After a lot of anticipation, an opening date of the British Airways i360 has finally been revealed. The unique tourist attraction in Brighton; which has been designed by Marks Barfield Architects (whom also designed the London Eye), will open it’s doors for the first time on Thursday, August 4.
Initially sponsored by British Airways, the British Airways i360 is a unique ( by being the world’s first) vertical-cable car experience; which allows up to 200-guests at a time to gradually ascend in an aerodynamic glass viewing pod up to a height of 450ft (138m); from where they will be able to enjoy views of up to 26-miles across the city of Brighton and Hove, the South Downs National Park and farther afield.
Situated on the site of the historic West Pier; the fruition of the i360 hasn’t gone without controversy. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but it caused division amongst local residents whom wished the West Pier could be restored; and how the attraction has been partially funded through a Public Loan Works Board scheme. But on a lighter note, the attraction has already gained a number of accolades – including holding the Guinness World Record for the “Most Slenderest Tower” at only 4m in diameter. It’s also the world’s tallest moving observation tower (at 162m) – which is pretty cool.
The architects, David Marks and Julia Barfield, reference the British Airways i360 as a “vertical pier”, which offers visitors a different view from the sky. Instead of walking on wooden boards as you do on a traditional pier, you could say guests have the opportunity to “walk on air”. Whilst the tower itself might not look aesthetically pleasing, it’s certainly impressive to witness the glass-pod with it’s mirrored bottom glide up to to the top. During the day, “flights” last for approximately 20-minutes, and this extends to 30 in the evening. Aboard the glass-pod itself, guests can enjoy the scenic views, and purchase a glass of Nyetimber (English Sparkling Wine), and a variety of other beverages that have been sourced from the region. The pod itself can actually be hired for a variety of special events – including weddings. The ability to get married to your loved one at 450ft sounds pretty cool – and certainly something unique.
Situated within the “Beach Building” which houses the attraction, guests can expect to experience the “Bellevue” restaurant, gift-shop and a variety of flexible meeting & events space. On the promenade level, the team behind the i360 have re-created the iconic toll booths from the beloved West Pier; one will house the ticket office, whilst the other will feature a Victorian-style tea room. A children’s play area is scheduled to open in 2017.
British Airways are the perfect naming rights sponsor for the i360; and funnily enough also sponsored the London Eye when it opened at the start of the millennium. Unsurprisingly, journeys on the pod will be referred to as “flights”, tickets will look like an actual boarding pass, and staff will be bearing the famous British Airways uniform.
I’m glad that an opening date for the attraction has finally been announced, and it is just in time for the major school holidays in the UK, and the Brighton Pride weekend (Aug 5-7) which brings a lot of tourism to the city. The British Airways i360 is also yet another marvellous part of the re-generation of the city; ensuring that the diverse culture and heritage of Brighton remains for future generations to enjoy.
Tickets for the attraction are able to be booked from today (hurrah!), and you’ll save a bit of money if you book in advance. Full pricing information on the website.
So will you be visiting the i360 during it’s first few months of operation, or perhaps later in the year? I’d love to hear what you think about the attraction!