Jolting up each morning as your alarm blares out that haunting screeching sound coming out of your iPhone is something which happens to the majority of us. I’m sure plenty of you have the luxury of working close to your home so you haven’t got to endure a long ol’ commute each day, twice over – for me, and many others I must add, my morning starts at 6am with my alarm and my commute ends at 8pm each night. These incredibly long days often leave me wondering whether I need to give up on my dream of living away from the streets of London.
For me, living in Brighton during the month of May, I’m reminded of all of the reasons why I fell so deeply for this city, and why I continue to stay, and it’s all thanks to the Brighton Fringe – a festival which welcomes international performers and audiences as it showcases the creativity and soul of the city.
Taking over Victoria Gardens completely, The Warren is always a hot spot for passers-by to enjoy theatre, art performance, comedian or spoken word in their very own mad hatters venue, The Hat. 2019 signals The Warren’s first time in Victoria Gardens, allowing goers to enjoy this larger expanse filled with all of the wonderful things on offer, leading you to its very own hidden festival within Brighton Fringe. Lets not forget the site is free to enter and holds host to its own festival bar, rooftop bar, coffee shop, food vendors and an area for the kids to play. The perfect spot to spend the night enjoying hilarious and bizarre activities with friends.
Set in the heart of Brighton, just a stones throw away from the beach, Spiegeltent, part of the Fringe, is filled with the definition of the weird and wonderful. The site is free to enter with a whole host of things to do and seating areas to spend the night sipping on cocktails from the Artbar Cockatoo- a bar and cocktail emporium converted from a 1965 Morris ambulance, with its very own giant revolving copper birdcage stage. Throughout the month, Spiegeltent, of course, has productions and performances to head to, from the big nights out like the Brighton Big Drag Pageant to music performances from Camille O’Sullivan Cave, Clandestino and Navagraha Live.
It’s not rare to see a silent disco group prancing the city streets but with this dancing tour, think Disco Stu from The Simpsons but sporting even groovier tunes and slightly ridiculous clothes… Guru Dudu returns to Brighton with a selection of special guest tours and events springing up around every corner. With a blend of uplifting dance favourites from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s, you won’t be able to stop yourself from bopping along to some all time classics, and for those not willing to whip out a pirouette around Brighton’s landmarks, it’s certainly entertaining to watch a spontaneous flashmob anytime of the day.
Being the largest annual arts festival in England (and one of the largest fringe festivals in the world!), it’s hardly surprising the extensive volume of venues showcasing the fringe in all its glory. Over 150 venue spaces – from churches to bars, theatres to even the west pier, not forgetting the streets – will be taken over by the good, the weird and most certainly the bizarre, all to celebrate the creativity of art. Shows and performances vary in price with plenty of them being free to the public so it’s a chance to explore the wonderful world of varying artists creativity.
Hidden away in the gardens of Brighton’s most iconic building, the Royal Pavilion, comes the wildly popular family picnic area. Every Saturday throughout May, the Pavilion Gardens gets taken over and transformed into a children’s haven with free family entertainment. From weird and whacky family-friendly performances to modern takes on traditional games and activities, perfect for all to soak in the sporadical summer heat and introduce the Fringe to children for the first time.
Each year the giant fluorescent pink tent becomes part of the city during the month of May and this year, these dazzling divas are celebrating their ‘sweet’ 21st birthday with ‘The Greatest Show Girls Tour’. With the glamour of Hollywood and the glitz of Vegas, these girls create a mesmerising performance you won’t be able to forget even if you tried. The continual return of The Ladyboys of Bangkok gives Brighton residents the opportunity to celebrate the individuality of their city and its pride of showing it off.
Brighton's other haunts
If you’ve exhausted all of the Fringe activities, then fear not – there are three other festivals happening during various dates across May.
Brighton Festival: Running through three weeks of May is Brighton Festival which is a celebration of the arts, film, music, theatre, dance, literature, debate and more which takes place across both Brighton’s most renowned and hidden venues. Over the last 50 years, Brighton Festival has become one of the city’s most enduring symbols of it’s inventiveness and experimentation. Running May 4th – 26th.
The Great Escape Festival: A festival dedicated to uncovering new music, showcasing 400 emerging new artists across three days. Spread over 30+ venues around the city, from the Brighton Beach site to some residents favourite quaint bars and pubs. It’s the perfect place to discover new artists in an intimate setting before they head off on tour for the festival season. Running May 9th – 11th.
Artist Open Houses: Being the largest of its kind in the UK, The Artists Open Houses festival takes place around Brighton, Hove and beyond. It’s a chance to see over 1,500 artists and makers works as they open their doors to their studios, sometimes even houses, to the public, exhibiting and selling their own. There are 14 trails to go on around the city, each with its own unique snapshot of beauty.
Let’s not forget the real reason you all want to escape the smog filled streets of London – the beach. Alright, Brighton beach might not be stretched with sand running for miles, and it certainly doesn’t have Mediterranean sun-kissed blue sea but for me, living by the sea is an ultimate selling factor – whether it’s for a boozy barbecue which continues into the dwindling early hours of the morning or a stroll along the seafront at the end of a hard day at work, it’s the best feeling. Top tip for anyone visiting Brighton for the first time, beat the crowds by walking a little further along into Hove – you might still get a squawking seagull flying low above you head, but you’ll be lucky enough to miss the crowds sprawled across the strip.