Su Carroll rounds up the very best activities to do and things to see close to the coast in this romantic month.


Aberdeen Art Gallery is hosting the eight biennial Jerwood Art Fund Makers Open which showcases the most exciting new work by early-career artists and makers based in the UK. The gallery is a lead partner in the project resulting in five new commissions across a broad range of material disciplines, including glass, textiles, digital modelling, silversmithing and sculptural installation. Information on the exhibition which ends on March 5 at


St Machar’s Cathedral. A church has been on the site since the sixth century and the Norman cathedral was built in the early 14th century with twin towers. It has a heraldic ceiling with 48 coats of arms and a collection of stunning stained glass windows dating from 1870. (


Bawdsey Hall is a small private nature reserve located on the Suffolk Heritage Coast, between the River Deben and the North Sea, and is rich in wildlife, whether it’s deer, badgers, foxes, owls, hares and birds of prey. Expert and award-winning wildlife photographer David Hermon shares this haven with visitors who can use the hides to get close to nature, and there are a number of different experiences to see wildlife by day or night, at dawn or dusk. The extensive grounds at Bawdsey Hall offer mature woods, large ponds, old outbuilding and meadow land providing a variety of different habitats for local wildlife. Carefully placed led lighting improves vision by night and the days are busy with the chance to spot many animals and birds including sparrowhawks, kestrels and buzzards. For course details and to book go to


Practise your animal photography skills at Suffolk Punch Trust about five miles away in Hollesley. The trust cares for magnificent working horses and there’s a heritage museum with lots of agricultural artefacts. Check the website ( for spring opening.


If you prefer cultural things to do by the coast, an exciting initiative brings together Blackpool’s Grundy Art Gallery, contemporary arts organisations, professional artists and people from The New Langdale, a Blackpool Council daytime service for adults with a learning disability. As the pARTnership, they work together to make, discuss and exhibit contemporary art. Exhibitions of artworks produced during the project have been exhibited at Grundy Art Gallery and other venues in Blackpool and Manchester. The project, coordinated by artist Tina Dempsey, has helped some artists who face barriers to share their work with others. The current exhibition ends on March 31 (


There’s everything to love in Blackpool from the Blackpool Tower with its Ballroom, Dungeons and Circus and the Pleasure Beach for thrill seekers. Plus an aquarium, a zoo, Madame Tussaud’s, a sandy beach with three piers and the famous Promenade.

There is so much to love about Blackpool (credit: Getty Images)


Folkestone has a natural bay which means the town has a long history of seafaring and fishing – in the mid-19th century the harbour had a fast service to Boulogne on steam packet boats and the Kent destination also enjoyed a period as a popular seaside resort. All of this rich history can be explored at Folkestone Museum. As well as celebrating its connection to the sea, the museum also houses a collection of Old Master drawings dating from the 1700s and 1800s, fossils and natural history, fashion and evidence of early settlements. Visit for information.


Stroll through the elegant Folkestone residential area The Leas with architecture and gardens dating back to the mid-19th century. Enjoy cliff views across to the English Channel, lush gardens and a funicular railway.

Folkestone has a long history of seafaring and fishing (credit: Visit Kent)


A deeply personal exhibition of work by Keith Woodhouse at the Newlyn Gallery is inspired by poetry – he has had more than 100 of his own poems published, including recently a collection, Selected Works. Some of the smaller pictures are based on memories of 23 years spent in psychiatric hospitals and eight in a care home and Keith says they walk the line between “beauty and ugliness”. The exhibition opens on February 11 and runs until April 22.


The iconic landmark of St Michael’s Mount in Mounts Bay – a medieval church and castle steeped in history with spectacular views. It is home to the St Aubyn family and in the care of the National Trust. Take a boat across or wait for the right tide conditions and walk across the causeway.


