Brighton Festival 2020Public booking opens: Wed 19 Feb, 9am

Welcome to the Imagine Nation with Lemn Sissay Brighton Festival 2020

The acclaimed British and Ethiopian poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker, Lemn Sissay MBE has launched Brighton Festival 2020 welcoming everyone to the Imagine Nation from 2 to 24 May 2020.

Brighton Festival is the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England and will feature over 120 events taking place in 27 venues and locations across the region - from the industrial landscapes of Shoreham Port and warehouses in Hove, to the suburban streets of Crawley and Moulsecoomb, theatres, community centres and cinemas in Worthing, Hangleton, East Brighton and Lewes. Artists experimenting and creating new work is at the heart of the Festival with 17 premieres, exclusives, commissions and co-productions and many Festival debuts from international artists.

Lemn’s personal passions flow throughout the 2020 programme, connected by a love of words and language across theatre, song, spoken word, art and poetry. Contemporary writers and poets are given a particular spotlight with several spoken word and book events including The Time Has Now ComeLime Time, Take 5 and Vintage Poets. 


Lemn’s support for new and established Ethiopian artists features prominently with appearances by Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke, contemporary pianist/composer Samuel Yirga and writers Maaza Mengiste and Aida Edemariam. Marking the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s journey, a new generation of Indigenous American artists take centre stage in The Young Americans, a powerful new exhibition in partnership with Rainmaker Gallery at Phoenix Art Space that reveals what it means to grow up in the contemporary United States. And using art as a way to explore our most personal experiences will offer some of the most powerful events in the Festival. In Adopt A Nation, Lemn invites the public to adopt him in an intimate one-on-one experience that will ask participants to share their own thoughts about family; and his best-selling memoir My Name is Why is discussed in conversation with British-Eritrean writer Hannah Azieb Pool.

Guest Director Lemn Sissay explains how Imagine Nation is a place to join in, reflect and take time for a personal creative experience:

“The most damaging mirror trick in society is to convince people they have no imagination and that they are not creative. It’s just not true. There’s going to be something for you in this Festival. Broaden your horizons, be open and maybe try something different. Welcome to the Imagine Nation, welcome to the whole world in one celebration here at Brighton Festival 2020.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival added:

“Brighton Festival is an annual invitation to everyone to explore great art from all over the world and inspire individual creativity. We’re excited and proud to be bringing the Festival to so many areas of the city and the wider region and we hope that Lemn’s encouragement to be brave and try something new creates an ‘Imagine Nation’ in which we can all take part.”

Thanks to our Sponsors for supporting Brighton Festival 2020: University of SussexSouthern WaterUniversity of BrightonBrighton CollegeDotsquaresGriffith SmithSelective AsiaSelits and Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings

We’re proud to announce our media partners are BBC Sussex, Radio Reverbtheartsdesk.com and Brighton & Hove Independent.

Tickets go on sale to Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival members at 7.30am, Wed 12 February and general sale at 9am, Wed 19 February.