It is safe to say that whatever the month, there is something going on in Brighton. From art to music, from sport to theatre, there is a festival for everyone. Here are some of the main ones to look out for.
Fat Tuesday. Technically in Hastings. Not quite Mardi Gras, but a small ray of sunshine in February. The centre point of the festival is a day of live music (think The Great Escape but with Hastings bands playing in Hastings pubs) and the umbrella parade (burning of the clocks but with umbrellas.).
Brighton Festival This is the granddaddy of Brighton festivals. Every May since 1967 a guest curator has curated a program of events to broaden the narrowest mind. Four weeks of theatre, dance, exhibitions, comedy, music, happenings and other events. Recent highlights have included the immersive take on “The Cherry Orchard” in the old abandoned CO-OP on London Road, the thing with the birds up on the downs and a piano recital by Chilly Gonzales.
Brighton Fringe While the main festival can be a bit worthy at times, you can’t say that about the fringe festival. While it is supposed to be older than the Edinburgh fringe, it is not quite as monumental. Again it takes over all the smaller venues in Brighton for a LOT of shows. The great thing is each show is usually an hour long and fairly cheap. This means you can pick a day and see several shows in a row. Like Edinburgh, you get lots of venues that are made up of many smaller venues. These generally base themselves on the Old Steine.
The Great Escape This is Brightons attempt at a SXSW type event. Originally it started with bands you had heard of but these days it is the place to catch up-and-coming talent. For a weekend in the middle of May, the town literally comes alive with music. Every venue, pub, club and church hall helps put on an amazing array of bands. As much as everyone likes the Brighton Fringe and the main festival, TGE is the only weekend the town is really buzzing for a cultural event.
Brighton Digital Festival As you would expect from a town like Brighton, the tech bods have their own festival as well.
Brighton Horror Festival This has been running every Halloween for a few years now. It is a very low-budget performance festival themed around the idea of horror. Mainly located in the Sweet Venues around town, its shows usually encompass everything from theatre, spoken word, and puppets to podcasts recordings. It is not going to give you nightmares but it will get you in the Halloween spirit.
Mutations Think of Mutations as the Great Escapes little brother. It started in a conference hall in Portslade and is now a multi-site festival that takes place all over Brighton. The headliners are usually bigger than the ones for TGE and it is scheduled so everyone with a ticket can see them. Very 6 Music.
And at various times
Brighton Early Music Festival This is a bit of a niche festival. Early music is a broad term covering music that is 500 to 1500 years old. We are talking about the sort of stuff Henry VIII might have had his house band play. A lot of it is choral and lots involve very old sorts of instruments. Still, if that floats your boat then check it out.