Woohoo, May bank holiday is almost here which means the Brighton Festival, Fringe and all the rest are starting up, giving us locals little excuse to keep well away from all that culture nonsense – even those of us with kids.
This year I’ve promised myself I’m going to make more of a go of it, especially since my daughter (now three-and-a-half) is old enough to enjoy it more. We’ve even got a festival minion kipping in a bell tent in our garden until the end of June. If nothing else, that’ll keep us in the spirit of things.
Charlotte, our stowaway, is working on a range of projects during the festival with Brighton Youth Centre and Exploring Senses. The latter was founded by an old friend Hannah Coxeter, who is nothing short of a genius educator and supporter of young people. Among the many projects Hannah organises is the Young Inventors Centre at Brighton Youth Centre, which features regular Communitoy ‘toy hacking’ workshops and Code for Kids. All these projects deserve a little more space for introduction than I am able to give now, but I will do. In the meantime, do check out Exploring Senses on Facebook or Twitter.
The first Brighton Festival event I’ve booked tickets to is Small Fables at The Old Market. I’m going with a friend and our three kids on Bank Holiday Monday (4th May). I’m looking forward to watching master hand-puppeteer Drew Colby present a collection of mystical tales inspired by Aesop and La Fontaine with live music, light and song.
I’m also looking forward to exploring HOUSE. Having originated as a spin-off from Artists Open Houses, the visual arts festival fittingly plays with themes of public and private. In my view, its series of carefully curated and commissioned works provides some much-needed status to contemporary visual arts during the Brighton festival season. This year HOUSE features a pop-up cinema, partnerships with City Collective, Phoenix Brighton & Outside In, and shows by Nathan Coley, Joseph Popper and Amanda Loomes, whose giant sandcastles I’m excited to see more of.
Another one on my list this weekend is the Children’s Parade. This year’s theme is ‘taking flight’ and the parade, which starts in Kensington Street 10.30am on Saturday 2nd, will show off the fantastical costume-making efforts of about 5000 local schoolchildren. The parade will wind its way colourfully through central Brighton, finishing at Madiera Drive at approximately 1pm.
At about that time, Lewes book publishers Ivy Press will be opening their first pop-up childrens bookshop on New Road as part of Brighton Fringe City. Publicist Emily Owen tells me they are “offering festival friendly discounts on our books, which are guaranteed to beat Amazon prices.” It sounds tempting to me, especially given that their current list contains so many beatuifully designed, creative non-fiction titles for children. I’ve drawn up a little top five in preparation…
- The Art of Making Shadows by Sophie Collins sounds like a good book to have at hand after Small Fables inspires my daughter to ask, “how do I make a shadow puppet of a dinosaur eating a beaver mummy?”
- Excavate Dinosaurs Jon Tennant’s clever “paper toy palaeontology” book teaches kids all about dino anatomy with twelve paper skeletons to press out and assemble.
- Ponsonby’s Curious Compendium of Sea Creatures Ivy Press have collected exquisite 200-year-old engravings made by the early naturalists and republished them as informative picture reference books to be enjoyed by kids and grown-ups.
- Draw Your Own Fonts I could have done with Tony Seddon’s book on hand-drawn type when I was at art school but it looks pretty darn inspiring right now too. Never let computers keep you from the pen (and you’re never too old to improve your drawing skills).
- This is Not a Maths Book At school I was a bit of a geek but, to my father’s dismay, I would choose art over maths any day of the week. I’m hoping my daughter will be a bit more of an all-rounder, and tooling up with activity books such as This is Not a Maths Book could be a real help.
Needless to say this is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to talking about what’s going on in Brighton & Hove over the next few weeks. I’ll be keeping my Brighton Fringe Family Guide close to hand and of course, full listings can be found on the festival websites.
If you have any tips about what events to look out for in Brighton & Hove this May, please shout about them in the comments.
Disclosure: this post is in no way sponsored by the organisers of any of the above events.