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Places to Go: Bournemouth

Places to Go: Bournemouth

Bournemouth is a large town on the south coast of England, with a population of about 180,000 people. It’s a Victorian resort town, and is one of the most popular seaside resorts in England, along with the other “B’s” – Brighton and Blackpool. Bournemouth is really accessible, and it’s even got an international airport which you can fly to from many European countries. More likely, you can get there in 2 hours from London, and South West Trains often do cheap deals for days at the beach in Bournemouth. So even if you don’t want to stay the night, you can always spend a summer’s day doing traditionally British seaside activities. Watch out for the seagulls, though!


Most of Bournemouth’s tourist attractions are in the town centre, so you can talk a walk from the shops, through Bournemouth’s Lower Gardens, past the stream, before the sea opens out in front of you. The gardens have something locals call the Bournemouth Balloon, which on a sunny day you can see from miles around. It’s a big hot air balloon that goes up into the sky (safely anchored to the ground, of course) so tourists can get an aerial view of the town and the beach. There are many things happening there all year round – you can see the fireworks displays in the summer, occasional light exhibitions, and Christmas lights in the winter. In the winter, they sometimes put out an ice rink in the gardens, so you can skate with your friends in the park.


Speaking of ice rinks, for nearly a decade the Bournemouth International Centre has set up temporary ice rinks in the winter and most summers, so there’s plenty to do in the school holidays on rainy days! The BIC is a large entertainment/conference venue, and it has hosted acts such as One Direction. There’s also the Bournemouth Pavilion, a theatre which many touring theatre shows and comedians have made a stop on their UK tours. These are in the centre too, so are ideal for an evening out.


Bournemouth also has lots of action-packed activities for all the family. Bournemouth Pier has just opened a new adventure centre, with rock climbing walls and a really long zip wire from the end of the pier to the beach. It’s really high, and it propels you down the wire, off the pier and out over the sea. Even if you don’t want to go on, watching by the pier is a bit of harmless free entertainment, as you can hear the terrified screams and cheers of laughter coming from the people riding it!


Just next door to the pier is the Oceanarium, something everyone will find enjoyable. They’ve got so many types of fish and other weird and wonderful sea creatures, it’ll keep everybody fascinated! The highlight is a glass tunnel that you can walk through, and sharks, turtles and loads of different fish swim above your head in an array of life and colour.


Further along the seafront and up the hill is the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum. This is within an Edwardian beachfront holiday home, with a great variety of architectural designs inside and out, ranging from Japanese to Moorish (North African) rooms. One of the most famous paintings in this gallery is a painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, one of the founders of the Victorian “pre-Raphaelite” art movement. It’s called Venus Verticordia, and it shows a beautiful young woman standing amongst flowers. The Russell Cotes museum also has a kids’ play area and tours for kids, so art doesn’t just have to be something the grown-ups do.


Of course, the most famous thing about Bournemouth is the beach. In the summer, the national newspapers will often publish pictures of the beach jam-packed full of tourists on a hot day! However, with almost ten miles of golden sand, there’s plenty of space to go around. Grab an ice cream or some fish and chips, lay out your towel, swim in the blue waters and make the most of the rare sunshine in the UK’s best tourist resort.


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