Brighton Festival 2018Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

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A Weekend Without Walls

The annual free celebration of family friendly outdoors performance is back, promising a fun programme of acrobatics, aerial circus, dance, installations, music and theatre that is sure to thrill, inspire and entertain audiences of all ages. So gather your friends and family, don't forget to pack a picnic, and head outdoors...

What's On?

Installation and family-friendly performance theatre

Bird in the Hand Theatre's The Bewonderment Machine 

A brand new theatre company combining the talents of puppet maker and director Alison Duddle and puppeteer extraordinaire Mark Whitaker. The Bewonderment Machine is an artist-built cycle powered carousel with riding space for up to 10 small children. A quirky dreamscape and magical miniature theatrical flight.


Helen Eastman Production's Bicycle Boy 

A bicycle powered musical for children aged 6–10 and their families. Sam and Mike loved their bikes as youngsters and pretended to be superheroes. Now grown-up, they’re clearing out their grandad’s old bike workshop and sharing childhood dreams with laughs, songs, and percussion played on spare bike parts. A celebration of pedal power!


Ramshacklicious' The band at the end of the world! (Sat 26 May only)

Raucous brass music, processing with a home-made, water spurting, flaming, roaming vehicle. A punk marching band existing within their very own miniature apocalyptic microclimate. These idiots are convinced that the end of the world is upon us – how do we take responsibility for the world we live in?


Travelling Light Circus' The Playground of Illusions 

Play with three giants' toys which each contain a visual or sound illusion! Inspired by steampunk and using vintage industrial machines to make quirky gadgets with levers to pull, buttons to push and pedals to press. An unforgettable and fascinating experience for all ages which will ignite your imagination.


Dance

Candoco Dance Company's Dedicated to… 

Critically acclaimed company of disabled and non-disabled dancers. This new duet choreographed by Caroline Bowditch, reveals the extraordinary bonds we make throughout our lives. A touching portrayal of female strength, support and friendship and how people come in and out of our lives and evolve and can shape us.


Flex Dance Company's WIRED

A solo performance by George Williams who in 2015 became the first dancer with a learning disability to tour with the National Youth Dance Company of England. From the comfort of his bedroom George forges connections to all that is special to him: Music, games, the world-wide web and more. At times a hive of activity, at others a sanctuary, Everyday objects can become a playground. It’s hard to focus when you’re this wired!


Rosie Kay Dance Company's Modern Warrior (Sun 27 May only)

Fast-paced urban takeover inspired by martial arts movies with exciting and dramatic sequences as two opposing groups meet in an epic stand-off. Pick a side, join either the Mods (Modernists) or the Trads (Traditionalists) and train to be a MODERN WARRIOR. Join in and become part of the action or simply watch as the legend unfolds. Rosie Kay Dance Company won Best Independent Dance Company in 2015 by the National Dance Awards and is nominated again for 2018 with winners announced on 19 February.


Circus 

Hikapee's Look Up 

A beautiful, highly visual and inspiring performance of circus, puppetry and theatre for families. When we are constantly glued to our mobile phones, what joy can we find when we dare to look up and appreciate nature.


12–5pm
Sat 26 May, Easthill Park (British Sign Language interpreted)
Sun 27 May, Beach Level by the i360


Brighton Festival is part of Without Walls, the UK’s largest commissioner of outdoor arts shows, taking inspiring new work to audiences all over the country and beyond. Find out more: withoutwalls.uk.com

A Weekend Without Walls is supported by Southern Water


Kate Tempest debuts new album at secret Your Place gig

2017’s Guest Director Kate Tempest made a surprise return to the city on Sat 19 May for a secret gig as part of our Your Place initiative, performing an exclusive rendition of her unreleased new album in full at Hangleton Community Centre

Billed only as a ‘special guest’ at 5pm, the sold-out show rounded off a glorious sunny day of free entertainment for residents of the Hangleton area, presented by Brighton Festival and Brighton People’s Theatre. Tempest told the crowd that she was “thrilled to be back” and asked for no filming of the work from her upcoming third solo album. Tempest’s exclusive performance of the brand new work came after a barnstorming performance from Culture Clash, a training area for young writers and performers in the Brighton area, who performed a three way-battle of spoken artforms in Poets vs. Rappers vs. Comedians.

Kate Tempest commented: “This year I’ve come back to play a little unannounced gig at Hangleton Community Centre, which is one of my favourite places ever to play a gig, to be honest. I had this idea as part of my Guest Directorship that what would be the most exciting way to use that opportunity would be to bring some of what was happening in the Festival out to the communities around. And one of the most important things about that idea was that it had life after our year. It was such an exciting time for everyone, for the people that run the Festival to meet the community steering groups, and everyone was so blown away by how much enthusiasm and excitement there was. And now I’ve come back and it’s popping off basically, there’s a massive bandstand, everyone’s dancing, it feels really good here. I feel really chuffed and really happy to be back.”

Saturday’s line-up at Hangleton included a popular dance-a-thon through the decades from the Charleston to the Macarena with The Ragroof Players’ Happy Feet, as well as an interactive game zone for all ages with The Actual Reality Arcade. Brighton & Hove Music and Arts (who united with Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival last year) presented performances by inclusive music group Orchestra 360 and the dustbin-utilising Percussion Ensemble at Morag Myerscough’s touring Belonging Bandstand, and the Brighton-based all-female group Qukulele and Brighthun Voices’ showcase of the rich musical heritage of Hungary were other highlights on the day.

Hosted by local community centres, and programmed in collaboration with local residents and artists, Your Place brings a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. Reflecting Tempest’s belief that “the arts should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes”, the inaugural project in 2017 was a resounding success. Over 2,000 people took part in Your Place across the two weekends, and participants describing the experience as 'inspiring' and 'energising'.

