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The Brighton Festival is a city-wide arts festival held in May every year. The main festival takes three weeks, with over a dozen individual events happening every day. It is supplemented by the Brighton Fringe, an umbrella for a huge number of open access arts events also happening in May.
It's difficult to describe the scale of the Festival and Fringe. If you enjoy art - if you have even a passing interest in art - you must come to Brighton in May and experience it. Like theatre? Dance? Film? Literature? Sculpture? Paintings? Generative digital art? We've got it all, and more!
Taking place in the large event venues, the festival has a guest curator every year. In 2011 the curator was Brian Eno, most famous for his music, and in 2012 Vanessa Redgrave, most famous for her acting career. This helps give the festival a theme and focus, with a particular taste leading the way. There is so much going on, there is still lots of variety within the month even if your taste doesn't coincide with that of the curator.
The very useful Brighton Festival website helps you see what is on and where. It's the best place to keep an eye on ahead of May and you can buy tickets well ahead for most events. http://brightonfestival.org
Expect to be in: Brighton Dome (Pavilion Theatre and Corn Exchange) behind the Pavilion, The Old Market off Western Road, and Sallis Benney Theatre near the Pavilion & Old Steine. All of these are within easy walking distance of Cavalaire.
Artist Open Houses
Every year as part of the Festival, artists open their own homes to the public and show the art they have been producing. Sometimes several artists who know each other will all display in one home, as frankly it's difficult for an artist to afford to live in Brighton and many do not live in somewhere large enough to open to the public!
This is a chance to buy art direct from the artist, and meet and talk to artists about their work. It's generally very informal, and you can see a lot of different houses and types of art in a few hours by walking around the city. It's a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and you get to see all sorts of things you might not have considered seeing if it was in a formal show.
There are fourteen published Open House Trails which are an easy way to find a route between many houses without getting too lost. These are publicised via leaflets which are all over the city when the Festival is on. Most houses are only open at the weekend, and they're not always all open at consistent times, so expect the occasional hiccup as you're walking a trail.
An open access, mixed arts event which runs parallel to the Festival, Fringe does not book acts but instead is approached by people who wish to put on an event and be part of the Fringe. They may be people performing for the first time, or a seasoned performer with a new act.
To many residents, Fringe is 'the festival', as it shows Brighton in all of it's glorious weirdness. Street theatre, puppetry, tightrope acts, cosy book readings, small plays, large plays, a multitude of bands covering every genre, generative and locative digital art, comedy, sketchings, paintings, anything you can think of that may or may not qualify as 'art,' all of it is available in Fringe and more.
Expect to be in: Upstairs at the Three and Ten pub, Nightingale Theatre upstairs in the Grand Central pub, Komedia in the North Laine, the Old Steine, the beach, watching projections on a building, on the street, or indeed on the street in a bath.
Fringe also has a very useful website at http://www.brightonfestivalfringe.org.uk If you're looking well ahead of May, expect various details to change and more events to be added as you get closer to the time. Fringe is a lot more fluid than the Festival.
Finding out about the Festival and Fringe
Keep an eye on the Festival and Fringe websites, they publish early and often about what is on. During May it is well worth picking up the various free publications detailing what is on, which are available from all the venues and also most pubs around the city. These make it very easy to keep track of what's happening, especially if you're unlucky and miss getting in an event, you can easily find something else of interest nearby.
The Brighton Festival and Fringe are a must for art lovers. If you're considering coming to the city to experience it, please get in touch with us. You can walk to many of the venues from our guest house, and we're also art lovers and enjoy the events ourselves.
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