Sunday, October 4, 2009

Festival of Fireworks at Southend Seafront

The skies over the seafront dazzle, shimmer and explode with colour every Saturday night at this time of year as a fabulous array of fireworks are launched from a barge at sea just off Jubilee Beach about 100m east of the Pier.

The fireworks are just a part of the season of "Seafront Spectaculars" and follow the "Battle of the Bands" events each week where local bands battle it out to scoop top prizes.

You can also win prizes for the top scorers at Kursaal Ten Pin bowling so you can make it a fun night out for all the family.


Free entry

Event details

Dates and Times
Sat 10 Oct 2009 20:00
Sat 17 Oct 2009 20:00
Sat 24 Oct 2009 20:00
Sat 31 Oct 2009 20:00
Sat 7 Nov 2009 20:00

Christmas Spectacular & Lights Switch-On, Saturday 14th November

Whether you want fantastic family fun or sensational seasonal shopping, there's something for you in Southend-on-Sea this Christmas. Here you'll find all the highlights and dates when events are taking place so you can plan ahead and make the most of the festive season.

We hope you enjoy celebrating the festive season with us and wish you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND BEST WISHES FOR 2010!

Christmas Lights Switch-On
Saturday 14th November 

Southend-on-Sea Town Centre will be transformed into a winter wonderland, with a day full of festive fun and entertainment for all the family - everything you need to get your Christmas off to a cracking start!

This very special day will give you the chance to enjoy a festive experience like no other, with a very special parade featuring Santa and his REAL reindeer, music courtesy of BBC Essex and Heart FM and a whole host of seasonal sensations, including street entertainment, mouth-watering market stalls and, of course, the ever popular Christmas lights switch-on and a truly spectacular fireworks display!

9:00am - 8:00pm, Christmas Market

8:30am - 5:30pm Christmas Farmers and Craft Market

All day BBC Essex broadcasting at the top of Pier Hill

1:00pm - 1:30pm, The Royals Christmas Toy Parade

1:45pm - 6:00pm, Don't forget to visit Santa at the Royals Shopping Centre

12pm - 2:00pm, Christmas Spectacular Stage

2:00pm - 4:00pm at the Heart Stage

4:00pm - 5:00pm, Heart FM Roadshow hosted by Martin & Su

5:00pm - Christmas Lights Switch On -from the Heart Stage

5:30pm - Spectacular Seafront Fireworks Finale

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ilfracombe House Hotel on 'The Mail on Sunday' Newspaper

In search of Southend's seaside for a British family holiday

By John Nichol Mail on Sunday
Last updated at 5:09 PM on 09th August 2009
Back in the olden days, children used to spend summer holidays enjoying simple pleasures - playing games in the street, riding bikes and, if they were lucky, going to the beach.
And because my childhood home was a few miles from the North East seaside town of Tynemouth, that's exactly what I did. Day after idyllic day, my mates and I would cycle the four miles to the coast and disappear for hours on end playing on the sand and fishing in rock pools.
There were no mobile phones, no one worried about the busy roads and the term 'stranger-danger' hadn't even been coined. And as long as you took a packet of sandwiches and a bottle of squash, it was largely free. It was innocent, timeless fun. And, most importantly, it was home-grown.
John Nichol and his daughter on the beach
Pleasure beach: John Nichol and his daughter Sophie make sandcastles at Southend-on-Sea
on a school skiing trip, and I'd reached the heady age of 20 before my first 'trip to the sun' to experience the dubious delights of a beach holiday in Corfu.
In stark contrast, the youth of today think it normal to jet all over the world to exotic locations in search of sun, sea and sand. Indeed, my four-year-old daughter, Sophie, has already frolicked on the beaches of the Cayman Islands, cruised - in considerable luxury - the French canal system and sailed around Honduras and Belize.
Obviously, then, she is immune to my endless lectures on vacation frugality and tired of the 'we used to live in a cardboard box' stories of Geordie life in the Seventies. But she has inherited my love of the old-fashioned British beach holiday and delights in visits to her grandmother's home in the North East.
It is entirely normal to see three generations of the Nichol clan, wrapped up in waterproofs, hats and scarves, leaning into the wind to build sandcastles and dipping toes into the icy seas of Tynemouth beach in midwinter.
Sadly, because we live in Hertfordshire, visits north are sporadic. So, in an effort to fulfil Sophie's desire for sand between her toes, I consulted my road map to find a suitable venue for a weekend break at the coast. I was confronted by the initially unpalatable fact that our nearest seaside resort was Southend.
My mind filled with stereotypical images of barely clothed bottle-blonde ladettes, tottering around in white, six-inch stilettos, pursued by dribbling youths displaying their dubious driving skills in souped-up Ford Escorts.
Indeed, one travel guide damns Southend thus: ' Pugnacious and brash . . . unless you're after tacky arcades, flash amusement rides or sleazy nightspots, there's not much to do.'
Not a resounding recommendation, then. But I cast my inhibitions aside and the Nichol family duly decamped from commuter suburbia to make the hour's drive to the Essex coast.
Adventure Island rides
Beyond the beach: Adventure Island has rides to keep the whole family happy

