Brighton Festival 2019Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

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Interview: Pippa Smith and Sarah Parsons

Pippa Smith is the Festival children’s events producer and in 1987 she co-founded Same Sky, a community arts organisation that still works alongside Brighton Festival to produce the Children’s Parade 30 years later. We sat down with Pippa and Sarah Parsons, Same Sky’s project manager, to learn more about the labour of love put in by so many Brighton & Hove residents to create this magical event.

This year, Same Sky is celebrating its 30th anniversary, how has the organisation changed over that time?

Sarah: The scale of the events has definitely grown over the last 30 years. Burning The Clocks and the Children’s Parade continue to become more and more popular.

How did Same Sky get involved with organising the Children’s Parade?

Pippa: When I first came to Brighton, I created Same Sky with my colleague Chris Bailey. At that time there was an embryonic version of the Children’s Parade, started by festival director Gavin Henderson. Only a few schools were involved, and the route was a short distance from Brighton train station to Pavilion Gardens. Same Sky took over running the Parade after that; we introduced a theme each year and began working with schools to create the sculptures and costumes. Ever since then the Parade has kept growing, with more schools wanting to participate. We now have around 5,000 students and teachers taking part, so it’s certainly a dazzling sight to behold.

What was the inspiration for Same Sky?

Pippa: I used to work for the Arts Council in London and one of my clients was the Notting Hill Carnival. It was such a new area that I asked if I could work with the organisers of the Carnival for a few days to learn more. During my time with them, I found out how the Carnival was structured and discovered that essentially much of the Carnival is a big parade. Later on I brought the same structure to Same Sky, who in turn brought it to the Children’s Parade.

Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2018 Photo by Vic Frankowski

The Parade seems to run seamlessly. How is it organised behind the scenes?

Pippa: There’s an initial meet-up for the participating schools, around 120 teachers from 63 schools come along and we reveal the Parade’s theme. The schools are then divided up by their area in the city, and we give them a more specific subject. This year’s theme is folk tales from around the world. With the help of artists from Same Sky, the teachers are then able to begin developing their ideas for sculptures and costumes. Afterwards, they return to their schools to discuss it with their colleagues and finalise the project. Once everyone has their ideas settled, we invite them to attend a ‘Mas Camp’, which stands for masquerade camp. This is a concept inspired by Notting Hill Carnival – a full day of teachers making and working on their creations.

Sarah: When the teachers go back to their schools, we send a lead artist (or section leader as we call them) out to oversee the schools in a specific area. Each school will have an allocated leader to monitor their progress and if they need some help they’ll assign an artist to give them an extra push.

Pippa: Some teachers fit the construction and decoration of their costumes into the curriculum and during lessons, other times students come in and work on the pieces with parents and teachers in their free time. It can be a slow process but gradually the pieces come together.

Is it a process that both adults and children can enjoy collaborating on equally?

Pippa: Absolutely! Each school has their own method of adult-child involvement, sometimes we get highly professional sculptures and then some structures are like children’s handprints that look like they’ve been made by the whole class. Overall, the children are proud of their school’s efforts, no matter how abstract. As an added incentive for the adults to give it their best shot is our ‘golden ticket system’. We’ll have a group of secret judges at the Parade who will hand out golden tickets to the ‘best makes’, meaning their creation will go on display in the Brighton Dome foyer throughout the Festival.

Sarah: The heart of the parade is each and every teacher and group leader’s involvement. They put in so much time, effort and passion to enable their children to enjoy participating in the event each year, it’s really impressive.

What’s your favourite part of the Parade?

Pippa: The moment it starts. The tension is so incredible. It’s that build up, those few minutes until we are given the all clear to move, it’s a real buzz. It delights everyone who takes part or comes to watch from the streets around the city. The Parade officially marks the start of three weeks of the Brighton Festival and even though the Parade is the starting point there’s so much more to see and do with lots of family friendly events.

Sarah: It’s an exciting build up and when it finally arrives it never disappoints. It’s such a joyful event to be part of and a fabulous start to the Festival.

Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2018 Photo by Vic Frankowski

Why should people come to see this year’s Parade?

Pippa: I think folk tales from around the world is a really lovely theme because some makes will be instantly recognisable, such as The Little Mermaid and Jack and The Beanstalk, whilst others will be new to the spectators. Same Sky will be giving out a leaflet with each school’s chosen folk tale so onlookers will be able to spot the names as the Parade goes by and can learn about which country the tale originated from.

Sarah: By pouring such a huge amount of time and love into their sculptures, the final makes can be truly remarkable and amazing pieces of street sculpture and theatre. It’s worth the trip to see it in person.

Pippa: One of the best things about the Parade having been around for the last 30 years is that every local child has probably taken part in it. Parents who now have children in the Parade will have been through the same wonderful experience and it has such a strong emotional attachment for people who grew up in and around Brighton. There’s nothing more charming than overhearing people saying, ‘yeah, I was in that when I was at school.’ ‘What were you?’ ‘I was a tomato.’

The Children’s Parade begins at 10.30am on Sat 4 May, starting from Kensington Street to Madeira Drive, free and open to everyone.

Thanks to our supporters: Southern WaterUniversity of Brighton and Yeomans Toyota.

Here's a glimpse of behind the scenes of the Children's Parade

Producer Picks | Young Literature

Learn more about the Young Literature events taking place this year, from our Young Literature producer, Hilary Cook. 

Find out more or book tickets 
Read our interview with Ella Burns Director of Little Green Pig


Five Minutes with Season Butler: The New Dystopians

What does a new dystopia look like? Two hugely-anticipated debut novels – Cygnet by Season Butler and The Farm by Joanne Ramos – give us a glimpse of what unsettling futures might await us in an age of easy travel and endlessly accessible technology. Brighton Festival welcomes both authors for an in-depth discussion about the future in the one-time-only event The New Dystopians. We had a chat with Season Butler about what audiences can expect. 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

I will be talking about my debut novel, Cygnet, a coming-of-age story grounded in some of the most urgent issues of contemporary life including climate change, addiction, precarious work and housing, and radical approaches for life-making for people with marginalised identities.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Many people feel that the present is edging on (or has already tipped into) a dystopian moment. I hope that my novel gives voice to the anxieties and redemptive potential of the contemporary moment.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Years ago I was listening to a Radio 4 programme about people whose homes are threatened by coastal erosion and the lack of political and infrastructural support around this heart-breaking issue. It struck me as a really apt metaphor for the alienation people feel from the promises of security people invest in, only to find the lives they worked to build, along with the literal ground beneath them, falling away. I was also inspired by theorist Lauren Berlant’s writings, particularly Cruel Optimism and the idea of the “situation tragedy” as well as Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Coming of Age.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Lovers of new literary fiction; anyone concerned about the real lived experience of climate change and those who want to make radical social changes to prevent its worst effects; people coming-of-age into adulthood or coming-of-old-age; social justice activists; lovers of Black women’s fiction and writing by people from marginalised communities.

