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Brighton Open Houses – Everything you need to know

Are you new to the artists open houses festival and don’t know where to start?

Or perhaps you’d like to get the most out of this year’s festival? I’m a local Landscape photographer that went from enjoying the May open houses to opening my own! I show Brighton photography with plenty of Sussex prints from landscapes to seascapes, alongside art from handpicked local artists! Note: Things are a little different in 2021 due to the thing that’s been keeping us all locked up indoors but all of the below still applies! Scroll down for updates specific to 2021 AOH.

Here’s a head start on the open houses with a short read…

What is an open house?

An artist’s open house is a home, or sometimes a studio, opened by artists and makers for the public to view their artwork. It’s an excellent opportunity to discover, buy artwork and meet the artists  across Brighton and Hove

Artists open houses came about when local artists rebelled against expensive art gallery representation, displaying their art directly to the public from their own homes.

Artists later joined forces and created an artist’s open houses trail, making it easy and enjoyable for art lovers to explore many artists works by visiting homes close to each other. An open house may feature a single artist’s work or often several artists with a selection of works e.g. ceramics, photography, oils, gift cards etc.

The event is a great way for local artists to exhibit their work, whether it’s their debut or they’re a seasoned veteran. Being welcomed into an open house is a unique experience that offers a relaxed and friendly way to enjoy art. Many homes also offer tea and cake to enjoy in a quaint courtyard garden or indoor space surrounded by art!

‘Aymer Actually’ Artists Open House – on the West Hove Arts Trail

Where are the open houses?

The Brighton and hove open houses are spread across the city and helpfully sorted into trails as shown on the AOH map. The map can be found in the brochure – so pick one up for free from an open house or look online at the AOH website.

Many visitors choose to visit one or two trails in a single outing. Some even make it a mission to squeeze in house visits every weekend – completing all art trails over the 4 weekends! There are usually over 120 open houses in May, so be warned!! You’ll likely have an open house nearby wherever you live in Brighton & Hove, especially if you’re towards the busier parts of town.

Open House Art Trails From West to East:

  1. West Hove Arts Trail
  2. Hove Arts Trail
  3. Brunswick Town
  4. Central
  5. Dyke Road Arts
  6. Seven Dials Artists
  7. Beyond the Level
  8. Hanover Arts Trail
  9. Fiveways Artists
  10. Kemptown
  11. Coastal (Rottingdean, Saltdean, Peacehaven area)
  12. Ditchling (20 mins drive from Brighton)
  13. Independent – artists dotted around that are not associated with an art trail. You may find these in the areas above but not officially affiliated with a trail and therefore not shown on a trail. Independents can still be seen in the overall large map of venues and will show in a different colour – usually grey or black.

Looking for a particular open house? AOH Houses
Looking for a particular artist? AOH Artists

When are the Open houses, Well, open?

There are 2 artists open house festivals in Brighton covering early summer and another at Christmas.

The Summer Open Houses sit alongside the Brighton festival and runs across all weekends in May. with some venues also opening during the bank holiday(s). Note: For 2021 the AOH event has been pushed back to June in the hope more visitors will be in a position to enjoy the event.

Christmas Artist Open Houses are over 3 weekends, usually starting late November into mid-December. The selection of art and crafts available is usually a different to the summer event – with a focus being more towards smaller gifts for the Christmas gift market. 

The time each individual house opens varies but most houses cover a core of 11 am – 5 pm, and some open earlier and closer later. Check first if there’s a house you particularly want to visit – in case they’re closed or open limited hours

Is the displayed art available to buy?

Yes, the items on display are available to buy. Everyone’s welcome to look – whether it’s to appreciate the art or if you’re looking to buy something in particular. It’s a great way to get new artists on your radar to follow and return to in future months and years. 

Are open houses free to enter?

Yes, it is entirely free to visit an open house (including the small number of studios and galleries). Free days out don’t come much better than this! It can feel just a little daunting walking in to your 1st open house especially if it’s quiet – but please open that door and come in! You’ll be glad you did!

AOH 2021 Update

This year’s Summer AOH has been moved from May to June and it’s likely the number of open houses will sadly be down on previous years. You will still be able to enjoy many open houses with the appropriate measures e.g. face masks and hand gel. Some may even look to operate with booked slots to limit numbers. Some open houses will be online only.

Do something cultured (and free!!) during the Brighton Festival – visit the Brighton and Hove open houses.
You’ll be surprised how much you enjoy yourself.

If you love this great city, feel free to enjoy my photography gallery of Brighton prints and photos from across Sussex and the South Coast.


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