Spring – festival time
The Brighton season kicks off in early April with a ten-day Brighton and Hove Food Festival (www.brightonfoodfestival.com), then steps things up a notch at Easter, when the seafront amusements re-open and a flurry of visitors descend on the city’s hotels, restaurants and bars.
After this, there’s barely time for the city to catch its breath before the Brighton Festival (www.brightonfestival.org) begins: lasting just over three weeks in May, it includes parades, fireworks, exhibitions, concerts and fringe shows. Also in May is The Great Escape (www.escapegreat.com), a music festival showcasing up-and-coming bands.
In spring, the weather is mild (with average temperatures around 10ºC) with occasional showers. May often brings a few days of t-shirt weather.
Summer – sunshine and holiday crowds
The annual London to Brighton Bike Ride (www.bhf.org.uk), held in June, is one of the biggest of Brighton's many outdoor events. The city is at its busiest during the summer months of July and August, with the crowds peaking at weekends. From vintage car rallies to outdoor Shakespeare, there’s always something going on at this time. These are the warmest months but even on the sunniest days there’s usually a fresh sea breeze. The average daytime temperature is a pleasant 17ºC.
The biggest weekends of all are Brighton Pride (www.brightonpride.org) in mid-August and the August Bank Holiday at the end of the month. Fireworks blast off Brighton Pier every Saturday night throughout the summer.
Autumn – quieter days, spectacular sunsets
As soon as the August bank holiday is over, the crowds begin to thin, but this is a great time for foodies to visit. The main Brighton and Hove Food Festival (www.brightonfoodfestival.com), which lasts all September, includes farmers’ markets, tastings and special events. Early September can be delightfully warm and sunny – this is a great time to swim in the sea – but by the end of the month the rainy days of autumn have usually arrived, with average daytime temperatures hovering around 12ºC.
October brings Hallowe’en parties and White Night (www.whitenightnuitblanche.com), Brighton’s all-night festival to celebrate the end of British Summer Time. Fireworks light up the city sky on November 5, but many locals head out to one of the many smaller Sussex towns and villages for a traditional Bonfire Night celebration.
Winter – brisk winds, Christmas shopping
In late November and December, Brighton really sparkles – it’s a charming, romantic place for pre-Christmas parties or to go shopping for original gifts and treats. The average daytime temperature is 7ºC in November and December and 5ºC in January and February, though on windy days it may feel colder. It hardly ever snows in Brighton; on those rare occasions that it does, it's always quite a novelty to see snowmen on the beach.
The Royal Pavilion Gardens Ice Rink (www.royalpavilion.org.uk) is a brilliant new addition: complete with a café decked out with fairylights, it’s open from mid-November to mid-January. A magical lantern parade, Burning the Clocks (www.burningtheclocks.co.uk), celebrates the winter solstice in the week before Christmas.
New Year’s Eve is, as you'd expect, a highlight of the city’s effervescent restaurant and club scene. But as soon as the last of the corks and party poppers have been swept away, it’s time for Brighton, home of the saucy weekend, to start thinking about the next big event: Valentine’s Day.