Thursday, May 08, 2008

Annual Culture Fix: Brighton Festival 2008

Festival season is well underway here in Brighton, and thanks to an uncharacteristically organised fit of forward planning on my part, Mr M and I are looking forward to three weeks of non-stop culture. We even managed to drag ourselves out of bed on Saturday in time to witness the colourful children's parade (snap from which pictured here) as it came onto Madeira Drive, marking the start of the city's festivities. This year's theme was 'children's games', which the local schools embraced with mixed degrees of imagination. Perhaps the most enthusiastic display came from the Steiner school, who re-enacted a medieval battle siege, complete with dragon. I'm not sure what game they were supposed to be representing, but it was ace anyway!

Last night we went to our first sit-down festival event - a debate on the future of media in the digital age, organised by Creative Brighton. The panel was made up of 'meedja' types from the music, TV and newspaper industries, and chaired by technology critic and BBC pundit Bill Thompson. On my way down to town on the bus for the talk, I spied the Spiegeltent in its new home next to St Peter's Church, and was suddenly infected with excitement. Geeky debates are all very well, but to me the festival spirit is embodied by this wonderfully theatrical venue. Sadly, the only event we have booked there this year is Seth Lakeman on 21st May, but perhaps we'll pop in for lunch at the Spiegelgarden café at some point too, just to soak up the atmosphere.

Tomorrow night we're going to see Le Scandal - America's answer to the fabulous La Clique -at the unfortunately not-so-atmopheric Udderbelly. Hopefully the show will have enough ambience of its own to make up for the shoddy venue - whose leaky roof and bland interior frankly failed to impress last year. On Saturday we'll be doing our usual tour of the Open Houses - in which cake, gossip and the admiration of kitchens and gardens seem to be as essential a part as looking at art. Then on Sunday, I'll be hooking up with my old friend, children's author Caroline Lawrence, at her talk in The Old Market, before heading down to the Dome for some soothing classical music from the City of London Sinfonia and Brighton Festival Chorus.

Heaven knows when I'm going to find the time amongst all that to write about my recent dental experiences in Hungary, but I will try. First I need to decipher the pages and pages of rambling notes I made whilst high as a kite on sedatives and painkillers. Should be interesting.
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