Brighton Festival 2017 also heralded the Pay-It-Forward initiative (which continued this year), offering the chance to donate £5 on top of ticket prices which was match-funded to create a £10 Festival ticket voucher for someone unable to afford the opportunity. The response was phenomenal with over a thousand people choosing to pay tickets forward in the lead up to the Festival.

The East Brighton-based second Your Place weekend runs over Sat 26 & Sun 27 May and will see The Ragroof Players and Culture Clash return, along with free football sessions from Albion in the Community, a singing workshop with Banyan Tree Theatre Group, comedian Jo Neary’s new children’s show Peg in the Gallery, and much more. Go to brightonfestival.org/yourplace to find out more.

Morag Myerscough’s colourful touring bandstand comes to Brighton beachfront

Contemporary designer Morag Myerscough’s first ever mobile installation, Belonging - a bright, bold, touring bandstand - launches this weekend on the beach level next to the i360.

Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival and Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Belonging celebrates the spirit of seminal 1960s Los Angeles artist and nun Corita Kent whose work brought together a belief in the strength of creativity, togetherness, love and social justice

The specially-made bandstand will play host to a variety of music and activities programmed in conjunction with communities across Sussex. It will be adorned with a series of placards on the theme of ‘belonging’ drawn from conversations and workshops with communities across Sussex, based on assignments taken from Corita’s inspirational book Learning from the Heart (a blueprint for creative exploration and community empowerment, published posthumously in 1992).

Morag Myerscough says: “The Belonging bandstand is a project I have been wanting to do for many years. I have an obsession with bandstands. I love how they just stand in a place dormant for long lengths of time and then can be transformed by performance. They are beautiful empty and when a performance takes place people just gravitate towards it. I love that they are free for everybody to experience. I work a lot with communities on various projects. I find when people are involved in the creating and the making they connect so much more with the piece and ultimately the piece is their piece. I want it to belong to them and for everybody to own - it does not belong to me.

Belonging kicks off this weekend with a day of music curated by BIMM on Sat 12 May featuring a variety of local young musicians programmed by BIMM Brighton including The Yellow Bellies, Marius Bear, Stranger Girl, Megan Lara Mae, Hayley Harland and The Villas, from 12pm until 5pm. On Sunday, the Sussex Pistols Ceilidh band will be performing English and Scottish dance and ceilidh music throughout the afternoon (2-5pm).

The Belonging Bandstand will then tour to Your Place venues in Brighton and on to the South of England Show at Ardingly, Crawley Festival, Newhaven, Ditchling and Coastal Currents Arts Festival in Hastings, taking on a different local character with each new iteration as the placard formation of the crown is changed to show off the communities’ own designs, and as the bandstand is programmed with local performers.

The project accompanies the exhibition Get With The Action: Corita Kent, showing at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft from 5 May – 14 October 2018. Corita was an American artist, a famously charismatic educator and a Roman Catholic nun based in Los Angeles during the 1960s. As an advocate for social justice, she believed in the democratisation of art, producing screen-printed posters and banners incorporating advertising slogans, song lyrics, biblical references and commercial design into her Warhol-inspired work.

There will also be a complementary exhibition, Belonging, featuring a commission reflecting on the concept of belonging in the museum’s Wunderkammer by Myerscough and Luke Morgan. A second edition of the duo’s Sign Machine (2016) will also be installed in the introduction space.

Belonging Bandstand Tour Dates

12/13 May: Brighton Festival, Beach Level (next to i360)

19/20 May: Brighton Festival, Your Place, Hangleton

26/27 May: Brighton Festival, Your Place, East Brighton

7-9 June: South of England Show

2-7 July: Crawley Festival

25 – 27 August: Newhaven (in association with Artwave)

1 – 9 September : Coastal Currents Arts Festival, Hastings/St Leonards

22 September: Ditchling (as part of Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft’s 5th birthday celebrations)

Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2018

Picasso’s Dove of Peace and Munch’s The Scream among the creations at the Children’s Parade 2018

Celebrating art from the likes of Picasso, Salvador Dali and many more, 20,000 people packed the streets on Sat 5 May as the 52nd Brighton Festival launched with the Children’s Parade.

The theme for the 2018 Children’s Parade was ‘Paintings’, inspired by Guest Director David Shrigley. Participants took inspiration from a wide range of well-known art from across the ages, including paintings by Alan Davies and Jean Michael Basquiat; Mae West by Salvador Dali; Surprised by Henri Rousseau; Mural by Joan Miro; and American Gothic by Grant Wood. The parade was led by this year’s Guest Director David Shrigley.

Jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky and supported by Yeomans Toyota Brighton for the second year and for the first time by the University of Brighton, 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 around 5,000 children from schools and community groups from across the region and cheered on by many thousands of spectators.

Previous themes have seen children dress up as everything from letters of the alphabet and Brighton street names to books, mermaids and even slices of cake for the annual Children’s Parade.

One of the most spectacular community events in the UK, Same Sky spends six months working behind the scenes to create the Children’s Parade, 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.

If you missed it this year, you can see some of this year's creations in Brighton Dome's Cafe/Bar, entrance is via Church Street.

“We were hugely impressed once again with the ingenious ways in which schools have embraced the theme of the parade, choosing paintings by the likes of Salvador Dali, Matisse and many more. A fitting start to Brighton Festival!’ Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival


Your Place 2018 explores Random Acts of Neighbourliness with Hangleton & East Brighton residents

People are united by postcodes, but a new initiative as part of Brighton Festival’s Your Place - two weekends of free arts and cultural activities in Hangleton and East Brighton delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre - has been asking local residents to consider what it is that ties neighbourhoods together and what can be done to bring the community closer together.

