Brighton Festival is in Full Swing…

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Brighton festival is in full swing this month, and the city is bursting with activity;  from dancing in the glorious Spielgeltent to browsing brilliant local art and chomping on cake in one of the Open Houses, there are street performances,  art installations and pop-up venues  every weekend in May, with the weird and wonderful (and everything in between) filling each corner of the city,  and something to do from the moment you wake until well after the sun goes down.

The highlights for me this weekend started with the Swing Ninjas playing at the Warren on Friday.   The Warren was a surprise treat – tucked behind West Street, but feeling a world away from it, the atmosphere seemed to be more like a country fair, complete with tepee , hay bails and barbecue,  than a city-centre festival venue.

The Swing Ninjas were amazing as always.  Regulars at the awesome Mesmerist, the ‘Quintessential Gentlemen of Swing’ played their set of New Orleans Swing and Parisien Jazz in front of a blissful crowd of toe-tappers and swing dancers (nobody stood still),  with a strong contingent from Brighton Lindyhoppers doing some dazzling dancing.

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 Yesterday I went on a trail of Open Houses, walking in the wind around the Beyond the Level and Fiveways exhibits.  I was so inspired by the  art and craft on show, showcasing Brighton as an incredible city for creativity.  My favourites were 8 Rosehill Terrace, showing some stunning canvasses by Tina Davies (www.tinadavies.eu), and the Dragonfly House, where I bought a beautiful vase by Alison Milner (www.spellermilnerdesign.co.uk)

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There was plenty of time to sit in the garden and eat cake before it started raining completely, but I also left lots more to see next weekend!

If you get the chance, try to squeeze in a  few open houses before the festival is over.   I’d also really recommend New England House, Glass in Fusion, David Williams and Guests, A Family of Artists and Friends for their atmosphere as well as their collection – but there are so many more!

You can also visit here for more information visit www.aoh.org.ukwww.aoh.org.uk

For further info on the Brighton Lindyhoppers, visit – http://www.brightonlindyhoppers.co.uk/

And to find out more about the Swing Ninjas, go to – www.theswingninjas.co.uk

Bye for now x

Suzanne blogs from Little Beach Boutique, a shop and workshop on Brighton Beach, specialising in handmade glass, craft and personalised gifts –   www.littlebeachboutique.com

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A Hen Party Beside the Seaside

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Back in January, I was honoured and terrified in equal measures to be asked to organise my friend’s hen party in Brighton.  Brighton is fast becoming the capital city of hen parties and I was slightly dreading becoming one of the groups  that I have spent several soggy Saturdays in Little Beach Boutique slightly smirking at- groups walking past in the rain with banners, inflatable penises and learner plates flapping around in the Brighton Breeze.

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I was spoiled for choice over what to plan for Kim – I could have taken my pick of the numerous burlesque lessons, ‘Beyonce’ boot camps, buff butlers and craft mornings to choose from – and that’s not to the exclusion of the kayaking that floated through my mind, or a morning learning to wind-surf in Hove lagoon.

But, mindfully aware of people’s budgets, and under a strict brief of no strippers or dance lessons, much to my relief, I decided to make the most of what we have to offer in our amazing city and show off what I love about this place.

So, we hired a house in the gorgeous Clifton Hill area, with plenty of space for a party on Friday night and views of the sea as soon as we walked outside.  We made cocktails, played games, danced and gossiped for the first night, then made our way to Hove the next day for a morning of pampering at Real Beauty with Allie – a new salon on First Avenue.
Allie was amazing –  we all had fabulous massages and some had their nails done- perfect for the ‘morning after’ and, as the weather let us down, we had our intended picnic of coffee and pastries in the relaxing surrounds of her salon instead.  We had a gorgeous lunch in the Bandstand Cafe – really good value and tasty snacks in what is, to me, the most beautiful building in Brighton.

Obviously we had a bracing walk on the beach  – no hen party would be complete without being ill-equipped and under-dressed for the weather – despite it being May Bank Holiday.

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We had drinks, told stories about Kim and wrote ‘wishes and words of wisdom’ in a a jar of pebbles from the beach before going to her favourite restaurant in Brighton – Oki-Nami. She loves Japanese food and it didn’t disappoint; as always, it was so friendly – and delicious.  They’ve got a contained conservatory area there which was perfect for a big group like our’s.

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And the master stroke for the evening was taking a gamble of one of Brighton’s newest clubs – The Funfair Club,  decked out in all that is nostalgic, eccentric and fabulous about Brighton.  We were able to book a booth for free entry before we arrived and had the mirrored room – a perfect size for our group to spread out and relax in, but near enough to the dance floor so we could make the most of the music, which, I might add, was a triumph!  A mixture of anything from Amy Winehouse to the Strokes, from Whitney Houston to Pulp,  I think it’s a testament to how much a danced, laughed and sang along that I have lost my voice for the last few days!

On Sunday, we had our day on the beach, as the sun came out and so did the rest of Brighton.  It was the first weekend of the Brighton Festival, and festival fever was in full force, with the seafront bursting with people eating, drinking, dancing and sunbathing.  Brighton at it’s best!

Of course, I should have known better, as while the others went home, I decided to go to the Mesmerist for some live music and dancing…no Brighton weekend would be complete without it!

As a lover of craft – the hen party wouldn’t have been complete without a few personal touches, so here are a few ideas…

  • Personalised Tea-light holders; stamped with the names of all the hens – something for everybody to take home. You could do this for photo frames or keyrings as well.

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  • A jar of pebbles of ‘Wisdom and Wishes’ for their life together, labelled with the initials of the couple – a perfect Brighton keepsake – people loved writing down their pearls of wisdom on these!

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  • I also bought a Polaroid camera – there are no re-takes with one of these! And a memory book so that we could stick them in and make an instant keepsake for Kim, with personal messages from each hen written underneath.

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  • Personalised Party Bags for each hen as they arrived, complete with pick and mix and a hen-do survival kit!

And of course-the groom’s head on a stick…why should he miss out?…

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Treatments: Real Beauty with Allie – www.facebook.com/Realbeautywithallie
Restaurant: www.okinami.com
Dancing: www.funfairclub.com
Gifts:  www.littlebeachboutique.com

Blogging from her gift shop, Little Beach Boutique, Suzanne writes about art, craft and making glass, running a small business and living by the sea.