During the Victorian era, Southampton was known as ‘The Gateway to the Empire’. It was from this historic port that the Titanic set sail on her doomed maiden voyage to New York; with the majority of the crew being from Southampton a third of those who perished in the tragedy hailed from the city. The city continued with its maritime endeavors and is now known as the cruise capital of Europe. Southampton is also the birthplace of the Spitfire, R J Mitchell, a Southampton resident, undertook development and design of the aircraft. The Spitfire factory became a much sought after target for bombing raids during the Second World War and Southampton suffered heavily.
Getting to Southampton
By air, Southampton is serviced by Southampton International Airport, which has routes to UK cities, Ireland and a number of European cities. Rail services run into Southampton Central from London, Cardiff, Birmingham and many other cities. Megatrain runs a service from London to Southampton with fares as low as £1 for a single. Journey time from London is around 1hr 15 minutes. By road, the M3 links Southampton with the M25 and London. The M27 links with the West Country and Brighton to the east. National express runs between London and Southampton and Megabus offers a budget service. Despite being a major port, there is no international ferry service from Southampton. A ferry sails to Cowes on the nearby Isle of Wight. The rest of Southampton’s maritime activity is reserved for cruise ships and freight.
What’s on and when to go?
2014 sees Southampton celebrate 50 years of city status. Many events are planned throughout the year as well as annual favourites such as The Southampton Boat Show. The Boat Show, which is held in September, runs for a week and is the culmination of Sea City a five-month celebration of Southampton’s links with the sea. Sky-Ride Southampton is a mass cycling event held at the end of June that attracts over 12,000 people and gives participants the chance to ride around a traffic free Southampton. Towards the end of August, the Southampton Maritime festival is a two-day affair that is incredibly popular. As well as historic ships and vessels, there are also numerous art exhibits and craft fairs.
Woodmill Outdoor Activities Centre specializes in paddlesport, canoeing and kayaking. They run corporate and group days and offer many packages from beginner courses to expeditions and tours. Southampton Water Activities Centre has a massive amount of activities on offer. Dinghy, crewed boat, keel boat and powerboat sailing, there is a massive amount of options. Also powerboat chartering and raft building are also in the mix. Unsurprisingly for a historic port there are hundreds of water based activity centres in and around Southampton. On drier land, Paultons theme park has rollercoasters and log flumes for thrill seekers who like to stay on terra firma. Delta Force Southampton Paintball Centre has different themed zones and caters for groups and corporate away days.
Southampton has a good range of nightlife on offer. From elegant bars to country pubs, jazz clubs to pumping nightclubs and multiple live music venues; Southampton has you covered! The Hobbit pub has a large outdoor area, proudly proclaiming themselves a football free zone and has regular live music.
The Red Lion pub dates back to the 12th century and still has a minstrels’ gallery and a huge fireplace. It was here in 1415 where conspirators who plotted the murder of Henry V were put on trial For culture lovers, The Mayflower theatre in southern England and has a diverse programme of the arts. Late night revelry is on offer at Oceana, one of the largest clubs in the UK and famed for its themed rooms