Bohemian Brighton, situated on the South Coast of England boasts a wealth of annual events and festivals. Sadly, this year’s festivals were a write-off, but here we take a look ahead to 2021 with a round-up of Brighton’s best regular festivals. Here’s hoping that things get back to normal and the city returns to becoming vibrant and spirited as it used to be.
A Smorgasbord of Arts
After Edinburgh, this is the largest festival of its kind in the UK. In May, the city becomes more alive than ever with a fabulous and all-embracing celebration of dance, film, comedy, literature, music, art, children’s and outdoor events. In addition, the fringe festival runs alongside the main event. Wandering the streets of Brighton, you literally stumble across an unexpected art installation or busker around every corner.
The Children’s Parade
It all kicks off with the Children’s Parade. Five thousand children hit the streets wearing self-designed flamboyant costumes based on a specific theme. It’s a riot of colour and an impressive spectacle.
One of the highlights of the festival is the Open House event, when local artists open their homes to the public and exhibit their work. Roaming from house to house, pausing occasionally at a nearby pub for sustenance makes for a perfect spring day out in Brighton.
The Fringe Festival
The fringe festival is more experimental, focusing on new and unestablished artists. Its aim is to make the arts accessible to everyone and many of the offerings are reasonably priced and sometimes free. Local performers play a prominent part and anyone can register an event. Some of the productions are pretty out there, but it is fun, innovative and occasionally brilliant.
A High-Spirited Atmosphere
The atmosphere during Brighton festival is high-spirited and it is a superb time to visit Brighton. One thing you can be sure of – there will be plenty to keep you entertained.
The Great Escape
Three Days of Music
Adding to the hurly-burly of Brighton’s already overflowing May calendar is The Great Escape. A three day music event featuring four hundred and fifty acts at thirty five venues throughout the town.
The festival showcases fresh up and coming new talent from all over the world and has become an unmissable date in the diary for serious music buffs. From an edgy indie band playing in a sleazy pub basement to a nu-folkster strumming fervently in an austere church, it’s a great opportunity to hear some cool acts before they are potentially playing the big stadiums. Discovering a new band before everyone else does can be a thrilling feeling and The Great Escape provides some awesome musical moments.
All the music you can handle!
All of the venues are within walking distance of one another and ticket-holders wear a wristband giving access to as many gigs as physical energy levels allow.
Paddle round the Pier
An array of sports in and out of the water
Taking place over a July weekend, this is the largest free beach and water sports festival in the world. The Paddle Village, the base for the action, is situated on the expansive and scenic Hove Lawns.
The spotlight isn’t only on water sports, such as surfing, paddle-boarding and kayaking, but also on land based activities, including skateboarding and urban athletics.
Fun for all the Family
Even if you aren’t a surfer or skateboarder, there is plenty to keep you entertained including a climbing wall, sandcastle competition, a dog show and children’s entertainment and of course, a variety of sports. Food stalls and tropical bars keep everyone well-fed and hydrated.
On Saturday night, it’s party time and a huge Hawaiian style luau is held at the village, a chance for competitors and spectators to kick back and enjoy a beer or cocktail while local bands get the crowds rockin’.
The Main Event
The main event of the festival is a charity paddle round the pier. Participants use any kind of flotation devise to make their way around the pier, be it surfboard, kayak or lilo.
Paddle round the Pier is a fun, family orientated event, but there is also an opportunity to win prizes in various races and competitions for those who are serious about their sport. With the help of a little sunshine, you could almost be in Hawaii (apart from the pebble beach, that is!)
A Flamboyant Parade
In August, rainbow flags flutter throughout the city and drag queens glam it up, as Brighton celebrates the largest pride event in the UK.
Pride kicks off on the first Saturday in August. A flamboyant parade snakes its way from the seafront, through the city centre, eventually arriving at Preston Park for a huge party.
Party in the Park
Revellers crowd into the dance and cabaret tents. A main stage showcases acts which have previously included Kylie Minogue and the Pet Shop Boys. Stalls sell everything from ’Too fabulous to be straight’ t-shirts to bondage gear. There are even funfair rides, adding to the carnival atmosphere.
Kemp Town Fiesta
In the evening the action moves to Kemp Town, close to the seafront. The area is closed off to traffic, pop-up bars and food stalls line the streets and the party continues to the early hours and beyond. Around lunchtime on Sunday it all starts again.
Brighton, an open minded and all-encompassing city, is justly proud of its Pride event. Being part of Pride, whether for the first time or the tenth, is a fun-filled, vibrant and life-affirming experience for everyone.
Burning of the Clocks
A Celebration of the Winter Solstice
A magical festival that takes place on 21st December annually, this somewhat alternative event celebrates the winter solstice. Burning the Clocks has been running since 1993 and is a light-hearted protest against Christmas excess and a way of greeting the arrival of longer days and shorter nights.
A Magical Parade
Two thousand Brighton residents spend much of the year creating astounding paper and willow lanterns in an array of designs. On the solstice they are paraded through the streets of the city centre. Visually, it’s a beautiful sight – the illuminated lanterns look striking under the night sky. Samba bands provide the beats and the parade culminates on the beach, where the lanterns are set alight. A spectacular firework display follows.
Mulled Wine and Log Fires
Afterwards, the pubs fill up with spectators warming themselves next to blazing log fires, drinking hot mulled wine and soaking up the festive atmosphere. The vibe throughout the city is celebratory and fun. It is very much a community event for all the family. Whether you are a participant or an observer, Burning the Clocks is a unique and memorable night out for everyone.