The Golden Beach Award 2024 seeks to find the “top 100 beaches in the world” based on more than just their natural beauty alone. This year, a “legendary” British beach has made its way into the top 30, celebrated by the experts from BeachAtlas for being a “cultural icon” with a “vibrant and welcoming” community.

At the very bottom of the country on the southern East Sussex coast is Brighton Beach, a 5km stretch of pebbles and some sandy spots that is known for so much more than just its aesthetic.

The beach ranked in the 25th spot globally – the highest of any UK beach in the ranking, with BeachAtlas saying: “Brighton Beach, stretching a scenic 5 kilometres along the southern coast of England, offers stunning views of the English Channel and stands as a cultural icon of the UK.

“Located on Brighton’s vibrant seafront, this beach is a legendary getaway for Londoners seeking a seaside escape.”

Brighton’s history as a seaside resort began in the 18th century after the town’s popularity soared due to King George IV regularly visiting the area to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the sea air. This led to the development of the Royal Pavilion which remains an iconic symbol of Brighton today.

Another iconic landmark of the seaside is the Brighton Pier, also known as the Palace Pier, which was originally constructed in 1823 but has been renovated over the years to create the hub of entertainment and leisure visitors enjoy today. As well as food vendors, there are multiple games and arcades.

Further along the shoreline, the West Pier pops from the water, a spooky, ghostlike structure of a pier that once was. Though it was once a Victorian masterpiece and a prominent symbol of Brighton’s elegance, it has fallen into disrepair over the years and suffered two separate fires. Despite this, it remains a huge part of Brighton’s famous postcard-worthy seafront. 

However, there is more to this seaside than its history as a bustling resort that helped it beat other UK beaches in the ranking.

“Brighton is celebrated for its inclusive and diverse community, particularly known for having one of the largest LGBT communities in the UK,” explained BeachAtlas.

“Often hailed as the ‘gay capital’ of the country, Brighton’s rich LGBT history dates back to the early 19th century, contributing to the city’s reputation as a welcoming and progressive seaside resort.”

The town is home to an array of LGBTQ+ pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants, cafés and shops located around Brighton and in particular around St James’s Street in Kemptown. Many LGBTQ+ charities, publishers, social and support groups also call Brighton their home. As a result, Brighton Pride which takes place annually at the start of August is the largest Pride event in the UK and attracts as many as 450,000 people.

Creativity and art are also celebrated here. The colourful town offers vibrant and quirky sights at every turn, including its iconic Brighton Lanes, a bright labyrinth area of narrow alleyways, hidden squares, boutiques, shops and lots of places to eat and drink.

The welcoming nature of its people and thriving creative community helped the town to win the title of “happiest place in the UK” in July 2015.

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