Aldeburgh is a beautiful town on the river Alde. It is blessed with breathtaking scenery, both seawards and following the river Alde inland. Its name comes from Alde Burgh meaning “old fort”. The town’s history is inextricably linked to the changes time has wrought to the coastal map. It was once an important Tudor port, its shipbuilders responsible for Francis Drake’s ‘Golden Hind’. Some historic buildings have survived the centuries, such as 400-year old Moot Hall (now home to Aldeburgh’s museum), a Norman Church and a martello tower.
Aldeburgh had to wait until the 19th century when the fashion for the beach and craze for sea air brought back visitors in quantity, establishing it as a popular resort. The town is famous for being the home of composer Benjamin Britten, and there are many reminders of his life about the town. Britten, Eric Crozier and Peter Pears established the classical Aldeburgh music festival at nearby Snape Maltings in 1948, where it has taken place ever since. For weekend seadogs it has a very active yacht club and teaches sailing to juniors and adults. There are also two popular golf courses, all-weather tennis courts, and, of course, excellent bathing. The pretty high street has craft, food and antiques shops, reflecting local passions, as well as a myriad of pubs and an independent cinema.
Aldeburgh Cinema aims to provide a varied and exciting programme of events, not only a terrific line up of films but also documentaries, and a great line up of live Opera by satellite link. The National Theatre Live events programme begins on 15 Sept with Richard Bean's English version of Goldoni's classic One Man Two Guvnors, and continues with Arnold Wesker’s The Kitchen on 6 Oct. There will also be live screenings from the Glyndebourne Festival and the New York Metropolitan Opera Live season. The Cinema hosts a Children’s Film Festival in October, and the Aldeburgh Documentary Film Festival in November. Details of the many more films and special events planned for August are available at www.aldeburghcinema.co.uk or call 01728 452996.
The Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival is a two-week celebration of the abundance of good local food and drink to be found in East Suffolk. Snape Maltings will host the main event on 24 – 25 September, but there will be a host of fringe events running throughout the area until 8 October. The main festival weekend will feature over 90 exhibitors showcasing organic vegetables, fresh and smoked fish, rare breed meat and game, cheeses, frozen yoghurt, jams, beer, wine and lager, and more, virtually all of them by businesses based in the area. www.aldeburghfoodanddrink.co.uk
Aldeburgh Summer Theatre returns again this year, with a season of children’s performances, lunchtime events and evening theatre. A farce, a thriller and a Thomas Hardy classic feature among this season’s delights. The theatre runs until 27th August. For details call 01728 453007.
Aldeburgh Carnival lasts three days with events for all ages, culminating on the third Monday in August with a Traditional Carnival Parade, followed in the evening by a Military Band counter-marching in the High Street, before leading the unique and beautiful Chinese Lantern Procession in which anyone can take part down to the beach for a spectacular Firework Display. There is so much more to see and do over the three days and this year’s carnival has a ‘Movie Time’ theme. Sat 13 – Mon 15 August. www.aldeburghcarnival.com
Snape Maltings Concert Hall, at nearby Snape, this month hosts the Snape Proms, featuring an eclectic choice of music from a myriad of traditions and genres, while also showcasing artists who have been nurtured through Aldeburgh Music’s own artist development and residency programmes. The offerings include world music, folk, jazz, poetry readings, comedy, piano recitals, chamber music, symphony orchestras, and other unclassifiable but unmissable ensembles. 01728 687110 www.aldeburgh.co.uk
Lawson’s Delicatessen is an award winning deli owned and run by Richard Lawson and Claire Bruce-Clayton. The shop sells locally made organic bread, home glazed Suffolk ham, fine cheeses kept in excellent condition, rare breed pork pies, olives, jams and chutneys, coffee beans and loose leaf teas. In season expect asparagus, blueberries, apples, pears and salad leaves, all from local farms and smallholdings. High Street 01728 454052
EAT DRINK & STAY IN ALDEBURGH
Just a pebble’s throw from Aldeburgh’s shingle beach, the privately-owned award-winning Brudenell typifies all of the elements of a luxury four star seaside hotel. The decadent bedrooms are distinctly decorated, incorporating vibrant colours so often associated with Aldeburgh and Suffolk. Enjoy soporific sea views, as well as beautiful views of the River Alde and the surrounding countryside. Dine in the excellent restaurant or on the stylish terrace. The Parade 01728 452071
This delightful family-run hotel in Aldeburgh successfully combines the modern with the traditional. 35 bedrooms, many with views over the beach, a great restaurant and two sea-facing gardens where you can sit and enjoy the sun and the seaview. Wentworth Road 01728 452312
Newly-refurbished in fabulous style, the White Lion Hotel overlooks Aldeburgh’s shingle beach with stunning sea views. Here you will find peace and relaxation in elegant and inspirational surroundings. The new Bar & Brasserie offers a superb dining experience and excellent service. Market Cross Place 01728 452720
One of Aldeburgh’s most well known establishments, a 90-seat bistro-style fish restaurant spread over two floors. High Street 01728 453377
The Mill Inn
With plenty of old world charm, the inn’s dark beams and leaded windows take you back to the days when this was the haunt of smugglers who plied their trade along the coast. Good food and accommodation available. Market Cross Place 01728 452563
Luxury bed & breakfast in a newly constructed New England-style property over three floors, just 200m from aldeburgh beach. St Peter’s Road 01728 454226
Quality, fine food in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Brasserie-style dining, with an emphasis on fresh fish in the summer. High Street 01728 454594
The Railway Inn
A friendly local Pub and guest house situated at the entrance to the town, and only 5 minutes walk to the beach. Leiston Road 01728 453864
Open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, Red Ziggy’s is Aldeburgh’s first and only bright red, 50s inspired American Diner. English and American Style Breakfasts, Fish & Chips, Pasta, Risotto, Burgers and Pizzas, delicious milk shakes and more. Plus takeaway service. High Street 01728 452 917
Robert and Johanna Mabey have successfully owned and run this great restaurant for 19 years. Until September the menu’s emphasis will be on locally caught fish and seafood. High Street 01728 452011
Thorpeness Hotel & Golf Club
The 3 star Thorpeness Hotel is situated in a peaceful location next to the Meare in neighbouring Thorpeness, and 5 minutes’ walk from the beach. 36 spacious and comfortable bedrooms and a cosy restaurant overlooking the golf course. Thorpeness 01728 452176
Ye Olde Cross Keys Inn
A pretty little Adnams pub with a courtyard area directly on the seafront, perfect for summer evenings. The pub serves an extensive selection of fresh sea food, which is caught daily by the Aldeburgh fishermen. Great fish and chips. Crabbe Street 01728 452637
Widely regarded as one of the best Fish and Chip Shops in Britain. Fried the same way since 1967, they use fresh fish from the East Coast and delicious local potatoes to make their own chips. It’s equally famous for its queues, but more than worth the wait. Sister restaurant The Golden Galleon is just up the road with an equally good reputation, with a great upstairs restaurant, The Upper Deck.