Credit: David Bracey

Brighton Festival returns with an opening weekend of parades, premieres and outdoor performances


Brighton Festival kicks off this weekend, 7 and 8 May, with an eclectic programme of world and UK premieres, pop-up community events and live performances across the city.

2022 marks the return of the much-missed Children’s Parade on Saturday 7 May, following an enforced absence. Jointly produced with award-winning community arts charity Same Sky, this riot of colour and creativity features 5000 school children journeying through the centre of the city. Pivoting around the Festival theme of Rebuilding, the Parade celebrates the strength and resilience of local communities and what can be achieved when we listen and work together. The Children’s Parade is supported by Brighton Girls and Southern Water.

This year Brighton Festival has not one but two Guest Co-Directors - Syrian architect and author Marwa Al-Sabouni and Tristan Sharps, Artistic Director of Brighton-based theatre makers dreamthinkspeak. Marwa and Tristan chose the theme of Rebuilding as the inspiration for this year’s programme, exploring it from two different yet complementary perspectives.

Marwa Al-Sabouni has partnered with fellow architect Ghassan Jansiz to build a bespoke community space on Hove seafront, called The Riwaq – the Arabic word for colonnade. This unique temporary venue will offer an eclectic programme of free cultural and community events from Saturday 7 May, including family sessions, workshops, spoken word performances and music and dance from around the world. The Riwaq is made possible with the support of major sponsor Moda Living, alongside Timber Development UK. Design and fabrication is by setWorks, design collaboration and structural engineering is by Webb Yates, and additional support has come from DHH Timber and Vanessa Norwood.

Tristan Sharps’ site-responsive theatre company dreamthinkspeak stage the world premiere of a new Brighton Festival Commission, Unchain Me. Inspired by Dostoevsky’s novel The Possessed, in which a provincial town descends into chaos, the action takes place across a range of locations in and around the city. This thought-provoking multi-media performance is made possible with support from The Pebble Trust, whose annual sponsorship of the Brighton Festival Commission series will offer audiences innovative and unique ways of seeing and experiencing Brighton & Hove.

Saturday and Sunday’s A Weekend Without Walls programme will bring communities together to enjoy free family pop-up performances from some of the UK’s most innovative outdoor companies – from hip-hop dance theatre to contemplative audio tours. Later in the Festival the programme will expand beyond Brighton & Hove to partner on events with Creative Crawley in Crawley. Both weekends are sponsored by Southern Water.

Without Walls also forms part of Brighton Festival’s Our Place programme - a free and inclusive celebration of community creativity. The Festival works in partnership with community groups to select, programme and produce events for and within communities across Hangleton and Knoll, East Brighton, Mouslecoomb and Bevendean. Support for Our Place comes from the University of Sussex and The Rayne Foundation.

Brighton Festival will continue its innovative site-specific events with the UK premiere of Witness Stand, also opening this weekend. Australian artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey have commissioned a community of writers and sound artists with a connection to Brighton to create emotive sound installations for audiences to experience at inspiring outdoor sites across the region.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England. The Festival is celebrating a return to full capacity in 2022, with an extensive international programme of over 150 events taking place across Sussex from 7-29 May.

Explore the full programme at