Brighton Festival 2020Public booking opens: Wed 19 Feb, 9am

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Brighton Festival 2020 Children’s Parade Cancelled

Brighton Festival 2020 has been cancelled, including the annual Children’s Parade which would have officially marked the start of the Festival on Sat 2 May 2020.

Based on the latest government advice that projections for the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic in the UK is expected to coincide with the timing of the Festival in May, all planned events have been suspended to reduce the spread of the virus.

Jointly produced with award-winning community arts charity Same Sky, the Children’s Parade involves nearly 60 schools and groups from across Brighton and Hove. Around 5,000 children, teachers, parents and volunteers work together with artists for months of behind the scenes preparation to create one of the most spectacular community events in the UK. The largest of its kind in Europe, the free event has taken place for over 30 years, with more than 10,000 spectators lining the streets of Brighton city centre.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival said:
'This is the first time in over 30 years that we have had to cancel the Children’s Parade. We are saddened to not have this wonderful community event take place in Brighton this year but realise the health and safety of all the participants and visitors is paramount. We hope to plan smaller events with schools so that we can celebrate all the incredible work that’s been created.'

John Varah, Artistic Director, Same Sky added:
'Same Sky would like to express our thanks to everyone who has put so much time and effort into this year’s preparations. Obviously we are devastated to cancel this year’s parade but we want everyone to enjoy this incredible event in a happy and safe environment. We will be back with a bang in 2021!'

The 2020 theme, Nature’s Marvels, was chosen to celebrate the wonders of flora and fauna from around the world, as well as reflecting on the urgent need to protect and conserve the planet’s natural environment.

Brighton Festival was due to take place from 2 to 24 May 2020 and is the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England. This is the first time since the Festival has been cancelled in its 53-year history. Over 120 cultural events were scheduled across the region, including 17 premieres, commissions, co-productions and many Festival debuts from international artists.

Brighton Festival 2020 is Cancelled for First Time in 53-Year History

It is with great sadness we announce that Brighton Festival 2020 is cancelled.

Based on the latest government advice around social distancing measures and the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic in the UK is projected to coincide with the timing of the Festival in May, all planned events have been suspended.

Brighton Festival was due to take place from 2 to 24 May 2020 and is the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England. This is the first time since the Festival has been cancelled in its 53-year history. Over 120 cultural events were scheduled across the region, including 17 premieres, commissions, co-productions and many Festival debuts from international artists. The annual Children’s Parade has also been affected and will not go ahead. Festival staff are working with artists and partners to discuss whether some events can happen at a later date or in a different way. Due to the scale of the festival and the inclusion of many international artists and touring companies, rescheduling the festival as a whole would not be feasible.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival said:

“The Festival team is devastated that this incredible programme, led by Guest Director Lemn Sissay won’t happen this year and that audiences won’t experience the diversity of artists coming from across the world to our city. Lemn’s vision was to build an ‘Imagine Nation’ at Brighton Festival. It seems to us that we need imagination, creativity and the strength of our community now more than ever. We are exploring what might be the most creative contribution the Festival and its artists can make at this time and we will share more on this when we can.

“We are aware that the whole of society is being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic but also realise the profound affect it will have on the cultural sector and on the economy of our city, to which the Festival is such an important contributor. It is vital we work together to support our staff, artists and partners and that Brighton & Hove’s rich cultural life can survive and emerge from this challenge, so we all continue our contribution to the life and wealth of the whole region.”

Brighton Festival 2020 Guest Director, the acclaimed poet and author Lemn Sissay commented:

“The cancellation of Brighton Festival is a huge blow for us all but it’s also inevitable given the severity of what we all face. I believe artists have a role to play and a gift to offer and the creativity that is in us all reminds us of the preciousness and beauty of life. Let’s cherish that now and emerge from this with renewed humanity and strength.”

Customers who have booked tickets for events will be contacted by the Festival ticket office as soon as possible with refund information.

Brighton Festival is a registered charity and almost two thirds of the festival costs would have been covered by ticket sales. Ticket holders are being offered the option to donate some or all of their ticket purchase in order to help support the Festival’s future and its work with artists and community partner organisations.

Since it was first established in 1967, Brighton Festival has given artists and performers at the cutting edge of artistic practice and on the edge of society, the creative space to have their voices heard and to showcase new work.

Cllr Alan Robins, Chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, Brighton & Hove City Council added:

“The cancellation of this year’s Festival is disappointing but inevitable given the current circumstances and is absolutely the right decision. We look forward to the Festival returning next year.”

Brighton Dome closed on Tue 17 Mar and is cancelling or postponing its events programme until further notice.

Brighton Dome Temporary Closure from Tue 17 Mar 2020

Following the UK Government’s new advice today to the public to avoid contact in social spaces including theatres, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, Brighton Dome will be temporarily closed for events with effect from Tue 17 Mar 2020. Anyone with tickets to forthcoming events will be contacted and we will be working with artists and performers to reschedule as many dates as possible. We realise this is a huge blow to the arts in our city, but feel the health and safety of our audiences should take priority. Please bear with us as we put these plans into place and thank you for your understanding at this time.

Free Things to Do at Brighton Festival

Discover free events happening in Brighton and beyond throughout May at Brighton Festival.


Children’s Parade
Sat 2 May

Join fellow children, parents and teachers as we fill the city with a sea of colour and creativity! This year's theme is Nature’s Marvels, celebrating the wonders of flora and fauna from around the world.

Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2019
Washed Up Car-go
Sat 2-Sun 24 May

Artist Chris Dobrowolski’s playfully thought-provoking Washed Up Car-go features iconic Brighton landscapes, film, music, toy sea creatures and a lot of local pebbles to ask us to think about plastic pollution, consumerism and maritime art.  

The Young Americans
Sat 2-Sun 24 May

Today’s generation of Indigenous American artists take centre stage in this powerful new exhibition, co-commissioned by Brighton Festival and Rainmaker Gallery. Native artists from diverse tribal nations examine what it means to grow up in the contemporary United States with a display of fine art photography, printmaking and painting. Their explosive visual mix of techniques, experimentation and individual perspectives shatter clichéd perceptions of Indigenous art and life.


The Informals II
Sat 2-Sun 24 May

Artists Polina Medvedeva and Andreas Kühne present an interactive exhibition exploring music subcultures of Brighton, co-commissioned by Brighton Festival. Projections of video, text, music and dialogue tell stories of Brighton’s digital-savvy emerging talent who use musical culture to challenge stigmas and stereotypes at a time when politics is against them.
Come along to a live, improvised audio-visual performance on Wed 6 May, 5pm. The artists collaborate with local artists PhoneticBobbie Johnson, Ollie Hutchison and Marshall Mandiangu to create a collective portrait of, and give a platform to, Brighton’s extraordinary youth culture.



HALO
Sat 2-Sun 24 May

HALO is a large-scale immersive installation made by renowned Brighton-based artist duo Semiconductor following a residency at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics. The duo are known for their innovative artworks which explore the material nature of our world and how we experience it through the lenses of science and technology, blending experimental moving image techniques, scientific research and digital technologies. Allowing us to look at and listen to this data gives audiences a sense of something bigger than themselves. The installation is a multi-sensory experience of matter formation in the early universe generated through projections and sound played out upon hundreds of vertical piano strings. To support this exhibition, The Lighthouse are producing a series of workshops.


Art of Attachment

Vincent Dance Theatre world premiere Art of Attachment commissioned by Brighton-based Oasis Project. The film installation combines sound and moving image, exploring the devastating impact physical, sexual and emotional abuse on women’s lives and the complex bond between substance misusing mothers and their children. Hard-hitting and deeply moving, Art of Attachment celebrates the resilience and resolve of women and children, whose stories demand to be seen and heard.


Arrivals & Departures
Sat 2-Mon 11 May
Friend’s Meeting House

YARA + DAVINA bring a public artwork about birth, death and the journey in between. Arrivals + Departures takes the recognisable form of an arrivals and departures board, displaying the names of people submitted by the public as a way of celebrating a birth (arrival) or commemorating a death (departure).Capturing both the joy and sadness of an arrival’s hall or departure lounge, visitors and passers-by can choose to contribute names to acknowledge, celebrate and commemorate. Names may range from the personal to the political, from our unsung personal heroes to national treasures, as they are shared on the large-scale artwork via a live interaction. 

A Simple Act of Wonder
Sat 2-Sun 24 May

During May, through a series of colourful, collaborative interventions, acclaimed artists Walter & Zoniel bring their attention and irrepressible energy to Fabrica and Moulsecoomb, asking how we connect with each other as individuals and communities.


