East Grinstead Music & Arts Festival

Chequer Mead Community Arts Centre, De La Warr Road, East Grinstead

Sunday-Sunday April 8-May 13, various times

Tickets: various prices

This festival, first held in East Grinstead in 1968, encourages and promotes singing, dancing, and speech & drama in Sussex and neighbouring counties. Students from all over the south of England take part and many of its competitors have gone on to perform professionally in national and international productions.

Phone 01342 302000 or visit chequermead.org.uk or egmaf.org.uk.

Tulip Festival

Pashley Manor, Ticehurst, near Wadhurst

Tuesday-Tuesday April 24-May 8, 10am-5pm

Entrance £11

The garden at Pashley Manor is carpeted with more than 40,000 tulips in 112 varieties, planted in colour-themed ‘rooms’. From elegant displays of white lily flowered and cream classic tulips planted around an old terrace to the sweeping herbaceous borders covered in a  riot of reds and oranges between red brick walls and pleached pear trees. There will also be a display of cut flower tulips in the Bloms Bulbs marquee. The Bluebell Walk in woodland may also be in flower at the same time. Picture: Kate Wilson.

Phone 01580 200888 or visit pashleymanorgardens.com.

Brighton Fringe 2018

Various venues, Brighton, Hove and beyond

Friday May 4-Sunday June 3

Tickets on sale from March 1

With more than 1,000 events, Brighton’s creative soul is showcased in Brighton Fringe, England’s largest arts festival. Featuring a host “wild and wonderful performers”, the creative, fun and off-beat festival sets out to “stimulate, educate and entertain a diverse range of people through a wide variety of art forms  – and all of this in an iconic city with unique cultural heritage”. Events range from performances of Myra, the story of Myra Hindley, performed by Pretty Villain Productions at Brighton’s Rialto Theatre, to My Divorce Runneth Over, with three blokes looking at life in the divorced lane at at The Richmond in Brighton. There are food tours, history tours and an aquarium history tour, loads of comedy, art including an exhibition of work by Melvyn Biddulph at the Skyway Gallery in Shoreham-by-Sea, storytelling, children’s events and improvisation. Highlights include seasons of Dutch, Flemish and Finnish work, as well as an impressive slew of world premieres. A theme of the festival this year is widening access to the arts, so there will be more than 300 free events. Picture: Fringe performers The Kalande Drummers at the launch of the Fringe programme at Brighton station/picture: Stephen Lawrence.

Phone 01273 917272, email boxoffice@brightonfringe.org or visit brightonfringe.org.

Eastbourne International Folkdance Festival

St Catherine’s College, 59 Priory Road, and Langley Primary School and Sports Hall, 7 Chailey Close, both Eastbourne

Friday-Monday May 4-7

Tickets £15-£108

During three days and nights of dancing on the sunshine coast, the line-up of performers and events includes the Playford Ball where the English country dance from the late 17th and early 18th century will be  performed, US musicians Persons of Quality where 18th century England meets 21st century California, dance performer and teacher Kalia Kliban, who specialises in morris, American clogging and English country dance, New England caller Lisa Greenleaf, Loughborough caller and dancer Lynne Render, period costume dancer Brian Stanton, folk dancer Dalila Heath, the Gog Magog Molly Dancers, who perform traditional molly dancing from the fens of East Anglia, Breton dancers Hervé Dréan and Rachel Goodwin, Irish set dancer Maggie Daniel, dance teachers Jill Bransby and Maggie O’Regan and more.

Visit diff.org.uk.

Hastings Jack in the Green Festival

Hastings Old Town, Hastings

Friday-Monday May 4-7

The annual Jack in the Green Festival is a four-day May Day celebration that has been described as “thee celebration of Morris dancing and traditional merriment, centring on the symbolic figure of Jack in the Green and culminating in a wild costumed parade – one of the most bizarre in Britain”. It includes music from local bands, historic and social events, and family fun. The weekend culminates on May Bank Holiday Monday with the Jack in the Green parade, which begins at 9.45am at the Fisherman’s Huts in Rock-a-Nore Road in the Old Town, and finishes on the West Hill, where there will be traditional folk dancers and music. The festival ends with the ‘slaying’ of Jack to release the spirit of summer for this year. Among the artistes and performers are ceilidh band Banter with caller Fee Lock taking participants through the dances, Rottingdean country singers The Copper Family, singer and fiddle player Molly Evans with multi-instrumentalist Jack Rutter, Hastings a-cappella vocal harmony group Now and Then, Hastings female harmony group Rattlebag, ceilidh band Take the Biscuit with caller Sheena Mason, Sussex/Kent band Wakin’ Snakes, which has an Early American and cajun sound.

Email hastingsjackinthegreen@gmail.com or visit hastingsjitg.co.uk.

Artists Open Houses Festival

Various venues, Brighton

Weekends Saturday-Sunday May 5-27


Artists Open Houses in Brighton runs during the Brighton Festival, and gives art lovers the chance to visit the homes and studios of artists and makers and buy directly from them. The festival aims to open up a mix of arts and crafts to the widest possible audience, when visitors can expect to see jewellery, ceramics, textiles, paintings, sculpture, printmaking, photography and other media. There will be a chance to talk directly with the artists.

