Free Things To Do in and around Brighton

  ~ This year there are 165 free events listed in the Brighton Fringe 2013 programme, which includes family-friendly outdoor performances, comedy in centrally located pubs as well lots of art to feast your eyes upon and music from Brighton's best kept secret.
That's quite a scary number of options, even for the most energetic adventurer, so I shall break it up a little by giving you a worthy selection -
Free Outdoor Performances - Fringe City

Every Saturday afternoon in May from midday until about 5 o'clock there will be a selection of entertaining performances taking place outside the Pavilion Gardens on New Road.  This gives many of the Fringe events a chance to showcase their act, whether it's in comedy, cabaret, dance, music, puppetry, poetry, visual arts and / or theatre.   

Alongside this bustling bonanza, there is the child-focused Family Picnic presented by I, on 25 May (midday til 4 o'clock) - in the Pavilion Gardens, where there will be performances, activities and healthy snacks.  This is a hugely popular event, so if you are heading for the picnic probably best to get there early.

Free Comedy in Pubs - Laughing Horse

Laughing Horse is all over free events, this year operating from three centrally located pubs, at The Quadrant (beside the clocktower and opposite Boots, the chemist), The Temple (on Western Road, near Waitrose) and the Caroline of Brunswick (opposite the Level on London Road side). The Caroline of Brunswick website has a link to their programme of events, so definitely worth checking out.  This is the fifth year they have been running Fringe shows and for the last three years they have been the largest promoter at the Brighton Fringe. 

All of their venues are open daily throughout the 2013 Fringe from 2 May to 4 June and free shows will be scheduled alongside paid shows.  Where the performance is free the performer will take a collection at the end of the show.
The Laughing Horse has received a number of awards and nominations at the Brighton Fringe, including Outstanding Contribution, Star of the Fringe and various best show awards.
Laughing Horse is also one of the largest promoters at the Edinburgh Fringe, running over 6,000 performances of 350 shows at its Edinburgh venues annually, and promoting at the Adelaide Fringe and Hollywood Fringe.
Free art exhibits

Every May Brighton becomes awash with talented artists exhibiting in Open Houses, shops, cafes, galleries, studio spaces - there are literally hundreds of places to go.  So I'm just going to suggest the five that I am most interested in.
Farm Mews Collective
at Farm Road, Hove, BN3 1GH
Every weekend in May from 11 AM 

Farm Mews is a fabulous place to go, for a start the artists exhibiting there also work there, as it is a collection of artists studios.  It's probably very pretentious to say but the space feels authentic, elemental, special.  I'm excited about my trip to look around and hope it hasn't changed since my last visit!  This year there are fifteen artists exhibiting in Painting, Drawing, Ceramic, Leatherwork and Jewellery. -
See more at: Farm Mews Brighton Fringe  

Adrian Walker - Open Studio
at 16 Lansdowne Mews Hove BN31FW
Every weekend in May from 11 AM 

Right next to Farm Mews and absolutely worth visiting while in the area is Adrian Walker's open studio.  I saw an exhibition of Adrian's work years ago and it left an indelible impression on me.  His work is in oil on large canvas and are absolutely stunning. He will be exhibiting the Elatus l - Vlll  set of new oil on canvas work for the first time.

ThreeD at Boxbird Gallery
at 14 St Johns Road, Hove, BN3 2FB (the street before First Avenue)
Every weekend in May from 11 AM

Boxbird Gallery is a gallery I haven't been to before but I have been admiring Graham Carter's work for years and love his colour combinations and the animated creatures he creates.  Here, in this gallery Graham Carter is exhibiting along with two other successful artists, Tom Frost and Helen Musslewhite.  With sculpture, boxed artwork and limited edition prints, this should be worth checking out.
Visit for full details. -
See more at: ThreeD Brighton Fringe  

Going Going Gone

at 8 Eastern Terrace Mews, Kemptown,  (close to Paston Place)
Every weekend from midday
Although I'm not familiar with Jay Collins, I am immensely interested in history and the buildings of Brighton and so an artist who has captured rapidly disappearing parts of Brighton, for instance the Diamond Marchant's House is a must-see for me.  
See more at: Going Going Gone at Brighton Fringe  

The Bungeroosh Gallery

at 25 Marine Square, Kemptown, BN2 1DN (opposite the speed camera and Madeira Lift)
Every weekend in May from midday

Set in the square opposite the historic and still working Madeira Lift, the Bungeroosh Gallery is a pop-up venue in Marine Square.