Taking inspiration from the recently popularised Random Acts of Kindness movement, Your Place 2018 Artist in Residence Kate McCoy has been leading a series of workshops known as Random Acts of Neighbourliness, which encourages participants to share experiences of their own neighbourhoods to create a ‘visual map’ of the area and to come up with creative ideas to get to know their neighbours and bring the community together. Their contributions – which have ranged from coffee and cake mornings to getting rid of double yellow lines so that the children of elderly residents can visit more easily – will be incorporated into an interactive, visual exhibition by installation artist Luan Taylor at the two Your Place weekends throughout Brighton Festival.

Kate McCoy says: “Being Your Place's artist in residence is my ideal job, I get to meet loads of different people in a range of settings and find out more about them creatively, connecting through laughter and conversation. I have been setting up in community centres, lunch clubs and youth drop-ins, asking people to sit down with me and create a visual map of their neighbourhood using objects to represent themselves, their neighbours and the landmarks and features that surround them. So, a Pritt stick has been a lamp post where young people hang out on the Knoll Estate, a bus stop in Whitehawk that can be seen from a living room window, and someone who works with the community, sticking people together. 

"I have also been asking people to decide on a “random act of neighbourliness” something that could happen to bring the community closer together. People have been so welcoming in both communities, open and even more creative than they thought they were and have made beautiful images and said thought provoking things that I hope you will come and see.”

Naomi Alexander, Artistic Director of Brighton People’s Theatre, says: “Kate McCoy was chosen by residents from East Brighton and Hangleton to become the artist in residence for Your Place from an impressive range of artists who applied. They were particularly taken with her down to earth and relatable approach to working creatively with people who may not think of themselves as creative. Her idea of Random Acts of Neighbourliness caught their imagination and people in both communities have been really impressed by the work she has done over the past few months.

"Your Place is a partnership project run by Brighton Festival, Brighton People's Theatre and two resident-led, community development projects on either side of the city: Due East and the Hangleton and Knoll Project. We have been working with a steering group of local people from both communities over the last year to co-programme and co-design Your Place for the Brighton Festival 2018. We are really excited about all the brilliant shows and workshops that are part of this year's programme."


Image: Kate Tempest at Your Place 2017

Hosted by local community centres, and programmed in collaboration with local residents and artists, Your Place will bring a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. The inaugural project in 2017 was a resounding success, with over 2,000 people taking part in Your Place across the two weekends, and participants describing the experience as 'inspiring' and 'energising'.

Artists taking part in the Your Place 2018 weekends will include: David Shrigley, The Ragroof Players, The Future is Unwritten Theatre Company, Herringbone Arts, Joanna Neary, Culture Clash, Touched Theatre, Dundu and Worldbeaters, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and many more.

Main image credit: Tom Wenezou

Programmer Picks: Brighton Festival Spoken Word performances to enjoy this May

Assistant Producer, Rob Jones, highlights his top picks of poetry and performance at this year's Brighton Festival. 

Poets & Illustrators, with With Hollie McNish, Bridget Minamore, Toby Campion & Theresa Lola. Illustrations by Jess Wilson & Cressida Djambov
These poets make beautiful powerful work which speaks to the heart in a really human way. All four are completely different and totally wonderful, and all four have agreed to join us in an experiment to respond to the theme “hard work” - responding to a past book of Guest Director David Shrigley - to create something new for the night. This promises to be a fantastic evening of original poetry, with stunning visuals. It’s a really strong line up, and we are super excited to see them all in action together on the night: there will be poetic fireworks.


COAT - Yomi Sode.
Yomi is an incredible spoken word artist who I have been aware of for a while. His first full theatre piece COAT is a show of warmth and heart. It's a coming of age story which questions what it means to be part of the diaspora, and how that influences your identity and adolescence, and explores the often complex relationships that evolve when a child becomes a parent. If that isn’t enough, Yomi cooks a stew on stage throughout the piece, filling the auditorium with a beautiful scent of tomato stew whilst telling you his story and performing as multiple characters. So much is happening in this work and you are completely pulled in and embraced by the world. Yomi crafts with his cooking and with his stories. Come!


Travis Alabanza - Before I Step Outside (You Love Me).
I read Travis’s book and was completely arrested by its honesty and urgency. This work is speaking to people about the hopes, fears and difficulties of moving through society as an outsider. Collaborating with animator Daniel Braithwaite-Shirley, Travis is creating a special one off visual poem which tells the story of what it’s like to be a trans person of colour in society now. For me this work says so much about where we are at as a society, but also tells us where we need to be. Travis is brilliant and this work will change you.


Brownton Abbey
This has been a labour of love for the past year. Working with Tarik Elmoutawakil from the Marlborough to create a performance party unlike any other – with exceptional commissioned performances from some of the best performers in the UK. It's an afrofuturist-inspired club night headlined by the one and only Big Freedia. This will be unlike anything you have experienced before at Brighton Dome – come for a great party, amazing set design and fun performance interventions, making the perfect combination for a night out at the end of the Festival. You won't want to miss it.


Woodland
When I first experienced this piece, I was completely blown away by it's simplicity. Meditating on your own mortality, alone, in the woods sounds pretty full-on, but there is something very sobering and poetic about the way its delivered. This is a perfect piece for Brighton Festival, taking you outside and reminding you of your relationship with nature. Woodland is one of the standout audio experiences I have come across, and I am really excited to have it in Brighton. It’s a really different and a totally worthwhile experience. I wish I could do it every six months!

Explore our full range of amazing spoken word or outdoor performances.

Spotlight: Your Place

Your Place returns to the Brighton Festival with another exciting programme of free theatre, art, dance, music, outdoor games and workshops. For the past year, the community steering committees of East Brighton & Hangleton have been working together to create a vibrant weekend of arts and activities for their local communities.

Brighton Festival, Brighton People’s Theatre and the community steering groups are proud to bring back Your Place for a second year following its wonderful success in 2017. Expect new and exciting additions including bouncy castles, delicious food and more activities for people of all ages.

