more info.

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