In C by the Sea
Sat 2 May

To coincide with Terry Riley's 85th birthday and Kronos Quartet's performance at Brighton Festival, young musicians from Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and East Sussex Music along with members of Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra, will perform their interpretation of Terry Riley's iconic work, In C. This minimalist masterpiece for a flexible ensemble will see young musicians from across the region performing by the sea in locations including Brighton seafront.



A Weekend Without Walls | Crawley
Sat 9 May

Spend an afternoon at Queens Square, Crawley discovering exhilarating FREE and new pop-up performances from some of the UK’s most innovative outdoor companies. From hiphop to circus, come and enjoy these playful and uplifting shows for all the family. Discover the programme here.



A Weekend Without Walls | Brighton Beach
Sun 10 May

Spend an afternoon at Brighton beach discovering exhilarating FREE and new pop-up performances from some of the UK’s most innovative outdoor companies. From hiphop to circus, come and enjoy these playful and uplifting shows for all the family.


A Weekend Without Walls | The Level
Sat 23 & Sun 24 May

Spend an afternoon discovering exhilarating FREE and new pop-up performances from some of the UK’s most innovative outdoor companies. From an interactive augmented reality trail to inspiring dance there will be something to appeal to all. Discover the programme here. 


Discover events for £10 and under.

Invisible Flock premiere immersive rainforest installation at Brighton Festival 2020

Yorkshire-based interactive arts studio, Invisible Flock will present the world premiere of The Sleeping Tree in a disused warehouse space in Hove throughout Brighton Festival this May.  

The award-winning studio operates at the intersection of art and technology and makes innovative, participatory artworks that are experienced around the world. Drawing directly from the world around them the collective focuses on our emotional relationships to the natural world.

“We believe that art today must have a positive impact on society and the world we live in and as artists we have a responsibility to open up collective thinking and to build space for critical inquiry.”

Their recent works include Earth Tones, a global mapping project, capturing environmental data from a variety of landscapes at the forefront of climate change, whilst reimagining the information in multi-sensory art installations.

Their latest work, The Sleeping Tree is an immersive, three-dimensional, audio-visual experience of one of the last great rainforests of North Sumatra, Indonesia. The installation aims to emphasise the urgency of the threat to the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the most biodiverse environments on the planet.

Bringing UK audiences closer to the deforestation emergency in this distant and seemingly intangible ecosystem, the installation conveys a powerful sense of this endangered environment, flooding the senses with heat, mist, humidity and captivating and microscopically accurate sounds of the jungle. You will follow a family of endangered Siamang Gibbons as they wake, roam across the jungle and return to their sleeping tree, one of the six majestic trees they have used for generations.


The Sleeping Tree has been developed through intensive research living in the jungle with Siamang Gibbons. Invisible Flock have captured over 5000 hours of audio recordings of this rare species in its diminishing natural habitat, collecting scientifically valuable data on sound frequencies as well as the temperature and humidity within the jungle, which indicate the rapid changes taking place in this fragile ecosystem, as result of palm oil production.

The Sleeping Tree will open on Sat 2 May until Sun 24 May. Book your tickets here.

Discover more Art and Film events.

This event is kindly supported by Selective Asia 

10 Must-see Art exhibitions in Brighton This May

Discover a range of art events and exhibitions happening in Brighton and beyond throughout May. 

Washed Up Car-go | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
Hove Warehouse

Artist Chris Dobrowolski’s playfully thought-provoking Washed Up Car-go features iconic Brighton landscapes, film, music, toy sea creatures and a lot of local pebbles to ask us to think about plastic pollution, consumerism and maritime art.  


The Young Americans | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
Phoenix Art Space

Today’s generation of Indigenous American artists take centre stage in this powerful new exhibition, co-commissioned by Brighton Festival and Rainmaker Gallery. Native artists from diverse tribal nations examine what it means to grow up in the contemporary United States with a display of fine art photography, printmaking and painting. Their explosive visual mix of techniques, experimentation and individual perspectives shatter clichéd perceptions of Indigenous art and life.


The Informals II | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
The Lighthouse

Artists Polina Medvedeva and Andreas Kühne present an interactive exhibition exploring music subcultures of Brighton, co-commissioned by Brighton Festival. Projections of video, text, music and dialogue tell stories of Brighton’s digital-savvy emerging talent who use musical culture to challenge stigmas and stereotypes at a time when politics is against them.

Come along to a live, improvised audio-visual performance on Wed 6 May, 5pm. The artists collaborate with local artists Phonetic, Bobbie Johnson, Ollie Hutchison and Marshall Mandiangu to create a collective portrait of, and give a platform to, Brighton’s extraordinary youth culture.


HALO | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
ACCA

HALO is a large-scale immersive installation made by renowned Brighton-based artist duo Semiconductor following a residency at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics. The duo are known for their innovative artworks which explore the material nature of our world and how we experience it through the lenses of science and technology, blending experimental moving image techniques, scientific research and digital technologies.Allowing us to look at and listen to this data gives audiences a sense of something bigger than themselves.The installation is a multi-sensory experience of matter formation in the early universe generated through projections and sound played out upon hundreds of vertical piano strings. To support this exhibition, The Lighthouse are producing a series of workshops. 


Art of Attachment | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
ONCA Gallery

Vincent Dance Theatre world premiere Art of Attachment commissioned by Brighton-based Oasis Project. The film installation combines sound and moving image, exploring the devastating impact physical, sexual and emotional abuse on women’s lives and the complex bond between substance misusing mothers and their children. Hard-hitting and deeply moving, Art of Attachment celebrates the resilience and resolve of women and children, whose stories demand to be seen and heard. 


Arrivals & Departures | Free
Sat 2-Mon 11 May
Friend’s Meeting House

YARA + DAVINA bring a public artwork about birth, death and the journey in between. Arrivals + Departures takes the recognisable form of an arrivals and departures board, displaying the names of people submitted by the public as a way of celebrating a birth (arrival) or commemorating a death (departure). Capturing both the joy and sadness of an arrival’s hall or departure lounge, visitors and passers-by can choose to contribute names to acknowledge, celebrate and commemorate. Names may range from the personal to the political, from our unsung personal heroes to national treasures, as they are shared on the large-scale artwork via a live interaction. 


A Simple Act of Wonder | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
Fabrica Gallery & Moulsecoomb 

During May, through a series of colourful, collaborative interventions, acclaimed artists Walter & Zoniel bring their attention and irrepressible energy to Fabrica and Moulsecoomb, asking how we connect with each other as individuals and communities. 


The Sleeping Tree
Sun 2-Sun 24 May
Hove Warehouse

Yorkshire-based interactive arts studio, Invisible Flock will present the world premiere of The Sleeping Tree, an immersive, three-dimensional, audio-visual experience of one of the last great rain forests of North Sumatra, Indonesia. The installation conveys a powerful sense of this endangered environment, flooding the senses with heat, mist, humidity and captivating and microscopically accurate sounds of the jungle. You will follow a family of endangered Siamang Gibbons as they wake, roam across the jungle and return to their sleeping tree, one of the six majestic trees they have used for generations. 


Points of Departure
Thu 7-10 & Wed 13-Sun 17 May
Shoreham Port 

Ray Lee presents the world premiere of Points of Departure at Shoreham Port. Visitors are invited to take a walk through the atmospheric industrial landscape of Shoreham Port and experience the otherworldly sound and light installations. The installation is a series of giant towers holding suspended speaker cones which gradually swing higher and higher until each arm soars up over the heads of the audience ringing electronic tones. 


Discover the full programme here 

Free Day of Pop-up Performances Comes to Crawley This May

A Weekend Without Walls, an afternoon of free pop-up performances from some of the UK’s most innovative outdoor companies will take place in Queens Square, Crawley on Sat 9 May as part of this year’s Brighton Festival. 

From hip hop and circus to inspiring dance and an interactive augmented reality trail, the whole family will enjoy these playful and uplifting shows.

Roll Play – Prepare to be amazed by Simple Cypher’s latest outdoor creation Roll Play, which breathlessly fuses hip-hop and circus. Featuring Cyr wheel, group juggling, feel-good choreography and exceptional beats, three performers use intricate moves and agility to create a captivating, cheeky and effortlessly cool show challenging identity, status and societal roles

There Should Be Unicorns – Award-winning company Middle Child presents Luke Barnes’s There Should Be Unicorns, a family show about a young girl who sets out to change the world. Hip-hop, dance and theatre collide in this uplifting outdoor production, which asks: how can we be good when we’re caught up in what’s bad?

The Rascally Diner – Join Rufus Skumskins O’Parsley, a chef renowned for some of the world’s most disgusting dishes, for a TV special celebrating his restaurant’s 10th birthday. Inspired by the award-winning children’s book The Rascally Cake, LAStheatre’s family show for audiences aged five and above is full of fun, food and silly songs.


