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One of England's biggest and best seaside resorts

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Not far from London, on the northern lip of the Thames Estuary, you'll find Southend-on-Sea, one of England's biggest and best seaside resorts.
The town's most iconic feature is certainly Southend Pier. It's over 2km long, making it not just the longest pleasure pier in Britain, but in the entire world. Unfortunately, the structure has been somewhat unlucky lately. It was hit by a boat in the eighties, and suffered damaging fires in both the nineties and noughties. For a while, it was even threatened with closure. Southend Pier, though, has a long history. It was built in 1830, so it's lived though two World Wars. It would take a lot to close the structure for good. Although it has experienced a few setbacks, the pier has always been repaired. In fact, the repair work is often coupled with new design elements. Plans are currently underway for a brand new, ultra-modern building on the pier's head.
In the meantime though, the end of the structure has an outlet of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, as well as a gift shop and a sun deck. There are, of course, fantastic views back at the land. You can travel the length of the pier by train or, if you prefer, by foot. You can also book a place in one of the pleasure boats, which offer various different tours and cruises.
At the other end of the pier, back on dry land, there's an amusement park called Adventure Island. It's a colourful place with plenty of distractions. There are all sorts of rollercoasters, waterslides and other fairground rides. You can also find adventure golf, go-karting, a climbing wall and plenty for younger visitors.
Adventure Island is at the centre of Southend's entertainment district. The esplanade, lining the seafront, stretches out for miles in both directions. It's known as "the Golden Mile", and it's stuffed full of things to do, including all the usual amusement arcades, bars, and restaurants.
One highlight is Sealife Adventure, an aquarium with sharks, manta rays and all sorts of other aquatic creatures. It's about to open again after a million-pound refurbishment, so it'll be worth stopping by to see what they've done with the place.
Another Southend stalwart is called the Kursaal. This complex was originally built in 1901, when it became the world's first-ever theme park. It closed in the 80s, and much of the site was converted to housing. However, in 1998, the main Kursaal building was reopened once again. It's home to a huge bowling alley, a casino and plenty of bars and restaurants. The distinctive dome on its roof remains a familiar sight, as it has been for over a century.
Even after all this, Southend isn't even close to running out of things to do. There's a big town centre, with two shopping malls. There's a busy nightlife, with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from. There are also some relatively relaxing places to go, including gardens, theatres and golf courses.
if you're planning on coming, then you might want to time your visit carefully. Southend-on-Sea's calendar is crammed with special events and celebrations. In particular, the Airshow is worth seeing as it's one of Europe's largest. The annual carnival is also pretty spectacular, when a parade brightens the streets with all manner of unusual floats, and fireworks brighten the sky for most of the night.

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