The sound of steel drums echoed through Brighton’s Victorian train station to mark the launch of this year’s Fringe.

Dancing pirates and swaying samba couples greeted commuters on Wednesday evening to give them a taste of what they can expect in May.

The previous evening saw the official opening ceremony of Brighton Fringe at the Sussex County Cricket Club in Hove.

Julian Caddy told those at the event it would be the biggest and best to date.

He said: “Brighton’s Fringe is scheduled to be bigger than it has ever been before. There are already 750 shows confirmed and I wouldn’t be surprised if that number pushed over 780.

“There are a number of interesting themes given it is a very political year. There will be a lot about religion and extremism as well as about UKIP and what it means to be British.”

One of the main attractions at the Brighton Station mini-launch was Sussex Steel, a group of teenage drummers who had commuters smiling and swaying to their beat.

Lee Nelson, 40, who formed the band, said: “It’s amazing, lots of people smiling. There’s a really nice vibe. We always get a great reception.”

Unsuspecting commuters were in for a further treat with a sample from Monica Salvi’s show Mad Women In My Attic: A Cabaret of Musical Lunacy.

Brighton’s Singing Barber, Peter Joannou, followed and was on hand to belt out a few tunes.

He will be cutting hair and singing to his customers at the same time throughout May from his shop in the Lanes.

Foot-tapping, hip-shaking, samba troupe Beleza Brighton also provided entertainment in the station concourse.

The heart thumping Brazilian samba crew had commuters dancing with their feather headdresses and multicoloured sequins. They were followed by a flash mob from the Brighton Ceilidh Collective who surprised those gathered with pirate themed dancing.

Joanna Hedges, events co-ordinator for Brighton Fringe, said: “I’m really excited to showcase such talented performers and the fantastic shows that will be at the Fringe.”

Mr Caddy added: “Brighton Fringe is more than just a festival: it is a living, breathing, year-round artistic ecosystem that needs to be sustained. “With the right support we will continually reach out to more and more people, so we thank all our partners for their continued confidence in us. We look forward to working with you for many years to come.”

More than 250,000 people are expected to attend shows at this year’s event which will feature 233 world premieres.

Among the established names set to perform include acclaimed cabaret artists Camille O’Sullivan, original star of La Clique, and Tina C, comic creation of the multi-award winning Christopher Green.

Other much anticipated performances include a play about the bombing of the Grand Hotel, which bomber Pat Magee has contributed towards and Black is the Colour of My Voice, Apphia Campbell’s hit one-woman show inspired by the life of Nina Simone.

There are also more than 50 family shows on offer, primarily on during the half-term week.

The event will run from Friday, May 1 to Sunday, May 31. Tickets are available from their box office in the 1 Stop Travel Shop in North Street, Brighton, by calling 01273 917272 or online at

The Fringe programme is available in bars, shops, cafes and pubs around the city.

A new Brighton Fringe app is allow due to be launched in the run up to this year’s event, offering up-to-date programme information, news and reviews.