Events and things to do in Sussex - May 2016

View of Goodwood racecourse © Christopher Ison

View of Goodwood racecourse © Christopher Ison - Credit: Christopher Ison

Our guide to the best events in and around Sussex this month

Brighton Festival - 7-29 May

Experimental artist and musician Laurie Anderson is this year’s festival guest director. Renowned for her inventive use of technology, Anderson is one of America’s most daring creative pioneers. Anderson takes the helm as Brighton Festival marks its 50th year of commissioning and producing innovative arts and culture. This year’s festival explores the theme of home and place.

Kicking off with the Children’s Parade – the largest of its kind in Europe – Brighton Festival 2016 hosts a record number of community-focused events. These include the annual City Reads and Young City Reads produced in partnership with Collected Works, and Future Gazers which asks school pupils to imagine the world in 50 years.

The eclectic festival programme spans music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate. This year features 54 commissions, co-commissions, exclusives and premieres from national and international artists. These include two exclusive performances from ‘folktronica’ pioneer Beth Orton, choreographer and dancer Akram Khan’s new full-length production Until The Lions; and the world premiere of a global collaborative work by Turner Prize-winning British artist Gillian Wearing.

The theme of ‘home’ celebrates the Festival’s relationship with the city of Brighton, its artists, its characters and its sense of place and spirit, as well as considering universal issues and ideas around home, our communities and places of safety. Highlights include a new work from Argentinian artist Lola Arias called Minefield, developed with veterans of the Falklands conflict; experimental composer Yuval Avital’s new work, Fuga Perpetua, which reflects on the situation of refugees; and the UK premiere of Berlin’s Zvizdal, a filmic portrait of an elderly couple’s self-imposed solitude in the region affected by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Anderson’s own events include the UK premiere of Music For Dogs, a concert designed for the canine ear; a screening of her acclaimed film Heart of a Dog; an exclusive new performance monologue about place called Slideshow; and a freewheeling walk through sonic spaces with fellow musician-composers, pianist Nik Bärtsch and guitarist Eivind Aarset.

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Many of Anderson’s interests, passions and achievements are also explored including the UK premiere of Lou Reed Drones, an installation of her late husband’s feedbacking guitars and amps which she describes as “kind of as close to Lou’s music as we can get these days”; a screening of Sans Soleil (Sunless) – an elegiac masterpiece by Anderson’s favourite director Chris Marker; and events that explore innovation and technology in the arts, including Complicite and Simon Burney’s acclaimed The Encounter and Brighton-based Art of Disappearing’s outdoor adventure The Last Resort.

Home-grown artists are celebrated in special commissions including two works marking the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death: The Complete Deaths, a re-enactment of every onstage Shakespearean death from Brighton-based Spymonkey and Tim Crouch, and Digging For Shakespeare by Marc Rees, a site-specific homage to 19th century Brighton eccentric and Shakespearean scholar James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps; Stella, a theatrical love letter to one half of Victorian cross-dressing duo Fanny and Stella by playwright Neil Bartlett; and the world premiere of Blast Theory and Hydrocracker’s immersive undercover police drama Operation Black Antler.

Brighton Festival is working with Guardian Live to deliver the Books and Debate programme with an impressive line-up including a panel debate on the looming EU Referendum, a visit from former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and appearances from Lionel Shriver and Booker Prize winners Marlon James and Howard Jacobson.

Other city-inspired highlights include a specially commissioned film Brighton: Symphony of a City, screened to a new score performed by Orchestra of Sound and Light, and the entire Royal Pavilion estate playing host to Dr Blighty; an ambitious, large-scale, immersive outdoor experience which highlights the untold story of wounded Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton during World War I.

Artisan Food Festival - 30 April

Goodwood Racecourse, Chichester

A showcase of the best local produce from Great Taste award-winning suppliers, giving guests the opportunity to sample and purchase fine fare in an authentic farmers’ market setting. Racegoers can enjoy six races, with highlights including two listed races for fillies and mares. Tickets from £10, free for accompanied under 18s.

An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen - Until 21 May

Festival Theatre, Chichester

In a version by Christopher Hampton. Starring Hugh Bonneville, Ibsen’s play is a searing examination of the intricate workings of power and influence, and questions who holds real authority in society. Times vary. Tickets from £10.

Spring Garden & Leisure Show - 1-2 May

South of England Showground, Ardingly

Bank holiday family fun including the fur, feather and rabbit shows; the Crufts qualifying Open Dog Show; the Mini Sheep Show and a fun-filled fairground.

Jean Griffin of BBC Sussex, Surrey and Kent returns as the resident gardening expert, chairing a programme of panel Q&A sessions in the gardening theatre.

Under 16s go free (when accompanied by a paying adult £10), senior citizens and students over 16 £8. Save up to 20 per cent with early bird advance ticket discounts.

