Brighton Festival will launch this weekend for three weeks of theatre, comedy, art, music and much more.

The event will open on May 6 and 7 with a programme celebrating community and the joy of shared experiences.

This year’s guest director, musician, DJ and broadcaster Nabihah Iqbal, has invited audiences to “gather round” for immersive art, outdoor, family, theatre and music events at some of Brighton’s best-loved venues and beyond.

Across Saturday and Sunday, visitors to Brighton Dome’s historic Concert Hall will be transported to the Sumatran rainforest for the world premiere of award-winning arts collective Invisible Flock’s immersive soundscape The Sleeping Tree.

Using field recordings from a three-month study of the jungle, the environmental installation will change hour by hour, from dawn to dusk, as it follows the path of a family of endangered Siamang gibbons as they wake, roam and sleep.

Tickets for this Brighton Festival exclusive event allow visitors to enter multiple times and stay for as long as they like, losing themselves in one of our planet’s most important landscapes.

On Sunday evening, Nabihah Iqbal and Invisible Flock will collaborate live within The Sleeping Tree for a unique sound performance highlighting the connection between humans and the forest as a living, breathing entity.

Later that evening Iqbal will join sound system legend Aba Shanti-I and reggae producer Dennis Bovell MBE at Concorde 2 for a celebration of UK bass culture.

Iqbal said: “It’s been an honour to curate this year’s festival and I’m looking forward to it adding another layer of vibrancy to Brighton, a city so full of energy already. The key is to try going to the things that you think aren’t for you… and hopefully you’ll come away pleasantly surprised.”

Elsewhere, the world premiere of Brighton Festival commission Galatea, an ambitious revival of John Lyly’s early modern play suitable for ages eight and up, opens outdoors at Adur Recreation Ground in Shoreham on Saturday.

Set in a world where gods walk among mortals, this tale of love, joy and the importance of welcoming outsiders that inspired Shakespeare’s comedies has been adapted by Shoreham-based theatre maker Emma Frankland, with Brighton’s Marlborough Productions, acclaimed Cornish landscape theatre company Wildworks and leading theatre historian Andy Kesson.

Also running from Saturday is Groundswell, the UK premiere of a free, immersive installation by award-winning Australian artist Matthias Schack-Arnott.

Bystanders in St Peter's Square South are invited on to a raised platform where every person’s movement sets in motion thousands of illuminated balls to create oceanic waves of sound and light, highlighting the power of collaboration. Groundswell is presented in partnership with Brighton Fringe and made possible by The Pebble Trust, whose annual support of Brighton Festival’s major productions and installations offers audiences innovative ways of seeing and experiencing the city.

Derek Jarman’s last film, Blue, is reimagined by director Neil Bartlett, 30 years after it was first released during the darkest days of Britain’s Aids epidemic and just months before Jarman’s death.

In Blue Now on Sunday actor Russell Tovey, performer Travis Alabanza, poet Joelle Taylor and writer Jay Bernard will deliver Jarman’s powerful words live from the stage, accompanied by a new live score by the film’s original composer Simon Fisher Turner.

The UK premiere of I… Cognitive Maps (Saturday and Sunday) from artist and architect Ely Daou is an intimate, moving performance that explores the connection between knowing where we are and who we are.

Daou delves into the depths of his memory and history to recall the different apartments he was forced to live in and to evacuat, during the Lebanese civil war and in the years thereafter. Gathering the audience around an overhead projector, Ely tells his personal life story, using architectural details as the starting points to enter the spaces and events of the past.

Two art exhibitions open on Saturday and run throughout Brighton Festival.

The first is photographer and film-maker Reuben Bastienne-Lewis’s first solo exhibition, Parachute, a world premiere and Brighton Festival commission.

Acting as a diaristic photographic record, Bastienne-Lewis uses intimate portraits of people, places and events to form a visual autobiography of South London youth culture, enlivened by friendship, community and love. Painter Mohammed Adel’s A Future Memory is inspired by ideas of existence and remembrance, offering a window into the nuances of a dual British-Bengali identity.

To kick off proceedings, on Sunday more than 5,000 schoolchildren will take to the streets of Brighton for the annual Children’s Parade to celebrate the start of Brighton Festival. Community arts charity Same Sky has spent months working with teachers, pupils and volunteers to make magnificent sculptures, choreograph dance routines and compose rousing chants that encapsulate this year’s parade theme "one world, learning and growing from each other".

Brighton Festival was established in 1967 and is the largest annual curated multi-arts festival in England. The festival takes place from Saturday to May 28 and stages a host of music, theatre, dance, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and community events across Brighton, Hove and Sussex.

Find out about the festival’s highlights here.