What will surprise people about this show?

While many of my early readers perceive Cygnet to be based in a dystopian near-future, it is actually based in the very recent past.

Five Minutes with Luke Wright

Following a sell-out run in Edinburgh, Luke Wright hits the road with the show the critics are calling his best yet. This new show Luke Wright: Poet Laureate is a satirical reflection on current politics, Brexit, and what it means to be a poet in modern Britain. For an inside look into the inner workings of a brilliant creative mind, we caught up with Luke for a five minute chat. 

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

There’s going to be a new Poet Laureate appointed in 2019. They will be the country’s official poet. They’ll have to write wretched drivel about royal weddings and royal babies and the unveiling of statues. Who wouldn’t want to do that job? My new show is nominally my tilt at that gilded position, filled with the very finest of my brand new poems - some to make you laugh, some to make you cry, some to make you THINK (note capitals). But in reality, not only do I not want the job, I don’t think we should even have a Poet Laureate. The laureateship mimics the monarchy, the power structure it was created to prop up - we’ve come a long way since then, I think we can do better. In the show I attempt to write poems about Britain and society and end up going down some personal rabbit holes. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll hurl etc etc.

Why should someone come and see your show?

I don’t think there is anything quite like it out there. My poetry can make you laugh, but it’s not ‘comic’ poetry. I tackle my subjects (in this instance modern Britain) seriously but it doesn’t mean that I take myself too seriously. I want to present a poetry show that is a great, enjoyable night out without having sacrifice the quality of the poetry. This is my best yet.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

I did a show with the same title 13 years ago and I wanted to revisit the idea of writing poetry for a nation, and not oneself, to see how my attitudes have changed. This time round I couldn’t help but look more closely at myself, this is a braver, more vulnerable show that I was able to make aged 24.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

People who like spoken word, and politically engaged people. Do you read the news? Do you care about what’s going on around you? Do you take time to examine yourself and your place in society? Do you like to laugh and cry and feel? I’m your man.

What will surprise people about this show?

My hair’s a lot longer than in the press shots. 

Join Luke Wright for an evening of modern, sardonic poetry and fun

Five Minutes with Ella Burns Director of Little Green Pig

Little Green Pig is a Brighton & Hove based writing and mentoring charity for young people. They believe in the right to write, and that this vital form of self-expression builds confidence, communication and literacy skills. 


Following a six-week writing and mentoring project, eight young people from Brighton & Hove take to the stage. Representing diverse backgrounds, and with unique tales to tell, the performers inhabit public space and amplify their words as never before. AMPLIFIED is part TED Talk, part YouTube confessional, but ultimately a celebration of the human story.

We catch up with Ella Burns, Director of Little Green Pig to find out more...

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

Amplified is a celebration of the rich stories that come from the lives of young people in our community. Eight teenagers will take to the stage and perform individual stories that they have developed and written over the course of a weekend led by our mentors.

Why would someone come and see your show?

Our show offers a fresh and unique take on life as a young person in Brighton, helping us to view the world from their perspective.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Little Green Pig likes to find new ways of sharing stories and to provide a platform for unheard perspectives. Amplified is a brand new approach for us and came from our commitment to giving young people a voice.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Young people aged 11 and up and their families or just anyone who enjoys a TED-X style event. If you want a new take on what it’s like growing up in Brighton in 2019, this is where you’ll find it.

What will surprise people about this show?

The variety of stories that these young people are presenting will be surprising and enlightening. Shining a spotlight on young people from our community isn’t something we get to do everyday- we think you’ll enjoy being part of that.

Discover more Young Brighton Festival events and Young Literature events or find out more about Little Green Pig 

Five Minutes with Daniel Hahn

PEN Translates is a scheme by English PEN to promote translation for books from other languages into English. Since 2012, the scheme has supported 250 titles. Amongst the authors it has brought us are widely recognised award-winners such as Alain Mabanckou, Han Kang and José Eduardo Agualusa. This May, we mark this milestone at Brighton Festival in a panel celebrating the contribution of translation to the UK’s reading culture.


We have a quick chat with writer and translator Daniel Hahn to find out more...

Firstly, can you introduce us to your show and tell us what it is about?

The show will be commemorating a programme that has supported the publication of over 250 international books in the UK. The PEN Translates programme has enabled writing from all over the world to be made available to UK readers.

Why would someone come and see your show?

Translation is booming in the UK! As is an interest in what’s happening beyond our borders, so we’ll be talking about how stories can travel and how international fiction can enlighten us about the rest of the world, as well as introducing readers to some amazing new writers.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The English PEN programme that supports the promotion of translations in the UK has just hit its 250-book milestone, so this is a great opportunity to talk about why the world’s writing is exciting and important.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Readers who like to read widely, who like to discover new voices, people who have broad international horizons.

Discover more Literature events happening at Brighton Festival this May


Brighton Festival Reveals Young City Reads Author and Title 2019

Brighton Festival and Collected Works CIC are delighted to reveal that Onjali Q. Raúf’s The Boy at the Back of the Class has been chosen as the 2019 ‘big read’ for children across Brighton & Hove, Sussex and beyond.

The start of the ‘big read’ is on World Book Day, 7 March 2019. At Brighton Festival on 22 May 2019, the Young City Reads live event takes place at Brighton Dome featuring author, Onjali Q. 

The Boy at the Back of the Class (which has been long listed for the Blue Peter Book Awards and nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2019) is the story of new boy Ahmet, a refugee from Syria. It is told from the point of view of one of his classmates who goes to great lengths to make friends and give Ahmet a sense of belonging. The unexpected adventure that follows strikes the perfect balance between humour and poignancy, topped off with a terrific twist. The result is an unforgettable story that will find a home in the heart of every child. Onjali Q. Raúf portrays the refugee crisis through the eyes of a child in a way that’s accessible, warm and funny. It’s a story about friendship and how naturally children celebrate, rather than fear, all our differences.

Onjali Q. Raúf is Founder and CEO of Making Herstory -  a human rights organisation working with other movements to end the abuse, trafficking and enslavement of women and girls in the UK and beyond.

