Student life in Hastings & St Leonards rivals that of any of the larger cities in the UK due to its wide range of activities available: live music venues, clubs, alternative bars, restaurants, coffee shops, cinemas, independent boutiques, amusements and funfair. Being situated on the sunny south coast, there are plenty of sports available e.g. windsurfing, kite-surfing, clubs for sailing and rowing, beach volleyball, tennis, cycling, swimming and skateparks. The towns are a major destination for students from all over Europe due to their multiple language schools and close proximity to the channel ports.
Hastings has a long history of attracting artists and musicians but in the last ten years this activity has exploded so that the adjoining towns of Hastings and St Leonards have become home to hundreds of creative people and their studios, working in national and international arenas. The energy and enthusiasm of these creatives has ensured that the two towns are an established hub for all manner of creative activity for Sussex and the South East of England; attracting a hugely diverse range of practicing artists/performers/designers/writers and more – this is reflected in the increasing number of galleries that have opened here, both public ones and those that are smaller and independent. These are a continual melting pot for creative people to meet and exhibit their work.
Situated 7 miles along the coast at Bexhill is the De La Warr Pavillion: modernist icon, theatre and art gallery, which has strong professional links with the photographic community in Hastings and St Leonards. The Jerwood Foundation moved it’s collection to Hastings and its Gallery opened in the Old Town in 2012. The Turner Contemporary is not far away in Margate, The Towner in Eastbourne and Fabrica is situated in neighbouring Brighton.
Art, performance and design go hand in hand with photography and it is therefore not surprising that Hastings and St Leonards has an extremely active photographic community ranging from internationally renowned photographers and photojournalists to a very enthusiastic and eclectic group of amateur/hobbyist photographers who regularly attend and participate in talks, meetings and exhibitions such as Photology, PhotoHubGroup, Brighton Photo Fringe to name but a few.
Hastings is home to several well established festivals such as Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) in February where Hastings meets New Orleans in the Old Town. An international piano concerto competition and half marathon in March, followed by Beatles Day where hundreds of musicians play in April. Jack in the Green, held in May (thousands of bikers mingle with thousands of Hastingonians in a dual modern and pagan ritual). Pirate Day in July, in 2012 Hastings smashed the world record with over 14000 pirates gathered in the town. August and September see a range of carnivals, music festivals, food and drink festivals, Coastal Currents, Hastings Week and Old Town Week. Hastings Bonfire in October which has around 100 Bonfire Societies marching through the town carrying flaming torches and beating drums on their way to an enormous beach fire and fireworks. Hastings has its own Chess Masters in January and the World Crazy Golf championship in October. All of which provide limitless opportunities for project work.
In addition to the livelier side of Hastings and St Leonards, there is an elegant and tranquil element reflected in its beautiful architecture and gardens. Warrior Square is a classic example, where Regency and Georgian grandeur surround formal gardens. (Burton) St Leonards was designed and built by James and Decimus Burton around 1830 based on the architecture they built on the outer edge of Regent’s Park in London.
Hastings Old Town is famous for its beach-launched fishing fleet (which can trace its ancestry back to before 1066), its iconic and eye-catching net huts, fish stalls, fish and chip shops, medieval streets and typical English sea-side atmosphere.
Hastings & St Leonards are surrounded by beautiful Sussex countryside which includes the rolling South Downs, woodlands, trails, country parks and historic cinqueports.
Hastings is well used to accommodating students, has a wide variety of rooms, shared houses, B&Bs and hotels to suit all budgets and is an hour and a half to London.