Brighton Bear Weekend 2019 is coming soon! This year’s big weekend will run from Thursday 13 to Sunday 16 June. The organisers have shaken things up with an expanded line-up of familiar and brand new events, including an explosive Saturday club night in a new venue, cultural tours, and a ton of live entertainment!
I spoke to Matt Brooks, Brighton Bear Weekend committee member, about the weekend.
Robin: Hi Matt, tell us what people can look forward to at this year’s Brighton Bear Weekend
Matt: Our big Pub Quiz at the Camelford Arms will kick things off for early arrivals on the Thursday evening.
On Friday, we have our main Welcome Night with a bevy of cabaret talent at the Amsterdam, before our first ever Mr Brighton Bear competition at Subline, Brighton’s men-only bar. There will be a £200 cash prize and, more importantly, the title itself for the winner. Afterwards, you can party, dance and cruise until 4:00 am. To enter the competition, apply via our website: brightonbearweekend.com/mrbrightonbear-application
Saturday is the biggest day of the weekend, with Bear Breakfast at the Camelford Arms and a group Royal Pavilion Tour (a must-see!) followed by our great big Garden Party in Dorset Gardens. Food and drink will be on sale, or you can bring your own picnic and enjoy an afternoon of free entertainment on our stage, with drag, burlesque, and music from various acts including two of Brighton’s gay choruses. Browse our market, including bear-themed clothing and a mini jumble sale from Brighton’s Sussex Beacon charity. Everyone is welcome (including dogs!) and accessible toilets will be provided.
Afterwards, belt out a few showtunes at our Bear-a-oke evening at Bar Broadway before heading to our stonking new club night at the Rialto Theatre bang in the centre of town: BeefMince, fresh from London’s Vauxhall Tavern. BeefMince’s DJ Cactushead will deliver vocal house, tech and electro in the main room, and Brighton’s DJ Josh Sharp will spin a funkier, more chilled vibe downstairs. Getting this venue is a major step up for us, with a banging sound system and a darker, raunchier club ambience. The night will run until 5:00 am for those with stamina!
Sunday is the day to relax and recover, with an LGBT Walking Tour of Brighton and Sunday Roast Lunch followed by an afternoon of Cabaret with Dave the Bear and others at the Amsterdam with its sunny terrace. If you haven’t seen the hugely talented and very sexy Dave perform before, you will not believe your eyes!
The prize draw for the weekend’s big Raffle – for which tickets will be on sale all weekend – will take place at 6:00 pm. If you’re still going by then, slip around the corner to Affinity Bar for Bear Cabaret with Kara Van-Park, or to Charles Street Tap for Rock and Roll Bingo with Sally Vate. Finally, you can cool down and strip off at our Underbears night at Subline. There’s no dress code, but you’re encouraged to wear underwear, jocks or less, and end the weekend with a bang!
For more information about all of the above, please see our programme of events at: brightonbearweekend.com/events
Robin: That sounds like an amazing line up! I love how Brighton Bear Weekend is constantly innovating and never stands still. What else is there that’s new?
Other changes are afoot. For the first time, three of our events – the BeefMince club night and the two cultural tours – will be ticketed. As always, we also sell wristbands giving discounts on entry to BeefMince and the Subline nights, great drinks deals, and other money-saving offers. You can still get into all of our events without a wristband if you pay full price. You can buy wristbands and tickets in advance from our online shop: brightonbearweekend.com/shop
You will also be able to buy them on the weekend itself, subject to availability – but they’re already selling fast, so don’t miss out!
Robin: Brighton Bear Weekend has a serious side too doesn’t it?
Yes, as always the weekend is not just about having a blast with bears from the UK and around the world, but also about raising money for a good cause.
Everyone who organises and runs the weekend, including the committee and volunteers, is unpaid. All proceeds, after costs, benefit the Brighton Rainbow Fund, a grant-giving fund for local HIV/AIDS and LGBT organisations, and other local charities. Last year, we raised and donated over £10,000 in this way – and we hope to exceed that this year!
Robin: That’s an amazing total. How do people get to Brighton and where’s best to stay?
Brighton is just a short hop from London by train or car, so we always get a great mixture of bears down for the day and others staying for the entire weekend. The city has a vast array of accommodation options but summer is busy, so you are advised to book well in advance. We suggest a few options – including Red Brighton Blue boutique guest house, who are offering a discount for Brighton Bear Weekend visitors on the weekend – on our website: brightonbearweekend.com/accommodation/
We look forward to welcoming you for four days of fur and fun in the sun at the UK south coast’s biggest bear event – see you there!
Keep up to date with everything Brighton Bear Weekend related by following them on social media:
All photos are by Matt Brooks and Jack Lynn