2020 brighton festival programme announced

When the Brighton Festival programme appears, you know it’s the start of the city’s most celebratory time of year and this year’s programme is no different. Curator Lemn Sissay MBE believes ‘Art is for everyone’ and his eclectic 2020 programme turns his Imagine Nation into a reality, bringing his Ethiopian roots and arts experience to the city. In its 54th year, Brighton Festival 2020 will be celebrating over 120 events at 27 venues across the whole region, from Hove to Hangleton, Brighton to Worthing and Crawley to Lewes.

Lemn is an acclaimed British and Ethiopian poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker, letting his personal passions flow throughout the well-curated programmed, with contemporary writers and poets given a spotlight through spoken word and book events. When you’re indulging in the 2020 programme, you’ll notice that new and established Ethiopian artists feature highly – we’re particularly looking forward to seeing Ehtio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke perform, who is one of Lemn’s top picks (one of many!).

One event we’re particularly interested in is Adopt A Nation, a project that has been a long time coming from Lemn’s own Imagine Nation. Inviting members of the public to adopt him for a one-on-one experience, Lemn will ask participants to share their own thoughts about family – a story they have learned from their own experiences. Lemn believes that “Dysfunction is at the heart of any functional family” and he’s excited to hear different stories. The pilot of this project will be started right here in Brighton and he hopes for it to ripple out of the city and across the world, encouraging people to adopt and connect with others. Lemn’s moving memoir My Name is Why, published last year, shares his reflections on a childhood in foster care, which is what has led to the project, allowing him to learn more about family. He will also be in conversation with Hannah Pool on Wednesday 6th May to discuss the book and his experiences.

The festival will be kicking off with the annual Same Sky Children’s Parade on Saturday 2nd May and following their theme of Nature’s Marvels, highlighting climate change whilst celebrating the year of biodiversity. This year’s festival has a variety of free and £10 tickets events, making it accessible to more people in the city and beyond. A couple of others that have got our attention include The Young Americans (Phoenix Art Space), an exhibition that brings a narrative to help us understand America, with today’s generation of Indigenous American artists taking centre stage to tell their story. The Sleeping Tree (Hove Warehouse) is a World Premiere, so one not to be missed as you prepare to step into the jungle. Think gently falling mist and vibrant projected 3D digital images, accompanied by sounds of the jungle and the primates’ distinct calls! Keep an eye out for our top picks over the coming weeks as we discover the best of this year’s Brighton Festival, from family fun to classical music.

The festival runs from Saturday 2nd to Sunday 24th May 2020, with many events free or available for just £10. Tickets will be available to Brighton Dome & Festival members at 7.30am on Wednesday 12th February, going on general sale at 9.00 am on Wednesday 19th February, so you’ve got time to grab yourself a programme, a cup of tea and work your way through it.