It’s May, which, if you live in Brighton, means it’s festival month – hurrah! As well constantly hearing drumming (seriously, I’m sure we have more samba bands than Brazil), the general carnival atmosphere, pop-up venues and weird and wonderful characters wandering around town, there’s always a great programme of events for children. I’ve picked a few from this year’s line-up that I think shouldn’t be missed. If you are visiting on a weekend, do pop in to some of the Open Houses that are all over the city – great for unusual arty pieces and gifts.
Children’s Parade, Saturday 5 May, 10.30am, FREE
The official festival always kicks off with the utter joy of the children’s parade. Over 5000 children from 60 local schools have spent months creating costumes and huge papier maché sculptures, with the help of the brilliant Same Sky, and will march through the city from 10.30am. It really is a spectacle to behold. This year’s theme is Paintings, in honour of festival curator, artist David Shrigley, and our school was given ‘Tiger in a Tropical Storm’ by Henri Rousseau, so, if you’re coming to watch, look out for a tiger cub Kitty!
Fringe City Family Picnic, Pavilion Gardens, 5 May and 26 May, 1pm, FREE
Many people head straight from the parade to Pavilion Gardens afterwards for the Family Picnic, which features free family-friendly performances from Fringe artists and children’s activities, plus installations and walkabout artists.
Weekend Without Walls, Easthill Park, 26 May, and seafront, 27 May, 12-5pm, FREE
There’s always so much to see and do at these free festival showcases – this year promises theatre, dance, parkour, storytelling and circus.
Apples, The Spire, 12-13 May, various times, £10
Dutch company Casier and Dies present this charming, wordless, interactive piece for the under fives, in a fabulous setting.
The Midnight Gang, BOAT, 19-20 May, from £10
Heartbreak Productions bring their version of David Walliams’ story of a group of children in hospital to the fabulous outdoor setting of Brighton Open Air Theatre.
The Adventures of Robin Hood, BOAT, 30 May-3 June, from £10
JW Productions bring Sherwood Forest to the seaside for half term – expect plenty of derring-do as Robin and his Merry Men outwit the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham.
Lost & Found, The Warren: The Hat, 2-3 June, from £8.50
A theatrical adaptation of Oliver Jeffers’ much-loved tale of a boy and his penguin friend, told through puppetry, songs and music by Little Blue Monster Productions.
CIRCUS & CABARET
Lexicon by NoFit State Circus, Hove Lawns, 4-14 May, from £14
The amazing NoFit State Circus return with a new show, demonstrating their quirky take on contemporary circus – promises to be an awe-inspiring spectacle for all ages.
Spiegelcircus, Spiegeltent, 29 May-1 June, £5
Family circus show featuring aerial acts, hula hooping, balancing and more. Also the chance to get involved and learn some circus skills if you arrive an hour before the show.
The Amazing Bubble Man, Bosco, various dates, from £8
A perennial festival favourite, Louis Pearl astounds with his bubble skills, forming giant, square, fog and helium bubbles, volcanoes and tornadoes and even putting people inside them. See also Brighton icons, Mr Pineapple Head and Tim Bat.
We are big fans of the 26 Letters section of the festival which sees children’s authors host readings, talks and events. Last year, we really enjoyed listening to Julian Clary, MG Leonard, Polly Faber and Clara Vuillamy talk about their books and this year we’re looking forward to:
Philip Ardagh and Daniel Hahn: The World of Moominvalley, Brighthelm Centre, 20 May, 3pm, £7
This new book explores the universe of Tove Jansson’s beloved characters with family trees, maps and facts – a must for Moomin fans.
Jacqueline Wilson, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, 13 May, 11am, £7
The creator of Tracey Beaker and Hetty Feather talks about her latest work, Rose Rivers, with the chance to ask questions.
Three Cheers for Women, Brighthelm Centre, 19 May, 3pm, £7
Learn about inspirational women AND how to draw comics at this interactive talk with author/illustrator Marcia Williams.
ART & MUSIC
Life Model II, Fabrica, until 28 May, FREE
This looks like such fun. The brainchild of Festival curator David Shrigley, it features a 9ft model of a woman that visitors are invited to draw and their drawings become part of the exhibition.
Children’s Concert, All Saints Church, 20 May, 3pm, from £5
Sussex Symphony Orchestra presents their annual brilliant introduction to all the instruments in the orchestra with performances of Peter and the Wolf and Tubby the Tuba.
Sing-a-long-a-Musical, Spiegeltent, 27 May, 2pm, from £5
Classical not your thing? Flex your vocal chords to showstoppers from Annie, Oliver and Disney delights along with a live band, props and costumes.