King Lear - 3-7 May

Theatre Royal, Brighton: 0844 871 7650

7.45pm. Two-time Olivier Award nominee Michael Pennington leads a cast of 14 in Max Webster’s epic interpretation of Shakespeare’s tragedy. Thursday and Saturday matinees 2.30pm. Tickets: £14.15-£32.90.

Evenings with Badgers - 4-23 May, Mon and Wed

6.15pm-10pm. Sussex Wildlife Trust is running six badger-watching evenings in woodland near Rusper, West Sussex. Wildlife enthusiast and photographer David Plummer will give tips on the best way to watch these captivating animals, before a move to the observation platform as the night comes down.

For adults and children over 14. Booking essential.

Brighton Fringe - 6 May-5 June

A total of 165 venues host events including new pop-up beachside tent Republic, and Edinburgh Fringe favourites Sweet Venues.

Life - 9 May

Connaught Theatre, Worthing: 01903 206206

7.30pm. Produced by Sadler’s Wells in association with Artsdepot, featuring two new commissions by acclaimed choreographers Pontus Lidberg and Javier de Frutos, Life takes a provocative look at life and death. Tickets: £23.50, concessions £22.50, students £15.

Museums at Night - 11-14 May

Hundreds of museums, galleries and historic spaces across the country open their doors after dark to host night-time events – gallery gigs, art happenings, twilight screenings, all-night sleepovers, torch-lit tours or the chance to experience the space in a new light.

Broken Glass - 12-21 May

New Venture Theatre, Brighton: 01273 746118

Sylvia Gellburg is stricken by a mysterious paralysis for which her doctor can find no cause, until he discovers links to Kristallnacht in 1938 Germany and how it relates to her relationship with her husband. 7.45pm except Sunday 2.30pm. Tickets: £10.

Glynde Place Concert Series

BBC New Generation artists feature in three concerts at the Elizabethan country house:

• 14 May: Annelien Van Wauwe and Lucas Blondeel

• 11 June: Narek Hakhnazaryan, Zhang Zuo, Esther Yoo

• 17 July: Armida Quartet

Ticket holders can picnic in the grounds prior to the performances. Tickets: adults £30, under 16s £15.

Love Can Build a Bridge - 15 May

Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Eastbourne

4pm. An afternoon of live music from The Archway Choirs in collaboration with the Chestnut Tree House Charity. Tickets: £12.50, concessions and under 16s £8.

Brownbread Horse Rescue Open Day - 15 May

Ashburnham, Battle, East Sussex

10.30am-4pm. Entertainment includes the Iceni Belly Dancers, singers and dancers from the Hastings School of Performing Arts, pony rides, have-a-go archery and a barbeque. Para-equestrian rider Emily Lawes performs in the arena. Classic car show. Entry: £3, under 10 years free.;

The Jungle Book - 17 May-21 May

Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne: 01323 412000

The award-winning Metta Theatre brings Kipling’s classic tale crashing into the 21st century with breathtaking street dance and circus, featuring performers from Zoo Nation and Cirque du Soleil. For eight years plus.

Evenings 7pm (no Thursday evening performance), Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday matinee. Tickets: £15.50-£18.50, Students and under-16s £14.50, family saver £58.

Goodwood Racecourse May Festival - 19-21 May

With summer around the corner, the May Festival is the perfect opportunity to dress up and enjoy high-class racing at Goodwood Racecourse. The three-day meeting is a chance to see some of the best horses in the sport compete for nearly half a million pounds in prize money. Tickets from £10 with complimentary admission for accompanied under 18s.

Spring Harvest - 19-30 May

A packed programme of dinners, tours, tastings and trails culminating in the huge Sussex and The World Weekend on seafront Hove Lawns featuring more than 80 stalls. All of the outdoor activities are free to enter.

Charleston Festival 2016 - 20-30 May

This year marks 100 years since the Bloomsbury Group artists, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, arrived to make Charleston their Sussex home creating an artistic and intellectual hub.

This year the Festival celebrates the power of art with guest speakers Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees, novelist Ian McEwan, inventor of the internet Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and Princess Michael of Kent.;

Glyndebourne Festival 2016 - 21 May-28 August

To mark Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary in 2016 Glyndebourne hosts two operas based on Shakespeare plays – Béatrice et Bénédict by Berlioz and Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

This year also includes a new production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia and revivals of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, The Cunning Little Vixen and Le Nozze di Figaro.

Elderflower Fields Family Festival - 27-30 May

Pippingford Park, Nutley, Uckfield, East Sussex

A weekend of wild adventure, discovery and inspiration designed for families within the private grounds of Pippingford Park in Ashdown Forest. Eclectic music, camping with nature and local food and drink. Tickets: Adult weekend from £105, child weekend from £55, under-fives weekend from £10.

Best of the rest…

• 29 April-2 May: Jack in the Green Festival, Hastings

• 30 April-1 May: Magnificent Motors, Western Lawns, Eastbourne

• 28 May-4 June: Horsham Circle of Life Festival, in and around Horsham

• 29-30 May: Battle Medieval Fair, Battle Abbey Green, Battle