Thursday, 25 February 2010

City Reads Festival

As you are all well aware by now Brighton & Hove is a city of festivals with an event happening pretty much every week of the year. And one of my favourite festivals will be launching next week - City Reads.

For those of you who are not familiar with it the basic concept behind the festival is to turn the city into one giant book club, so one book is selected and everyone - residents and visitors - are encouraged to read the book and join in with the events.

This year I'm very excited as the book that has been selected is From Russia With Love. Considering I love reading and adore the James Bond films it is odd that I've never actually read any of the books so this is the perfect opportunity to change that!

The festival will be running from 4th March - 28th May and events will include free film screenings of classic spy films including some of Sean Connery's Bond films (as everyone knows he was the best!) and the fantastic North by Northwest. Plus the Duke of York's Picturehouse will be screening From Russia with Love on Sunday 25th April.

But of course this is City Reads and not CineCity (our annual film festival) so there are plenty of events that don't involve a screen such as Bedroom Bond which gives you the chance to get up close and personal with Bond in myhotel's luxury penthouse. You'll get an exclusive audience with Damian Barr, the world's first 'reader in residence' and your own barman will mix you a complimentary vodka martini - 'shaken not stirred' - while Damian reads extracts from From Russia with Love. There will also be a range of talks and debates about the novel including one entitled Sex, Snobbery and Sadism? The Bond Controversy - intriguing stuff! Check the City Reads website for the full list of events.

So pick up a copy of the book and join in! Oh and don't forget to look out for copies of the novel across the city...


Friday, 19 February 2010

Brighton in Spring has never been so tasty!

Today I'll be handing over the blog to another guest blogger. Paula Seager, one of the organisers behind the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival, is here to tell us about the new Spring Harvest and all the foodie events you can look forward to in March -

The Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival team is holding the first ever spring harvest food festival fortnight - from 11 to 21 March – and we have a fantastic line up which offers something for everyone.

We kick off with the Sussex Beer & Cider Festival from 11 – 13 March, run by CAMRA in Hove Town Hall, offering a taste of 200 ales and ciders made in the UK, including many of our local brews. The big Sussex Market will open on 13-14 March in New Road and will offer some of the best local produce – both raw and ready to eat – so do come down!

We also have some fantastic firsts for Brighton – the Whisky Festival, at the Hilton Brighton Metropole on 20 March; the Chocolate Festival in New Road on 20 and 21 March; and the Brighton Eco Veggie Fayre at Hove Town Hall on 20 March.

Other scrummy treats include the Open House Dining, with local homes opening their doors to serve up great food to complete strangers; a local Sunday service from Brighton & Hove Buses will take Brightonians to good food pubs between Brighton and Eastbourne; and we have a huge programme of events at great local restaurants.

Our September festival is hugely popular and attracted over 100,000 people last year, so we want to build on that and make the most of all the seasons throughout the year, as Brighton has so much to offer food lovers. You could eat a great meal in a different outlet every single day of the year and frankly not enough people know about it!

In fact, for that reason, we will be launching the first Brighton & Hove Foodie Awards on 11 March, inviting local people and visitors to the city to vote for their favourite restaurants, food pubs, cafés and food shops – everyone has one vote per category, so after 11 March, go to

A mouth watering programme of other events is still being put together, but already includes a Terre a Tandoori Night at Terre a Terre in East Street on 15 March and a Hotel du vin Wine Night on 18 March.