Offering an eclectic and unique line up of high quality art and craft for the May show the emphasis is on work that uses vintage themes and / or reused materials. There is tea and cake to be had in the newly opened courtyard, with paintings, fine gold and silver jewellery, cushions, teapots and natural skincare.  Proceeds for Ros Kelly's work will be going to Macmillan Cancer Care Support.

Free Music
Clara Ross - Brighton's Best Kept Secret?

at St Laurence Church, Falmer (close to the Amex stadium)
11 May at 5:30 pm ONLY

Paul Sparks, who will be playing the mandolin has been researching Clara's life for the last two years and is now performing in this one-off free event in May, that's why this is so special.
Furthermore, Clara Ross (1858-1954) came from St. James's Street, Kemptown in Brighton and became a world famous British composer.  After studying singing and composition at the RCM, she formed in 1890, 'Miss Clara Ross's Ladies' Mandoline and Guitar Band' in London, performing her own published compositions.  Moving to America, she continued composing (as Clara Ross Ricci) for voice and piano, before returning to spend her final decades in Brighton.  There will be a retiring collection. 
- See more at: Clara Ross at Brighton Fringe

Step into the Green
Brighton and Hove is famous for its seafront and thousands flock to the beach and pier throughout the year. However, it is also surrounded by stunning countryside, from Ditchling Beacon and Devils Dyke, to the Chattri Memorial and Chanctonbury Ring. They can be reached in no time by bus, car, bicycle or even shank’s pony.

Closer still are the various parks scattered throughout the city, each with its own identity and with something unique to offer.

Listed below are some of my favourites, informing you how to get there and a reason to go there.

1) Ditchling Beacon

Where is it?

Take a map and the No 79 bus from the Old Steine

South Downs 

What you will find:

With views over the weald (the area between the North and South Downs), this nature reserve is breath taking and the home of many varieties of wildflower like the fragrant, common spotted and twayblade orchids.

Did you know?

It is the highest point on the South Downs in East Sussex and was used as part of a chain of fires to warn of invasions including the Spanish Armada.

2) Devils Dyke

Gordon Setter, Charlie
Where is it?

Take a map and the No 77 bus from Brighton Pier

What you will find:

With the largest Anglo-Saxon dyke (ditch) in Britain; the chalk grasslands and the abundance of wildlife, including a wide variety of butterflies like the Chalkhill Blue, there is much to take in, so sit back and enjoy the views.

Did you know?

One local legend has it that the name Devil's Dyke originates from the story of the devil who came uninvited to a wedding nearby and was chased away by the guests. In anger the devil ran away and formed the groove of the Dyke with a flick of his fiery tail.

3) The Chattri Memorial

Where is it?

Take a map and the No 5 bus from the Old Steine to Patcham

What you will find:

Set in two acres of garden and surrounded by peace and tranquillity this monument is a moving tribute to the bravery of the Sikh and Hindu soldiers that fought in the First World War. Completed in 1921 this simple white Sicilian marble memorial stands on the site where 53 bodies were cremated before their ashes were scattered in the sea.

Did you know?

The Sikh soldiers who fought in the First World War had no other protection during shell fire than their turbans, worn as a symbol of their faith.

4) Chanctonbury Ring

Where is it?

Take a map and the No 2A from the Old Steine to Upper Beeding

What you will find:

800 feet above sea level and surrounded by a circle of beeches planted in 1760, Chanctonbury Ring was originally an Iron Age hill fort. The settlement was abandoned after the Roman invasion before becoming the site of a temple. Soak up the atmosphere of this ancient spot, steeped in history dating back thousands of years.