Artists joining us this year include David Shrigley, The Ragroof Players, The Future is Unwritten Theatre Company, Herringbone Arts, Joanna Neary, Kate McCoy, Culture Clash, Touched Theatre, Dundu and Worldbeaters, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and many more.

Video produced by echovideo.co.uk

In photos: Week 3

Brighton Festival 2017 is over! We can't believe what a fantastic month it has been – here's a few photos from events in the last week

Photos by Vic Frankowski and Adam Weatherley

New app The Hum invites festival-goers to view Brighton in a new light

The Hum, a free app which highlights the beauty in the everyday, is now available to download.

A Brighton Festival co-commission conceived and directed by Nic Sandiland, The Hum is a reflection and meditation on our own everyday interactions with the city. Half cinema, half reality, the piece weaves together visuals with a specially composed soundtrack.

Festival-goers will be invited to follow a trail on their smartphone screen, guided by the app to 15 locations within walking distance, around the city, and on arrival a narrated soundtrack will be played.

The Hum incorporates text from four diverse artists including: international dance artist Wendy Houston, dance writer for The Times Donald Hutera, Maria Oshodi director of Extant Theatre Company of visually impaired people and live artist Pete Phillips, to a sound score by musician James Keane. These writers explore the subtle qualities of observed and experienced movement to create their own idiosyncratic narratives ranging from the poetic and humorous through to the ironic and subversive.

Director Nic Sandiland says ‘The Hum gives audiences a new perspective on the everyday happenings in Brighton. Set to an emotive musical score with thought provoking text the piece takes you on a journey through 15 often-overlooked places in the city, places that we take for granted. The Hum makes us look at the mundane acts which take place in these places and by elevating them to the status of a feature film. At times profound yet often personal it is an immersive work that reveals an alternative view of the city through the movements that take place within it.’

Click here to download The Hum on Apple and Android devices

Volunteer call-out: Depart

Take part in Circa's sold-out performance Depart at Brighton Festival –call-out on behalf of LIFT Festival

Depart is an exciting new international collaboration featuring circus artists, aerialists, acrobats, dancers, choral singers and musicians working in tandem with video, lighting and installation artists under the direction of celebrated Australian director Yaron Lifschitz and his company Circa.

Depart will be shown in Brighton as part of the Brighton Festival with 8 performances from Tue 23 to Sun 28 May at 8.30pm and 10.15pm. Show duration is 60 to 65 minutes.

Audience Guides

To compliment the artistic model and the outdoors promenade format of the show, Depart is looking to recruit 12 to 18 volunteers locally in Brighton to match the role of Audience Guides.

Audience Guides are an integral and central part of the show implementing the task of leading audience through the site following a pre-agreed route and ensuring audience’s observance, including walking in silence, not treading off the given route and not taking pictures during the show.

Mapped along the route will be performance areas featuring circus artists, aerialists, acrobats, dancers, choral singers enhanced by the elements of lighting design, sound and video work.

The production can offer an expenses cover of £100 to all volunteers for your time on the project.

Depart will offer scheduled training sessions led by Circa Associate Artistic Director Alice Lee Holland. Previous performance or audience stewarding experience is desirable, but not compulsory. Audience Guides will need to show confidence when interacting with audience and be able to follow artistic direction. All training sessions will take place at Extra-Mural Cemetery next to Extra-Mural Chapel, entrance to cemetery from Lewes Road.

Training sessions:

Sat 20 May: 4pm – 8pm

Sun 21 May: 4pm – 8pm

Full attendance is expected, if possible.

Further to that, Audience Guides will be expected to have evening 6.30pm – 11pm availability on Tue 23 – Sun 28 May. They will need to attend a technical rehearsal on the evening of Tue 23 May, a dress rehearsal on Wed 24 May, and be available on show days Thu 25 – Sun 28 May.

Costume

As part of the costume brief, Guides will be expected to come dressed in black trousers, comfortable black shoes or boots.

If they own a white shirt, they will be expected to wear that also. Alternatively the production will provide a shirt. The production will also provide each guide with a black coat. We advise that everyone dresses warm and wears layers, as those will be long hours in the outdoors.

Upon appointment, please provide production team with your coat size.

For further information, please contact Linda: linda.peterkopa@gmail.com

In Pictures: Chidren's Parade 2017

Poetry In Motion!
A few photos from an incredible Children's Parade. What an amazing and wonderful way to mark the start of Brighton Festival 2017.

The theme for the 2017 Children’s Parade, the largest of its kind in Europe, which is jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky and supported by local business Yeomans Toyota Brighton, was Poetry in Motion, and around 5,000 children from 67 schools and community groups from across the region took part.

Leading the parade was Guest Director Kate Tempest and special guests Hot 8 Brass Band, who brought a brilliant slice of New Orleans funk to the occasion. 

Participants took inspiration from poems and poets including Edward Lear, Spike Milligan, Rudyard Kipling, Christina Rossetti, Lewis Carroll and William Shakespeare, resulting in a glorious array of outfits and mannequins from an Owl and a Pussycat in a pea green boat to a giant jam sandwich!

A heartfelt thank you to everyone involved. Thank you all for your magnificent creations and for your enthusiasm and to Same Sky Brighton and our sponsors for making this an epic Children's Parade to remember.

Find out more about our sponsor Yeomans Toyota Brighton


Festival Hot Seat... Clairière Urbaine

We caught up with Retouramont to find out more about their UK premiere Clairière Urbaine

Why should someone come and see your show?

The show - and more broadly the artistic work of the company Retouramont - offers new perspectives on the city. It doesn’t consider walls as limits but rather as openings and opportunities - and a means to invent new choreography. In our shows we aim to shift perspectives and invite the audience to discover their neighbourhood in a very new way.

How and where will it be staged?