Below are some of the events you can look forward to in March but stay tuned to for a full events listing:

  • Thursday 11 - Sunday 21 March : Open House Dining
  • Thursday 11 - 13 March : Sussex Beer Festival, Hove Town Hall
  • Saturday 13 - 14 March : Big Sussex Market, New Road, Brighton
  • Sunday 14 & 21 March : The Sussex Tour Bus Pub Trail, venues between Brighton & Eastbourne
  • Monday 15 March : Terre á Terre ‘Balti Towers’ Night, Terre á Terre, East St, Brighton
  • Tuesday 16 March : The Chilli Pickle Masterclass, Meeting House Lane, Brighton
  • Saturday 20 March : Brighton Eco Veggie Fair, Hove Town Hall
  • Saturday 20 March : The Whisky Festival, Hilton Brighton Metropole, Brighton
  • Saturday 20 - 21 March : Brighton Chocolate Festival, New Road, Brighton

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Wild Planet Photography exhibition

While we have a lot of wonderful attractions here in Brighton I do occasionally leave the city to visit other places (gasp!) and one of my favourite places to go to has always been the Natural History Museum, London. I love the building, the dinosaurs and of course the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

So I was delighted to hear that they were planning to launch a touring celebration of the exhibition and I was especially pleased that Brighton would be the first city to host it.

The full title will be: Wild Planet: Celebrating Wildlife Photographer of the Year and it will be taking place along the seafront in between the two piers. The exhibition will feature 80 of the most spectacular images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. The images will be on bespoke display stands which will be illuminated at dusk. Which will be perfect for those lovely summer evening strolls :)

Wild Planet will be arriving in the city on 12th March and will be here throughout the summer until 26th September and will include this gorgeous little Gorilla:

Image - Human encounter © Suzi Eszterhas / Wild Planet:
Wild Planet features images from Wildlife Photographer of the Year, which is owned by the Natural History Museum, London and BBC Wildlife Magazine.


Thursday, 11 February 2010

Valentine's offers

This is for all of you who have just looked at the calendar and said "Oh no, Valentine's Day is this weekend! What am I going to do?!"

Help is at hand as we have some fantastic Valentine's offers to keep your loved one sweet:
  • If you fancy restaurant quality food but don't want to leave the warmth and comfort of your own home then you'll be please to know that Riddle & Finns is offering a delicious 'Valentine's at Home' treat including: A luxury lobster fruits de mer platter packed with a fine selection shellfish with a home made Marie rose dressing and shallot vinegar - delivered ready to serve - with a bottle of chilled champagne & an organic chocolate mousse to share - all for just £75. To book a delivery call 01273 821 218 or email
  • Spoil your Valentine with a stay at myhotel but will you opt for the Naughty or Nice package.... Be Nice with aromatherapy products, candles and massage oil or be Naughty with a love kit including a blindfold, chocolate body paint and a love dice
  • Feeling adventurous? Kitesurfkings are offering £50 off a lesson with your Valentine. Kitesurfing, Kite Landboarding and Powerkiting all start with mastering the flying of traction kites. Your day will consist of you and your valentine learning with an instructor on a two to one basis. Vouchers last for a year from Valentine’s Day and can be posted or emailed (in case you’ve left it last minute!).
  • Or if you like the idea of being on the water but prefer something a bit more relaxed then Sussex Voyages are offering couples a Valentine's Day ride to Beachy Head for just £30. The voyage will start from the Soverign Harbour, Eastbourne and then take you to Beachy Head, the Belle Tout lighthouse and Birling Gap.
  • But if that still sounds too active then why not go to see the Nutcracker at the Theatre Royal Brighton? The special Valentine's Package includes two top price tickets to The Nutcracker (12th or 13th Feb) and two glasses of Champagne for £70.
Whatever offer you go for we hope you have a great time and of course the most important things is ... that you come to Brighton! ;)


Tuesday, 9 February 2010

A pier appears....

Just a quick one today to let you know that tomorrow night the West Pier will appear again ... well sort of.
For one night only the skeletal frame will be reconstructed with lasers so that the West Pier will appear on the landscape again....

The laser show will take place tomorrow night (Wednesday 10th February) from 6-10pm.


Sunday, 7 February 2010

Brighton Pier Murmuration Time Lapse

Ok - well i said i'd be attempting some more time lapses, so after the murmuration photos and post last week, I thought i'd try a time lapse of the murmuration over Brighton Pier.

And here it is...the starlings start to appear in the background shortly after the time lapse starts...

