Brighton life: Festivals

19th May 2021

There are lots of reasons why Brighton is such an amazing place to live and study – far too many to mention in just one list. 

For example, did you know that Brighton hosts more than sixty cultural festivals each year? Here’s a quick rundown (in no particular order) of some of our absolute favourites. 

Brighton and Hove Pride Weekend

As one of the most liberal and accepting places to live in the UK, Brighton’s collective mindset is one of solidarity, equality and acceptance with the local and wider LGBTQ+ community. So, a rundown of Brighton’s festive highlights would not be complete without Brighton and Hove Pride weekend featuring front and centre.

Attracting an average of 300,000 revellers to the city each year, this festival is widely acknowledged as the biggest Pride event in the UK, with a rainbow-coloured parade that’s packed with glitz, glamour and fabulous-ness.

The whole city looks forward to this August weekender, with previous headline acts including big names such as Britney Spears, Nile Rogers and Chic, Jessie J and Grace Jones.

Sadly, Pride won’t be taking place this year due for various logistical reasons relating to the pandemic. But we are so looking forward to its glorious return in 2022.

Brighton Festival

Taking place across multiple venues throughout May 2021, Brighton Festival is an annual celebration of all art forms, including music, theatre, dance and of course, film.

The eclectic series of events marks the unofficial start of the festival season. And since being established way back in 1967, it has become one of the city’s most widely known creative calling cards.

Each year, the festival is curated by a different pioneer of the international arts scene, with previous directors including the likes of Brian Eno, Aung San Suu Kyi, Kate Tempest, Dave Shrigley and Rokia Traoré. For 2021, it’s the turn of esteemed poet and author Lemm Sissay MBE, who selected the central theme of ‘care’ which runs throughout the festival’s line-up.

Brighton Fringe

Taking place immediately after Brighton festival, the Fringe is the UK’s largest open-access arts festival, and one of the biggest in Europe! It brings with it an incredibly varied selection of comedy, arts shows, theatre and boundary-pushing performance art across multiple venues including The Spiegletent (a pop-up live venue which sets up right outside our front door on Old Steine!), The Warren, Brighton Open Air Theatre (BOAT) and Komedia.

In fact, walk down any main street in Brighton’s city centre on any given day throughout June, and you’ll more than likely end up stumbling upon a jaw-dropping performance of some kind or another which relates to the Fringe.

OSKA Bright Film Festival

The world’s biggest learning disability film festival returns this year for a celebrational showcase of films from all over the world which have been created by filmmakers with learning disabilities, Asperger’s or autism.

Less than 5% of disabled people work in the film industry, which is something that OSKA Bright Film Festival is seeking to change by highlighting inequalities in the industry and society as a whole.

The BAFTA qualifying festival is taking submissions for 2021 until August 31st and works internationally with industry partners and is funded by the BFI, promoting accessible screenings and running skills training for aspiring filmmakers.


We’d be remiss in our duties as a Film School not to mention one of our industry partners at our Brighton location, Cinecity. Each November, this festival brings the very best in new world cinema to Brighton with a packed programme of premieres, previews, installations and archive screenings.

2021’s event will feature a blend of in-person and online screenings in early November and our very own Principal, Itziar Leighton, is on the panel of judges for the NEW VOICES category, which acts as an Emerging talent showcase for short films from filmmakers under 25.

Artists Open Houses

Stroll through Brighton’s residential areas during the summer months and you’ll see signs saying ‘Open House’. Despite what you might think, this isn’t an invite to pop in for a ‘cuppa’ and start haggling over your first real estate purchase.

This unique community event sees Brighton’s diverse artistic community throwing open their doors (quite literally!) and inviting curious art lovers to come see their creative offerings up close and personal in the artists’ own homes.

This year sees the event occurring throughout various weekends in May and June, with all venues being Covid safe so you can peruse in confidence.

Fiery Foods Festival

For those looking to spice up their life this Summer, Fiery Foods Festival returns to Brighton this June for some mouth wateringly good fun in the sun. Taking place on June 25/26, the seafront at the foot of the British Airways i360, this feast for the senses provides mountains of decadent street food, chilli peppers of all strengths, plenty of live music and the now infamous chilli eating competition (you can imagine how this usually turns out).

Paddle Round The Pier

Usually taking place in Hove Lawns each July, Paddle Round the Pier is a family-friendly festival with a twist. Alongside amazing food and drink stalls, live performances from local music talent and all manner of games and entertainment, Paddle Round The Pier invites participants to do just that – either by jumping on an SUP or building a seaworthy raft (the sillier the better).

The aim is simple – see if your craft can cast off from the beach, circumnavigate round the iconic West pier and get back onto dry land again! Trust us, it’s harder than it sounds. Oh, and did we mention it’s all in aid of various charitable causes? What’s not to love?

The Great Escape

This year’s Great Escape Festival is taking place virtually. But under normal circumstances, this celebration of new music is known as the UK’s answer to SXSW. TGE acts as a homing beacon for the UK’s most switched-on music industry talent scouts, who descend upon our sunny shores to see around five-hundred up-and-coming artists of all genres perform at over thirty venues across the city.

Thanks to Brighton’s tight knit creative community, the festival also brings work opportunities for our students, many of whom have add to their showreels each year by capturing intimate live performances and music videos for artists studying at our sister college, the BIMM Institute.

Honourable mentions

With such a vast array of festivals taking place in Brighton each year, we felt it was only fair to provide a continued list of honourable mentions for those who haven’t made it onto our shortlist.

Kemptown Carnival, Brighton Vegan Festival, Bad Pond, Foodies Festival, Magic Of Thailand Festival, Brighton Comic Con and Gaming Festival, Boundary Festival, Carnivalesque, Burning of The Clocks, St Anne’s Well Gardens Spring Festival, Brighton Science Festival, Wild Life Festival, Sound Waves Festival, Brighton Art Fair, Brighton Comedy Festival, and many more.



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