Blaze of Glory! is set in a Welsh Valley in the 1950s where a small group of miners are reforming their male voice choir to raise spirits following a mining disaster. Led by their heroic chorus master and supported by the strong-willed women who stand by them, the men embark on a series of adventures and blaze a trail to the Eisteddfodau and beyond. Welsh National Opera’s production celebrates the Land of Song and how community spirit can triumph over adversity. Traditional Welsh harmonies blend with the a cappella sounds of the 1950s, operetta, gospel and big band as our intrepid band Lindy Hop their way to glory. This feelgood performance which will make your heart sing. Performances at the Millennium Centre, Cardiff on February 23, March 10, 14 and 18. Other dates include Llandudno, Liverpool and Bristol in April and Southampton in May.


The pretty Norwegian Church Arts Centre ( overlooks Cardiff Bay. It dates back to the industrial revolution and was a church for Norwegian sailors far from home. Now a lovely arts centre with gallery and cafe.

Welsh National Opera’s Blaze of Glory! Celebrates the restorative nature of music (credit: WNO)


Before Facebook, Twitter and the like, the Victorians had their own version of social media – Narrative Art. Rejected by the artistic elite, it was hugely popular with the public who loved to see soap opera dramas played out on the gallery walls. Telling Tales at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery in Bournemouth explores Victorians attitudes through paintings and objects. The building celebrated its centenary last year. The stunning building overlooking the sea was built by Merton Russell-Cotes as a birthday present for his wife Annie in 1901. They packed it with British art and objects from their travels before it became a museum and art gallery. Telling Tales runs until March 5. Details at


If you’re looking for sustainable things to do by the coast, Devon Wildlife Trust have a Marine Centre at Wembury Beach in Devon’s beautiful South Hams. Together with The Green Minds Project, they run regular Shoresearch Surveys. This national citizen science survey is a great way to explore the local coast and learn about the importance of this habitat – Wembury is a designated Marine Conservation Area. You will be trained to identify and record marine life and the data helps the Wildlife Trusts monitor the seas and understand the impact of pollution, climate change and invasive alien species. To join the survey on February 21, search events on the website –


On the hillside above the beach is a church with spectacular views of local landmark Mewstone Island and the sea. There are only four churches in the country dedicated to St Werburgh, a seventh century abbess. Parts date back to Norman construction in 1088. The church website has visiting information (


Fisherman’s Friends The Musical

This glorious show is inspired by Cornish sea shanty group, Fisherman’s Friends, and the hit 2019 film about their life. The original ‘buoy band’ was started by a group of friends in Port Isaac who sang traditional songs to raise funds for local good causes. The musical stars Cornwall-born Robert Duncan (Drop the Dead Donkey) and actress Susan Penhaligon (who grew up in Cornwall) with James Gaddas (Casualty, Coronation Street) as Jim and Parisa Shahmir (Mamma Mia! UK Tour) as his daughter, Alwyn. Fisherman’s Friends will moor up at the Mayflower Southampton February 14-18. It also calls in at Brighton (March), Truro and Torquay (April) and Bristol (May).


The atmospheric Tudor House reveals over 800 years of history at the heart of Southampton’s Old Town. The impressive timber-framed building offers a fascinating insight into domestic life across the ages.


When Southend-on-Sea became a city in 2022 it marked the occasion with a brand new event – LuminoCity, a light festival with ten installations from local emerging artists with bold, innovative designs that showed the city in a new light. More than 200,000 people visited for this free event and it was such a success that it is being repeated this February half term. LuminoCity is from February 16-18. For information go to


Clifftown Telephone Museum is one of the smallest museums in the world. Southend’s Victorian past – the war memorial, the Bandstand, the Royal Terrace and the Pier – all can be explored inside an iconic red telephone box. Your guide (in voice only!) is famous local celebrity Dame Helen Mirren (


Fowey Festival of Art and Literature is organised by the du Maurier Society and this year marks the 25th festival in her name. Daphne du Maurier lived across the river from Fowey as a child during the summers and made her home in the area when she married. She drew her inspiration from many Cornish locations for her books – Rebecca, Frenchman’s Creek, Jamaica Inn and The House on the Strand. Last year’s event included appearances from novelists Michael Morpurgo and Justine Picardie and poet Roger McGough, an arts trail and Secret Gardens. There are photographic and writing competitions run in tandem with the festival which this year is May 12-20. Book online at

For more ideas on coastal activities and to discover more things to do by the coast, look here