Author of The Boy at the Back of the Class Onjali Q. Raúf says:

‘I am utterly thrilled to have ‘The Boy at the Back of the Class’ chosen for Young City Reads! It is such an honour. I hope all human ‘beans’ (of every age!) reading and engaging with it, reach its end feeling a little more understanding and hopeful about what we can all do to ease the plight of refugee children the world over. Sometimes the best, most joyous things start with a story, and my deepest wish for this book is that it helps inspire lots of interesting discussions and ideas about one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our times. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping to make this happen.'

Sarah Hutchings, Director of Collected Works CIC added:

'Onjali Q. Raúf’s book has all the qualities that we look for – empathy, kindness, adventure and humour. In 2018, nearly 2,000 children took part in the project with 1,438 coming to the final event at Brighton Festival. I know that our Young City Readers will love getting to know Ahmet and his friends.'

Primary school teachers and classes are invited to register online (for free) and agree to read The Boy At The Back of the Class together in class from March to May 2019. The Class Teacher or Head Teacher can complete a sign-up form on the City Reads Website. 

Throughout the project, participating classes will receive free weekly e-bulletins which will include bite-size literacy resources and fun activities to complete.

Brighton Festival Live: The World of Moominvalley

The World of Moominvalley will be live streamed from Sunday 20 May at 3:00 PM.


The World of Moominvalley with Philip Ardagh & Daniel Hahn

Join award-winning children's author, Philip Ardagh, and Daniel Hahn as they introduce The World of Moominvalley. This beautiful new book is filled with illustrated maps and family trees, facts about Moomin behaviour and habits, all you could wish to know about each beloved character, the world in which they live and their creator Tove Jansson. A family event for Moomins fans young and old.

Everyday Epic Anthology of Short Stories Celebrating Storytelling Army now on Sale

After taking over the streets for Brighton Festival 2017, the Storytelling Army return with a newly published anthology of short stories.

Everyday Epic is a collection of stories celebrating the Storytelling Army, a project that took place as part of Brighton Festival 2017. The Storytelling Army, a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life and all corners of the city, including those homeless and vulnerably housed, was formed in a collaboration between theatre company nabokov and 2017 Guest Director Kate Tempest. Each storyteller explored Kate Tempest's theme of 'Everyday Epic', hosting pop-up performances across Brighton, from inside local supermarkets, on street corners and in pubs, to on the top deck of a bus.

Nabokov believe that theatre should be in our communities and not just restricted to the traditional theatre space. Their mission is to ensure that the event of theatre is for all and reflects the current experiences and diverse voices of our generation. Many of the works published in this anthology were first shared via these pop-up performances. The remaining four stories are from members of the Sussex-wide public who won the Everyday Epic story writing competition run by Lulu.com which was run in conjunction with Brighton Festival. This competition asked writers living in Sussex to respond to the theme selected by Kate Tempest for Brighton Festival 2017, Everyday Epic, in no more than 4,000 words.

To purchase the Everyday Epic Anthology, see Lulu.com for more information. 

Everyday Epic: Anthology of Short Stories Launched

After taking over the streets for Brighton Festival 2017, the Storytelling Army are back with their newly published anthology.

Everyday Epic is a collection of stories celebrating the Storytelling Army, a project that took place as part of Brighton Festival 2017. In a collaboration between theatre company Nabokov and 2017 Guest Director Kate Tempest, the Storytelling Army was assembled: a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life and all corners of the city, including those homeless and vulnerably housed. 

Each explored Brighton Festival Guest Director Kate Tempest's theme of Everyday Epic, hosting pop-up performances across Brighton, from the local supermarket, the pub or on the top deck of a bus. Nabokov believe that theatre should be in our communities, in spaces from car parks, on the streets, in rooms above pubs, on public transport, in nightclubs and festivals and not just restricted to the traditional theatre space.

Their mission is to ensure that the event of theatre is for all and reflects the current experiences and diverse voices of our generation. Many of the works published in this anthology were first shared via these pop-up performanes. Writers living in Sussex were asked to respond to the theme selected by Kate Tempest for Brighton Festival 2017, Everyday Epic, in no more than 4,000 words. The remaining four stories are from members of the Sussex-wide public who won the Everyday Epic story writing competition run by Lulu.com which was run in conjunction with Brighton Festival. 

Adopt an Author: Benfield Primary get creative with Alex Milway and Harold and Pigsticks

Adopt an Author is an exciting schools initiative which links classes with children’s authors to promote literacy, encourage writing and develop creativity. 

After 8 weeks of fun email discussions with their adopted author, classes attend a 'Meet your Author' party during the Festival. This year local primary schools Carden, Goldstone, Mile Oak and St Luke's are adopting Imogen White, Rob Lloyd Jones, Alex Milway and M G Leonard

Four participating classes from different local schools are paired up with an author and sent copies of one of their author’s books. In February they begin reading the book in class and emailing their author once a week for 8 weeks. During this time the author may set small related activities for the class and the class can ask questions of the author and share samples of their own work. The project culminates in May with a ‘Meet Your Author’ party where the author will plan a session full of fun activities for their adoptive class! 

Today we're celebrating and sharing some of the wonderful work from Benfield Primary School in Portslade. The Gecko and Iguana class (Year 2) have adopted author Alex Milway. For the past two weeks, Alex has been teaching his class how to draw two characters from his latest book, Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey

You can read more from Alex Milway and his class on the Adopt An Author blog. 


Author Rob Lloyd-Jones kicked off the first week of his 'adoption' with a writing task. Rob has been adopted by Mile Oak School's year 6 class. He asked them to describe their favourite stories and why. Here's a look at what they came back with...
You can see more from Rob Lloyd-Jone's and his class on the Adopt An Author blog. 


The Adopt an Author blog provides a space to display some of the wonderful correspondences from this year’s project. To read more about the initiative and see more from  authors Imogen White and M G Leonard and their classes, visit the Adopt an Author blog.

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Books & Debates events

Alice O’Keefe, freelance journalist and Brighton Festival Books & Debate programmer, picks a few, of the many, literary events she’s most looking forward to. 


Afua Hirsch and Colin Grant - Brit(ish)

In the wake of the Windrush scandal this event is incredibly timely. In Afua Hirsch's new book Brit(ish) she explores being black and British. She addresses the everyday racism that still plagues our society, and argues that we are a nation in denial about our past and our present:

"You’re British. Your parents are British. You were raised in Britain. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British. So why do people keep asking you where you are from?"

Afua talks to the writer Colin Grant about identity and belonging, and makes an urgent call for change. 