Councillor Chris Mullins, Cabinet member for Wellbeing at Crawley Borough Council, said:

“This is very exciting news for Crawley; it sounds like a wonderful free event for all the family. This is going to be a busy weekend for great events in the town as Run Gatwick returns for the third year on Sunday 10 May. There is no need to go anywhere else for your bank holiday weekend entertainment!”

Councillor Peter Smith, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development, said:

 “I’m delighted that we will have the first-ever Brighton Festival event in Crawley this year. We are committed to enhancing our events programme and this exciting announcement reflects our desire to attract more people into our regenerated town centre.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival, added: 

“Bringing artists and communities together is at the heart of Brighton Festival so we're delighted to bring Without Walls to Crawley this year. The performances take place outdoors in Queens Square throughout the day so we hope visitors will stop by and enjoy some of the UK’s most innovative artists, all for free!”

A Weekend Without Walls comes to Crawley on Sat 9 May, The Level on Sat 23 & Sun 24 May and Brighton Beach on Sun 10 May. 

£10 and Under Events at Brighton Festival

Discover a whole range of theatre, art, film, music, spoken word, dance and family events for £10 or under at Brighton Festival this May. 

The Sleeping Tree
Sat 2-Sun 25 May

Don’t miss out on this multi-sensory experience. Enter one of the last great rainforests of North Sumatra, Indonesia, and follow a family of endangered Siamang Gibbons as they wake, roam across the jungle and dutifully return to their sleeping tree, one of six majestic trees they have used for generations. As mist gently falls you are surrounded by vibrant projected 3D digital images: a visual banquet of flora and fauna unfolds, accompanied by captivating and microscopically accurate sounds of the jungle, and of the primates’ distinct calls.


Ali Smith
Sat 2 May

Guest Director of 2015, Ali Smith returns to Brighton Festival this year to discuss her season quartet Seasons – a series of novels starting in autumn and proceeding chronologically to the soon-to-be Summer. In conversation with author and translator Daniel Hahn, they will explore what has been lost, what was gained, what is true and what remains.

Photo by Antonio Olmos
Double Murder: Clowns/New Creation
Fri 1-Sun 3 May

The much anticipated new work from the celebrated choreographer (and our 2014 Guest Director) Hofesh Shechter OBE premieres right here in Brighton. The thrilling double-bill is an event of two halves each very different in mood. Performed by ten dancers, we begin with the pitch-black humour of Clowns and the New Creation is tender and fragile.


Superior: Angela Saini
Sun 3 May

Angela Saini’s third book, Superior, explores the twisted historical trajectory of race science and the sinister ways in which it is being repackaged by the far-right in the 21st century. Moderated by writer and broadcaster Colin Grant, Angela will shed light on enduring myths and the political motivations for them.


Time Shifts: Irenosen Okojie & Yara Rodrigues Fowler
Sun 3 May

Join authors of Butterfly Fish and Stubborn Archivist, discuss their debut novels moderated by world traveller and social commentator Naana Orleans-Amissah. 


The Patient Gloria
Tue 5-Sat 9 May

A wild and experimental extravaganza, this mash-up of re-enactment, real footage, lives experience and a punk gig was a must-see hit at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, inspired by the 1965 films Three Approaches to Psychotherapy. 


Jeremiah ‘SugarJ’ Brown: Likkle Rum with Grandma
Wed 6 May

Fusing poetry, performance and a Jamaican grandmother’s voice from a generation that’s rapidly being forgotten, Likkle Rum with Grandma comes to Brighton following sold out shows in London, which explores migration, displacement, loneliness and the importance of inter generational discourse. 


My Name is Why
Wed 7 May

Guest Director Lemn Sissay joins us to discuss his memoir My Name is Why with journalist and CEO of the Bernie Grant Art Centre, Hannah Azieb Pool. Lemn will reflect on a childhood in foster care, self-expression and Britishness. 


Brighton Festival Youth Choir
Wed 6 May

Brighton Festival Youth Choir present works by the celebrated Finnish choral composer, Mia Makaroff, Spes and Butterfly through to Blackbird by Lennon & McCartney. The concert will also celebrate some of the wonderful heritage of folk songs from the British Isles including Blow the Wind Southerly and The Last Rose of Summer.


Out of Chaos
Fri 8-Sun 10 May

Following the success of the sensational Backbone at last year’s Brighton festival, Gravity & Other Myths return with their boldest and most ambitious performance yet, telling the story of how things come together, moving between chaos and order. 

Gravity and Other Myths
Vintage Poets
Fri 8 May

Vintage, through its imprints Chatto & Windus and Cape, has been building a formidable list of poets who are pushing the envelope and engaging new readers. Join us as, Vintage present some of its new stars of the future including Romalyn Ante and Seán Hewitt.


Groove Baby: Groove into the Woods
Sat 9 May

Get ready to join your child on the dance floor as the Groove Baby Organ Trio bring to life the great Blue Note '60s era of soul-jazz, boogaloo, funk and hard bop. Step into the deep, dark woods for a fast-paced mix of storytelling, interactive music-making and solid groove, specially designed for children aged 3–7 years and their families. 


A Place in Time Evie Wyld & Niven Govinden
Sat 9 May

Join the author of The Bass Rock, Evie Wyld and This Brutal House, Niven Govinden as they explore their power to address injustice.


Tribes: David Lammy
Sat 9 May

Member of Parliament, David Lammy joins us to discuss his new book, Tribes, which explores how our human need to belong manifests in positive and negative ways.


One Two Three Four: The Beatles In Time with Craig Brown
Sat 9 May

Crag Brown’s hilarious new book – part biography, part memoir, part anthropology is a fascinating examination of The Beatles phenomenon. Join Craig as he shares some of his sublimely strange finding from this new biography. A must for any Beatles fan. 


Travelling Traditions
Sun 19 May

After a hugely successful debut last year, we continue our Travelling Traditions events exploring the enduring DNA of storytelling. This year we are lucky to welcome four of the most compelling writers of our times - George Szirtes, Preti Taneja, Olivia Sudjic & Romesh Gunesekera.

News News News
Sun 10 May

News News News is a television news show made by children for adults, recorded in front of a studio audience and broadcast live on the internet by children from Benefield Primary school in Portslade.


BIG UP!
Sun 10 May

Come and watch as Theatre-Rites & 20 Stories High create a world full of joy and chaos, where objects come to life and everything is possible. BIG UP! is perfect for little people who want to be big, and big people who just might have forgotten how to play.


Pecho Mama: Medea Electronica
Sun 10 May

Pecho Mama’s bold and genre-defying debut, Medea Electronica is a powerful and deeply moving retelling of an ancient Greek tragedy set in the technological turbulence of '80s rural England. Staged amidst searing live electronica and progressive rock gig, this is the heart-stopping story of a family caught in the brutal throes of a marriage unravelling.


Undersong
Mon 11 May

In the critically acclaimed Undersong live singers build vibrant a Capella music and movement as they bring to life a series of brand-new compositions. Voices weave amongst the audience, from a whispered duet to a screaming mob, moving between tender and expansive.


The End
Tue 12 May

In this new piece created in collaboration with Laura Dannequin, Bert & Nasi dance the end of their relationship, imagining how a future without each other might look. Projected onto a screen above the stage, two parallel narratives run alongside each other: the end of the Earth and of their collaboration. A poignant, sad and funny account of the ongoing ecological crisis.


Civilisation
Tue 12 May

A day in the life of a woman following a tragic event. An experiment in theatrical realism and contemporary dance. Jaz Woodcock-Stewart from award-winning company Antler collaborates with choreographer Morgann Runacre-Temple.


Take 5
Wed 13 May

This May we bring together five of the most compelling poets on stage, Hibaq Osman, Laurie Ogden, Amina Jama, Debris Stevenson & Zena Edwards for an evening of spoken word. 


Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: Brighton Festival Chorus
Thu 14 May

Two great ensembles are reunited for a concert and a trio of internationally acclaimed soloists for two contrasting masterworks.

The Lost Decade: Polly Toynbee
Thu 14 May

After a decade dominated by inward-looking rhetoric, the UK ended the decade on the path to an unclear Brexit, with thousands reliant on food banks for everyday sustenance. In conversation with long-time collaborator David Walker, The Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee dissects the dark decade that was.


Hot Brown Honey
Thu 14-Sat 16 May

The award-winning firecracker of a show, Hot Brown Honey turns up the heat at Brighton Festival. This genre-defying mix of cabaret, music and dance will make you laugh until you cry.


