This was my second time coming here to Portsmouth, solely for the purpose of the amazing Victorious Festival. The first time around, we did not do much – just pretty much attended the festival, but this time around we decided to make a long weekend of it. With a line up of Stereophonics, Elbow, KT Tunstal, Maximo Park, Olly Murs, Rita Ora, The Slaves, Band of Skulls and Feeder (to name a few), the weekend was set to be a killer (in a good way). On the August bank holiday weekend, the sun shone brightly which was rare and how fitting that we were by the coast.
We arrived on the Friday from Victoria station and headed to our hotel, the Ibis City Centre (an Accor Hotel – so points to be earned). You can read more about the hotel itself here. Having relaxed for a little bit, we decided to go out for a walk to get a lay of the land.
Portsmouth has a lot of history. It is the birthplace of Charles Dickens for starters, and the wordsmith is in good company with Arthur Conan Doyle and Kipling having lived in the area as well. Portsmouth also boasts a rich naval and maritime heritage. Today it is the home of the Royal Navy. Swoon, I mean who doesn’t love a guy in uniform.
We started our tour near where our festival was taking place on Clarence Pier. This felt more like the older part of Portsmouth with its amusement park. Classic rides like the dodgems, waltzer, carousel, twister and tea cups were next to arcades with slot machines, cuddly toy grabbers and video games. Great for a family day out. For us, we had a brief look and through along the coast north towards the Old Sally Port, past The Point, onto Gunwharf Quay.
What impressed me about Gunwharf Quay, aside from my lovely meal at Loch Fyne was the shopping. As a retail outlet centre, the designer labels lined the isles offering luxury at a competitively reduced price. Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Kurt Geiger, Guess and Tommy Hilfiger were some of the high end options. There were also more trendier brands such as All Saints, The North Face and Fred Perry. For underwear, you could pop by Calvin Klein. For jewellery, there was the gorgeous Links of London. Everything you desire in the one spot. You could certainly make a day of it with a good selection of bars and restaurants around you to relax and review your purchases.
There were other places to see such as the Portsmouth Museum, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Spitbank Fort – all of which I am sure were great, but most of our time would be spent on the common at Southsea at the festival, so we were not able to go.
The Emirates Spinnaker Tower is also one for the agenda, but being a little afraid of heights we didn’t get a chance to check this out. Essentially it is a 170 metre high viewing tower, apparently one of the best in Britain. If you want to have a birds eye view of the sea and landscape of the South Coast, then this is the spot for you. Bear in mind its £10.50 for the pleasure.
We walked a lot and it was worth it as it would have been a shame to come down here and not check some of the things out. For our Friday evening (the only free one), we checked out some bars near the station, but the icing on the cake was discovering Wiggle on Surrey Street. This was possibly the friendliest and most down to earth lap dancing bar.
Basically, you must go to the next Victorious Festival for a lineup of solid indie, folk, rock and pop action. Tie that in with some shopping, good food, a over 18 bar action, what more could you want. Just be aware there is a strict ID policy at all bars. You must bring a driving licence card or other form to confirm you are of age. No exceptions.