This year’s Brighton Festival promises a host of entertainment for the whole family.

Leading the programme is guest director, award-winning children’s author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce.

He invites audiences of all ages to imagine a better world through a series of hopeful, wonder-filled events from acclaimed children’s writers, a new animated feature film and a mega table tennis tournament.

The Argus: Brighton Festival guest director Frank Cottrell-BoyceBrighton Festival guest director Frank Cottrell-Boyce (Image: James Hole)

Elsewhere, children’s theatre, dance and interactive outdoor shows encourage play and fun and demonstrate the joy of community.

The festival runs from May 4 to 26. On May 11, Frank will host The Wonder Panel, a discussion about storytelling and creativity for anyone aged eight and up, featuring current Children's Laureate and poet Joseph Coelho and How To Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell.

Read more: Brighton Festival 2024 promises magic, wonder, hope and a bit of slime

Audiences can also join Frank, along with award-winning author-illustrator of Grimwood Nadia Shireen, for a live recording of their podcast The Island Of Brilliant on May 19, when they will be speaking with beloved Gruffalo and Stick Man writer Julia Donaldson about how she creates her unforgettable stories.

Earlier in the day, Frank will introduce readers aged seven to 11 to his new magic-themed novel The Wonder Brothers, accompanied by live drawing from its illustrator, Steven Lenton.

A special screening of animated film Kensuke’s Kingdom, voiced by Oscar winner Cillian Murphy, Sally Hawkins and Ken Watanabe, will take place on May 12.

The Argus: Kensuke’s KingdomKensuke’s Kingdom (Image: Submitted)

The film follows the story of a young boy, shipwrecked on a remote island with a Japanese World War II soldier and is adapted by Frank from Michael Morpurgo’s best-selling children’s book of the same name. The two will answer questions from the audience following the screening.

Community group Brighton Table Tennis Club makes the sport accessible for all ages and abilities in an AllStars Extravaganza at Brighton Dome’s newly refurbished Corn Exchange on May 27.

The Corn Exchange has a proud history of hosting international table tennis events and this free all-day event will recreate the venue’s ping pong past with a modern twist. Expect attempts to break Guinness World Records, mass participation table tennis and matches with international superstars such as the UK’s Paralympic gold medallist Will Bayley.

The Argus: Brighton Table Tennis Club AllStars ExtravaganzaBrighton Table Tennis Club AllStars Extravaganza (Image: Submitted)

Across Brighton Festival’s opening weekend, the UK premiere of You’ll See… from Branar, one of Ireland’s leading theatre companies for children, uses a combination of live performance, an intricate pop-up book and an original score to bring James Joyce’s epic tale of one day in one city Ulysses to life. Staged in Brighton Dome’s newly refurbished Studio Theatre, the production is for children aged eight and over.

Also from Branar, in collaboration with New International Encounter, is Grand Soft Day from May 25 to 26, a predominantly non-verbal exploration of the wonder of the world and the seasons for ages two to six.

The Argus: The Sticky Dance Second Hand DanceThe Sticky Dance Second Hand Dance (Image: Zoe Manders)

From disabled-led dance company Second Hand Dance, is the colourful, interactive The Sticky Dance (May 17), for ages three to five. Three dancers will shimmy through the audience, creating a tapestry of sticky tape and encouraging children to explore and groove alongside them.

Throughout Brighton Festival, families can take part in free, interactive installation 100 Miles Of String, created by Brighton-based contemporary arts organisation Leap Then Look, who have worked with the Victoria and Albert Museum, Royal Academy and Tate. By weaving and winding thousands of metres of string, participants will work together to construct a temporary, ever-changing landmark outdoors in the Royal Pavilion Gardens.

The Argus: Grand Soft Day Branar and New International EncounterGrand Soft Day Branar and New International Encounter (Image: Submitted)

A series of free, family-friendly pop-up performances from outdoor art specialists Without Walls will bring communities together in Brighton and Crawley throughout Brighton Festival.

Highlights include premiere Anchored in Air (May 18 to 19), a gravity-defying performance from disabled and non-disabled arial company Head over Wheels.

Throughout May, Brighton Festival’s Young Readers programme will welcome celebrated writers including M G Leonard (May 12), Jenny McLachlan (May 18), Laura Ellen Anderson (May 11) and Tolá Okogwu (May 11), to read their latest works and host workshops.