Strategically this has always been one of our country's most important ports, both in terms of commerce and battle. Many epic voyages have disembarked from Southampton's shores, including the Mayflower taking the Pilgrim Fathers what will become America and the ill-fated Titanic. Obviously key through the ages in our war efforts, it took a bettering by in WWII and has since been rebuilt. It's now a curious mix of modern commercialism and historical. If you’ve got a bit of time on your stag weekend to do some exploring, here are a few things to check out.
May 29 – Beer Festival. A beer festival. With beer.
June 7 - the Holi One Colour Festival. A huge hippie-fest that’s basically a giant, peaceful paintball game.
June 14 – The Ejectorseat Arts Festival.
July 5 – the Thai Festival.
July 12 – Let’s Rock Southampton. Dedicated to 80’s music, it’s got all the post-punk, new wave, pop and synth you could possible take.
July 12 – Mela Festival. All about 25,000 people celebrating South East Cutlure.
September 12 - Southampton Boats Show. The largest on-water boat show in northern Europe.
October 4 – Music in the City.
If you’re getting to Southampton by car then it’s just 75 miles from London and 21 miles from the Channel ports. From the North, London and the Home Counties, the M3, M27 and A34 provide fast, direct road links into the heart of the city.
Southampton also has good access by train from London’s Waterloo station with a journey time of about 75 minutes. Trains run hourly from Reading, Oxford, Birmingham, Salisbury, Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Chichester, Hove, Gatwich Airport and Weymouth with more frequent services from Bournemouth, Winchester, Fareham and Portsmouth.
You can also reach the city by coach - National Express operates an extensive coach service. If you’re flying to the city then Southampton International Airport is situated on the outskirts of the city and is convenient for the M27 and M3. It’s also possible to get to the city by ferry - cross channel ferry services run by Brittany Ferries and LD Lines operate out of the nearby port of Portsmouth.
It’s easy enough to get around Southampton, either by car, public transport, or good old fashioned walking. There are six different bus companies, and a high volume of taxis around for when you can’t work out which bus company you need. If you’re considering walking, then as long as you’re around the city centre everything should be within a easily manageable distance.
Southampton FC (known as the Saints for their church roots) have played jump rope with the lines between the Championship, Premier and Division 1 League – they’ve spent more time running up and down the tables than they have the pitch. They were amongst the founding members of the Premier League in 1992, a happy state that lasted until 2005 where they were relegated for the first time in 27 years. Financial troubles saw a lot of their best players loaned out of sold off, and relegated again to League One, for the first time in 50 years. They languished there until 2011, when, in a sudden burst of energy, they rocketed all the way back up through the ranks to the Premier League, where they’re currently enjoying being back on top.
Taxi numbers: Radio Taxis: 023 8066 6666, Central Shirley Cabs Ltd: 023 8051 0400
Emergency Services: 999
Local Police: 101
Famous for: the Saints, the Solent
Famous sons and residents: Mr Matt Le Tissier, Craig David, Benny Hill
Interesting fact: the Titanic set sail from here