Brett Anderson: Coal Black Mornings
Yes, this is Brett Anderson as in Suede, and it turns out that he is a proper writer: his autobiography, Coal Black Mornings, is so much more than a rock memoir. This is a genuine literary treat, a moving and evocative account of the childhood that shaped the music we know so well. Anderson grew up on a council estate in Haywards Heath, with an artistic mother and an eccentric father (a Liszt-obsessed taxi driver). Here's a review. He will be appearing at Brighton's Theatre Royal on 20th May, talking to the Guardian journalist Alexis Petridis.

Sally Rooney and Fiona Mozley: The Journey to Publication
I've been recommending Sally Rooney's sparkling debut novel Conversations With Friends for a while now. Here is your chance to hear Sally talk about her work, in conversation with Fiona Mozley, another hugely talented young novelist whose dark and dazzling debut, Elmet, was shortlisted for the Booker. I'm chairing this event, and I'll be asking them both about their experiences of making the transition from aspiring author to published writer. This is an event for writers and readers alike. Here is more info.


Tom Hodgkinson: Business for Bohemians
Tom Hodgkinson's book, Business for Bohemians, is a witty and inspiring guide to making the most of your working life. Drawing on his experience as editor of The Idler, the book is full of practical advice about how to turn your creative ambitions into a successful and sustainable business. Hodgkinson helped to convince me that it might be possible to live a fulfilling and imaginative life, and also bring home the bacon. He even made me see the point of - no, actually enjoy - learning to use spreadsheets. So, if you've ever dreamed of getting out of the rat race and working for yourself (and frankly, who hasn't?), this is the event for you. 


Nicola Barker and Nick Harkaway: Future Perfect
What will life in a total digital society look like? Novelists have often been the first to imagine the human consequences of technological progress (see: JG Ballard, Philip K Dick). Nicola Barker recently won the Goldsmiths Prize for her novel H(A)ppy, which imagines a society in which every innermost thought is subject to total surveillance. In his epic, multi-layered novel Gnomon, Nick Harkaway (son of John Le Carre) also explores the impact of big data and surveillance on human lives. There are some eery similarities between these two books. I'll be talking to the authors about how they imagine the future and asking them for a steer on my next lottery numbers. 

For more information on the many other amazing speakers including Viv AlbertineRobert Peston, Michael Rosensee our full Books and Debate programme.

Five of the Best…Feminist Festival events

To coincide with International Women’s Day - a global celebration of the economic, cultural, social and political achievements of women that takes place on 8 March each year - we shine a light on just a few of the many amazing female fronted events at this year’s Festival.

Les Amazones d’Afrique 
Les Amazones d'Afrique is a supergroup of 10 incredible West African female performers, both international stars and local musicians. Members include Mariam Doumbia, part of Amadou & Mariam, Nneka, Mariam Koné, Mouneissa Tandina, Rokia Koné, Kandia Kouyaté, Mamani Keita, Massan Coulibaly, and Grammy winner Angélique Kidjo. Using music as a weapon, the group fight against gender inequality. For example, money earned from their single ‘I play the Kora’ provided extra funding for the Panzi Foundation, a service that supports and treats survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As sung in ‘I play the Kora’, Les Amazones d'Afrique encourage their listeners to "rise up and fight injustice because we're all equal”.
Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Thu 24 May, 7.30pm. Book now on the event page. 

Bridget Christie
Bridget Christie is an English stand-up, actor and writer, often acclaimed for her feminist material. This May she is here with her latest show What Now?. Christie burst onto the Comedy scene with A Bic for her (named after the pen manufacturer who released a biro with a “slimmer barrel designed to fit more comfortably in women’s hands” and available in a range of “pretty pastel colours”) in 2013. Not only is Christie a proud human rights campaigner, but she also worked closely with Leyla Hussein - a psychotherapist and female genital mutilation survivor and campaigner. The pair made a short film for the 2017 Stand Up for FGM benefit in London. Since its production the film has been used to educate police officers, GPs and children.
Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Fri 18 May, 8pm. Book now on the event page

Viv Albertine
Viv Albertine is not only former lead guitarist of iconic riot grrrl female trio The Slits, but she’s also a celebrated writer. The Slits defied expectation, becoming a strong figurehead for young and empowered women at the time. Albertine's memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. is a brutally honest portrayal of growing up in the Thatcher years. It was a Sunday Times, Mojo, Rough Trade, and NME Book of the Year in 2014, as well as being shortlisted for the National Book Awards. 
Brighton and Hove High School, Tue 22 May, 8pm. Book now on the event page.

Shami Chakrabarti
Shami Chakrabarti is a British Labour Party politician and member of the House of Lords. She is a barrister, and was the director of Liberty, an advocacy group which promotes civil liberties and human rights. Chakrabarti describes inequality as ‘the greatest human rights abuse on the planet’, and in her new book, On Women, she lays out the huge challenges women still face with honesty and clarity. Gender injustice, Shami Chakrabarti shows, is an ancient and continuing wrong that is millennial in duration and global in reach.
Brighton and Hove High School, Sat 26 May, 8pm. Book now on the event page.


Ursula Martinez: Free Admission
Ursula Martinez is a London-based Anglo-Spanish British writer, performer, and cult cabaret diva noted for her use of nudity and non-actors. Martinez fuses theatrical concepts, personal experience and popular forms to create innovative, challenging, experimental theatre that is highly entertaining and reflective of our contemporary, post-modern world. She will be bringing Free Admission to Brighton Festival, a one-women play about absurdity of modern living.
The Old Market, Mon 14 May, 8pm. Book now on the event page.

Title revealed for City Reads 2018

Rose Tremain’s Sacred Country chosen for city-wide 'big read' as part of Brighton Festival

Collected Works CIC and Brighton Festival are delighted to reveal that Rose Tremain’s Sacred Country has been chosen as this year’s City Read across Brighton & Hove and beyond. The concept is simple: one book, by one author, is selected for the whole community to read, explore, discuss and creatively engage with.

Sacred Country tells the story of Mary Ward who one day stands shivering in an England field in February 1952 and realises she is meant to be a boy. She is six years old. From its opening pages Sacred Country vows to take the reader on a compelling literary journey through Mary's fight to become Martin. Spanning three decades, from the oppressive English countryside of the 1950s, to London in the Swinging Sixties, to 1970’s America, Sacred Country follows Mary in her plight to find a place of safety and fulfilment in a savage and confusing world.

