Brighton was one of the first of the great seaside resorts of Europe. George IV built the city's most famous landmark, the Royal Pavilion, and his patronage made Brighton famous and fashionable. Today Brighton is a more popular destination than ever, with some 8 million tourists visiting each year.
The Royal Pavilion and the Brighton Pier are still essential parts of the city and links to its past, but a true cultural renaissance has occurred during the last decade that has transformed Brighton into something much more than just a seaside resort. Brighton - Hove is today one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in the UK, with world-class arts and culture, a world-famous music and club scene, an incredible nightlife, great shopping, top-class restaurants and a deep-seated tolerance of alternative lifestyles.
Brighton is well known for its gay scene, and the city's bohemian traditions are alive and well. Brighton is a growing, confident and forward-looking city. A state-of-the-art library was built for the new Cultural Quarter in the North Laine area, and several new hotels are planned both for here and the new Urban Village next to Brighton Station. Planning permission has been granted for the Brighton i-360, a seafront observation mast on the site of the West Pier that will carry up to 100 visitors at a time in an aerodynamically designed pod to a height of 150m (492ft) above sea level.
It is expected to open to the public in summer 2008. In addition, there are plans for a seafront palace in Hove that will house two Olympic-size ice rinks for both public and competitive skating as well as a huge leisure complex designed by Frank Gehry with two futuristic towers at its centre. Top Brighton attractions include the beach, Royal Pavilion, Marina and North Laine. Cosmopolitan Brighton is a seaside resort. Beachfront cafes, funky shops, restaurants and vibrant nightlife make Brighton a popular weekend destination.