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Fun, free and by the sea – the best beach festivals 2011

If this glorious weather is any indication, we could well be in for a scorching summer here in the UK. This sunny spell may encourage more of us to stay put in the UK rather than go abroad this year. We've seen photos in the papers over the last few days of bikini clad sun worshippers soaking up the rays on the beaches of Britain, basking in this early taste of summer. As temperatures soar to the mid 20s in the south east, it's easy to forget it's only April as we relish this early chance to get out our swimsuits and head for the beach. So, if we do decide to stay in the country, we want to make sure we make the most of it, but where's best to show off our lovely new summer clothes? We've picked the pick of the free beach festivals in 2011. Paddle round the Pier 2nd & 3rd July, Brighton Paddle, or to give it it's full title, Paddle Round the Pier is the largest free beach festival in Europe; a seaside extravaganza with something for everyone. Brighton is a buzzy town at the best of times, but add to that land, sea and air sports demos, live music, beach bars, food stalls and the opportunity to paddle round the pier using whatever unusual water vessel you choose (the more ridiculous the better) and it makes for a  weekend to remember full of fun. Paddle is a charitable event, with proceeds raised from the Paddle round the pier event going to The Teenage Cancer Trust, Surf Relief and the RNLI. The paddle round the pier is the world's biggest water sport raffle. Participants receive a raffle ticket per £5 they raise in sponsorship, giving them the chance to win prizes including surfboards, wetsuits and holidays. There will be spectator sports as well as plenty of sports you can get involved in. Brighton is packed full of fashionable al fresco eateries and trendy bars; can't think of a better place to make the most of some gorgeous new beachwear, so grab your sun hat, kaftan and shades and head this fashionable Sussex town for a couple of days of beach side fun. http://www.paddleroundthepier.com/ ... and a couple more fab free festivals by the sea well worth checking out Beach Dreams 28th May-5th June, Shoreham by Sea http://www.beachdreamsfestival.co.uk/ Whitstable Oyster Festival 23rd-29th July http://www.whitstableoysterfestival.com/
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