Hastings is possibly one of the most interesting towns to visit in the UK – the town a bustling melting pot of born and bred locals, city entrepreneurs, art buffs, tourists and musicians. From olde style shops and buildings in the Hastings Old Town to the picturesque fishing boats on The Stade through to the contemporary Jerwood Gallery, the more you see of Hastings the more you realise the town has a unique style of its own.
Hastings art scene is booming and showing no signs of slowing down. Hailed as the ‘new Shoreditch’ art fans and celebrated artists have flocked to Hastings to get in on all the action.
The main attraction is the prestigious, award winning Jerwood Gallery. The gallery boasts a wide variety of contemporary British art with a diverse temporary exhibition programme. Although perhaps the obvious place to visit in Hastings for art, the gallery does regularly host some truly stunning works from different artists and is well worth a visit.
For something a bit different we’d recommend a visit to The Baker Mamonova gallery in St Leonards. Specialising in Russian art from the 1940’s to the 1960’s the gallery is one of a kind. Sit in the café to enjoy the Russian cuisine and soak up the atmosphere.
If you prefer to stay off the beaten track we recommend taking a tour of Hastings street art. The town is home to a Banksy, numerable Ben Eine’s and Scrabbleman pieces. Hastings also has several artworks from Above, a renowned US street artist.
Foodies love the abundance of fresh, locally sourced produce in Hastings. If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation head to the fishermen’s hut on the beach and buy your fish straight from the sea. This is not only great for your evening meal but it maximises the profit for the fishermen who are one of the last remaining shore fleets in Britain.
If however, you prefer to have someone else do the cooking, Paul Webbe runs a wonderful fish restaurant across from The Jerwood Gallery as well as a Seafood cooking school on the coast for professionals and keen amateurs.
For high end quality goods we’d recommend visiting Penbuckles Delicatessen store and tasting room in Hastings High Street for fine wine, craft ales and cheese platters as well as cured meats and ground coffee. Pick up some goodies and enjoy a light lunch with plenty of wine!
Festivals & Events
One of the best things about Hastings is that there are always events, festivals, celebrations and carnivals happening throughout the year. These events attract an eccentric crowd making for great entertainment and people watching.
Many of the festivals such as Jack in the Green and the annual Hastings pirate day are unique and can appear quite barmy to the casual observer however it’s great fun and enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. Events to keep an eye out for include Beatles Day, Hastings Week, the Seafood & Wine Festival and the Bonfire celebrations. It’s worth mentioning that there is also a vibrant music scene In Hastings and if you’re keen to hear some of the local talent you should look up what gigs are going on near you.
There is a real sense of community in Hastings. The residents are proud of their quirky corner of England and keen to show it off.
This community spirit is epitomized by the 3080 local shareholders of the Hastings Pier which is undergoing a full restoration project having burnt down in 2010. The way in which the community has banded together to save their pier illustrates the local community spirt and the genuine affection the people have for Hastings.
The Hastings area is bursting with historical and cultural gems. Hastings Castle, Battle Abbey, Hastings Cathedral and the Smugglers Caves are all fantastic examples of the area’s rich historical background.
Explore the smugglers of old in the long abandoned caves, discover Hastings’ maritime history at the Fisherman’s museum and learn more than you really wanted to know on one of Hastings infamous ghost tours.
For something slightly different we recommend a visit to the True Crime Museum. Those who have a slightly morbid interest in violent crime and murder will find the Crime museum disturbingly fascinating. With exhibitions on notorious serial killers and violent crime this museum is thought provoking and definitely not for the faint hearted.
Sometimes it’s nice to escape the hustle and bustle of the town and explore the wide open spaces. The Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve is the perfect place for a walk or a bike ride on a sunny day. There are loads of great spots to stop and enjoy a picnic.
Wildlife enthusiasts enjoy the diversity of birds and mammals in the area and walkers love the spectacular views. Guests at Shearbarn Holiday Park had direct access to the country park, great for those who are looking for accommodation within reach of the busy town but with rural surroundings.
A little known natural gem lies in the Coronation Woods behind Alexandra Park. Old Roar Gill is the souths highest waterfall at 10 metres tall. Visitors often stumble upon this by accident and many locals are not aware of its existence.