If you’re interested in exploring the cultural side of Brighton, there are some fascinating museums and galleries around the city, which offer great days out all year round. However, when it comes to Brighton culture, you’ll want to experience some of the world-class calendar events that take over the seaside city each and every year, including Brighton Pride, the Brighton Festival, Brighton Fringe and The Great Escape.
Culture in Brighton
Brighton’s cultural calendar is jam-packed with excellent events and festivals when the city is inundated with visitors eager to celebrate and ready to revel in the party atmosphere. The biggest of the bunch is Brighton Pride. Visit its dedicated page to find out what makes it the biggest and best LGBT+ event in Britain, and why more than 400,000 people visit Brighton every August to attend.
Keeping the standards sky-high, the Brighton Festival is the largest and most established multi-arts festival in England, and one of the most highly regarded in Europe. Spanning everything from music and theatre to dance and circus, as well as art, film, and literature, it well and truly offers something for everyone when it takes over the city in May. The festival itself is curated by the people who have helped to make the Brighton Dome one of the most exciting entertainment venues in southern England, with a programme that puts many of its rivals to shame.
Brighton Festival was first established in 1967, and over more than fifty years – hosting Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin – has built a stellar reputation for its spirit and sheer will for experimentation.
Brighton Fringe also began life in 1967, running alongside the Brighton Festival in May. In the same time, it has grown to become one of the largest fringe festivals in the world, hosting over 1,000 events at more than 150 locations around England and attracting more than half a million people every year. It established itself as an event in its own right in 2006 and has since hosted all manner of performances in venues ranging from concert halls to a bathtub.
Rounding off May’s trifecta of cultural events is one for music-lovers, The Great Escape. Spread over three days each year, somehow it manages to host roughly 500 bands across 30 venues in the city, as well as on Brighton Beach. It’s like England’s answer to Austin Texas’ world-famous SXSW festival. As it’s held towards the beginning of the music festival season, it’s regularly able to book some of the best new bands and artists in the world before they make their way to the biggest stages on the planet.
Museum & Art Gallery
Housed in the same building as the Brighton Dome is the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. The ornate building was designed to be the Prince Regent’s tennis court but was never completed. It then became a cavalry barracks before becoming one of the leading museums in the region. Entry is free for local residents, while visitors will have to pay a nominal fee to see the museum and gallery’s excellent collection, which ranges from Indian shadow puppets to Chinese figurines, artefacts from Ancient Egypt, and an excellent transgender exhibition. It’s also the home of one of the most iconic pieces of furniture in history, an original Salvador Dali Mae West Lips sofa.
Another good, free option is the Hove Museum & Art Gallery. Built in the 19th century as a family home, it then housed German prisoners of war during WWI before becoming a public museum in 1927. It’s a fascinating place, packed full of history, with some weird and wonderful exhibitions including the Wizard’s Attic and its treasure trove of toys dating as far back as the 1600s. Plus you can discover Hove’s pivotal role in the birth of cinema with its permanent ‘Pioneers’ gallery, where you can even watch some of the earliest films ever made.
As well as the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, and the Hove Museum & Art Gallery, there are some other great museums you can visit during your stay at one of our Brighton hotels. The Booth Museum of Natural History began life as a private collection but was donated to the city towards the end of the 19th century. Since then, it has grown to roughly 525,000 insects, 50,000 minerals and rocks, 30,0000 plants, 5,000 microscopic slides, one of the largest collections of taxidermied birds in the country, and some fascinating skeletons including whales and the extinct dodo and woolly rhino.
You’ll find The Brighton Toy & Model Museum in the arches beneath Brighton Railway Station. It contains a vast collection of over 10,000 toys and models, including trains, teddy bears, puppets and radio-controlled aircraft (even a quarter-scale Spitfire). It’s a quirky, well laid out museum that’s certainly worth a visit, plus admission is relatively inexpensive.