Fox Fisher, trans artist and activist said: ‘As a trans person myself, I never saw trans characters in books (or in ‘real life’, for that matter) growing up. Although Sacred Country is written by an author that isn’t trans, I was utterly gripped with the storyline and characters. The audiobook is read by a trans man which adds to the authenticity and is an example of the level of care and consideration when creating this book. As a film-maker, I could really visualise how well this would translate to a feature length fiction. And when the time comes, I hope the person to make the film is me!’

Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director, City Reads commented: 'Sacred Country tells the compelling story of Mary, born in the wrong body and their arduous journey to become Martin. Despite being written in 1992, Sacred Country is a novel that deserves to be re-discovered as it is still a hugely relevant work. Mary’s story is told with skill, compassion and empathy. Rose Tremain is one of the UK’s most respected writers and we are delighted to be welcoming her to Brighton & Hove in May to discuss this groundbreaking novel with readers across the City.’

Rose Tremain was one of only five women writers to be included in Granta’s original list of 20 Best of Young British Novelists in 1983, and was made a CBE in 2007. Her award-winning novels and short stories have been published worldwide in 27 countries. Sacred Country won both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and Prix Femina Etranger. It has oft been compared to Virginia Woolf's iconic novel Orlando through its reconsideration of the essence of gender. 

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: ‘We are delighted that City Reads is part of Brighton Festival again this year - building on our strong relationship with Collected Works through other partnership projects such as Young City Reads and Adopt an Author. To have a writer of the calibre of Rose Tremain as our selected author is particularly exciting and we look forward to people reading and enjoying the book together over the coming months.’

Victoria Murray-Browne, Senior Editor, Vintage said: ‘We’re thrilled that Rose Tremain’s Sacred Country has been picked for this year’s City Reads. Set in rural Suffolk in the 1950s, it tells the story of Mary who, aged six, has a sudden revelation: I am not Mary. That is a mistake. I am not a girl. I'm a boy. It’s a story about the search for identity and finding fulfilment in an unforgiving world that resonates as strongly today as when it was first published 25 years ago’

From its launch on World Book Night (23 April) to the final event at Brighton Festival on 13 May, there are a wide range of activities on offer as part of City Reads, aimed at encouraging residents across the City (and beyond) to get reading and start talking. Highlights include: the return of the Booky Photo Booth at Jubilee Library (23 April - 5 May), the ever popular City Reads Book Quiz on Weds 25 April in Lewes and Brighton on Weds 2 May, crime writer William Shaw’s Impromptu Book Group podcast on Thurs 26 April, themed film screenings at Jubilee Library and Depot (Lewes) and of course Rose Tremain, live at Brighton Festival for the City Reads finale on Sunday 13 May 2018.

For more information visit the City Reads website. To find out more about this year’s Young City Reads ‘big read’ (Greg James and Chris Smith's Kid Normal), visit our News page.

Title revealed for Young City Reads 2018

Greg James and Chris Smith's Kid Normal chosen for city-wide 'big read' as part of Brighton Festival 

Collected Works CIC and Brighton Festival are delighted to reveal that Greg James and Chris Smith's Kid Normal has been chosen as the 2018 'big read' for children across Brighton & Hove and beyond. The concept is simple: one book, by one author, is selected for the whole community to read, explore, discuss and creatively engage with.

Familiar to radio audiences as the hosts of Radio 1’s Greg James Show and its accompanying podcast That’s What He Said, Greg James and Chris Smith’s Kid Normal tells the story of a boy who accidentally enrols in a school for children with superpowers. Chris Smith’s literary career so far includes winning the H E Bates Short Story Competition 1981 (under 10s section) with his tale Where Are the Brandy Snaps?

The idea for writing their first children’s book arose from the pair enjoying creating characters together on their podcast, such as the Brandy Butter Monster or the receptionists at CERN. The plot concerns Murph Cooper, who feels out of depth in his new school after his mum has enrolled him at a school for superheroes by mistake. Unlike his fellow students, who can all control the weather or fly or conjure tiny horses from thin air, Murph has no special abilities whatsoever. And not far away is a great big bad guy who is half man and half wasp, and his mind is abuzz with evil plans...

Greg James and Chris Smith said: ‘We know that Brighton is full of superpowers: seagull evasion, shingle navigation and dolphin racing, to name but three. And now we're looking forward to adding a few new ones with the help of your awesome powers of creativity. We hope you enjoy meeting Murph and his friends in Kid Normal, and we can't wait to meet you all to make up some new stories!’

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: ‘Young City Reads is always a highlight of Brighton Festival and a testament to our strong partnership with Collected Works. By providing an opportunity to encourage young booklovers to come together to discuss and share their love of reading – we are hopefully nurturing a new generation of artists and art lovers for the future.’

Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director, Collected Works CIC, commented: ‘Young City Reads is all about sharing our love of stories. It inspires children to take time over the reading of a book and then encourages them to discuss it with friends, teachers, carers or parents. We are delighted to be welcoming Radio 1 personalities Chris Smith and Greg James to Brighton in May to celebrate their funny and warm hearted book with schools across the city and beyond. Our young readers are in for a treat!’

Primary school teachers and classes are being invited to register online (for free) and agree to read Kid Normal together in class between (1 March – 18 May 2018). The Class Teacher or Head Teacher can complete a sign-up form on the City Reads website.

Throughout the project, participating classes will receive free weekly e-bulletins which will include bite-size Kid Normal literacy resources and fun activities to complete. This is a great way for classes to get excited about a book and to experience the benefits of shared reading and the fun it brings.

Sharon Duggal’s The Handsworth Times was chosen for City Reads 2017 and A.F. Harrold’s Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library) was the title for Young City Reads 2017.

Winners announced of Lulu.com Short Story Competition

Four winners of the short story writing competition run by Lulu.com, sponsor of Brighton Festival commission the Storytelling Army, have been announced. 

The lucky winners will have their stories combined with stories from the Storytelling Army into the Everyday Epic anthology, which is to be published by Lulu.com.

Writers living in Sussex were asked to respond to the theme selected by Kate Tempest for Brighton Festival 2017, Everyday Epic, in no more than 4,000 words. The winning entries are:

Protected Housing by David Benedictus, Hove

On the threshold by Jenny Gaitskell, Lewes

Nice Light by Saba Sams, Brighton

Together we can by Beki Turner, Brighton

Jean Roberts, Business Development Director UK at Lulu.com says “The standard of the entries were all very high and it was certainly a difficult choice to come down to the final four writers. The judges all felt that these stories captured the spirit of the ‘Everyday Epic’ and really make the reader stop and think about how even the smallest event can be epic and life affirming or changing. Well done to all four winners and we hope that they continue to write stories to share.”