Visit aoh.org.uk.

Brighton Festival 2018

Various venues, Brighton and Hove

Saturday Sunday May 5-27

Brighton-based visual artist David Shrigley (pictured) is the guest director at this year’s Brighton Festival, following in the footsteps of arts luminaries including Kate Tempest, Laurie Anderson, Ali Smith, Hofesh Shecter and Michael Rosen. His offbeat take is reflected in an eclectic programme spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate, from Brighton Festival commission Problem in Brighton, a brand new alt rock/pop pantomime, written and directed by David Shrigley himself to a live durational reading of Camus’s seminal The Myth of Sisyphus, and performances from genderqueer rock‘n’roll hero Ezra Furman and cult-favourite Amanda Palmer. Alongside Life Model II, a follow-up to the artist’s Turner Prize-nominated installation of the same name, which invites visitors to take part in a life drawing class with a sculpture of a nine-foot-tall woman as the ‘model’, there is an illustrated talk billed as ‘containing numerous rambling anecdotes… not in the slightest bit boring’, and a screening of a documentary about his work. Other events close to the artist’s heart include an exclusive collaboration between orchestral collective Stargaze and one of his favourite bands, Deerhoof; an exhibition by San-Francisco-based artist and trucker Brett Goodroad (picture below); and a double bill from his friend Malcolm Middleton, one half of Arab Strap, and Scottish musician Iain Shaw, whose quirky folk song-smithery has turned Shrigley’s poems into incisive songs on albums like Awesome and Listening to Slayer. Picture of David Shrigley: Victor Frankowski. Picture below: John Janca.

Phone 01273 709709, email tickets@brightonfestival.org or visit brightonfestival.org.

Foodies Festival

Brighton Hove Lawns, Kingsway Road, Brighton

Saturday-Monday May 5-7, 11am-4.30pm and 5.30pm-9pm on Saturday and Sunday, 11am-6pm on Sunday

Tickets £5-£38

Foodies Festival, the UK’s biggest food festival, is back at Brighton Hove Lawns on the Bank Holiday Weekend. Stars of Great British Bake Off will be baking live in The Cake & Desserts Theatre, and there will be a chance to meet Michelin starred chefs, Great British Menu winners, MasterChef champions and top local chefs cooking their signature recipes in the Stoves Chefs Theatre. Steven Carter-Bailey, the 2017 GBBO finalist, will be baking live, and also appearing will be Great British Menu winner Michael Bremner, Anne Shooter, the author of Sesame & Spice and Cherish, Ian Swainson, head chef at The Pass at South Lodge Hotel in Lower Beeding, Steven Edwards, MasterChef: The Professionals winner at Brighton eaterie Etch, MasterChef winner and executive chef at Chi Kitchen Ping Coombes, Doug McMaster at SILO, Dave Mothersill at The Coal Shed, Alun Sperring at The Chilli Pickle, John Reed at Señor Buddha, Will Dennard at Plateau, Ian Atkinson at Market Restaurant Bar, and Bettina Campolucci-Bordi, author of Happy Food. New this year are Foodies Festival workshops, including Power of Plant Based Proteins, Gut Friendly Food, Kombucha: A Healthy Tipple, Craft Tea – DIY Tea Blends; Prosecco & parmesan tasting; beer and chocolate tasting, and cocktail & botanicals masterclasses. Also new are the cream pie-throwing contest and chilli-eating competition. For children, there is a kid zone with fun cookery classes, bouncy castles, face painting, craft area and giant garden games.

Visit foodiesfestival.com.

Food Festival

Weald and Downland Living Museum, Town Lane, Singleton, Chichester

Saturday-Monday May 5-7, 10.30am-5pm

Standard admission prices

The best of the south-east’s produce is showcased at this spring event, which features free cookery classes, talks, shops selling local produce, demonstrations, crafts and a chance to learn about historic food and drink in the museum’s collection of rescued historic houses. The guest chef is River Cottage’s Gill Mellor, a chef, food writer, author, food stylist and cookery teacher, who will hold cooking demonstrations in the Cookery Theatre. He regularly appears on the River Cottage series on Channel 4 and at this festival he will be signing copies of his first solo cookbook Gather.

Phone 01243 811363 or visit wealddown.co.uk.

The Great Escape Festival 2018

Various venues, Brighton and Hove

Thursday-Saturday May 17-19

The Great Escape is the UK’s biggest new music showcase, championing unsigned and underground artists from a range of genres including rock, indie, hip hop, grime and electronic music. The artists are from all over the world, performing in more than 30 walkable venues across the city including music venues, theatres, pubs, bars, pop-up stages and street corners. It’s a chance to catch rising stars and mix with industry professionals including publications, companies and labels at a variety of conventions and conferences throughout the festival. Among the acts on the line-up are Stereo Honey, Bad Gyal, Aine Cahill, M.I.L.K., Wild Front, Feet, Hunter & The Bear, Denzel Himself, Naaz and loads more among the 450+ acts set to perform.

Visit greatescapefestival.com.

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