It will be staged in Lavender Street. Some anchoring will be made on two buildings so the dance can evolve on the wall of one of them and in-between, in the air and over the audience.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

It came from the desire to go beyond, but not in the usual sense. As a climber, cliffs or boulders are limits you want to go over. I like when this movement can also be inventive and aesthetic. In the city, I find this desire for crossing and going over particularly joyful and creative.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Everyone can enjoy this aerial and acrobatic dance show that grabs the city in all its dimensions. We do not try to impose any story on the audience - each person can create their own story. This is our way of inviting the audience to feel and accept a shift of perceptions and take a new look at their surroundings.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

We propose a different and new use of the city that no one has seen before, not even the architects or inhabitants of the neighbourhood. They may look up for the first time and see buildings differently from now on.

Have you visited Brighton before? What were/are your impressions of the city?

This is my first time in Brighton - I'm curious to discover it.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

It’s great to see such longevity in a festival of art, vertical dance is about 25 years old. In this sense, I find it very interesting to question and analyse our practices in the long-term: how did street arts emerge? What is their social role? etc.

Head this way for more info on free event Clairière Urbaine.

Festival Hot Seat... The Last Resort

In the first of a new blog series we caught up with artists Tristan Shorr and Rachel Champion aka Art Of Disappearing to find out more about upcoming Brighton Festival commission The Last Resort

Can you tell us what your show is about?

The Last Resort takes a wry look at a rather bleak future. It throws out questions and ideas and possibilities. It’s an experience that should challenge imagination and thought.

How and where will it be staged?

Two participants at a time embark on a fictional tour of a forgotten resort. They move along the barren stretch of beach, imagining what might or might not have been, led by an immersive score.. The site is near the dock at Portslade which we chose for its bleakness and solitary position, the perfect environment for the imagination to be set loose!

Why should someone come and see your show?

If you enjoy dystopian ideas, beautiful barren landscapes and sci-fi whilst spending time in an imaginative experience then this is the show for you. With an original score, the chance to spend quality time with friend, family or stranger, and a shop to buy The Last Resort goodies...what more could you want!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

The outdoor site in Portslade was a perfect fit for certain ideas we have been mulling over for a while. The opportunity to create a work for Brighton Festival gave us the chance to bring the idea to life in a very real and raw way.

How we make the work and what the work is about are intrinsically linked for us. Within the creation of imaginary realities and reinterpreted landscapes the work looks to inspire, challenge and feed the participants imagination and create a space for action rather than passivity.

The context is of a future where our imaginations and our ability to think for ourselves as individuals is placed in doubt. Our inspiration is in the making of a work that encourages both active listening and active participation from our audiences.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

Its both exciting and depressing to think about the future...what will happen, what are we doing and what choices will be made….this work looks at one extreme possibility all wrapped up in the nicest possible experience. It’s important to think ahead…

The Last Resort is a work that hopefully you leave asking a few questions.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The nudist beach along the route might be an eye opener!

The show is unusual, in that it uses sound along with the participants imaginations to create an immersive world.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Anyone who holds a fascination with the future, enjoys being outdoors, loves listening to music in headphones, enjoys the challenge of spending time with a friend, a stranger or a family member and definitely anyone who wants to broaden and challenge their imagination.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you?

Rachel:

I was born locally and have lived near Brighton for the majority of my life. Brighton has always been a place of positive escapism for me, the live music, the great coffee shops and the Brighton Festival. I actually performed in Brighton Fringe with my school 27 years ago! Ouch! It’s always been there...long may it continue!

Tristan:

I think at a time where funding for the arts is dwindling and when challenging audiences and social passivity to the world around us is also taking a step back, it's hugely important that arts and cultural festivals like Brighton Festival exist. It is also important that places that support work and artists pushing the boundaries of the arts exist too and this is what the festival means to us both.

This isn't to say that we view ourselves as particularly radical in our approach, but we definitely appreciate the importance of Brighton Festival giving a place for us artists to call home!

Do you have a favourite festival moment?

It hasn’t happened yet!! The festival is always great, the city wakes up! Can’t ask for more than that! We’re going to be pretty busy this year with the show so it will be a very different experience… we might have to hear about it rather than join in!

Book now for the last remaining slots of The Last Resort.

Brighton Festival celebrates the city's memories with new oral history app

'Jimi Hendrix signed my tambourine and I had to run for my life...'

A free interactive oral history app unfolding the ordinary personal stories of young love, loss and rebellion in the 1940s, 50s and 60s is launching during May as part of Brighton Festival 2016.

The Giddy app, from Brighton arts collective The Nimbus Group and funded with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, takes users on an alternative walking tour of the city, punctuated by GPS triggered personal histories straight from the mouths of the people who lived them.

From a chance meeting with Jimi Hendrix in the back of a beaten up MG and tales of daytime runaways who never got caught, to stories about sneaking into strip bars and dancing til dawn with the Teddy boys, Giddy offers a view of life in the postwar years that is conspicuously absent from the history books.

All of the content – the stories, photographs, app design – has been gathered and created by teenaged pupils of Brighton’s Longhill School, with the support of a team of archive specialists, oral history interviewers and photographers.

‘Every generation of young people thinks they are the first to experience the intense highs, lows and giddy adventures of the teenage years,’ says Carina Westling of The Nimbus Group. 

‘We wanted to use digital technology to create something that celebrates the stuff of life that unites us as humans, reveals our individuality but also highlights universal themes associated with youth that span the generations,’ she says.

‘Oral history offers a perspective of the past that stands outside the received wisdom of the history books. Our intention for Giddy is to bring history to life in such a way that the young (or not so young) people who hear these stories will never look at older people in quite the same way again.’

Giddy is available for iOS and Android smartphones from May, sign up for a notification of the app’s release at www.giddybrighton.com.

