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Enjoy the best art and culture by the sea

The mesmerising light, shifting water and rugged landscapes have drawn creatives to the coast for centuries. Packed with galleries and theatres, there’s plenty of new art and installations that wow.

From Damien Hirst to Charles Dickens, the coast continues to inspire

Enjoy cutting-edge modern art, old masters or take in a show and a back-stage tour, whatever the weather,  feed the senses! 

You’d be hard pushed to find any stretch of the coast crammed with more arts than West Sussex, said to have inspired the likes of J W Turner, John Constable and William Blake. 

A magnet for modern day artists, here you’ll find a thriving arts scene with renowned collections in stately homes, galleries, even beach huts. 

Running to April 2024, British Romantic artist John Craxton’s A Modern Odyssey is on show at the wonderful Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, it takes a journey from wartime Britain to the sun-lit landscapes of Greece, his adopted homeland. 

Plenty of further exhibitions running well into spring ’24 are on show at the Pallant House (an impressive Queen Anne townhouse) and its permanent displays include works by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Damien Hirst, Andy Goldsworthy and other well-known modern icons. 

If you’re making Chichester your base, a visit to the Festival Theatre is a must.  A local theatre with a world-class profile there’s a packed cultural calendar of plays and musical events, it’s well worth booking a back-stage tour. 

But don’t stop there, head to Shoreham’s Art Gallery, it’s run entirely by artists and offers workshops, stop at Worthing’s Colonnade House for ever-changing exhibitions and the Connaught and Pavilion Theatres in Worthing for great national and fringe theatre and comedy.   

Enjoy the best art and culture by the sea Enjoy the best art and culture by the sea
Enjoy the best art and culture by the sea

Discover pop-up galleries, arts festivals and live music

For art and entertainment, the Isle of Thanet’s got it nailed. 

While it's been acknowledged that Margate has been ‘having a moment’ for about the past decade, Turner first came to Margate in 1786 and returned all his life, inspired by the light, sky and sea.  

Internationally acclaimed Turner Contemporary blazes the creative trail but a growing line-up of independent galleries can be found on Margate’s cobbled street’s Old Town, stop off at the Pie Factory or Eclectic Art Gallery.  Margate’s very own Tracey Emin has opened TKE Studios, an artist residency project – grab a bargain or a masterpiece! 

Beloved by Charles Dickens, nearby Broadstairs boasts New Kent Art and Broadstairs Gallery which offers exhibitions of local art, prints and panoramic photos.   

Vincent Van Gogh lived in Ramsgate, there’s now a sculpture in the town’s Spencer Square. Drop into the Turner Rowe Art Centre & Gallery, McGillan & Woodell and York St Gallery. 

Folk, jazz, blues or pop – visit Yorkshire’s coast for fun festivals and inspirational art 

With its dramatically varied landscapes, the North York Moors National Park has long drawn creative talent, from 19th century writer Lewis Carroll and modern-day author Phillipa Gregory to latter day painters Laura Knight, George Weatherill and Gillie Jones. 

For one weekend in September cottages across the pretty coastal village of Staithes open as pop-up galleries, strewn with the work of artists, sculptors and creatives. You’ll find 90 galleries exhibiting more than 130 artists work, enjoy music, talks and walks during the festival.

Enjoy the best art and culture by the sea
Enjoy the best art and culture by the sea Enjoy the best art and culture by the sea

Music fan? You should visit in June for The Staithes Weekender!

It's a wonderful mix of workshops, storytelling and live music, a perfect partner to the Festival of Arts and Heritage in September featuring jazz, blues, pop, folk and bluegrass across the village. 

Just north of Scarborough, the family-friendly Headland Festival celebrates music, food and drink every August. There are also annual folk weeks in Saltburn in August with mini versions in Robin Hood’s Bay but the big event is Musicport Festival in Whitby in October. 

Not far from the coast, the Ryedale Festival is held for two weeks in July, a classical highlight welcoming worldwide performers for concerts and arts events in historic houses, churches and theatres. Celebrated classical musicians also gather in August for the North York Moors Chamber Music Festival, staged in the area’s beautiful churches. 

If you’re on the Essex coast, the Beecroft Art Gallery in Southend-on-Sea holds more than 2,000 works of art from 17th century Dutch masters to contemporary works and fashion and textiles. Also in Southend and for a modern twist, head to Focal Point Gallery, South Essex’s only dedicated contemporary art gallery. 

Reopening in March 2024, Naze Tower, Walton on the Naze, spans eight floors including an art gallery, museum, tearoom and viewing platform with stunning views across the Essex and Suffolk coastline, worth scaling the 111 stairs!