Lime Time
Thu 14 May

We bring together major prize-winning poets, Valerie Bloom, John Agard and Grace Nichols as well as T.S. Eliot Prize winner Roger Robinson for an evening of spoken word performance. 


The Time Has Now Come: New Habesha Visionaries
Fri 15 May

Spend an evening with some of Ethiopia and Eritrea's new visionaries, Maaza Mengiste, Hannah Azieb Pool & Aida Edemariam.


Alain Mabanckou
Sat 16 May

Join prolific Congolese journalist and author, Alain Mabanckou as he discusses the death of Comrade President Marien Ngouabi.


Jacqueline Wilson
Sun 17 May

Discover how Jacqueline Wilson started her writing career and find out more about her latest book, Love Frankie.

Jacqueline Wilson
New Writing South Statement Kit de Waal
Sun 17 May

The New Writing South Statement provides a platform for an eminent writer to share ideas, articulate passions, and initiate a debate on aspects of the power and position of literature in the world. Writer, activist and Common People editor Kit De Waal to deliver the New Writing South 2020 Statement on democracy and the literary landscape.

Kit de Waal
Time Capsules
Sun 17 May

We invite you to experience the joys of the short story with two of its finer practitioners in the UK – Courttia Newland and Lisa Blower – together on stage for the first time, chaired by writer and primary school teacher Luan Goldie.


SLIME
Mon 18-Fri 22 May

Enter the undergrowth to SQUISH, SQUELCH and PLAY your way through this hilarious, surreal show for 2–5 year-olds and their families, told with a handful of words and a whole lot of SLIME. Including a stay and play with slug’s 'slime' in the giant garden.


Bromance
Tue 19-Sat 23 May

Award-winning smash hit Bromance lands at Brighton Festival, a fusion of high energy physical heroics and breath taking form.


How to Be Autistic: Charlotte Amelia Poe
Thu 21 May

Self-taught artist Charlotte joins us, in conversation with Naana Orleans-Amissah to share their journey through school to adulthood, challenging neurotypical narratives of autism as something that needs ‘fixing’. 


Kronos Quartet
Fri 22 May

This May, Kronos Quartet brings a multimedia production, incorporating music sounds harvested from space as NASA’s Voyager probes hurtled past Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. A sensational sonic and visual experience, you shouldn’t miss.


Drag Queen Story Hour UK
Sun 24 May

Following Aida's huge success at Brighton Dome last autumn, she returns with Drag Queen Story Hour UK for Brighton Festival 2020. With a burst of energy and a fabulous look, Aida has been delighting children across the country with her high energy, high fashion and wonderful approach to making your favourite stories come alive.


In Translation: Rodaan al Galidi & Alia Trabucco Zerán 
Sun 24 May

In Translation presents two moving writers: Rodaan al Galidi, author of Two Blankets, Three Sheets, a quietly powerful story set in The Netherlands and narrated by Karim, who endures the limbo of eight years in an asylum centre; and Alia Trabucco Zerán, whose The Remainder, shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize, dissects the repercussions of a brutal dictatorship on a new generation. Chaired by Jonathan Reeder.


Don’t miss our range of 21 free events.

Discover our Young Readers programme and Classical Lunchtime programme – all events are £10 or under. 

Pay it Forward Scheme

Pay It Forward (PIF) is a scheme that ensures everyone can enjoy Brighton Festival.

Introduced in 2017 by Guest Director, Kate Tempest, the Pay It Forward scheme will be entering its third year of bringing the together at Brighton Festival.

Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2020, Lemn Sissay welcomes everyone to unite, join in and reflect:

“The most damaging mirror trick in society is to convince people they have no imagination and that they are not creative. It’s just not true. There’s going to be something for you in this Festival. Broaden your horizons, be open and maybe try something different. Welcome to the Imagine Nation, welcome to the whole world in one celebration here at Brighton Festival 2020.”

The generosity we received last year was incredible and we hope this year is no different. Here are some comments from previous PIF recipients:

“Connecting members of the community together again.”

“It's a fabulous opportunity! Many of the young people we work with would not be able to attend the paid events in the Brighton Festival without the scheme” - YMCA DownsLink Group

“It means I can access events I wouldn’t normally be able to afford to go to, even if I did want to see them.”

Join the Pay It Forward movement and help more people experience Brighton Festival. Pay an extra £5 when you book your tickets, or donate online, and we’ll put this towards giving a free ticket to someone who might not otherwise be able to attend. Vouchers will be distributed at Our Place, local schools, charities and partner organisations.

If you would like to get involved with the Pay It Forward scheme, please contact pif@brightonfestival.org

Welcome to the Imagine Nation with Lemn Sissay Brighton Festival 2020

The acclaimed British and Ethiopian poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker, Lemn Sissay MBE has launched Brighton Festival 2020 welcoming everyone to the Imagine Nation from 2 to 24 May 2020.

Brighton Festival is the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England and will feature over 120 events taking place in 27 venues and locations across the region - from the industrial landscapes of Shoreham Port and warehouses in Hove, to the suburban streets of Crawley and Moulsecoomb, theatres, community centres and cinemas in Worthing, Hangleton, East Brighton and Lewes. Artists experimenting and creating new work is at the heart of the Festival with 17 premieres, exclusives, commissions and co-productions and many Festival debuts from international artists.

Lemn’s personal passions flow throughout the 2020 programme, connected by a love of words and language across theatre, song, spoken word, art and poetry. Contemporary writers and poets are given a particular spotlight with several spoken word and book events including The Time Has Now ComeLime Time, Take 5 and Vintage Poets. 


Lemn’s support for new and established Ethiopian artists features prominently with appearances by Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke, contemporary pianist/composer Samuel Yirga and writers Maaza Mengiste and Aida Edemariam. Marking the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s journey, a new generation of Indigenous American artists take centre stage in The Young Americans, a powerful new exhibition in partnership with Rainmaker Gallery at Phoenix Art Space that reveals what it means to grow up in the contemporary United States. And using art as a way to explore our most personal experiences will offer some of the most powerful events in the Festival. In Adopt A Nation, Lemn invites the public to adopt him in an intimate one-on-one experience that will ask participants to share their own thoughts about family; and his best-selling memoir My Name is Why is discussed in conversation with British-Eritrean writer Hannah Azieb Pool.

Guest Director Lemn Sissay explains how Imagine Nation is a place to join in, reflect and take time for a personal creative experience:

“The most damaging mirror trick in society is to convince people they have no imagination and that they are not creative. It’s just not true. There’s going to be something for you in this Festival. Broaden your horizons, be open and maybe try something different. Welcome to the Imagine Nation, welcome to the whole world in one celebration here at Brighton Festival 2020.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival added:

“Brighton Festival is an annual invitation to everyone to explore great art from all over the world and inspire individual creativity. We’re excited and proud to be bringing the Festival to so many areas of the city and the wider region and we hope that Lemn’s encouragement to be brave and try something new creates an ‘Imagine Nation’ in which we can all take part.”

Thanks to our Sponsors for supporting Brighton Festival 2020: University of SussexSouthern WaterUniversity of BrightonBrighton CollegeDotsquaresGriffith SmithSelective AsiaSelits and Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings

We’re proud to announce our media partners are BBC Sussex, Radio Reverbtheartsdesk.com and Brighton & Hove Independent.

Tickets go on sale to Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival members at 7.30am, Wed 12 February and general sale at 9am, Wed 19 February. 

Brighton Festival 2020 Highlights

The acclaimed British and Ethiopian poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker, Lemn Sissay MBE has launched Brighton Festival 2020 welcoming everyone to the Imagine Nation from 2 to 24 May 2020.



Since it was first established in 1967, Brighton Festival has given artists and performers at the cutting edge of artistic practice and on the edge of society, the creative space to have their voices heard and to showcase new work. This year’s programme is no exception. Here are some highlights from Brighton Festival 2020 programme:


LGBTQ artists including Ivan Coyote, Amy Bell and Travis Alabanza recount their inspiring stories in dance, theatre and spoken word. Female empowerment is given a playful and provocative portrayal in Hot Brown Honey’s fusion of hip-hop and politics and comedian Josie Long tells her tale of first-time motherhood.


caravan, the bi-annual international showcase for English theatre and performing artists returns with a dynamic three days of new work attracting international promoters and presenters.


Several Festival events will involve individual opportunities to become involved in the art itself. Families and friends will be celebrated in Arrivals & Departures, an interactive public artwork located in Brighton’s Friends Meeting House garden that will be a changing display of names commemorating the birth or death of a loved one. In the world premiere of The Sleeping Tree, visitors will enter one of the last great rainforests of Indonesia through a live sensory environment and the UK premiere of Semiconductor’s HALO offers a mesmeric and consuming installation based on the Big Bang.