An accompanying online archive and exhibition featuring portraits and archive images gathered during the making of the app will launch at University of Brighton's on 7 May 2016, which will be open to the public till the end of the Festival on 29 May.

Spotlight: Dr Blighty

Find out more about Dr.Blighty

One of the most affecting and complex stories of the Royal Pavilion Estate is its use as a military hospital for wounded Indian soldiers in World War I. As we work towards reunifying the Royal Pavilion Estate to bring collections, heritage and the arts together to create compelling new work for the Estate, the opportunity was ripe for Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove and ourselves to work with British Asian performance company Nutkhut and with 14-18 NOW to commemorate this special chapter in Brighton’s history. 

Video by Ed Inglis and Nutkhut: http://www.nutkhut.co.uk/


Spotlight: Digging for Shakespeare

Find out more from Marc Rees on Digging for Shakespeare in our Spotlight film. Marc Rees studied in Brighton with Liz Aggiss and has gone on to make wonderful work with communities and for specific sites, most notably with National Theatre Wales. He brought us the captivating story of James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps who was a world-renowned Shakespearean scholar in the 19th Century and an eccentric recluse. When Marc suggested making this piece on the Roedale allotments where Halliwell-Phillipps lived it was too beguiling an idea to pass up.

See more Spotlight films, where we cast a spotlight on some of our special commissions and co-commissions in our milestone 50th Brighton Festival.

Film by Echo Video

The Brighton Commissions

For our milestone 50th Festival, we have commissioned more new works than ever before, including many by Brighton artists or about Brighton itself. Wildly different and each fascinating, the 'Brighton Commissions' below are presented as a tribute to our home and the talent within it.

Brighton: Symphony of a City
One of the Brighton Festival events people still talk about is the screening of Battleship Potemkin (2005) with Ed Hughes’s new score in the Hove Engineerium. When Ed and Brighton based filmmaker Lizzie Thynne proposed a Brighton homage to Walther Ruttmann’s 1927 silent classic Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, we grabbed the opportunity to celebrate Brighton in all its festive, bohemian, campaigning, fun-filled glory.

Charles Linehan Company
Loved by dancers and dance audiences, Brighton-based choreographer Charles Linehan (The Fault Index/ The Clearing, 2011), brings us a contrasting double bill of new works including one with William Trevitt and Michael Nunn (BalletBoyz). Described by The Guardian as ’one of our classiest choreographers’ Charles’s return to Brighton Festival in our 50th year feels especially appropriate. 

The Complete Deaths
Another match made in Brighton. Leading physical comedy company Spymonkey (Oedipussy, 2012 and Cooped, 2006) and award winning playwright and performer Tim Crouch (I, Caliban, 2003, I, Peaseblossom, 2004, I, Banquo, 2005, An Oak Tree 2006, I, Malvolio, 2010 and what happens to the hope at the end of the evening, 2014) come together to re-enact every onstage death from the works of William Shakespeare in a sublimely funny tribute to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. We’re holding onto our hats. 

Digging for Shakespeare
Marc Rees studied in Brighton with Liz Aggiss and has gone on to make wonderful work with communities and for specific sites, most notably with National Theatre Wales. He brought us the captivating story of James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps who was a world-renowned Shakespearean scholar in the 19th Century and an eccentric recluse. When Marc suggested making this piece on the Roedale allotments where Halliwell-Phillipps lived it was too beguiling an idea to pass up. 

Dr Blighty
One of the most affecting and complex stories of the Royal Pavilion Estate is its use as a military hospital for wounded Indian soldiers in World War I. As we work towards reunifying the Royal Pavilion Estate to bring collections, heritage and the arts together to create compelling new work for the Estate, the opportunity was ripe for Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove and ourselves to work with British Asian performance company Nutkhut and with 14-18 NOW to commemorate this special chapter in Brighton’s history.

The Last Resort
Using binaural technology to create a shifting world of sound, Brighton-based artists Rachel Champion and Tristan Shorr (who worked with Charlotte Spencer on Walking Stories, 2013), working as Art Of Disappearing, have created an immersive work set on Portslade beach that takes a wry look at science fiction traditions and dystopian societies. 

Operation Black Antler
Two Brighton Festival Associate Companies come together in an exciting new collaboration. Blast Theory (Rider Spoke, 2008; Fixing Point 2013) are celebrated for their inventive use of technology and their thought-provoking subject matter. Hydrocracker have delighted and terrified audiences with Shakespeare á la Carte (2008), the uproarious The Erpingham Camp (2009), and the chilling production of Pinter plays The New World Order (2007 & 2011). Having these two companies working together has been on all our wish lists for a number of years. 

Stella
Veteran Brighton artist Neil Bartlett (Oliver Twist, 2004, The Maids, 2007; For Alfonso, 2011; What Can You Do?, 2012; Britten: The Canticles, 2013) is one of Britain’s most individual theatre makers and a generous friend of Brighton Festival. We’re honoured that Neil’s wonderful, intense and distilled new play, inspired by the life and death of Ernest Boulton, can open in Theatre Royal Brighton before going on to performances at London International Festival of Theatre and Holland Festival. 

Sponsorship opportunities for 50th Brighton Festival

Local businesses are being offered a unique opportunity to be part of a major historical landmark next year as Brighton Festival - the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England – celebrates its 50th year of bringing arts and culture to the city in 2016.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. This milestone year offers a chance for companies to be a part of the celebrations and also to demonstrate the spirit of partnership that will enable the city to thrive for the next fifty years.

With audiences reaching over 460,000 in 2013, Brighton Festival not only encourages visitors the city, but also engenders a sense of pride that increases leisure visits. Audience data demonstrates that 36% of Brighton Festival bookers are from outside the city and of the rest - a third of these local resident bookers - also buy tickets for visiting friends and family.

