From 2006 to 2010, ThreeWeeks also covered Brighton’s festival month, which takes place in the seaside city each May. Although we no longer cover Brighton’s cultural festivities, we still highly rate the various festivals that take place there each Spring, and encourage everyone to check them out.

Over the next year ThreeWeeks’ Brighton archives will appear here online, giving you access to the reviews, interviews, features and podcasts we published during our five years at the festival. For coverage of this year’s events, we recommend keeping an eye on our Festival Media Network colleagues Broadway Baby, Fringe Review, Fringe Guru and iFringe, all of which are planning Brighton coverage.

The wider Brighton Festival operates like a mini-Edinburgh, both in that all genres are covered, and in that a number of different festivals actually take place all at the same time. Like the Edinburgh Festival, this can make things a little confusing – so to help, here is a quick guide to what constitutes Brighton’s May festival month.

BRIGHTON FESTIVAL (4 – 26 May 2013)
Making things even more confusing than Edinburgh is the fact one of the festivals that takes place during the Brighton Festival is called, yep, The Brighton Festival. This is the programmed festival staged by the city itself, and forms the core of the festival month.

The programme encompasses theatre, dance, music, art and literary debate, and is put together by a team of local programmers and, since 2009, a different celebrity guest each year. Though when we say ‘celebrity’ we don’t mean Adrian Chiles or Fearne Cotton, we’re talking credible cultural or political icons who ooze talent and imagination. Past curators have included Anish Kapoor, Brian Eno and Aung San Suu Kyi, and in 2012 it’s Vanessa Redgrave offering her input into the proceedings.

The Brighton Festival takes place in various venues around the city, with the Brighton Dome as its hub. It’s programme is published in early March, and some key events sell out very quickly, so get in there pronto.

The Brighton Festival website is at www.brightonfestival.org

BRIGHTON FRINGE (4 May – 2 Jun 2013)
Like Edinburgh, the main programmed festival in Brighton is accompanied by a bigger and deliberately unprogrammed Fringe. There has always been a strand of unofficial, independently produced shows alongside the main Brighton Festival, but it is only really in the last decade that the Brighton Fringe has taken off as an important stand alone festival.

Like any true Fringe, anyone who can find a room (or loft or tent or sewer or ditch) can be part of the festival, and because anything goes the Fringe has the widest range of shows, including music, comedy, cabaret, film, theatre, art, talks, workshops and literary type shenanigans. The comedy and cabaret strands have especially grown in recent years. Of course, like in Edinburgh, as an open access festival the quality of shows can vary greatly – with no one doing any vetting before things are put in the programme – but that is and always will be the thrill of a fringe festival.

That said, and also like in Edinburgh, some programming does actually go on within the Brighton Fringe. At the core of the festival is network of independent venues – some year round fringe theatres, others pubs, buildings or corners of the city transformed into venues just for May. The more prolific venues will have an artistic director who will pick and choose what shows are featured in his or her May programme.

It’s worth knowing what sorts of things each venue prefers, because that can help you navigate the plethora of shows, genres, events and stuff that appears in the Fringe programme. Though, to truly get into the spirit of the Fringe, you should also pick a couple of shows totally at random, because they might just change your life.

The Brighton Fringe website is at www.brightonfringe.org

HOUSE FESTIVAL / ARTISTS OPEN HOUSES (4 – 26 May 2013)
You’ll find some art in both the main Festival and the Fringe, though this is the really arty festival that takes place each May, a celebration of Brighton’s vibrant and, we would argue, totally unrivalled artistic community.

At the heart of the Open Houses festival is an awful lot of, well, open houses. Each weekend, artists and their friends open up their homes or workshops and let you see their art in the environment where they create it. It’s a brilliant concept, though possibly one that could only work in Brighton, where you have so many artists living so close together.

The AOH programme groups the houses by area, making it easy to plan a day visiting the houses that are open. In addition to the actual open houses, the AOH team now also offer a curated programme of events and exhibitions, more on which is available on their website.

The Artists Open Houses website is at www.aoh.org.uk

THE GREAT ESCAPE (16 – 18 May 2013)
You’ll also find a lot of music in both the Festival and the Fringe, though again there is a specific festival in Brighton in May with music at its heart, and while only lasting for three days, this one makes a big impact.

The Great Escape is now Europe’s leading festival for new music, and takes over pretty much every music venue in town presenting over 300 great new bands, from established musical innovators to brand new talent. Any music venue not officially used by TGE is likely also in a festival mood over this weekend, because The Great Escape operates its own fringe, the Alt Escape. One well priced wristband gets you into every TGE venue, subject to capacity, over the three days of the event.

As well as the festival, TGE also includes the UK’s premiere music business convention, meaning over 3000 music industry people from across Europe and beyond flock to Brighton for three days of talks, debates, networking, parties and showcases. The Great Escape convention is programmed by ThreeWeeks’ sister publication CMU, and you’ll find more information on it here.

The Great Escape website is at www.escapegreat.com

THE CHARLESTON FESTIVAL (17 – 26 May 2013)
And after all that hussle and bussle and noise and nonsense, you’re going to need something to calm you down, and what better than a trip out to the Charleston estate?

The one time home of the so called Bloomsbury Set puts on a ten day festival of talks and literary debate to coincide with the latter part of the Brighton Festival (depending on how the bank holidays fall, it either takes place during the second half of the main festival, or over its final weekend and the following week).

Because this all happens 15 miles outside Brighton itself, many people don’t actually consider the Charleston Festival to be part of the city’s May festivities. But we do, because it’s brilliant – and for us, Brighton’s festival month has not been properly experienced without an afternoon in the gardens of the Charleston estate while listening to some quality literary debate.

The Charleston Festival website is at www.charleston.org.uk/festivals

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