From Italy, Gabriella Salvaterra’s Sollievo invites the audience to travel through a candle-lit labyrinth in an intimate theatrical experience that explores the fragility of humanity and what can and can’t be repaired.


The annual Children’s Parade with Same Sky officially marks the start of the Festival on Saturday 2 May and this year’s theme of Nature’s Marvels celebrates the year of biodiversity as well as highlighting climate change action – a theme that resonates with several Festival artists who respond to the global crisis, including the world premiere of Dear Nature by artist John Newling in collaboration with Ditchling Museum of Art & Craft. His poetic letters to nature will be read by representatives from the local community set to a musical composition. Belgian performance group Ontroerend Goed’s ground-breaking work, Are we not drawn onward to new erA is a serious but joyfully powerful piece of theatre that asks questions about our ability to repair the damage already done to our planet. An installation by artist Chris Dobrowolski, Washed Up Car-go, brings a thought provoking and eye-catching work about plastic pollution to a new outdoor site in Hove.


Festival events will be reaching out to more communities than ever before. A residential street in Moulsecoomb, will be transformed into a colourful artwork in a new co-commission by Brighton Festival and Fabrica with A Simple Act of Wonder by acclaimed contemporary artists Walter and Zoniel.

Without Walls will visit Crawley’s Queens Square to bring an exhilarating programme of pop-up events from some of the UK’s most innovative outdoor companies. From hip hop and circus to inspiring dance and an interactive augmented reality trail, the whole family will enjoy these playful and uplifting shows. Artist Ray Lee’s spectacular giant sound and light sculptures are brought together for the first time in Points of Departure, set against an atmospheric night-time backdrop of Shoreham Port. And Our Place continues to bring free arts activities programmed by and for the communities of Hangleton and East Brighton.


Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival added:

“Brighton Festival is an annual invitation to everyone to explore great art from all over the world and inspire individual creativity. We’re excited and proud to be bringing the Festival to so many areas of the city and the wider region and we hope that Lemn’s encouragement to be brave and try something new creates an ‘Imagine Nation’ in which we can all take part.”

As always, the Festival will include free and participatory events and activities for all ages, abilities and incomes – over 100 events are free or cost £10 or less to attend and the Pay It Forward scheme will offer free ticket vouchers to community organisations.

Tickets go on sale to Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival members at 7.30am, Wed 12 February and general sale at 9am, Wed 19 February. 

caravan Showcase Returns to Brighton Festival 2020

caravan, the biennial showcase of England’s brightest independent performing artists returns to Brighton Festival from 10 to 12 May 2020.

The three-day showcase presents the best new performances made in England to an audience of international and national commissioners, promoters and programmers, delivered by Farnham Maltings in partnership with Brighton Festival. caravan is a convivial event designed to encourage artists, commissioners, programmers and potential collaborators to explore new ways of working together, share ambitions and reach new audiences. caravan 2020 follows the success of the bi-annual events, established at the Festival in 2008.


Gavin Stride, Director of caravan and Farnham Maltings explains:

“caravan aims to strengthen international networks and expand the range of opportunities for performing artists and companies based in England, allowing them to present their work to audiences across the world.”

The 2020 programme features nine live events encompassing music, theatre, dance, cabaret and family-friendly, selected by a curatorial group drawn from some of the country’s leading directors and producers. All shows are open to the public with tickets priced from £6-£12.50.

Highlights include Nouveau Riche’s Queens of Sheba, the hilarious, moving and uplifting stories of four Black women battling everyday misogynoir; News News News by Andy Field and Beckie Darlington, a television news show made by children for adults; Pecho Mama’s bold and genre-defying debut, Medea Electronica blends live gig with theatrical storytelling; Jamal Gerald’s Idol is a daring and unapologetic examination of religion, pop culture and Black representation and Bert & Nasi’s new work, The End, offers a poignant, sad and funny account of two parallel endings - their relationship and the Earth.


The caravan marketplace takes place alongside the showcase and will be held on Tuesday 12 May between 10am and 12pm. Artists and companies can apply to host a stand and pitch ideas with national and international delegates.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Festival added:

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming caravan back as part of this year’s Festival. The showcase has grown substantially since it was launched in 2008, and now encompasses a selection of the most dynamic and innovative creatives from across England. It has become a leading platform for international promoters and programmers to experience a diverse range of new work by talented artists who are prime candidates at this stage in their careers to tour internationally.”

caravan is supported by Arts Council England and British Council.

Brighton Festival & caravan support new theatre work with artist opportunities

caravan returns to Brighton Festival 2020 to present the new theatre and performance from English artists to a selection of international and national promoters and presenters.

Organised by Farnham Maltings for Brighton Festival, caravan is a convivial event designed to encourage artists, commissioners, programmers and potential collaborators to explore new ways of working together, share ambitions and reach new audiences.

The caravan marketplace is an opportunity for artists and companies to host a stand and to share information about current or future artistic projects with approximately 60 national and international delegates. The marketplace will be held during Brighton Festival on Tuesday 12 May between 10am and 12pm. Artists, writers, directors and companies can apply to take part by Thur 13 February 2020, full details are available here. 

The marketplace takes place alongside caravan showcase at Brighton Festival from 10 to 12 May 2020. The programme introduces a selected group of England’s brightest performance companies to the public, festival organisers and programmers from around the world, with the ambition of developing new partnerships.

caravan is supported by Arts Council England and British Council.

Disused Hove Warehouse to Host Brighton Festival Events

A disused warehouse next to Hove train station will be the venue for several public events as part of Brighton Festival 2020. Property developers, Watkin Jones Group, have partnered with the Festival to provide the empty spaces which are due for demolition.

Brighton Festival is presenting three events on the site from 2 to 24 May 2020, including the world premiere of a large-scale digital installation, the UK premiere of an immersive theatre production and an outdoor interactive sculpture.

In The Sleeping Tree, visitors will enter one of the last great rainforests of Indonesia and follow a family of endangered Gibbons as they go through their daily rituals, returning to the same tree they have inhabited for generations. Created by UK interactive arts company Invisible Flock, the unique sensory installation fuses art, film and digital technology with the aim of highlighting urgent conservation issues. The company worked with rangers and primatologists in Sumatra to record the images and sounds of the jungle and the fascinating habitat of these endangered species.


In the adjacent space, Sollievo offers an intimate theatrical performance by acclaimed Italian artist Gabriella Salvaterra. 23 performers invite guests to travel through a tranquil candle-lit labyrinth and listen to stories, peek into boxes, sit at their dinner table and flutter through pages of books. The spine-tingling production is an enchanting and dream-like journey for just 40 audience members, with several performances throughout the evening.

Outside the warehouse, an ordinary looking car is parked on the forecourt, but on closer inspection viewers will see this is no ordinary vehicle. Featuring found objects from Brighton beach, toy sea creatures, sand and pebbles, Washed Up Car-go  is an art installation with a difference. Using film and music, artist Chris Dobrowolski’s playfully thought-provoking sculpture raises awareness about plastic consumerism and the pollution of the world’s oceans.


The use of this industrial space as an art venue is an opportunity to bring events to unusual locations and communities beyond the city. Brighton Festival can also be found at Shoreham Port, where Ray Lee’s Points of Departure will dazzle audiences with sound and light installations during a night-time encounter. Further locations include Queens Square in Crawley, which will host Without Walls, a series of free outdoor pop-up art events suitable for all ages. 

Everything you need to know about The War of the Worlds by Rhum and Clay

The classic science fiction story, The War of the Worlds is playfully reimagined by Rhum and Clay Theatre Company and comes to Worthing’s Connaught Theatre in May as part of Brighton Festival. 

Here are a few interesting facts about the show: 

  • Born in Paris at the École Jacques Lecoq in 2010 by Julian Spooner and Matthew Wells, Rhum and Clay Theatre Company is currently based in London at the New Diorama Theatre.
  • In 2018, co-Artistic Director Julian Spooner followed in the footsteps of the likes of Daniel Kitson, Monica Dolan and Phoebe Waller-Bridge by winning a coveted Stage Award for Acting Excellence for his performance in Mistero Buffo.
  • Rhum and Clay’s productions are cinematic in the telling, playing with overlapping narratives, flashbacks and montages that cumulatively create beautiful, visually textured on-stage worlds.
  • The War of the Worlds by Rhum and Clay is a remarkable adaption inspired by H.G Well’s novel which was published in 1897. It’s one of the first fictional stories about a conflict between mankind and extra-terrestrial life.
  • In 1938, Orson Welles’ created a thrilling radio drama adaptation of H.G Well’s novel. When aired as part of a CBS drama series, the Mercury Theatre on the Air, it caused public panic amongst listeners, who were just getting used to the outside world invading their living rooms via the radio. 
  • Fast forward to 2020, and the internet has replaced the radio as the medium through which we make sense of the world. Rhum and Clay connect Welles’ broadcast with a modern-day podcaster who is researching an old family secret. The cast of four actors takes the audience on a journey through time, from an era when breaking news was shared live on-air to today’s clickbait headlines and Twitter trends.