The annual Children’s Parade - the largest of its kind in Europe - which traditionally opens the Festival is embraced by the whole city, attended by 5,000 children from over 80 schools and community groups from across the region and watched by many thousands of spectators.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: “I believe Brighton Festival has become part of the city’s DNA – one of the things everyone thinks about when they think of Brighton and part of the reason businesses and visitors want to come here. One of the most exciting thing is that the whole city gets involved, from our colleagues in the cultural sector to the city’s hotels and pubs. Together, we make sure the month is not only a cause for celebration, but also one that contributes tens of millions of pounds to our local economy every year.

As a registered arts charity with just 34% of its operational costs covered by regular public funding, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival has to raise from a variety of sources, the other 66% needed to operate and to continue to successfully run the various strands of the organisation. Sponsoring Brighton Festival not only allows businesses to raise their profile, reach new customers by engaging with over half a million audiences and expand their networks, but also meet corporate social responsibility objectives by supporting the local community through outreach work. 

2015 sponsors included University of Sussex, Southern Water, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, London Gatwick, Mayo Wynne Baxter, Class of Their Own, Riverford Organic Farms, DMH Stallard, The Montefiore Hospital, Nutshell Construction Limited, Griffith Smith Farrington Webb LLP solicitors and GM Building.

Confirmed sponsors for 2016 already include Nutshell Construction and SELITS.

Managing Director, Nutshell Construction, Ben Copper said: “We are delighted to be renewing our sponsorship of the Brighton Festival during its 50th anniversary year. Sponsorship of the event gets us in front of potential customers, it raises our profile by associating our business with a gilt-edged brand and it makes real business sense – as well as giving us a chance to support the arts and our home town.”

Andrew Comben continues: “Bringing Brighton Festival together every year is an incredible privilege. We wouldn’t be able to present the sheer number of quality performances, installations and exclusive talks that make up Brighton Festival without the help of sponsors, many of whom also support the work of Brighton Dome year-round. It’s an exciting time for Brighton Festival as we look towards our 50th celebrations in 2016 - and with the help of new and returning supporters we hope to make it very special indeed.”

To find out more about sponsorship opportunities for the 50th Brighton Festival in 2016, please contact Kata Gyongyosi on 01273 260 810 or email kata.gyongyosi@brightondome.org

-Ends-


For further enquiries, please contact our press team:

Emma Robertson, Head of Press and PR - emma.robertson@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260 803
Chris Challis, Senior Press Officer – chris.challis@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260838
Anna Whelan, Digital Marketing Officer – anna.whelan@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260825

Ticket Office - 01273 709709 | brightonfestival.org
Follow us on Twitter - www.twitter.com/brightfest (@brightfest)
Join our Facebook fan site - www.facebook.com/brightonfestival
Listen to our monthly podcast - http://soundcloud.com/brighton-dome

Notes to Editors:

About Brighton Festival:


Brighton Festival is England’s most established annual mixed arts Festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May. It is a major milestone in the international cultural calendar and in 2013 achieved a new record audience reach of 468,000

• Renowned for its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation, Brighton Festival’s inaugural programme 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 for artists and audiences, Brighton Festival is known for commissioning and producing an ambitious programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere.

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme with British sculptor Anish Kapoor as inaugural curator in 2009 followed by the Godfather of modern music Brian Eno in 2010, the Burmese Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2011, actress and Human Rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave in 2012, poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen in 2013 and choreographer, composer, musician and performer Hofesh Shechter in 2014.

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, circus, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round – a three space, Grade 1 listed building made up of the Concert Hall, Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre.

• Each year, the work of the Creative Learning team reaches over 15,000 people in Brighton & Hove and beyond through innovative projects such as Miss Represented - an arts collective of vulnerable young women who have been involved with the criminal justice system and isolated young women in the community; the Umbrella Club - a membership club for children and young people with life-limiting conditions and their siblings and carers; and Three Score Dance Company, created to offer contemporary dance opportunities for men and women aged 60+ in Brighton & Hove.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival is a registered arts charity (registered charity no 249748)

Click here to view the PDF

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

Fancy A Spot Of Bird Watching? Do The Brighton Festival Big Bird Trail

We are twitching with excitement about our Big Bird Trail! Take your bird-watching on the move – gather stickers from local businesses and venues, for a chance to win some amazing prizes.

Enjoy a luxurious Lunch for 2 at local bistro, The Manor. Grab some sweet treats from Cybercandy for the sugar enthusiasts. Appendage and Pussy Home Boutique are offering a selection of quirky goodies. Pamper yourself with a range of hair-care prizes from the North Laine Hair Co. Get your hands on a £50 Brighton Dome voucher to spend on the upcoming shows of your choice. Plus, no respectable bird-watcher’s life would be complete without a Bird Feeder from the RSPB! See the full list of prizes

The shops participating are:

• Cybercandy
• EAST
• Oxfam Books
• Fidra Jewellers
• North Laine Hair Company
• Appendage
• Pussy Home Boutique
• Whirligig Toy
• The Manor
• RSPB Shop for Nature
• Gauge
• Ticket Office- Brighton Dome

For more info and the shops addresses head this way.

Grab a copy of the trail in our Family Festival Guide, available at the Brighton Dome Ticket Office to get started.

Nun on the run needed!

Award-winning theatre company seek volunteers for Brighton Festival performance

Theatre company Burn The Curtain are URGENTLY NEEDING an additional volunteer ‘nun’ to take part in stewarding their Brighton Festival 2015 performance The Company of Wolves (7 – 9 May). The company are seeking volunteers to don a habit and take part in the promenade theatre adventure created for runners and walkers across Stanmer Park. We need a Nun steward who can lead running audience members through the show. MUST be an experienced/regular runner.

