Brighton Festival 2016 announces Children’s Parade theme

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival is delighted to announce that the theme for the 2016 Children’s Parade - which will take place on Saturday 7 May - is ‘Brighton celebrates’.

Jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky and supported by local businesses Class of their Own and Riverford, the annual Children’s Parade officially launches Brighton Festival and has delighted participants and spectators for over 25 years. The largest of its kind in Europe, the parade is attended by almost 5,000 children from schools and community groups from across the region and cheered on by many thousands of spectators.

With a different imaginative theme each year, previous parades have seen children dress up as everything from letters of the alphabet and Brighton street names to books, mermaids and even slices of cake. In 2016 participants will be invited to be part of a major historical milestone as Brighton Festival celebrates its 50th year, taking inspiration from the people, places, ideas and innovations that shape the city’s unique character and identity.

Established in 1967, the three week celebration of music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate and family events has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. Renowned for its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation, Brighton Festival’s inaugural programme controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin.

Now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, Brighton Festival is known for its ambitious and daring programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere, drawing some of the most innovative artists and companies and adventurous audiences from the UK and around the world. The 50th Brighton Festival - which will take place from 7-29 May 2016 - will feature a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies including site-specific pieces, exclusives, world and UK premieres.

Pippa Smith, Brighton Festival 2016’s Children & Family programmer says: 'In 2016 Brighton Festival proudly enjoys its 50th birthday, and we can think of no better way of launching this special event than by inviting the children of Brighton to take to the streets with the theme of celebration. Brighton schools and community organisations will be working hard over the coming months exploring creative ways of representing the very best of the people, places and ideas which form our beautiful city. 5000 children will take part in the annual opening parade on Saturday 7 May representing Brighton characters past and present, landmarks old and new and the ideas and innovations that will carry us into Festival 50 in an explosion of sound and colour.'

One of the most spectacular community events in the UK, Same Sky spends six months working behind the scenes to create the event, with creative teams instructing teaching staff how to teach dance and parade chants, run free masterclasses, help develop design ideas and encourage imagination to flow.

John Varah, Artistic Director, Same Sky says: 'All of us here at Same Sky are excited to be working with over 75 schools to celebrate the best of our lovely city. For 50 years Brighton Festival has engaged, entertained and entranced, both us locals and a national and international audience. This year's theme will allow us to highlight the wonderful qualities of our unique and diverse city by bringing these stories alive with art, music and dance. See you on the streets!'

The event will be sponsored in 2016 by Class of Their Own - who return for a third year as sponsors of the event – and Riverford Organic Farms.

Stephen Spears from Riverford Organic Farms says: 'I was so touched by being involved in last year’s event that I knew Riverford Organic Farms should continue to support the wonderful Children’s Parade this year. Riverford delivers organic fruit, veg, dairy, deli and meat to your door. Through this sponsorship we will continue to promote healthy eating, inspiring recipes and delicious pesticide-free produce to families across Brighton, Hove and Sussex.'

Sam Thomson and Tanya Petherick from Class Of Their Own said: 'We are delighted to be able to support such a fantastic community event for the third year running. This year will be a particularly special year as we will be celebrating 15 years and Brighton Festival is celebrating 50 years. We look forward to celebrating at the Children’s Parade with local children and families and to seeing you there.'

The Children’s Parade is on Saturday 7 May 2016. The 50th Brighton Festival will take place on 7-29 May 2016.