  • Playfully reimagined for the fake news generation the show will leave audiences questioning the grey area between truth and fiction and the dangerously seductive power of a good story.
  • The play takes the form of a series of news broadcasts, using a recording from the 1938 radio drama, as well as references to Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film adaption.
  • In Welles’ broadcast, the aliens land in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. For research, Julian Spooner visited the town, which has a café dedicated to the broadcast and a monument claiming that in 1938 up to 1 million people believe the Martian invasion was real.
  • The ever so popular tale has been adapted by the likes of Spielberg in 2005 and inspired Jeff Wayne’s 1978 concept album. The latest TV adaption is BBC one’s three-part series starring Eleanor Tomlinson, Rafe Spall and Robert Carlyle.

Find out more about Rhum and Clay

Everything you need to know about Lemn Sissay

The much-loved British and Ethiopian poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker, Lemn Sissay MBE is Brighton Festival’s Guest Director in 2020.

Here are a few interesting facts about Lemn’s life and work.

  • Lemn was born on 21 May 1967 to an Ethiopian mother, shortly after she moved to England to study. Lemn was taken into long-term foster care in Wigan and was named Norman.
  • At the age of 18, Lemn was reunited with his birth mother. She revealed that she had named him Lemn, meaning ‘why’ in Ethiopia’s official language, Amharic. There is only one person in the world named Lemn Sissay!
  • Aged 21, he published his first book of poems, Tender Fingers in a Clenched Fist, and sold it in pubs, at political marches, and any place he could stand up and perform.
  • Lemn has published 10 books since 1985 and written several plays including Something Dark and Why I don’t hate white people.
  • Lemn was awarded an MBE for services to literature by The Queen of England in 2010 and a Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister in 2017.
  • He is Dr Dr Dr Dr Lemn Sissay. He is Chancellor of The University of Manchester and an Honorary Doctor from The University of Huddersfield, The University of Kent and The University of Brunel.
  • Lemn is featured on 21st Century Poem on the Left field album, Leftism which sold millions. In 2018 on the twentieth anniversary of the album he toured with the band to sell out tours throughout the country.
  • He was the official poet for the London 2012 Olympics and for the FA Cup in 2015. His poem Spark Catchers at the Olympic Park remembers the Victorian socialist Annie Besant, who led the Matchgirls Strike in 1888.
  • Inspired by his own experience of leaving social care, Lemn established ‘The Christmas Dinners’ with the intention that no social care leaver is alone at Christmas. Since launching in 2013, The Christmas Dinners have taken place in Manchester, Leeds, London, Liverpool, Oxford and continue to grow.
  • His Landmark Poems can be found on the walls of hospitals, libraries, pubs, universities and train stations, bringing his writing to communities in public spaces every day. Gilt of Cain was unveiled by Bishop Desmond Tutu in The City of London and his poem what if was exhibited at The Royal Academy and toured galleries from Tokyo to New York.
  • Lemn’s Channel 4 documentary, Superkids: Breaking Away from Care, was nominated for a BAFTA. A BBC TV documentary, Internal Flight, and radio documentary, Child of the State, were both based about his life.
  • Lemn’s TED talks in the Houses of Parliament have been viewed by over a million people and his interview on Desert Island Discs was chosen as a BBC Pick of the Year 2019.
  • In 2019, Lemn won the PEN Pinter prize, set up in memory of playwright Harold Pinter.

He said: “What I like about this award is that it is from a great writer and a great organisation. I accept it as a sign that I should continue. All I have is what I leave behind. All I am is what I do.”

  • Lemn published his memoir, My Name is Why in August 2019 which reflects on his childhood, self-expression, Britishness, race, family, and the meaning of home. The publication is a Sunday Times number one bestseller and has been listed as book of the year in publications such as The Times, New Statesman, The Guardian and the Telegraph.

Find out more about Lemn Sissay.

Brighton Festival 2020 Children’s Parade will Celebrate Nature’s Marvels for the Year of Biodiversity

Brighton city centre will be filled with a sea of colour and creativity next May as thousands of children, parents and teachers celebrate the natural world at the annual Brighton Festival Children’s Parade.

Next year’s theme, Nature’s Marvels, will celebrate the wonders of flora and fauna from around the world, as well as reflecting on the urgent need to protect and conserve the planet’s natural environment. 2020 marks the end of the UN Decade on Biodiversity and the Nature2020 initiative will see organisations across the county actively engaging in events to celebrate Brighton and Lewes’ Downs biosphere and the living coast.

Jointly produced with award-winning community arts charity Same Sky, the Children’s Parade will take place on Sat 2 May 2020 to mark the start of Brighton Festival, three weeks of arts and culture across Brighton, Hove and Sussex.

The largest of its kind in Europe, the family-friendly, free event takes place in central Brighton and has delighted participants and spectators for 30 years. Around 10,000 people come along to see the parade and be part of a vibrant procession of dance, music and fun for the whole city. With a different imaginative theme each year, previous parades have seen children dress up as folk tales, paintings, letters of the alphabet and street names.

John Varah, Artistic Director, Same Sky said:

'Next year recognises the importance of biodiversity and will provide a rich topic for school pupils to learn about and to get creative. Nearly 60 schools and groups from Brighton and Hove will work together with our artists to create a moving pageant that celebrates nature’s wonderful ecological diversity.'

The Children’s Parade is one of the most spectacular community events in the UK, with months of behind the scenes planning and preparations. Artists collaborate with teachers and volunteers to make magnificent effigies, choreograph dance routines and compose parade chants, with free masterclasses to develop design ideas and encourage imagination to flow. Brighton based disability charity, Carousel and learning disabled artists will provide a live broadcast of the event, to allow people unable to attend in person to be part of the experience.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival added:

'We’ve seen how passionate children and young people are about protecting the planet and it seemed such an obvious choice that the 2020 children’s parade should reflect what’s happening across the world but also to celebrate the biodiversity that’s right here on our doorstep. Each year we are amazed by the imagination and incredible hard work that goes into making the parade happen and the sheer joy it brings to everyone who takes part or who watch from the streets of Brighton.'

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England. Brighton Festival’s 2020 Guest Director is poet, author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay MBE and runs from 2 to 24 May 2020.

Brighton Festival 2020 programme launches on Tue 11 Feb 2020 and online. 

Brighton Festival 2020 Guest Director is acclaimed poet Lemn Sissay MBE

Lemn Sissay is a passionate and powerful voice whose performances are humbling and exhilarating.

– Kate Tempest, 2017 Brighton Festival Guest Director

The acclaimed British and Ethiopian poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker, Lemn Sissay MBE has been announced as the twelfth Brighton Festival Guest Director, following in the footsteps of Rokia Traoré (2019), David Shrigley (2018), Kate Tempest (2017) and Laurie Anderson (2016) amongst others.

Lemn Sissay is a BAFTA nominated award winning writer, best-selling author, prolific speaker and performer, who has inspired audiences across the world. He was the official poet of the London 2012 Olympics and his Landmark Poems can be found on the walls of hospitals, libraries, pubs, universities and train stations, bringing his writing to communities in public spaces every day. Sissay is Chancellor of Manchester University and was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2010, PEN Pinter Prize 2019 and Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister in 2017.

In his 2019 memoir, My Name Is Why, Sissay reflects on his childhood, self-expression and Britishness, and explores the institutional care system he was raised in, race, family and the meaning of home. His moving, frank and timely story is the result of a life spent asking questions, and a celebration of the redemptive power of creativity. The publication is a Sunday Times number one bestseller and has been listed as book of the year in The Times, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman and The Herald.

On his appointment as Brighton Festival Guest Director Lemn Sissay said:

“Art saves lives, it literally saves lives. Art is how we translate the human spirit. That’s why you have art and religions. That’s why people sing. That’s why we read poems at funerals and weddings, we need some bridge between the spiritual, the physical, the past, the present, the future. Something that lifts us to a higher place, that celebrates our humanity. And here we get to celebrate together, in an arts festival on the edge of the sea, in the month of my birthday. What an honour that is.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival added:

“We’re thrilled Lemn is directing Brighton Festival 2020. He is a truly inspiring artist whose work connects with everyone and wakes us up to what it means to be human. His generous, collaborative imagination ranges across everything we do and he has an instinctive feel for Brighton. We can’t wait to see his festival brought to life next May.”