Brighton Festival worked with nabokov theatre company and Guest Director Kate Tempest to assemble and mobilise the Storytelling Army: a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life - including those who are homeless and vulnerably housed – who performed in unexpected locations throughout Brighton over the last weekend of this year’s Festival.

Copies of the Everyday Epic anthology will be available from the Lulu.com bookshop and other good retailers. To find out when the book is available to buy, follow the Lulu.com social media channels.

Alice O'Keefe's most anticipated Books and Debate events

Alice O’Keefe, our Books and Debate Programmer, shares her most anticipated events from three of the most exciting writers of this year's Brighton Festival.

For reader’s out there who haven’t discovered Petina Gappah yet, you are in for a treat – her event is going to be one of my highlights of this year’s festival. The short stories in her latest collection, Rotten Row, bring alive the experience of living in Zimbabwe under Mugabe – the craziness, the poverty, the lack of justice or redress, but most of all, the inventiveness and humanity of ordinary people. She is as funny and scathing about the ageing dictator as she is about the folly of the Western aid agencies – get a ticket and catch this very special writer while you can.

Another highlight is sure to be Hanif Kureishi, who will be looking back over his whole taboo-busting and boundary-breaking career in conversation with the broadcaster Mark Lawson. From his portrayal of a cross-cultural gay relationship in the film My Beautiful Laundrette, to his very early look at Islamic fundamentalism in his novel The Black Album, Kureishi has consistently proved himself to be one of Britain’s most provocative and insightful writers. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say about these and his latest novel, The Nothing.

Finally, I’m looking forward to seeing Gary Younge, who is one of my very favourite writers on politics both in Britain and America. He will be talking about his shocking and brilliant book One More Day in the Death of America, and also more generally about race, guns and Trump. He is in Brighton on the special invitation of Kate Tempest, who is a big fan - and his event is essential for anyone who wants to understand the current state of the USA.

Read more about our Books and Debate programme

Brighton Festival welcomes Bernie Sanders for special Festival Extra event

Former Democratic candidate for President of the United States Bernie Sanders will speak about his new book Our Revolution at a special Brighton Festival Extra event on Thursday 1 June, with tickets on sale from Wednesday 3 May at 10am (members pre-sale Tuesday 2 May at 10am).

Bernie Sanders will join Brighton Festival’s diverse Books and Debate programme, which includes Gary Younge discussing the role of guns in Trump’s America; Tariq Ali on his portrait of Lenin, and how we might challenge capitalism today; Palestine’s leading writer Raja Shehadeh on the Israeli occupation of Palestine; celebrated novelist Hanif Kureishi looking back on a career in which he has explored identity, cultural difference, and religious fundamentalism; and Democracy Debate: What Comes Next? in which Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee chairs a panel of top thinkers and politicians to debate the future of our political system.

Bernie Sanders stormed to international headlines after running an extraordinary campaign for the Democratic primaries that saw over 13 million people turn out to vote for him, and changing the global discussion surrounding US politics. But how did a complete unknown and an avowed socialist make such waves?

In Our Revolution, Sanders provides a unique insight into the campaign that galvanized a movement, sharing experiences from the campaign trail and the techniques that shaped it. And it wasn't just his use of new media; Sanders' message resonated with millions. His supporters are young and old, dissatisfied with expanding social inequality, struggling with economic instability and who rebelled against a political elite who has long ignored them. This is a global phenomenon, driving movements from Syriza in Greece to Podemos in Spain and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK.

Drawing on decades of experience as activist and politician, Sanders outlines his ideas for continuing this political revolution. He shows how we can fight for a progressive economic, environmental, racial and social justice agenda that creates jobs, raises wages and protects the environment. Searing in its assessment of the current political and economic situation, but hopeful and inspiring in its vision of the future, this book contains an important message for anyone tired of 'same as usual' politics and looking for a way to change the game.

Bernie Sanders ran to be the Democratic candidate for President of the United States. He is currently serving his second term in the U.S. Senate after winning re-election in 2012 with 71 percent of the vote. Sanders previously served as mayor of Vermont's largest city for eight years.

Bernie Sanders Our Revolution: A Future to Believe in is coming to Brighton Dome Concert Hall on Thursday 1 June. 

Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival Members pre-sale: Tuesday 2 May at 10am. Tickets go on general sale: Wednesday 3 May at 10am

5 minutes with... Hollie McNish

Internationally acclaimed poet and spoken word artist Hollie Poetry joins us for this year’s Brighton Festival as part of An Evening with Picador Poetry. You may know her from her Brighton Festival 2015 performance with Kate Tempest and George the Poet, or from one of her viral YouTube videos (now totaling almost 4.1 million views). Take 5 minutes to learn what makes Hollie McNish tick, ahead of her next fantastic show at the Brighton Festival in May.

I knew I wanted to be a performer when…

Honestly, I wanted to be a sports coach, then an economist, then a writer. But I love this job now! I knew I wanted to carry on doing this when I met the other poets I’d be working with.

My first public performance took place at…

Poetry Unplugged, Poetry Café, Covent Garden after a good pint of cider.

The first gig I went to was…

The Hollies with my dad. I’m named after them and he was determined I’d love them. The first one of my own choice was to see MN8.

The first album I ever bought was…

Errr, Boom Boom Boom by the Outhere Brothers. I was a little obsessed with the non-radio edit version! Other than that I’d record my own on tape from the radio. You know when you used to listen so carefully to click stop before the radio presenter spoke again.

The proudest moment of my career to date was when…

My daughter did my sound check at Abbey Road.

My favourite part of touring is…

Meeting other poets and people from the audience after the shows.

The best show I ever performed was…

Oooh, maybe The Moon Club, Cardiff. Lots of mums heckling and a burger place round the corner that served battered gherkins. Or Oran Mor on tour last year, cos it was in Glasgow and loads of my family were there.

If I wasn’t performing, I’d probably be…

Doing something admin-related with spreadsheets! Or writing other things. I’d still be writing poems, just keeping them under the bed instead.

People would be surprised to learn that...

I don’t like poetry.
Just joking.
Really, I do love it.

5 minutes with... Luke Wright

Poet, performer and broadcaster Luke Wright returns to Brighton Festival this May with a stunning new spoken word show, Luke Wright: The Toll. We took 5 minutes with Luke Wright to discover more about his passion for spoken word.

I knew I wanted to be a performer when... When I watched Ross Sutherland support Johnny Clarke at Colchester Arts Centre. He started doing a mic check (one ... Two ... One ... Two ...) which sped up and became a poem. It was brilliant. So fucking cool. I thought, "I want to do that."

