Brighton Festival 2017 Children's Parade credit Vic Frankowski

BN1’s top picks – events and shows not to miss at Brighton Festival

It’s May which can only mean one thing – the dawn of our whole city coming together to showcase the artists, musicians, comedians, actors, dancers, poets and creatives amongst us. Brighton never fails to be colourful and full of surprising, interesting people or events. Brighton Festival is how to gather that collective spirit. With so much on, we have tried to narrow down the options of what you should see. Here are our Brighton Festival 2023 top picks. 

THROUGHOUT FESTIVAL 

GALATEA – Theatre

It is no secret we are excited about the world of Galatea coming to Brighton; we spoke to the director and performance artist Emma Frankland for our April edition. Galatea is a Marlborough Production theatre performance written by the Shakespeare contemporary, John Lyly. It is a timeless story of love, joy and acceptance reintroduced to a whole new generation of audiences. A resonant story for modern times. It features a vibrant and diverse cast of LGBTQIA+ and deaf performers, a creation that celebrates diversity, inclusion and the power of community-led creativity. Challenging the status quo when it comes to staging too, the play is performed in an outdoor, community space . Watch Galatea at Adur Recreation Ground. 

Preview – Fri 5 May, 8pm

Sat 6-Sun 21 May (Wed-Sun), 8pm

Sun 14 & Sat 20 May, 2pm 

Galatea – Brighton Festival 2023 Credit by Holly Revell

A FUTURE MEMORY – Visual Arts 

An art exhibition which we imagine to emotionally connect with all viewers. A Future Memory created by Mohammed Adel is inspired by existence and remembrance; family and culture. Based in South East London, Adel considers his British-Bengali identity through paintings. Represented is a comfort but also spaces of awkwardness and ambiguity. A Future Memory will be full of life and colour as Adel expresses his personal relationship between remembering details and trying to imagine yourself in spaces. This exhibition is free to explore and guaranteed to be rich in nuances. 

Sat 6-Sat 27 May, 

Tues-Fri 12-5pm, Sat 12-4pm 

OPENING WEEK

CHILDREN’S PARADE 

Ah, the gorgeous festival to kick off Festival. Year after year the children’s parade never fails to impress the people of Brighton with its noise, vibrancy and cheerful communal pride. School children in their homemade costumes, with their interesting sculptural creations, march from Jubilee Street to Madeira Drive. This year’s theme is One World, encouraging kids to think about culture and the environment. The parade will aim to answer questions about how we can learn and grow from each other. It is an important topic which will lead their dances and chants alongside Same Sky artists, teachers and volunteers. If you’re not awake at 10:30am on Sun 7 May, the Children’s Parade will make sure you are with its fabulous raucousness. 

Sun 7 May, 10:30am 

LITTLE MURMUR – Dance workshop 

A new dance theatre show by Aakash Odedra Company and The Spark Arts for Children, Little Murmur promises to be a sensory spectacle. We are expecting the extraordinary through displays of movement and confetti. Dance became a mode of expression for Odedra. He grew up dyslexic and didn’t feel like he belonged until he found the missing ‘A’ in Aakash. It will be enthralling to see how these ideologies of challenges and overcoming are projected with the aid of design and technology. What’s more, on Sun 14 May at 10am, a 45-minute workshop will encourage children to explore their own identity through movement as inspired by Little Murmur. The workshop was created in partnership with the British Dyslexia Association and is just £5 to take part. There is no dance experience needed. Performances will take place at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts 

Sat 13 May, 1pm, 3pm & 5pm

Sun 14 May, 11am, 1pm & 3pm    Workshop – Sun 14 May, 10am  

Little Murmur Brighton Festival 2023 Credit Angela Grabowska

MAISIE PETERS + ARLO PARKS – Music 

We are so excited that Maisie Peters and Arlo Parks will be in Brighton as the headline names for The Great Escape Festival. Maisie Peters, performing on Fri 12 May at Brighton Dome (doors 7:30pm) recently released the song Body Better . The track is not shy to radio with its bubblegum pop beat, and catchy, relatable lyrics. She has come a long way since busking in Brighton, gaining over half a million worldwide streams. Arlo Parks heads to Brighton Dome a day later, on Sat 13 May (doors 7pm). Her gentle voice and poetic songs will transform audiences to a tranquil space. Her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams peaked at number three on the UK album charts. 