Further Festival highlights announced today include a contemporary adaptation of The War of the Worlds by Rhum and Clay Theatre Company at Worthing’s Connaught Theatre. Inspired by H.G. Wells’ novel and Orson Welles’ legendary radio broadcast, the play has been reimagined for the fake news generation and will leave audiences questioning what is truth and what is fiction.

Also appearing exclusively in Brighton, ahead of their London date in May are Malian musicians Amadou & Mariam, performing together with the Grammy Award-winning gospel group the Blind Boys of Alabama. The artists have forged a friendship that has led to a world tour that combines contemporary African sounds with African-American roots music, coming to Brighton Dome Concert Hall for an unforgettable Festival event.

The Festival opening weekend will feature the world première of Double Murder, by Hofesh Shechter Company. The thrilling, two-part contemporary dance for our times, has been created by the multitalented choreographer Hofesh Shechter OBE and will be performed by ten of his inimitable dancers, accompanied by the epic sounds of a Shechter-composed score.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England. Running from 2 to 24 May 2020, it opens with the popular Children’s Parade, produced in partnership with Same Sky. Community and participation events will appear across the city – Our Place will continue to bring free performances and arts activities programmed by and for the communities of Hangleton and East Brighton; Young City Reads encourages school children to share their love of reading and Without Walls family friendly events will pop-up in unexpected outdoor locations.

Full programme details will be announced at the Brighton Festival 2020 launch on Tuesday 11 February 2020 and online.

The end of the world will be broadcast from Worthing in Brighton Festival 2020 theatre show

The classic science fiction story, The War of the Worlds is playfully reimagined for the Fake News generation.


Adapted by Rhum and Clay Theatre Company, the show comes to Worthing’s Connaught Theatre next May as part of Brighton Festival 2020. Inspired by H.G. Wells’ novel and Orson Welles’ legendary 1938 radio broadcast, the production has been playfully reimagined for the fake news generation and will leave audiences questioning the grey area between truth and fiction and the dangerously seductive power of a good story.

Rhum and Clay connect Welles’ broadcast with a modern-day podcaster who is researching an old family secret. The cast of four actors take the audience on a journey through time, from an era when breaking news was shared live on-air to today’s clickbait headlines and twitter trends. The play takes the form of a series of news broadcasts, using recordings from the 1938 radio drama, as well as references to Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film adaption.


Matthew Wells, co-Artistic Director of Rhum and Clay said:

“It's particularly special for us to be part of Brighton Festival as they were one of the first champions of our show and as a co-producer, have offered so much creative, practical and moral support. Sadly for the purposes of a good story, H.G. Wells’ original invasion of alien pods took place in Woking rather than Worthing, but perhaps we can invent some of our own fake news about that? Our story also involves that other seismic master storyteller, Orson Welles, but fundamentally, who doesn't love a good alien invasion story?”

Wells’ book was published in 1897 and is one of the first science fiction novels to explore the relationship between humans and extra-terrestrial life. Orson Welles’ infamous radio play was so realistic that it caused public panic among listeners who thought the Martian invasion was really happening. In Rhum and Clay’s theatrical retelling, it’s not aliens who are the enemy but anyone who has access to the internet.

Rhum and Clay Theatre Company are based in London at the New Diorama Theatre and is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Stage Edinburgh Award for Best Performance 2018. Their productions are cinematic in the telling, playing with overlapping narratives, flashbacks and montages that cumulatively create beautiful, visually textured on-stage worlds. The War of the Worlds has been co-produced by Brighton Festival, HOME Manchester, New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth and Nuffield Southampton Theatres. Rhum and Clay's adaption was written for stage by Isley Lynn.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England and runs from 2 to 24 May 2020. Full programme details will be announced at the Brighton Festival 2020 launch on Tuesday 11 February 2020 and online. 

Amadou & Mariam and the Blind Boys of Alabama

Malian duo Amadou & Mariam will be performing with Grammy award-winning the Blind Boys of Alabama exclusively at Brighton Festival in May ahead of their London date.

Amadou & Mariam made a name for themselves playing Malian blues. They have released a string of acclaimed albums, working with producers such as Manu Chao and Damon Albarn to create joyous music that inspires live shows, festival stages and wild remixes.

Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia met at the Bamako Institute for the Young Blind, bonding over their love for music. They married and began to play together in the early 1980s while Amadou continued a successful solo career and ran the Institute for the Young Blind‘s music programme. The couple have worked with renowned contemporary artists including Coldplay, Santigold, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and U2.

It was on a festival bill that they first met the Blind Boys of Alabama and their friendship has led to a worldwide tour together. The Blind Boys are known for their remarkable interpretations of everything from traditional gospel favourites to contemporary spiritual material by songwriters such as Eric Clapton, Prince and Tom Waits.

The "gospel titans" started out together as children in the 1930s and have gone on to win five Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and perform at the White House for three different presidents.

Their performance at Brighton Dome Concert Hall brings the two groups together in a collaborative celebration of world music ahead of their Royal Festival Hall date in London.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England and runs from 2 to 24 May 2020. Full programme details will be announced at the Brighton Festival 2020 launch on Tuesday 11 February 2020 and online.

Thrilling seaside mystery Malamander is chosen for Young City Reads 2020

A reading project for primary school children has revealed Malamander has been chosen as the Young City Reads title for 2020. Brighton Festival and Collected Works CIC selects one book for children across Brighton & Hove, Sussex and beyond to read, explore and discuss from World Book Day on 5 March 2020 until a special live event at Brighton Festival in May 2020.

Published by Walker Books, Malamander is the creation of award-winning children’s author and illustrator Thomas Taylor, known for his distinctive cover artwork on J.K. Rowling’s first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Based in Bexhill-on-Sea, Taylor has written and illustrated several picture books and young novels including the Daniel Dyer series and Scarlett Hart for Marcus Sedgwick.

Malamander is set in Eerie-on-Sea, a town where strange stories seem to wash up on the shore. The story follows a daring duo, Herbert Lemon, Lost and Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, and Violet Parma, a young girl searching for her parents who disappeared twelve years earlier, as they team up to solve the mystery of a legendary sea-monster. Sony Pictures have secured the film rights for the movie adaptation and Game of Thrones actor Alfie Allen is the voice of the audiobook.


Thomas Taylor the 2020 Young City Reads author commented:

‘I’ve always lived near the sea and seaside towns, but it was only when I finally came to live in one that I discovered the secrets of coastal life that inspired my book Malamander. I’m thrilled to participate in Young City Reads 2020 as it seems so appropriate to have children who live and go to school near the coast read my book. I hope it captures their imagination to create their own stories and encourages a life-long love of reading.’

In 2019, over 3,000 pupils from schools across Sussex took part, sharing Onjali Q Raúf’s book, The Boy at the Back of the Class and taking part in free weekly activities sent directly to teachers for their class.


Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said:

‘We’re delighted to have Young City Reads take part in Brighton Festival’s young literature events. Encouraging children to enjoy books and discover new ideas together improves their literacy in a fun and creative way. We’re sure Malamander will be a big hit with children across the county and encourage primary schools to sign up and take part for this big read event.’

Young City Reads culminates in a special live event with the author as part of Brighton Festival’s Children and Young People’s Literature programme in May 2020.

Sarah Hutchings, Director of Young City Reads added:

‘We are so excited to share this sensational seaside adventure with young readers across Sussex. Herbert Lemon and Violet Parma are a spirited, unforgettable double act and this timeless tale is just the thing to inspire children to fall in love with reading. It’s really easy for Primary Schools to get involved. Teachers can register on the Young City Reads website for free and we’ll send them weekly literary resources and fun activities for their classes to take part.’

Denise Johnstone-Burt, Executive Editorial Director at Walker Books commented:

‘We’re delighted that Young City Reads have chosen Malamander by Thomas Taylor as their 2020 title. It’s a brilliantly quirky seaside book and the perfect read for children growing up in Brighton & Hove. I hope the wonderfully mysterious atmosphere and exciting story will nurture their love of reading and spark their imaginations.’

First Show Announced for Brighton Festival 2020

Brighton Festival, the biggest annual multi-arts festival in England returns next year from 2 to 24 May 2020 with a world première by Hofesh Shechter Company.

Double Murder is a thrilling new two-part contemporary dance for our times, led by the multitalented choreographer Hofesh Shechter OBE and performed by ten of his inimitable dancers, accompanied by the epic sounds of a Shechter-composed score. The double bill consists of New Creation, an antidote and partner piece to the murderous, poisonous anarchy of Shechter’s Clowns, which premiered on 29 April 2016 at Nederlands Dans Theater 1 in The Hague, The Netherlands. Violence, tenderness and hope are all laid bare through Shechter’s achingly beautiful cinematic lens, bringing a tender and fragile energy to Brighton Dome’s stage.