My first public performance took place at… My sixth form college. I know, right, rock n roll. The audience were a bunch of sporty lads trying to eat their lunch. Not big poetry fans.

The first gig I went to was… As mentioned, Johnny Clarke, Martin Newell and Ross Sutherland. It changed my life.

The first album/book I ever bought was… Probably Martin Newell's The Illegible Bachelor. I love pun book/album titles. Half Man Half Biscuit are the masters of this.

My favourite poet / spoken word performer is… I'm a big, big fan of Catherine Smith. I could listen to her for days.

The proudest moment of my career to date was when… I'm just pleased to be here!

My favourite part of touring is… Eating. It's all about the food.

The best show I ever performed was… It's going to be this one in Brighton. Just you wait and see.

If I wasn’t performing, I’d probably be… Richer.

People would be surprised to learn that… It's taken me seventeen minutes to come up with this final answer. And I'm not exactly thrilled with the results.

Luke Wright: The Toll is at The Spire on Fri 19 May.

Five minutes with... Alexei Sayle

Alexei Sayle joins us this Brighton Festival to discuss his new memoir, Thatcher Stole My Trousers. We pinned him down for a quick, but seriously funny five minutes of questions...

I knew I wanted to be a comedian when…

I never wanted to be a comedian that’s why I seem so angry all the time.

My first public performance took place at…

My mother used to make the neighbours come around and watch me do little shows from about the age of six.

The first comedy gig I went to was…

There was a guy called John Dowie who came along just too early for the alternative comedy boom who I saw at the Bush Theatre in 1976.

The first album I ever bought was…

The Four Tops. On Top.

My favourite part of touring is…

Not touring.

My favourite comedian is…

I’ll say Louie C K because he is no threat to me.

My favourite place to perform live is…

The Soho Theatre in London. I can get the 19 bus there using my old person’s bus pass and be home again by 10.00. All for free.

The last song I listened to was…

“Circles” by Kate Tempest.

The proudest moment of my career to date was when…

I MC’d Glastonbury in 1985 a famously muddy year and I said from the stage “a woman’s lost a contact lens, if you could all just have a look for it...”

The best show I ever performed was…

Glastonbury 1985.

If I wasn’t performing, I’d probably be…

Eating a sugary cake such as a Lemon Yum Yum from the patisserie counter at Waitrose.

People would be surprised to learn that…

I don’t have diabetes.

City Reads 2016 novel announced

Paul McVeigh’s novel The Good Son becomes Brighton’s ‘Big Read’ as part of the 50th Brighton Festival

Brighton-based author Paul McVeigh’s The Good Son – shortlisted in The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker Prize’ annual list – has been chosen for City Reads 2016. Delivered by award winning literary organisation Collected Works CIC, City Reads is the longest running ‘big read’ in the UK conceived to spread a love of books and ideas to the widest possible audience throughout the region. The annual event will return to its cultural home in 2016 as it becomes part of Brighton Festival’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Paul McVeigh says ‘when I moved to Brighton a few years ago, one of the first things I did was volunteer for City Reads to celebrate books and get to know my new city. Who could believe that just a few years later my book would be chosen and my adopted city would adopt me right back. That it will be part of the 50th anniversary of the Brighton Festival is such an honour. I can’t wait to get started.’

The Good Son – chosen to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising in 2016 – is a bitter sweet tale, set in 1980s Belfast. Mickey Donnelly is smart, which isn’t a good thing in his part of town. Despite having a dog called Killer and being in love with the girl next door, everyone calls him ‘gay’. He has to protect his Ma and his sister Wee Maggie from the Troubles and from Da. And sometimes... you have to be a bad boy to be a good son.


Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director of City Reads says ‘This outstanding debut from Brighton based Irish writer Paul McVeigh was the perfect choice, particularly as it’s the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising this year. I defy anyone not to fall in love with its protagonist Mickey Donnelly. He’s clever, naive and hilariously funny. I hope you love it as much as we do at City Reads.

From its launch on World Book Day (3 March) to the final event at Brighton Festival on 29 May, City Reads will encompass a wide range of events and discussions themed around the novel that encourages residents across Brighton & Hove to get reading and start talking. Highlights include an Irish Whiskey Tasting on St Patrick’s Day (17 March) - from top taster Dave Broom - with readings from The Good Son and live music, a special screening on the official centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising (24 April) of Pat ‘O Connor’s 1984 film Cal (starring Helen Mirren) and of course the perennial favourite: The City Reads Book Quiz returns on 27 April.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: ‘We are delighted that City Reads is part of Brighton Festival this year - building on our strong relationship with Collected Works through other partnership projects such as Young City Reads and Adopt an Author. It’s especially exciting for us to champion the work of a local writer as part of 50th edition of the Festival – in which we explore the concept of home and the various writers, artists and performers that live in this city on the edge.’ 

Danny Wallace’s Hamish and the Worldstoppers chosen for Young City Reads

Collected Works CIC and Brighton Festival - which celebrates its 50th edition in 2016 - are delighted to reveal that Danny Wallace's Hamish and the Worldstoppers has been chosen as the 2016 'Big Read' for children across Brighton & Hove. The concept is simple: one book, by one author is selected for the whole community to read, explore, discuss and creatively engage with.

‘Everyone knows that Brighton has the funniest, coolest, stinkiest children in Britain - and when I heard that they’d all be reading my book, my feet fell off in delight. Brighton Young City Reads is a brilliant thing, and for Hamish to be at the centre of it this year is a real honour. Jamie and I can’t wait to see what the kids think. Now excuse me while I put my feet back on.’ Danny Wallace, Young City Reads author, Jan 2016

About the book

What would YOU do... if the whole world just stopped? Yes the WHOLE WORLD. Birds in the air. Planes in the sky. And every single person on the planet - except you. Because that's what keeps happening to ten-year-old Hamish Ellerby. And it's being caused by The WorldStoppers and their terrifying friends The Terribles! They have a PLAN. They want to take our world for their own . . . Oh, and they hate children. Especially if you're a child who knows about them. Hang on - You know now, don't you? Oh dear. Can Hamish save us from the WorldStoppers? Only time will tell…..

Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director, Collected Works CIC, commented, ‘Young City Reads is all about the pure pleasure of reading. It inspires children to take time over the reading a book and then encourages them to discuss it with friends, teachers, parents or grandparents. It’s a celebration of words and pictures. And did I mention it’s also great fun!’