VAN GOGH ALIVE – Visual Arts 

Possibly the most world renowned and enticing art exhibition to come to Brighton. Van Gogh Alive has everyone in the city buzzing, and we are no exception. The immersive experience, celebrating the life and legendary work of Vincent Van Gogh, will be held at the newly refurbished Brighton Dome Corn Exchange. There will even be a brand new Starry Night installation exclusive to Brighton Festival. The technology provides a kaleidoscope of colour, allowing visitors to become part of the recognisable and lesser known paintings. We are expecting the space to be interactive, educational, and entirely captivating. An event that has been in the diary for a long while, and should be in yours too! 

Fri 12 May-Sun 6 Aug – Times Vary 

WEEK TWO 

SUROOR – Music 

The gorgeous creative director Nabihah Iqbal is taking the stage for this slot. SUROOR is a four-piece experimental group embracing the interconnectedness between music, art, politics and society. The multidisciplinary performance will surely keep us on our toes; we are unsure whether to lose ourselves in movement or sip red wine and listen hard. Either way, SUROOR will make us feel. With support from Qazi & Qazi who combine intricate harmonies with orchestral-scale arrangements. This is what music is all about – the confusion, delight and overall euphoria of sound. Taking place at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. 

Mon 15 May, 7:30pm 

KIZLAR – Dance 

Another world premiere, the themes of Kizlar sound dreamy and mesmerising as the aesthetically driven work tells the story of femininity and masculinity, strength and vulnerability. The all female company combines Turkish folk dance with unique movement from Brighton-based choreographer Ceyda Tanc who has Turkish heritage herself. It challenges gender and celebrates culture which sounds both eloquent and thought-provoking. Performed at the stunning Theatre Royal Brighton. 

Tue 16 May, 7:30pm 

LIVE – Comedy 

There is so much comedy at Brighton Festival, which is an accolade to how this art form is being accredited, but to get a dose of laughter from an eclectic mix of personalities, watch Live at Brighton Festival at Brighton Dome. A night with an impressive line-up of comedy’s biggest names: Nish Kumar, Chloe Petts, Thanyia Moore and others, means you get to see plenty of stand up under one roof. With regards to the jokes, who really knows what to expect? But with it being the biggest comedy night in Brighton, entertainment is guaranteed. 

Fri 19 May, 7:30om  

WEEK THREE

MOBY DICK – Family Theatre 

When it comes to choosing something for the family to see, we are spoilt for choice between visual masterpieces and circus spectaculars, but maybe this Plexus Polaire performance will be a wise pick. Brought to the UK for the first time by the Norwegian/French company, it has already received immaculate acclaim. The adaptation of the classic tale of a friendly whale will provide warmth for parents and wonder for the children. The unique artistry brings seven actors, fifty puppets, video projections, orchestra and of course, a whale to Theatre Royal Brighton. 

Thu 25 & Fri 26 May, 7:30pm 

Sat 27 May, 2pm & 7:30pm 

MUNROE BERGDORF – Books and Spoken Word 

Literature is becoming a more inclusive world on a daily basis, with people from all walks of life being able to tell and publish their stories on platforms that have not always been available. By simply reading a plethora of perspectives, we are becoming a more empathetic society. It is important, cool, dare I say trendy to tell stories and speak about books!

Transitional is labelled heartfelt and intimate as readers enter the life and questions of Munroe who shares how to heal and how to make society stronger and prouder. She is an activist, model, writer and broadcaster, plus won an honorary doctorate for campaigning for transgender rights by the University of Brighton. She has recently spoken about her book on the Radio 1 Breakfast Show and Channel 4’s Late Night Lycett, so the fact that we have Munroe with us is a real honour. While we are yet to read Transitional, we can’t wait to hear Munroe speak at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts and to feel inspired. 

Sat 27 May, 7:30pm

OUR ROOTS – Club Night 

Last but not least, it wouldn’t be a festival without dancing the day away, long into the far away night. Our Roots is Brighton Dome’s first ever club night hosted by Brighton’s own legendary queer club nights UOKHUN? Polyglamorous and Gal Pals. We want colour. We want dance music. Surely, Our Roots will provide all the chaos and more. The event is all about inclusivity and celebration featuring DJ sets from BISHI and Nabihah Iqbal which will make Brighton History. You don’t want to miss out on that. See you on the dancefloor. 

Sat 27 May, 10pm-3am


To discover what else is on at Brighton Festival, and to purchase tickets to any of the events, go to brightonfestival.org/

Or, read our conversation with this year’s Guest Director Nabihah Iqbal

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