Hofesh Shechter commented:

"I am very excited to bring a new creation to Brighton Festival next year. Together with the dancers I’m looking to find the spark of hope, that deep and childish, fragile human need of warmth. We walked into the studio feeling like a balance is required, a place where we allow time to be on our side as opposed to against us. A fix.”

The boundary-breaking dance company was established by Shechter in 2008 and became Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival’s first resident artists. Shechter was Guest Director in 2014 and Double Murder will be the company’s third world première at the Festival, having previously performed The Art of Not Looking Back in 2009 and Political Mother in 2010.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival said:

“Brighton Festival is proud to have worked with Hofesh and his company for over 10 years and we’re thrilled to announce Double Murder as our first show for 2020. As Brighton Dome resident artists, we’re excited to welcome them back home to perform here and for Festival audiences to experience their new work for the first time.”

Andrew Comben added:

“Next year’s Festival will build on the success of 2019 by reaching out to local communities through initiatives such as the Pay it Forward ticket scheme which allowed more people than ever before to see a Festival event for free. We’re looking forward to revealing the Guest Director and the Children’s Parade theme in the next few weeks.”

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England. Running across three weeks in May, it opens on Sat 2 May 2020 with the popular Children’s Parade, produced in partnership with Brighton based community arts charity Same Sky. Participation events will appear across the city – Our Place will continue to bring free performances and arts activities programmed by and for the communities of Hangleton and East Brighton; Young City Reads encourages school children to share their love of reading and family friendly events and installations will pop-up in unexpected outdoor locations.

In conversation with: Director of Superhoe Jade Lewis

University of Sussex student Lola Awoderu, speaks to Director of Superhoe, Jade Lewis. Superhoe is the first collaboration between Talawa Theatre Company and the Royal Court Theatre and was first presented as part of Talawa Firsts in June 2018. Superhoe is Nicôle Lecky’s writing and performing debut and is directed by Jade Lewis . We spoke to Jade Lewis about her time at the University of Sussex and her involvement in Superhoe.


You studied History here at University of Sussex, how did your experience affect your journey to becoming a Director?

I was Vice President of ACAS, I wanted to bring ACAS arts to the university. Every Tuesday evening we’d all come together to make short plays; we did a showing in Falmer bar and that later transpired to Culture Fest. We used our platform to showcase all our talent ranging from theatre to dance.  Being a part of ACAS arts was a nice way to feel comfortable at university – I was bonding and making friends through it, which can be difficult at times at university. In terms of history, I loved stories and learning about the world so then in my third year I studied South African history, and my dissertation was based on how theatre was used as a protest movement. I was able to read plays and question how theatre was used as a medium as opposed to the government. Sussex had the space and the resources in order for me to explore those realms.

What made you want to get involved in Superhoe? Did you already know Nicôle Lecky beforehand?

Nicôle and I met working on the project; she wrote the play with support of Talawa theatre company. They do a festival every year called Talawa Firsts and featured Superhoe as part of this festival. We were introduced through a mutual friend, had a meeting and then jumped into a 3-day RND on this play, and off the back of that showing it then got picked up by the Royal Court. We worked really well together, at a really a good pace. The Royal Court and Talawa did a co-production which lead to Superhoe. It was very much a professional relationship but through that we've become very good friends and collaborators.

What were the biggest challenges you faced when directing?

A real challenge we faced was what the design was: it’s a one person show and it’s very dense and text heavy. We had to question how we can make this text breathe, and present to the audience. Sasha goes from location to location, we had to visually show what the text does not do, which led to us using the AV. We wanted the audience to feel empowered after this story, all we ever strive for as humans is to be loved and be accepted and she goes on this journey of constantly not being ‘good enough.’ Social media shows how we live our lives but ‘no one is really living it up like their profile,’ and again how can we then show that without it being on the low and very literal. Through constant negotiation and trial and error we, got there in the end.

What advice would you give to any other black and minority creatives who are trying to navigate their way through the industry?

I’d say self-belief, believe that you can, believe that you will, because the industry will sometimes tell you that you won’t or can’t. Surround yourself with positive people that are like minded, and when working with people like Nicôle we were on the same wavelength. I feel like we’re in a time and age where that is happening much more – now we want each other to win, because ‘if you win, I win.’ It’s a new growing mentally. Keep working at your craft and keep asking questions, don’t feel like you have to conform with what’s already there. Be willing to evolve and be opened minded to what comes your way.

What is next? Do you have any visions for what you want to work on in the future?

I’m working on a project with Central School of Speech of Drama students, making a play for under-fives. I’m a true believer of keeping theatre alive and how can we keep theatre alive if we only make shows for adults? As a creative you can do anything – I’m having loads of meetings and I’m very mindful about what I do next. Superhoe has opened up a lot of doors for me, especially in terms of networking and establishing long term relationships. I’m kind of in the lab of the moment, but I know it's important to rest… if you don't rest, you’re not going to be at your best.

Thank you for being part of the story!

This year’s Brighton Festival was all about celebrating stories – exploring their ability to intrigue us, challenge assumptions and bond people together.

Whether you came to one show, or took part in events throughout the Festival, we’re so glad you could join us for another incredible year of talent, expression and artistic invention.

We’re so thankful to everyone who helped make this year so memorable, especially all our audiences, artists, participants, volunteers, sponsors, members, patrons and staff. A special thank you also to our 2019 Guest Director Rokia Traoré, who brought immeasurable time and talent curating this year's Brighton Festival edition.

We look forward to seeing you again next year! Save the dates: 2 - 24 May 2020

Video by Summer Dean, Savanna Gladstone and Jen O'Brien

Volunteer Spotlight: Volunteer Greeter, Katy

During Volunteers’ Week we continue our Volunteer Spotlight series with an interview with Brighton  Festival volunteer Katy, who talks about the shows she’s enjoyed most, Billy Bragg’s very particular request and why she returned to volunteer for a second year.

What’s your role?
I’m a Festival Greeter which involves a bit of setting up, welcoming people when they arrive at a venue, helping to seat them and answering any questions during the show. I make sure everyone has a great time basically! I love working with people – the audiences, the paid staff, producers and performers sometimes. It’s very different from my day job in an academic library!

Two years ago I volunteered as a Literature Assistant and I wanted to volunteer again.

What did that involve?
Getting to the sessions early, meeting some of the authors at the station to get them to the hotel or the venue – particularly if they were late. One speaker arrived 15 minutes before the show so it was a bit of a mad dash from the train station to the venue! Jenny Murray was great. I didn’t get to watch her talk because I was looking after her dogs - she had three chihuahuas who are tiny and amazing! I also met Billy Bragg. He asked me for a pencil with an eraser because he wanted to rub out something he was presumably composing or writing at the time!

So what shows are you volunteering at this year?
I volunteered at Sam Sweeney's event at All Saints Church in Hove, which is a beautiful venue. I love it that you get to see lots of different places – churches, the Theatre Royal, Brighton Dome. I’m volunteering at events at the i360 and at Black Rock this weekend. There are such a variety of places you could find be!

Flight at the King Alfred Leisure Centre in Hove was really different. I had to wear a radio which was quite exciting! You watch it solo sitting in your own little booth with headphones. It was about child refugees travelling from Afghanistan across Europe to London so it was quite harrowing in places. The audience goes in one by one and it starts minute, after minute telling the story to each person as they watch little 3D models going around in a barrel drum. It’s so clever and really immersive and intense. I got to see that because someone didn’t turn up. That’s always a nice perk of volunteering.

Do volunteers often get to watch the shows they work at?
It depends on the show and the role you’re doing. You might be in the auditorium during the show – or you might not be – but the staff will try to get you to see it if they can. You’re volunteering your time so they want you to have a good experience.

What’s been your highlight this year?
I worked at The Nature of Why, by the British Paraorchestra. It was on at Brighton Dome with a small audience of about 150 who were up on stage with the performers.

You were on stage?!
Yes. It was just electric. There were dancers who moved, with some of the musicians, among the audience. Everyone had such a brilliant experience. It’s lovely to hear the feedback at the end – if people experience a show that thrilled them, that took them away somewhere, that mesmerised them - they really want to share that with you.

Has it been easy to fit volunteering around your life?
Yes. I’ve got two kids and work full time and it’s been easy because you can pick your availability – they're really accommodating and understand if you can’t make it. The Festival staff have generally been so welcoming and friendly and made it such a positive experience. 

To find out more about volunteering year-round for Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival email volunteers@brightonfestival.org