Brighton seafront

The Friday Review: Brighton Festival and Fringe

This week’s Friday Review is actually more of a preview, but it’s for an event which is very close to my heart.

Tomorrow Brighton Festival and Fringe 2014 kicks off – three weeks of music, dance, theatre and art.

I spent three years covering the festival when I worked as a reporter in Brighton and Hove and I absolutely love it. To me it sums up all of my favourite things about the people who live in the city: their passion for the arts, their quirkiness and their general love of life.

After the Edinburgh Festival it’s the biggest arts festival in the UK and it’s definitely worth a day-trip or even a weekend visit.

This year choreographer and dancer Hofesh Shechter is the festival’s guest artistic director. I remember the first time I went to see one of his performances at Brighton Dome and came across a huge crowd of teenagers waiting outside. It was only after I’d established that One Direction wasn’t in town that I realised they were all waiting to see him. I remember thinking how amazing it was that someone could get so many young people so passionate about dance. And after seeing one of his shows it’s easy to see why. They are so full of energy and life and push the boundaries in so many ways.

What I like most about the festival – which includes 147 events in 34 venues across the city – is that you never know what to expect.

As well as the main festival, Brighton Fringe runs alongside it – an open arts organisation which includes hundreds of smaller productions. These are often really unusual and I’ve seen a play in an old police cell, been sung to over dinner and followed a promenade performances through the city. I’ve seen some of the best shows I’ve ever seen and, admittedly, some of the worst – a particularly terrible adaptation of Alice in Wonderland springs to mind. But that’s the beauty of it, you never know what you are going to get. Tickets are usually reasonably priced, so it’s worth taking a risk on something and there’s more than 200 free events going on too.

Brighton Festival begins tomorrow with the annual Children’s Parade, in which 5,000 children will parade through the city. It will then continue for three weeks.

It will include the world premieres of Vanishing Point’s Tomorrow and Lost Dog & Lucy Kirkwood’s dance piece Like Rabbits, as well as UK premieres of Opus No.7 from Russian theatre director Dmitry Krymov and contemporary circus from Feria Musica in Sinué.

So, if you’re anywhere near Brighton, that’s my recommendation for the next few weeks. I’m not being paid to plug this (and I’m not secretly working for Brighton Festival’s PR team) but I genuinely do feel that we’re so lucky to have such an amazing festival right on our doorsteps. In fact, writing this has just persuaded me to take an impromptu trip to Brighton – so I’ll be heading there tomorrow!