Calendar with balloons replacing the final 2 with a 3

Portsmouth is gearing up for a bumper year, with a host of top events heading our way over the coming 12 months. There will be old favourites (looking at you Victorious Festival, Great South Run and International Kite Festival) as well as some that are new and noteworthy (more on those below).

So gear up for the year ahead with our list of 23 things to see in 2023.


1. Formula Kite Championships

New for 2023 is the Formula Kite Championships, where some of the best kitesurfers around compete not only to be crowned European champion, but also get qualification to the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Expect high-octane foiling kitesurfing which you can watch from Eastney Beach.

The tournament takes place in September so keep your eyes on our website and social channels for all the latest information.


2. Victorious Festival

Aerial shot of the Victorious Festival site

August Bank Holiday simply wouldn't be the same without Victorious Festival, and this year it's already shaping up to be a classic. 'Space Cowboy' Jamiroquai has been announced as the Friday night headliner, with Saturday and Sunday still to come. Elsewhere on the bill you'll find Sigrid, The Vaccines, Beabadoobee, The Divine Comedy, Amyl & The Sniffers, The Coral, Katy B, Inspiral Carpets and loads more besides.

Plus, don't forget the enormous selection of family entertainment which will ensure all ages can get the festival atmosphere. There will be a huge family arena (open this year all day on Friday too) with live performances, special guest appearances and a host of top activities.


3. Victory Live

HMS Victory is currently undergoing one of its most intensive restoration projects in living memory. Whilst this means the ship may look a little different to normal, there's actually now so much more to see.

Victory Live lets visitors get up close to the painstaking and expert work currently being undertaken to preserve the ship for generations to come. Rather than do all this behind closed doors, the work is being celebrated and displayed - so visitors can see what's being done to protect the ship in real time. This now only gives an insight into Britain's naval past, but also some of the most modern techniques for conservation and preservation.

Victory Live is included within the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard ticket.


4. Live at the Bandstand

Portsmouth's summer of free music will indeed return in 2023. Get down to the seafront during the warmer months for a feast of performances across a whole range of genres. You're sure to find something you like as you lay back in the sunshine with bands and artists playing across Saturday and Sunday in June, July and September.


5. Portsmouth International Kite Festival

Novelty kites in the sky above Southsea Common

See the skies above Southsea Common burst into a whole rainbow of colours as the International Kite Festival returns. As ever, flyers from across the world will hit Portsmouth with their fantastic displays - be that enormous novelty kites in a vast array of designs, or the nimble dancing kites that perform hypnotic routines.


6. PortsFest

The festival of culture is back, and as ever you can expect a line-up that's as thrilling as it is diverse. Keep your eyes peeled for line-up announcements over the coming weeks, but if previous years are anything to go by you can expect talks from some fascinating authors, live music performances, interactive workshops and plenty more besides.


7. Mary Rose year ahead

2022 was a huge year for the Mary Rose, marking the 40th anniversary of its historic raising. That doesn't mean the museum is having a quiet time after a busy year, though, with some exciting new developments getting ready for launch. So keep checking the website and social media for all the updates.

In the meantime, get planning your next visit to the truly world-class museum, where you can see the hull of Henry VIII's beloved ship like never before - even going through the airlock to breathe in the same air as the ship and smell its timbers.


8. Portsmouth Comic Con

Illustration for Portsmouth Comic Con

The International Festival of Comics is back at Portsmouth Guildhall this June, welcoming a bumper selection of renowned authors and illustrators, as well as some big-name actors. It's also your chance to get dressed up as your favourite characters, with this year's theme celebrating the villains we love to hate, and the Comic Con multiverse.


9. Take in the Spinnaker Tower view like never before

The view from the Spinnaker Tower is breath-taking at any time, but this year it'll be extra special with the launch of a new interactive experience that has come from the tower's partnership with the University of Portsmouth's Extended Reality department. Be sure to bookmark the Spinnaker Tower website and follow their social media for the reveal of a new project that will use the very latest technology to showcase the view like never before.


10. Explore The D-Day Story

Have you visited The D-Day Story yet? Personal testimonies from those involved in the Normandy campaign really puts you in the shoes of those young men taken over to France for D-Day.

As well as the stories of those involved, the museum also offers the magnificent LCT 7074, restored back to its former glories following a multi-million pound restoration project.

There's also the Overlord Embroidery, telling the whole story through 34 hand-stitched panels that combine to make an 83-metre long masterpiece.


11. We Shine 2023

A rainbow created as part of We Shine Portsmouth

Following an enormously successful first two years, We Shine will return in 2023. The free festival brings some much-needed light to the otherwise dark November evenings, with a weekend-long series of displays across the city. Plus, many installations are interactive so you can do more than just stand there and watch, but actually get involved!


12. Head to Gunwharf Quays

Be sure to factor a visit to Gunwharf Quays into your visit this year. A host of new shops were added to the complex this past year (Murmur, Havaianas, Skechers, LK Bennett and more), so there's likely to be something new to explore. Plus, Gunwharf Quays hosts an array of events all year round. Previously there have been seafood festivals, street food awards, winter villages and lots more besides - so you can do so much more than just hit the shops.