Did you know?

The remains of a bronze dagger and a young woman buried over 3,500 years ago have been found there.

South Downs, sea on horizon

5) East Brighton Park

Sheepcote Valley
Where is it?

Take the No 21 from Brighton Station to Wilson Avenue

What you will find:

Landscaped in 1925 it provides a vast array of sporting facilities and a camp site on the eastern edge of Brighton. From here you can carry on up by foot or on bicycle into the peaceful Sheepcote Valley and listen to birdsong. Brighton and Hove Council organise walks, including the Early Bird Walk with an expert on hand to identify the different birds.

Did you know?

The trenches in the film Oh What a Lovely War were built in Sheepcote Valley.

6) Queens Park

Where is it?

Take the No 81 from the Old Steine to Freshfield Road

What you will find:

With the most impressive gates heralding you in, the park dips delicately into the duck pond in the centre. There is a playground and a wildlife garden planted by local herbologist Fran Saunders, who runs workshops and walks.

Did you know?

It was originally a Victorian Pleasure Garden with a German Spa, and was renamed in honour of Queen Adelaide, consort to William IV.

7) Preston Park

Where is it?

Take the No 5 from the Old Steine to Preston Road

What you will find:

There’s an old fashioned rose garden and iconic rotunda tea rooms recently restored, as well as a playground, tennis courts, basket ball court, bowling green, cycle track, cricket ground and of course is well known as the final destination for the Gay Pride parade.

Did you know?

Parts of Preston Park were dug up and used as allotments during World War II

8) Stanmer Park

Where is it?

Take the No 78 bus from the Old Steine to Stanmer Park

What you will find:

Over 5,000 acres to explore, a nursery, a pretty little village street and old church dating from the 1830s and Europe’s first Earthship, (a building that uses energy and rain to provide heat, power and water). The park is so big even Gordon Setters have room to stretch their legs.

Did you know?

The name Stanmer derives from the Anglo-Saxon ‘staen mere’ meaning stony pond

9) St Ann’s Well Gardens

Where is it?

Take the No 81B bus from Old Steine to Furze Hill

What you will find:

Awarded the Green Flag, recognising quality and sustainability, it is a favourite of the yummy mummies with its playground, tennis courts, bowling green, pond, scented garden and lots of squirrels (apparently).

Did you know?

It was a popular destination in the 1800s for taking the water from the ‘Chalybeate’ (iron-bearing) spring for curative reasons and celebrated its centenary in 2009.

10) Pavilion Gardens

Where is it?

Nestled behind the incomparable Royal Pavilion

Brighton Pavilion
What you will find:

The most central and well known of Brighton’s parks, winding paths flank cottage-garden flowerbeds, with towering hollyhocks in the summer. It provides a moment of calm in the centre of town, where you can sit on the lawned area and picnic. Or lie back and listen to the buskers, Salvation Army Brass Band and general chatter.

Did you know?

For a plant to qualify for the Royal beds the species must have been known prior to 1825 as well as be resilient to Brighton’s salty sea air and thrive in lime tolerant soil, not much then.

  ~  Brighton's Starling Spectacular

Starling murmuration, Brighton

Every evening just before dusk, Brighton’s piers host a starling spectacular when the birds gather in their thousands to join forces for protection and to keep warm at night. As they come together from across the Sussex countryside in huge clouds called "murmurations", wheeling and swooping in unison they put on an extraordinary aerial ballet. Come and marvel at this phenomenon in the skies before they swoop beneath Brighton's piers to roost for the night and to which they return to every evening. The sight is most magnificent during the winter months because their numbers swell with migrant birds from the continent attracted by Briton’s milder climate. However, to add poignancy and despite the impressive size of these flocks, crashes in the starling population by more than 70% in recent years means they are now on the critical list of UK birds most at risk.

There is an RSPB viewpoint near the 'Kiss Wall' sculpture.

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