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: ‘Young City Reads is always a highlight of Brighton Festival; young booklovers, en masse, discussing and sharing one story before meeting the author themselves… it’s a unique event and something we’re very proud of. One theme we’ll be exploring at our 50th Brighton Festival is the future of art - who are the new voices, what will the next generation make and what role might they play? That Danny Wallace’s adventurous tale sees the fate of the world in the hands of one plucky youngster is, to me, a very fitting and apt choice for the whole city to enjoy.’

How can local primary schools get involved?

• Primary school teachers and classes are being invited to register online (for FREE) and agree to read Hamish and the Worldstoppers together in class between (3 March – 19 May 2016). The Class Teacher or Head Teacher can complete a sign-up form on the City Reads website at: cityreads.co.uk

• Throughout the project, participating classes will receive FREE weekly e-bulletins which will include bite-size Hamish quizzes, puzzles and fun activities to complete.

• This is a great way for classes to get excited about a book and to experience the benefits of shared reading and the fun it brings.

Find out more on the Young City Reads page

Young City Reads 2016 - Key Dates

• 3rd March 2016 (World Book Day) Young City Reads launches at Jubilee Library

• 19th May 2016 (Brighton Festival Event) Special Young City Reads event at Brighton Festival featuring the author and illustrator LIVE.

Brighton Festival 2015 soars to a close

Brighton Festival 2015 - with award-wining author Ali Smith at the helm as Guest Director - came to a soaring conclusion this weekend.

Over the three-week Festival - the biggest and most established in England - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions were explored in a thrilling selection of events which spanned music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate featuring artists and performers the world over from Ukrainian ‘ethnic chaos’ band DakhaBrakha to the newly Palme d’Or honoured filmmaker Agnès Varda.

Three central themes - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - provided a fascinating jumping off point to explore some of the key ideas and issues of the moment as well as a memorable visual image of a swift in flight which proved a fitting and popular emblem for the 2015 Festival.

The opening weekend asked audiences to ‘take flight’ for the annual children’s parade, the largest of its kind in Europe. Supported by regional businesses Class of their Own, Gatwick Airport and Riverford, the annual parade traditionally marks the start of Brighton Festival and was attended by almost 5,000 children from 83 schools and community groups from across the region; each dressed in costumes they had specifically designed and made for the event. Taking inspiration from Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director Ali Smith’s deep fascination with birds and other migratory patterns, costumes included bird life in all its forms as well as flying machines, creatures from fantasy and fable, bugs, bees and butterflies.


The Children's Parade. Photo by Jordan Hughes

During the ensuing 23 days it wasn’t just the kids who took flight – with more reviews praising the artistic excellence of this year’s programme than ever. One of the Festival’s biggest hits was the European premiere of Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York which was lavished with 5 stars across the board. Glowing reviews in The Guardian, The Stage and the artsdesk amongst others described them as “exemplary”, “extraordinary”, “profound” and “faultlessly directed”. This was swiftly followed by the top accolade going to violinist Isabelle Faust’s amazing feat of solo virtuosity, Paine’s Plough’s poignant exploration of love and relationships in Lungs and Nina Conti’s extraordinary tour de force of improvised comedy amongst others.


Fleeting on Brighton Beach. Photo by Chris Bethall

At just under 400 performances across 150 events, including 34 that were entirely free to the public, Brighton Festival 2015 featured the highest number of exclusives, premieres and commissions to date including a sizeable proportion of events that cannot - and could not - be experienced anywhere else outside of Brighton Festival, from Sam Lee’s intimate Nightingale Walks on the Downs to Laurie Anderson’s one-off concert All the Animals and Festival finale Fleeting, the spectacular installation over the West Pier by And Now in which hundreds of individual points of fire created shapes and swathes of glowing light and shade.

In a continuation of the Festival’s dedication to making the arts accessible for all, 2015 saw a plethora of shows - including high profile events such as physical theatre show The Spalding Suite which takes as its subject the UK's basketball sub-culture and Jess Thom’s inspiring and uplifting exploration of her experience of living with Tourette’s, Backstage in Biscuit Land - live-streamed to audiences around the world, for free. Brighton Festival also reached out beyond the centre more than ever before, working with Without Walls to present a number of family-friendly performances in Saltdean and Woodingdean for the first time as well as the enthralling 451 at Preston Barracks and playful Ear Trumpet in Queen’s Park. This was complemented by a fantastic response to community driven events such as a new children’s birdwatching trail which was generously embraced by the business community, and the return of the Guest Director’s Guests, the Peacock Poetry Prize and the Young City Reads schemes.


Backstage in Biscuit Land. Photo by Victor Frankowski

Other Festival highlights included a one off live screening of Peter Strickland’s daring masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy; the English premiere of Vanishing Point & National Theatre of Scotland’s The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler, a homage to one of Scotland's most likeable, most individual and most unexpected 20th century figures; a new lecture specially commissioned for Brighton Festival by acclaimed author Jeanette Winterson OBE on the practices and craft of writing; and the UK premiere of The Forgotten / L’Oublié(e), the directorial debut of Raphaëlle Boitel, one of the most remarkable performers on the European visual and physical theatre scene.

Brighton Festival 2015 featured 396 performances across 150 events including 45 exclusives, premieres and commissions and 34 free events.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “From the 5 stars across-the-board success of Richard Nelson’s extraordinary Apple Family Plays to the headline-grabbing performance of Kate Tempest and a very special personal appearance by newly Palme D’Or honoured Agnes Varda - this year really has been a Festival to remember. Ali Smith, as Guest Director, has been an absolute pleasure to work with and a wonderful inspiration to us all. Her remarkable sense of possibility, wonder, imagination and excitement at anything that she encounters has been evident every step of the way, from her invaluable input during the programming process to her lively and engaging presence throughout the month. The Festival’s continued ability to not only bring such an eclectic range of artists onto one bill but to make it a resounding success, is testament to the extraordinary support we have from funders, sponsors and from audiences themselves. It’s an exciting time for Brighton Festival as we look towards our 50th birthday next year. I cannot wait to lift the lid on what surprises we have in store for the city and beyond.”

In Photos: Brighton Festival Week One

Our 49th Festival with Ali Smith at the helm has been a joy so far. We've had heaps of fun and with a plethora of great theatre, circus, dance, music, classical, outdoor, family, books and debates and visual art and film events still  to come the fun is nowhere near over yet!

Take a look back over our first week of Brighton Festival 2015 right here...

The past week has flown by and lots of exciting events have happened so far at Brighton Festival 2015 and there's still so much more to come! Check out what’s up next at: https://brightonfestival.org/whats_on/

Posted by Brighton Festival on Friday, 8 May 2015