"The idea is to celebrate urban sound and take it to an accessible context, getting out of concert spaces and galleries."

So says Richard Whitelaw, programme director of the Sonic Arts Network, who run the national Expo festival.

This annual celebration of sound art has previously been held in Leicester, Scarborough, Manchester and Plymouth and is set for Leeds next year.

Over the weekend shoppers in Churchill Square will hear one of the major works commissioned for this year's festival - a piece called Sussex By The Sea by artist Duncan Whitley.

In collaboration with Brighton and Hove Albion, Whitley has been recording the crowd at Withdean Stadium to create a soundscape to broadcast over the shopping centre's PA.

The whole family can join a Sonic Picnic organised by Expo on July 6 in the Royal Pavilion gardens where a series of small radio transmitters will broadcast artists' work on different radio frequencies, ranging from spoken word pieces and experimental music to recordings out of keeping with the garden surroundings.

Visitors will be able to pick up different signals in different parts of the gardens between noon and 4.30pm, either using radios supplied by Expo or their own portable sets.

The Basement and Lighthouse in Kensington Street, Brighton, will also be hosting a series of installations, films and performances by sonic artists who answered a national appeal.

"It has been the strongest local response we have ever had," says Richard. "A real variety of people have come forward wanting to be involved."

Among the performance pieces are A Sonic Call To Embrace Urban Noise by the Brighton-based Neo-Futurist Collective and Nine Owls In A Baguette, a Mummer's play for Furbies and electronically-enhanced ladders.

"The idea was to move away from formal concerts to create an atmosphere where people can take a look any time they want," says Richard.

Community radio station Radio Reverb was instrumental in bringing the festival to Brighton.

It will be broadcasting the best of the sonic art over the weekend and during future Friday afternoon shows will be running down the top 20 most irritating noises and encouraging listeners to imitate household objects from 3pm.

"It is all about getting people listening to sound in a different way, and appreciating their aural environment," says Radio Reverb director Cara Courage.

  • Various times, free. Visit www.expofestival.org.