Photography: Jamie MacMillan

Brighton Festival 2024 starts this weekend with a vibrant, hopeful programme of events for adults and children alike

Outdoor, Classical, Theatre, Music, Family, Visual arts, Announcements

The three-week city-wide celebration begins this Saturday, 12 May.

This year’s opening weekend is brimming with interactive installations, exhibitions, theatre, dance and music. Come on down!

Priceless Fun

Photography: Leap Then Look

Stop by the Royal Pavilion Gardens where all ages can have fun at the free interactive installation 100 Miles of String. From local artists Leap then Look, everyone is invited to weave and wind thousands of metres of string together to create a temporary, ever changing interactive artwork in the heart of Brighton.

From 4 May-30 Jun at Phoenix Arts Space, artist and scientist Dr Libby Heaney presents her gloriously gooey, free exhibition, Ooze Machines. With ‘oozing’ glass sculptures, immersive multi-channel video, 2D works and a gaming experience, Heaney explores ideas of sliminess in the body and in big tech. Suitable for the family.

Photography: Curtis James

Neolithic Cannibals: Deep Listening to the Unheard (4-19 May) is a free sound art exhibition Hosted at Lighthouse, Kensington Street. Created by local artists and social activists Class Divide in collaboration with young people in Whitehawk and East Brighton, the project invites audiences to discover the playfulness, joy and hope of the local area using a mix of media and activism.

Exhibitions And Installations

Illustration: Sozapato Ilustración

Do you have star quality? On your visits to Brighton Dome 4–26 May, have a go on An Elevated Platform. The experimental, interactive installation from performance makers Flexer & Sandiland invites visitors to stand on a stage where an invisible reacts to every move they make.

From 4–12 May, Bird Bath fills St Peter’s Church with spring birdsong from local nature reserves, creating a space for everyone stop, rest and soak in the sound; and Days of Wonder (4 May-1 Sep) celebrates the magic of early cinema at Hove Museum of Creativity, with an exhibition of new work inspired by film and media archives.

One Of A Kind Theatre

Photography Danny Khan

A huge hit with the critics, Perfect Show for Rachel, takes to the Corn Exchange 4 - Tue 7 May. Take a seat and watch hilarious, Kylie Minogue-loving Rachel inflict joyful chaos onto her cast; directing in real-time using buttons on a custom-made tech desk, Rachel can trigger music, lighting, theatrical scenes or choreography – it’s true to say that no show is the same!

Off The Grid

Photography: Paul Blakemore

For those that like to make a meal of it, settle in for a locally sourced three-course dining experience at Ground from 4-26 May; where each ingredient is explored alongside the complex history of the food on our plate through the voices of Indigenous communities from around the world. Located at Brighton’s own off-grid eco building Earthship.

Music And More

Children's Parade, photography: Jamie MacMillan

It's time to dance at DJ Norman Jay MBE’s club night Norman Jay’s Norman Soul. On tour for the first time, get ready to get down to an irresistible blend of Black music styles from the 1930s to present day.

Kicking off the Festival weekend is of course the Children’s Parade on 4 May, traveling from Jubilee Street to Madeira Drive from 10:30am. Over 5,000 school children from across Brighton & Hove will bring colourful floats and costumes to the city streets, inspired by Frank Cottrell-Boyce’s chosen theme of ‘Dream Again’. See you there!

Near And Far

You’ll See, photography: John McMahon

Elsewhere across the weekend, be charmed by classical concerts from the London Symphony Orchestra at the Concert Hall and acclaimed harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani at Glyndebourne. 

Mystical music and dance meet in Where the Veil is Thin, a show inspired by Gaelic mythology; and ‘inventive’ and ‘confident’ artist, J Neve Harrington, explores neurodivergent ways of thinking and experiencing relationships in multimedia performance Some Times.

Brighton’s Caroline Lucas discusses her new book, Another England, with Frank Cottrell-Boyce, and families can watch a creative adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses at You’ll See featuring an intricate pop-up book, a storyteller and original music.


100 Miles Of String supported by Southern Housing New Homes

Ground supported by Caravan Assembly

Ooze Machines is co-presented with Phoenix Art Space

Neolithic Cannibals is in partnership with Lighthouse

You'll See is supported by Culture Ireland

The Wonder Panel! is sponsored by Brighton College

Children's Parade sponsored by Brighton Girls and Same Sky Brighton

Carnesky's Showomxn Spectacular

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