The volunteer would need to be available:

Wed 6th – Sat 9th 18.30 to 11pm at Stamner Park

The performance turns Angela Carter’s macabre imagination into a spine-tingling outdoor experience; the tale unfolds as you progress along a pre-determined route which will be between two and five miles long, depending on which path you take. Those taking part can choose to either run or walk the course… with a warning that should you stray from the path for one instant, the wolves will eat you!

Those interested in getting involved are asked call Joe on 07941 471 917 

Photos: Children's Parade

Our 49th Brighton Festival got off to rollicking start with the Children's Parade, co-produced by Same Sky. This year everyone surpassed themselves and the immense talent and creativity of our fair city was made abundantly clear. A plethora of winged creatures and their creators took to the streets in a flurry of colour and sound to mark this year's theme 'taking flight'.


Brighton Festival 2015 took flight with incredible Children's Parade - co-presented by Same Sky. It was truly AMAZING!...

Posted by Brighton Festival on Saturday, 2 May 2015

Feathered Facts: 15 more things you never knew about swifts…

This year we draw inspiration from the avian world - starlings, swifts and nightingales feature in several Brighton Festival events this May. In this series of posts we celebrate our feathered friends with some fascinating facts. This week we explore the lives of swifts - read on to discover 15 more things you never knew about these birds…

  1. Swift nests need to be high-up as the birds legs are too weak to launch themselves into the air. They literally have to fall into flight.
  2. Swifts were once known as devil birds and were believed to nest in pond mud. The name may refer to their scream-like call, their forked tails, dark colouring or the mystic qualities of their lives.
  3. Despite appearances, swifts are not related to swallows or house martins. Their nearest “bird” relatives are the New World’s hummingbirds.
  4. As the sun sets swifts will gather and chase each other, screaming as they go, before rising to an altitude of some 10,000 feet, where they’ll sleep on the wing.
  5. The oldest recorded age for a swift is eighteen years. This individual would have travelled four million miles; the equal of eight trips to the moon and back.
  6. Swifts migrate to the UK around May, staying to lay eggs and raise their chicks, departing for Africa’s warmer climes in August.
  7. Each morning, swifts will descend from their high altitude sleep to fly around their nests and feed their young.
  8. Swifts gobble-up airborne insects and spiders. These bugs are collected into a ball or “bolus” in the swift’s throat to regurgitate for their young back on the nest.
  9. Each bolus (ball of food) brought to the babies weighs just over a gram, and contains 300 to 1000 individual insects and spiders. The average is 300-500 food items per bolus.
  10. The first three to four years of a swift’s life are spent in the air. Only when they’ve reached adulthood will they touchdown on solid ground to nest and raise their first brood.
  11. Swifts are able to navigate through different wind speeds while sleeping, automatically adjusting their flight to stay on a specific course.
  12. In the early days of radar in the 1950s, air traffic controllers would routinely spot unidentified flying objects, referred to as "angels". It’s now thought these blips could have been sleeping swifts.
  13. Approximately 80,000 pairs of swifts migrate to Britain each summer, although the numbers have been declining. 
  14. Originally cave, tree-hole and cliff dwellers, swifts have nested in high man-made structures, (under tiles, in the eaves, in lofts, spires and towers) since Roman times.
  15. The parent birds eat most of their chicks' droppings (possibly to recycle the mineral content); there are no great piles of droppings beneath swift nests

Explore events relating to the theme of art and nature

Facts kindly supplied by the RSPB.

Read even more bird facts.

Feathered Facts: 15 things you never knew about starlings, swifts and nightingales…

Does life imitate art or does art imitate life? This year's Brighton Festival celebrates, in as many ways as birds have songs, the vital crossovers between nature and the arts. Starlings, swifts and nightingales feature in a number of events this May and in this series of posts we celebrate our feathered friends with some fascinating facts…

  1. This years' Big Garden Birdwatch found that the Top Three most common garden birds in Brighton & Hove are, in order of most common first: house sparrows, starlings and feral pigeons.
  2. The highest densities of nightingales in the UK are found in the south east: Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Kent and Sussex.
  3. Between 1995 and 2008, the UK’s nightingale population more than halved (53 per cent).
  4. The song of the nightingale has been described as one of the most beautiful sounds in nature, inspiring songs, books, and a great deal of poetry.
  5. Southern England is the northern limit of the nightingales’ range. They breed in forest and scrub in Europe and south-west Asia, and winter in West Africa.
  6. The name nightingale is more than a 1000 years old and means 'night songstress'. Early writers assumed the female sang when it is in fact the male.
  7. Each year during autumn, flocks of starlings form across the skies of Britain, creating 'dark clouds' above fields, woodlands and reedbed, these are called murmurations. As seen annually from Brighton pier.
  8. Single males sing regularly at night to attract a mate. Singing at dawn is assumed to be important in defending the bird's territory.
  9. Homer (not Simpson), Sophocles and Ovid all referenced nightingales in their writings. T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land also evokes the nightingale's song.
  10. Other literary references to nightingales have included John Milton's sonnet To the Nightingale (1632–33) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Nightingale: A Conversation Poem, printed in 1798.
  11. Modern ornithologists dispute the facts behind the popular World War II song A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (published 1939), believing it unlikely to be a nightingale and most probably a blackbird.
  12. Swifts are uniquely aerial creatures, spending almost their entire adult lives in the air; they eat, mate and even sleep on the wing.
  13. Swifts are considered the fastest birds in sustained flight, achieving average speeds of around 70 mph (peregrine falcons can achieve more than 200 mph in a dive).
  14. In a single year the common swift can cover at least 200,000 km, that’s the equivalent of circumventing the earth five times.
  15.  Swifts Latin name is Apus apus, from the Greek ἄπους, apous, meaning ‘without feet’. They have very short legs as they rarely need to stand rely on their wings to manoeuvre in their nests.

Explore events relating to the theme of art and nature

Facts kindly supplied by the RSPB.