The weather is turning colder and the nights are drawing in. But that’s no excuse to lock ourselves away and hibernate for the winter. If you’re heading to the South East of England for a day trip, short break, or if you’re Hastings-born-and-bred, there are plenty of ways to battle boredom in 1066 country.
You’re probably familiar with Hastings heritage, but there’s so much more to enjoy in this historic sea front town. Whether you’re looking for something avowedly un-touristy, or just seeking to explore some activities a little off the beaten track, Hastings boasts a host of exciting days out—no matter what the weather.
Enjoy top entertainment
Quality entertainment is never far away in Hastings thanks to an array of theatres, music halls and everything from outdoor plays to bowling offering fun for the whole family. The newly refurbished Hastings Pier hosts open-air markets, fishing workshops, parties and concerts throughout the year
A new luxury cinema at The Sussex Exchange allows you to experience films in a super spacious and relaxed atmosphere. It’s a great space for those to relax in reclining seats while you ‘wine and dine’, and to enjoy top-quality filmmaking that preserves your love of film.
Wander through the Old Town
A picturesque jumble of cottages, townhouses and narrow “twittens” (passageways) make up Hastings’ Old Town. The hit 1940s detective drama ITV’s Foyle’s War, was filmed and mainly set there! If you’re a fan, you can find DI Foyle’s house on Croft Road, and there are plenty of other locations seen in the programme to explore, including Hill Street and St Clement’s Church.
From the Old Town, take a wander down to The Stade shingle beach, home to the biggest beach-launched fishing fleet in Britain. Many events take place every year in the Old Town such as the Hastings Old Town Week, Jack In The Green, the Seafood and Wine Festival, and the Bonfire Procession. Many of these events are centred on Winkle Island, which is also the gathering place of the famous Winkle Club.
Try a tipple at South East England’s best vineyards
Take a self-guided or expert-led tour of Carr Taylor Vineyard, Sussex, where you’ll journey through the history of the vineyard and local winemaking methods. Tours take you through the winery and bottling room, where you’ll learn how English wines differ from those made elsewhere in Europe. Ploughman’s lunches and afternoon teas are available daily and dogs are welcome too!
You can also check out the competition at Sedlescombe Vineyard to see organic and biodynamic farming in action. Tour the winery, trail the vineyards and take in the High Weald ancient English woodland. Then it’s off to the ‘Bar-in-the Barn’ for a tutorial on England’s best range of white, red and sparkling wines.
Go to the pub
This one’s obligatory! FILO (The First In Last Out) dates back to the 16th century, with its own micro-brewery in the Old Town. They produce six ales on rotation which you can try in the pub, where they also serve up hearty local (and Indian) grub.
The Anchor Inn is a lively community pub located safely inland in the old back lanes and the hustle and bustle of George Street. Inside, you’ll find a cosy and traditional pub complete with a wood burner and wooden floors. It’s a perfect family retreat, and it’s dog-friendly too.
For other interesting places to grab a bite to eat and drink, try the A G Hendy Homestore, a top seafood restaurant tucked inside a vintage store, or Boulevard Bookshop serving up Thai cuisine in a second-hand bookshop.
Tour local galleries and museums
The Jerwood Gallery is home to a collection of 20th and 21st century art and features a popular exhibition programme showcasing the best of modern and contemporary British art. Bringing you highlights from the First World War to the 1960s, artists featured include Sir Stanley Spencer, L.S. Lowry and Augustus John.
A little down the road, you’ll find the Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, which was established over 120 years ago to offer visitors to the town the opportunity to explore art, culture and history from around the world. The museum now has around 97,000 objects of local history, natural sciences and world cultures.
For keen seafarers, there’s also the Shipwreck Museum, an independent museum that houses artefacts from ships wrecked in the English Channel, plus exhibits of fossils found in the local area. Check out the website for special events and exhibits, as well as information on seasonal opening times. You might enjoy the Fishermen’s Museum too!
Hastings’ True Crime Museum is “a shocking new attraction for everyone fascinated by the dark world of crime.” Set in seafront caves, it is the largest collection of crime memorabilia in the UK! Suitable for all ages and with wheelchair access throughout, the museum offers a fascinating insight into the world of serial killers, forensics, prisoners, poisoners and more.
Get out and about in nature
Hastings Country Park Local Nature Reserve covers 853 acres of ancient gill woodland, cliff top and lowland meadow and sustainably managed farmland, all sitting with the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You could also walk or cycle the Coastal Cultural Trail—on a clear day it’s even possible to spot the French coast!
If you prefer your nature a little less bracing, get yourself down to the Blue Reef Aquarium, with naturally themed tropical displays and underwater walkthrough tunnel. Surrounded by the bustling coral reefs, it’s the perfect place to relax and catch sight of Black Tip Reef Sharks gliding past.