Music - 'Memories' by Granlab


Friday, 5 February 2010

More than just a library...

Being a bit of a bookworm I have always been a fan of libraries and here we are fortunate enough to have two excellent ones.

For traditionalists there is the lovely Hove Library which always has a welcoming, cosy atmosphere and it recently celebrated it's 100th anniversary. Whereas Brighton's Jubilee Library is a very modern eco-friendly building.

However what both libraries have in common is that people do not visit them just to take books out but also to take part in the various events they hold. At Hove Museum you can celebrate the Chinese New Year by learning some songs and making lanterns & dragons. They are also hosting a Manga Workshop on Monday 22nd February with guest artist Inko.

The Jubilee Library is currently hosting a photographic exhibition featuring portraits of survivors of the Holocaust called Portraits for Posterity The exhibition will be at the library until Saturday 13th February. Then later in the month (26th to be precise) the library will be transformed into the Lavender Lounge in celebration of LGBT History month. The Lavender Lounge will recreate the atmosphere of a 50s & 60s drinking club with a retro bar and music from a variety of acts including local singer Al Start who I know has a lovely voice as she appeared on one of our podcasts a couple of years ago.

So there you have it in Brighton & Hove you don't go to the library just for a book...


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

artrepublic street art competition

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that artrepublic had launched a special street art competition in order to raise awareness of the homeless charity StreetSmart.

We are very pleased to annouce that the winner is Brighton based artist Grant DeJonge and here is the winning image:

I'm sure you'll agree that Grant DeJonge is a worthy winner and I'm pleased to see that the image will be available to buy in the artrepublic gallery or through their website:

However the most exciting part is that this image is about to transform a 2 storey-wall into an original work of art. myhotel in Jubilee Square have donated one of their walls to be used as a canvas and I can't wait to see this striking image on a large scale. Luckily we won't have to wait long as the unveiling will be on Friday 5th February. So I'll see you there :)


Monday, 1 February 2010

Starling murmurations in Brighton

Brighton Pier at sunset 01

The starling murmurations have been mentioned before but they are such an iconic Brighton sight, they are without doubt worth mentioning again. Especially as a close friend said yesterday that she had never seen one. And that's quite a difficult feat when you live in Brighton.

Sat on Brighton beach on Saturday at dusk I was treated to a spectacular murmuration display coupled with the glorious orange hue that you ocassionally get at sunset along Brighton and Hove's coast. Usually signified by everyone surging onto the beach armed with digital cameras and camera phones in a kind of sunset Benny Hill stylee...

Here's one shot I got above - you can clearly see the murmuration.

What is a murmuration?
A murmuration of starlings is surely one of the most magical wildlife spectacles on display in winter and curious as to why starlings swoop in and out of the pier in the murmuration manner they do, I did a bit of research.

And basically, its all about survival. Starlings are quite a snack for other prey, so the answer is to seek safety in numbers. Each bird strives to fly as close to its neighbours as possible, instantly copying any changes in speed or direction, with every bird trying to avoid the edge where swift predators can sometimes snatch a victim. So all the starlings in the middle are the really smart ones!

It's a really magical experience and even more touching when you realise why they do it.

Where to watch a Brighton murmuration

If you want to see a murmuration, get yourself down to Brighton beach just before sunset. Then, if you're lucky you'll see them approach like a swarm of bees in the distance as they first swoop in. Some of the best places to see a murmuration are:
  • Brighton Pier
  • Brighton Marina - starlings congregate on the mastwires of the boats, and then swoop into the void underneath Weatherspoons pub. Apparently, the noise is amazing. Thanks to Geoff Penn's Flickr page for this top tip.
  • West Pier - the displays are much smaller than here than they used to be, but starlings till sometimes swoop around the remains of the derelict pier.
Murmuration Time Lapse

You can also check out our murmuration time lapse below - it might not quite win an Oscar, but you can clearly see the starlings in the background shortly after the time lapse starts and especially towards the end...