Arriving on the outskirts of Southend, it seemed my worst nightmares would be realised. Run-down shops and polystyrene kebab cartons littered the streets, and a worrying array of white-socked teenagers, bedecked in market-stall nylon tracksuits, occupied the pavements.
But my initial fears ( possibly prejudices?) were cast aside as we drove along the seafront to squeals of delight from the young back-seat passenger.
Yes, there were fish and chip shops every few yards. Yes, the amusement arcades rubbed shoulders with shops selling candy floss, rock and myriad cheap tat. Yes, OAPs dozed in deckchairs with hankies on their heads.
But that's the whole point, isn't it? This is the very essence of a family holiday by the sea - it's what makes Britain so great.
Southend-on-Sea gained popularity as a seaside resort after that good-time lover of excess, the Prince Regent (the future King George IV), took his wife Caroline there to enjoy the healthy climate.
The idea was that the sickly Caroline should bathe in the waters in an effort to improve her health. But, not least because the Princess was renowned for some 'personal hygiene issues', George used to abandon her in Southend while he indulged himself in more upmarket Brighton.
Today, Southend is Essex's largest town and the population of some 175,500 host nearly three million visitors each year.
Accommodation varies greatly in quality and price. An internet search found basic family rooms as expensive as £250 per night.
But then I discovered a gem. The Ilfracombe House Hotel, a five-minute saunter from the beach, offers twobedroom self-catering apartments from just £75 a night. And that included a sumptuous English breakfast for all three of us. OK, it may not have been five-star luxury but it had a well-equipped kitchen and the lounge and both bedrooms had TVs and DVD players. It was clean, comfortable and perfect for our family.
Popular: The beach has been a popular British holiday spot since King George IV took his wife there
The beach was our main focus of entertainment. The sun blazed down as we gambolled in the sand. I say sand but perhaps Southend's biggest drawback is that most of the beaches are covered in sand-coloured gravel.
Still, the squeals of delight seemed to suggest that this didn't affect Sophie one iota as she built countless sandcastles and transported bucket after bucket of seawater to fill ever-leaking moats.
Once the sun went down, we relocated to Adventure Island and its multitude of, in my opinion, terrifying rides. But Sophie gets her courage from her mother's side of the family and she enjoyed stomach-churning rollercoasters, dodgems and waltzers.
We spent most of the weekend in the open but there were enough covered activities, such as Sealife Adventure or Kids Kingdom, to cater for rainy days.
It was an exhausting few days but the Nichol family loved it. We enjoyed old-fashioned seaside pleasures: sunhats, sand in our socks, melting ice creams drizzled in red goo and fish and chips laced with vinegar, washed down with fluorescent fizzy drinks.
Despite my initial reservations, Southend provided a magical family holiday.
We will certainly go back.

Medic: Saving Lives - From Dunkirk To Afghanistan, by John Nichol and Tony Rennell, will be published by Penguin in October, priced £20.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Leigh Folk Festival at Leigh-on-Sea

Leigh Folk Festival at Leigh-on-Sea

Sat 27, Sun 28 Jun 2009

One of the largest free festivals of music, song and dance in the County with more than 500 performers. Includes traditional and contemporary, Folk, Cajun, Country & Western, Blues, Jive, Flamenco, Appalachian –plus storytelling, poetry and various workshops.

The artists confirmed include Kelli Ali, Francesca Bassenger, Clare Blackman, Eric Bogle & John Munro, Phil Burdett & Band, Tom Burgess, Fancy Dress Party, Faustus, Rachel Harrington, Isnaj Dui & Roshi Nahesi, Shona Kipling & Damien OKane, The Kittiwakes, The Owl Service, The Severed Limb, The Smoke Fairies, Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer, Nancy Wallace, Trevor Watts & Peter Knight, Wills Fargo, and The Woodlarks.


Tel: 01702 715111

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Adventure Island Southend will be very busy this summer.

'You only pay if you play' and with over 60 rides and attractions, there's something for the whole family to enjoy. With four roller coasters including 'Rage' with it's 75ft drop and 360 degree band roll, the only coaster of it's kind in England, plus unique rides 'Ramba Zamba' and 'The Archelon'. There are also sixteen rides for tiny tots and a themed Jungle Jive Cafe and Pizzas of Eight Restaurant. Open every day from Easter until early September and every weekend and school half term holiday from Sept to March including special Friday and Saturday 'Light Fantastic' nights during September and October.
Island Cafe and Jungle Jive Cafe. Plus kiosks and parlours serving everything from hot dogs to ice cream, candy floss and fudge.

Don your capes and eye masks for Rage, Adventure Island's newest exciting ride! With a 23 metre vertical lift that becomes a vertical drop, vertical loop, overhead turns and 360 degree barrell roll with forces topping a huge 4.5G it's set to attract the bravest of thrill seeking super heroes.

Adventure Island Southend


Free entry
You pay only for the rides and attractions you use.

Opening Hours

Open daily from April to September plus school half terms, Easter Bank Holiday and all weekend during the winter months unless they fall on Christmas Day or Boxing Day.

Open from 11.00am until between 5.00pm and 11.00pm depending on the time of year and weather. Check website or phone for details. Special discounts for group bookings.

To book your hotel accommodation at Ilfracombe House Hotel go online: or call 01702 351000.

Adventure Island Contact details

Tel: 01702 443400

Adventure Island Southend

Western Esplanade, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1EE

By Road:
From the A12 take the A130 then the A127 to Southend. Fom M25 either junction 29 or 30 eastbound to Southend on Sea.

By Public Transport:
From Southend Central station it is 5 minutes' walk to Adventure Island Southend. Southend Victoria Station is a 10 minute walk.