13. Go to the theatre

On your next visit, why not combine the world-class attractions with a fantastic theatre show as well? There will be some big names and huge West End productions landing at the Kings Theatre in Southsea and New Theatre Royal in the city centre - among them: Six, The Bootleg Beatles, Tom Allen, Strictly's Giovanni Pernice, Ross Noble, La Boheme, Sara Pascoe, BGT winner Axel Blake, Mamma Mia, The Rocky Horror Show, Dreamboys, Paul Young, and plenty more.

Alternatively, the Groundlings Theatre hosts smaller scale productions, community events and touring shows from inside its wonderful Georgian building.


14. Catch some live music

Of course it's not just about the live theatre, but there's plenty of music to enjoy as well. In addition to the aforementioned Portsmouth Guildhall there's the iconic Wedgewood Rooms, where a litany of arena-selling icons first cut their teeth. Plus, don’t forget about all the great independent promoters working to bring a diverse selection of acts to the city - among them Square Roots Promotions, which puts on foot-stomping Americana shows at the spectacular Square Tower.


15. Explore independent Portsmouth

If you're travelling into Portsmouth from an especially long way, you'll certainly want to experience some of the quirky, unique sides of this island city - to not simply do all the same sorts of things you could at home.

So be sure to check out Portsmouth's unique side.

Head to some of the boutique shops along Marmion Road and Castle Road to browse the wares there, or speak to some of the resident artists at the Hotwalls Studios. Then, grab a bite to eat from one of the many independent restaurants serving quality local produce. Finally, wash the whole thing down with a locally brewed beer or cider - or even a gin or rum, distilled right here on Portsea Island.


16. Walk in the footsteps of Henry VIII at Southsea Castle

Southsea Castle with the Solent in the background

Want to live like a king on your next visit? At Southsea Castle you can do just that. Walk around the ramparts and head into the keep to see the fortification that Henry VIII supposedly helped to design. The keep houses a museum, whilst up on the ramparts you can enjoy a stunning view out across the Solent.

If that wasn't enough, Southsea Castle is also home to a restaurant that's open all year round (the museum at the keep is during the summer season only), as well as a micro-brewery open occasionally for off-sales.


17. Have a blast at Exploria

Heading to Portsmouth with youngsters who have energy to burn? Exploria at Portsmouth Pyramids may well be your first port of call. The soft play and bounce park is ideal for all ages, with different areas segmented by age to ensure everyone can have an enjoyable - and safe - time. There are climbs, slides, ball pools, sand pits, stunt boxes, and more; enough to fire the imagination of any youngster.


18. Get out on the water

You can't come to Portsmouth without at least heading to the coast at some point (we are the UK's only island city, after all!). But if even that's not quite enough, maybe you'd prefer to be on it instead? If so, there are plenty of options for getting out and enjoying some water sports.

The Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre provides everything from have-a-go sessions to full qualifications, meaning there should be something to suit whatever your experience level. Alternatively, head up to the South Coast Wakepark, which has a 200m straight line cable wakeboarding system and all the gear you need to really get the adrenaline going.


19. Southsea Food Festival

Stalls at Southsea Food Festival

One of the most popular dates in the Southsea calendar returns in 2023. The Southsea Food Festival always welcomes many thousands of people to Palmerston Road and its surrounds, hungry and ready to try some of the best street food from all over the world. As well as the great providers selling global cuisine, there are a number of bars offering cool drinks and cocktails, plus a live music stage for a spot of entertainment.


20. Go on a harbour tour

A ticket to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard doesn't just grant you access to some of the world's most famous historic ships, but also lets you go out and see some of the current crop. A harbour tour is your way to see up-close some of the navy's current fleet - as well as any others that may be visiting Portsmouth Harbour at the time. Seeing these enormous craft from the water is an experience like no other and one that many visitors return to time and again - especially now the enormous Queen Elizabeth Carrier Class aircraft carriers are frequently in their home port.


21. Watch the Sea Angling Classic

Another big event returning after a very successful debut is the Sea Angling Classic. The sea fishing catch-and-release competition welcomes some of the best anglers that the country (and even the world) has to offer. They head out to the Solent to try and land the biggest catches - with last year's grand prize being an actual boat! What's more, the event has a strong sustainability message at its core, and one condition of entry is a pledge to undertake at least one beach clean during the weekend-long event.


22. See the artists at the Hotwalls Open Studios

The Hotwalls Studios always provides a great chance to see something new and unique. You can also purchase something to take home as a memento, or even have a go yourself with the regular workshops.

New for 2023, though, is the special guest artists heading to the Round Tower for each Open Studios event. It means that each month, as well as all the resident Hotwalls artists throwing open their doors, you can also see temporary displays from some established visiting artists. What's more, the temporary exhibitions take place inside the historic Round Tower, to really make them something not to be missed.


23. Changing displays at Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery

In 2022 Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery put some of the city's invaluable Civic Silver on display. These included some pieces that had never before been seen by the public. Thankfully, there's still time to see Silver City if you've not done so already - the exhibition goes on until 26 February. After that, there will be an exciting new installation - details of which will be released by the museum very soon - so keep your eyes peeled.

Of course, there's far more than 23 top things to see and do over the year ahead. This blog could possibly have stretched to 2023 things to do! For all the great events, attractions and goings on all throughout the year, keep checking back to the Visit Portsmouth website, and be sure to follow our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts too.






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