Hastings, famously eventful

Cllr Peter Chowney, Hastings Borough Council leader
Cllr Peter Chowney, Hastings Borough Council leader

It’s that time of year again, when the schools break up for the summer holidays, and Hastings is packed with visitors.

Tourism visits to Hastings are increasing, and it’s not hard to see why. There are few towns with such a packed calendar of events and activities for visitors and residents to enjoy.

Despite big budget cuts, Hastings Council is still able to provide a lot of events and activities throughout the summer, largely because we’ve bid for and won external funding to make them possible. The Stade Saturdays programme of events continues right through to October, with the Lantern Society’s folk festival, Cirque Rouages and Southpaw Dance Company during August. And at the end of a warm summer’s evening, don’t miss the spectacular Bottle Alley light shows, at dusk (currently 10pm), with an extended show on Fridays.

Some of the events we’ve funded are put on in partnership with others. For example, there’s The Source Park’s free BMX session to those new to BMX biking, every Tuesday afternoon. The Source are also putting on their spectacular ‘Battle of Hastings’ international BMX competition, on 6th – 9th September.

For young children, there are Play Days at Alexandra Park, and Street Bites, aimed at 11-16 year olds, twice weekly in August. There’s a free football tournament at Horntye at the end of August, and free ‘Summer Streets’ sessions, with football, multi-sports and craft activities throughout August. And there are supervised play sessions at Pelham beach, on Mondays, Fridays and weekends. Hastings Museum and Art Gallery offers free storytelling from around the world for children, inspired by pieces from the museum collection on Wednesdays, and free open air theatre to celebrate dinosaur day on 22nd August. The ‘Collect’ exhibition opens there this month too. Details of all these are on the council’s website.

A little further off in September, there’s the Hastings Seafood and Wine Festival on 15th – 16th September, one of our most popular events of the year.

Hastings parks and nature reserves offer fabulous places to go for walks, picnics, and to play. Alexandra Park, St Leonards Gardens, and of course Hastings Country Park have just been given the prestigious Green Flag Award again, with the Country Park in particular winning extra awards for the environmentally-sensitive way the park is managed and maintained. But there are eight other less well-known nature reserves in Hastings to visit – over a quarter of Hastings is publicly-accessible nature reserves and green spaces, maintained by Hastings Council and local trusts, encompassing wetlands, ancient woodlands, meadows and heathland. And of course, there are our award-winning beaches, at Pelham and our Blue Flag beach at St Leonards.

But it’s not just council events. Hastings is lucky to have so many volunteer groups, individuals and other organisations who organise events throughout the year. There’s Hastings Carnival, of course, beginning this weekend with the carnival procession next Saturday. And then there’s the Coastal Currents Visual Arts Festival, a now well-established, nationally-recognised arts festival throughout September. There are free concerts on Sundays in July and August at the Alexandra Park bandstand, courtesy of the Eat@ café there. And there are a host of guided walks in different parts of town – see the Visit1066 website for details.

So there’s no shortage of things to do in Hastings and St Leonards this summer. There really is something for everyone. All you have to do is get out there and enjoy it!