Good old rainy British weather is unavoidable this time of year, particularly in Portsmouth, which is right next to the seafront.
Despite the cold, there’s still plenty to do on a wet day in the city, leading Emily Turner to compile a list of 15 things that will keep you entertained for hours.
1. Blue Reef Aquarium
A great place to take the little ones, Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium is open all year around except for Christmas Day. They’ve got undulate rays, black tip reef sharks, southern stingrays, otters, reptiles, coral reefs and more. There’s also a tropical tunnel, where you can see puffer fish, trigger fish, and hundreds of tropical fish, as well as a recreated coral reef.
Open from 10am every day, between November and March the aquarium remains open until 4pm with last admissions at 5pm, and your ticket is valid all day
2. Mary Rose Museum
The Mary Rose Museum is part of the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth, which is free to have a wander around. Although the main Mary Rose Museum is closed until Summer 2016, the Entrance pavilion, Learning Centre, Café and Shop will remain open, and there’s also a small display for visitors which includes a new film on the project. Walk around Nelson’s HMS Victory, or alternatively, you can go and get a cup of tea at the Georgian Tearooms.
3. Spinnaker Tower
Although this might be one to save for a day that’s not too cloudy, the Spinnaker Tower is worth a visit. If you’re a local, chances are you haven’t actually been up there, but it gives you a great chance to see the city from a different angle. Until December 31, you can also join in the festive fun by following the sparkling reindeer trail. Santa will also appearing on December 12 and 13, and then from December 19 to 23.
If you’re a resident of either Portsmouth or Gosport, you can get some great reductions on entry – £7.15 rather than £9.50 for adults, £6.40 rather than £8.50 for seniors and students, and £5.65 rather than £7.50 for children.
4. Wedgewood Rooms
For a great night out, head to Southsea’s Wedgewood Rooms. They’ve got concerts, comedy nights, tribute acts, and club nights. Cancer Bats are playing on January 12 2016, followed by The Rifles on February 25.
For the full what’s on guide for the Wedgewood Rooms, visit wedgewood-rooms.co.uk.
5. Castles and fortifications
You can take a walk along the seafront from Clarence Pier, past the Square Tower, and up to the Round Tower, which is open to the public all year round and gives you some great views of the Solent and Old Portsmouth. Although Southsea Castle shuts during the winter months, the Courtyard Café and Restaurant located within Southsea Castle remains open, so there’s nothing to stop you grabbing a warming cuppa.
6. Monster Micks on Portsdown Hill
If you’ve got a car, park up on Portsdown Hill and have one of Monster Mick’s famous burgers or a bag of chips. Be prepared, though – portion sizes are generous.
7. Have a warming beverage
Warm up with a bevvy or two in one of Portsmouth’s great spots for a drink. Old Portsmouth is just over the water from Gunwharf, and has a couple of quiet, charming pubs where you can relax next to the sea. Follow the tram tracks down Broad Street and they’ll lead you right to Spice Island Inn. Alternatively, head down Albert Road for a slightly less quiet but just as enjoyable evening.
8. Rose Gardens
Wrap up warm and take a stroll through those lovely gardens, which are open between 9am and 5pm. Head through the small Japanese gardens and up the steps to the top of the fort’s walls and you’ll be able to see over the Solent to the Isle of Wight.
9. The Kings Theatre
Catch a panto at the King’s Theatre in Southsea. It’s a gorgeous theatre in the middle of Albert Road, which is currently showing Cinderella at various times between Tuesday, December 8, and Sunday, December 3.
10. Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum
Although Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum is closed until the end of March 2016, the museum is holding a special birthday opening on Sunday, February 7. The museum, which recreates the comfortable Regency home that belonged to Dickens’ parents, is opening to mark the writer’s birthday between 10am and 5pm. Last entry is 30 minutes before closing time.
11. Ice skating
Ice skating is always a laugh, and fitting for the festive months. Head over to the ice rink just over the water at Gosport – check out the prices and timetables at planet-ice.co.uk/arena/gosport.
12. Winter Beer Fest in Portsmouth
On Friday, December 18, and Saturday, December 19 2015, Portsmouth Guildhall will be hosting a beer fest. There will be three sessions available to attend, with live music playing – the Friday evening session (held between 6pm and 11pm) will feature Great Scott, the Saturday daytime session (held between 12pm and 5pm) will feature The Southsea Alternative Choir, and the Saturday evening session (held between 6pm and 11pm) will feature The Silver Beatles. Tickets are priced at £10 plus a £1.25 booking fee per person per session. The ticket includes a souvenir glass, programme and a beer.
For more information about buying tickets, visit portsmouthbeerfestival.wordpress.com/tickets.
13. Bowling in Gunwharf
If you’re getting bored of the shops at Gunwharf Quays, head up to the Bowlplex, which is located on the first floor in the central square. As well as bowling, there’s pool and an arcade. It’s open from 12pm to 10:30pm, so you can make an evening of it.
14. Portsmouth Museum
Portsmouth Museum is always interesting, with new exhibitions as well as house collections. Until February 28, 2016, the museum is hosting an exhibition called The Story of Children’s Television, which will explore the history of kids entertainment on the small screen since the early days of Muffin the Mule. Portsmouth Museum also has a great tearoom, where you can grab a cuppa and a slice of cake for a pretty decent deal.
15. Skeptics in the Pub
There are Skeptics in the Pub group meeting at loads of cities around the UK. They have great talks on a huge variety of interesting topics by an expert in that particular field. If you love to have a debate and learn something new, head along to one of these talks, which are held every month. The next meeting, Aliens: Mr Green and Mr Gray cannot visit us today by Steve Colgan, an author, songwriter, and speaker, will discuss if and how we can predict what life is like on other worlds on January 14, 2016.
On February 11, 2016, Skeptics will be hosting Josie Pegg, who will be holding a talk entitled Horrors or Heroes? Learning to Love Parasites. Meetings are free, although the group does appreciate a small donation of £2-£3 to cover speakers’ expenses, and the talks are held at the Florence Arms in Southsea.
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Main photo: Mark Botham / Flickr / CC