We spoke to Steve Bax, executive director at British Airways i360 in Brighton, which has recently celebrated a year since opening, to find out why the attraction is great for groups.
For those who have never been, can you explain what British Airways i360 is?
British Airways i360 is a new tourist attraction on Brighton beach, conceived and designed by Marks Barfield Architects, creators of the London Eye. It’s the world’s tallest moving observation tower and first vertical cable car. Visitors glide up to 450ft in a fully enclosed, futuristic glass viewing pod to enjoy stunning views across Brighton and the south coast.
The experience obviously gives passengers amazing views – what can be seen from the very top?
To the north, you get an incredible bird’s eye view across the city of Brighton & Hove with the South Downs National Park in the background. On either side of us, the beautiful coastline stretches along to the Seven Sisters and Beach Head in the east and, on the clearest days, all the way to the Isle of Wight in the west.
British Airways i360 is built on the site of the former West Pier, and looking south our guests get fascinating views of the much-loved ruin from above. Further out to sea, the Rampion Wind Farm is taking shape on the horizon. Free viewing maps are available on board and help visitors identify landmarks and learn more about what they can see.
What else can you do at the attraction besides take a flight?
On board the pod, visitors can enjoy a drink at the Nyetimber Sky Bar which serves a range of drinks from Sussex including Nyetimber, an award-winning sparkling wine, which makes the flight extra special.
In our beach-level building below, customers will find our stylish seafront restaurant, West Beach Bar & Kitchen, which serves delicious dishes inspired by Brighton that can be enjoyed while savouring the stunning views of the sea and the West Pier.
Afternoon tea is also available in the restaurant or, if groups prefer a light bite, they can head to the West Pier Tea Room for coffee and a cake or two. They can also browse the British Airways i360 shop where we offer carefully selected objects and souvenirs, including many bespoke products designed by local artists.
Our exhibition, ‘British Airways i360: How it was Built’ is also free to all ticket holders and shares the story behind our construction process.
You’ve just celebrated one year since opening, what did you do to celebrate?
We had a wonderful day celebrating with our customers on 4th August, with free birthday cupcakes, a live band performing on our outdoor boarding deck and free face painting for children. In the evening, we held a drinks reception in our events spaces and outside terraces to say thank you to the many people who have supported British Airways i360 during its first year, followed by a beautiful sunset flight.
You have a ‘groups’ offering, what can you tell me about this?
We have several different options for groups visiting British Airways i360; they can book onto public pod flights and enjoy drinks from the on board Nyetimber Sky Bar. Larger groups can book the pod for exclusive use – it’s 10 times the size of a London Eye capsule and accommodates up to 175 people. Groups can enjoy afternoon tea or a meal at West Beach Bar & Kitchen, or hold a private event in one of our flexible beachside event spaces.
We are centrally located on Brighton beach in easy walking distance from the shopping area and other major attractions. There is also a coach drop-off point directly opposite British Airways i360.
Are there any special events that groups should look out for in the coming year?
Our popular Starry Nights shared Christmas parties are back this year. They were a real success last Christmas and are designed specifically for social and corporate groups wanting to enjoy the atmosphere of a larger event. Guests will be able to enjoy canapés overlooking the festive lights of Brighton from 450ft followed by dinner and dancing.
Why should visitors consider booking a visit?
Quite simply, a flight on British Airways i360 is an unforgettable experience!
Groups can either book through one of our tour operator or wholesaler partners, or directly with our team on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01273 448371 during office hours. By booking in advance, groups of more than 15 people benefit from one complimentary group leader place for their flight.