Free firework display heralds start of largest art festival in England

Brighton Fringe begins with a bang on Thursday (May 4) with an opening night of fireworks and fun.

Saturday, 29th April 2017, 3:00 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 4:06 am
Evening celebrations at The Warren (Photograph: James Bellorini) SUS-160518-100808001

A great night of pyrotechnics, and also featuring acrobats, samba dancers, cabaret and comedy performers, will celebrate the biggest ever Brighton Fringe festival and will be launched from the top of St Peter’s Church.

Free tickets are now available for up to 2,000 people to view the fireworks from the South Side of St Peter’s Church and enjoy entertainment courtesy of Fringe City.

The opening night of England’s largest arts festival is co-organised by The Warren, which is based in the grounds of St Peter’s Church, and will be hosting more than 180 companies with a total of 777 performances and shows during the festival, making it the biggest single promoter on the Fringe.

Fringe City 2016 (c) James Bellorin

The fireworks are proudly supported by OneFamily, a leading Brighton employer, and the South Side viewing site opens at 7.30pm with entertainment from 8.45pm, with a fireworks display at 9.45pm.

This event is free but advance booking is essential.

This year’s Brighton Fringe, which runs from May 5 to June 4, features 1,000 different events including smash hit family shows, international cabaret, spoken word, live music, visual art, world class theatre and comedy.

More than 100 international shows will see artists from across Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Australasia and North America all perform this year.

Elixir performing at Fringe City 2016 (c) James Bellorin

A special Dutch season will see a series of acclaimed shows from the Netherlands come to Brighton Fringe, funded by the Dutch Embassy and the Dutch Performing Arts Fund.

A total of 155 venues are hosting events in 2017 with people’s living rooms, beach huts, cafes, parks and pubs all being transformed into performance spaces, and the ever-popular Brighton Spiegeltent returns to the Old Steine.

There are also more than ever family shows, with madcap musicals, leading performance poets, an outdoor reimagining of Alice in Wonderland and a plethora of theatre, puppet, circus and comedy shows at this year’s event.

The Brighton Fringe kids and youth programme consists of 126 shows and events, which will be staged throughout May and the summer half term.

Mr Danger's Really Safe Show

Box Tail Soup presents a beautiful new adaptation of The Wind In The Willows (June 4). Commissioned by the Everyman Theatre, this stunning take on Kenneth Grahame’s classic features handmade puppets and a charming original score.

Family favourites coming to Brighton Fringe this year include Dave Benson Phillips (May 10-14), who’ll be performing songs and a sing-along quiz for under sixes, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar (May 12-14), featuring 75 lovable puppets.

Gerry Cottle’s Wow Circus (May 17-31, June 1-3), a big top full of chaos, daredevils and electrifying entertainment, comes to the Preston Park Big Top (May 17-31, June 1-3)).

Creative showcase Fringe City will see the North Laine come alive every weekend during May.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This includes two Brighton Fringe Family Picnics (May 6 and May 27).

For the first time Fringe City will also take place on Thursdays and Fridays (from May 11), at Bartholomew Square in association with Sweet Venues, and there will be an evening Fringe City (June 2) on New Road as part of The Fringe’s Final Fling.

Also new for 2017 is the Fringe City Charity Day (May 8), which will host the finish of the Mayor’s Brighton-to- Paris charity cycle ride, plus community stalls and live Fringe performances.

Tickets for the opening night’s fireworks for all other shows are available from, by calling 01273 917272 or by visiting the Brighton Fringe Box Office on New Road.

The Wind in the Willows