Artists Open Houses Brighton – Everything you need to know

new to the artists open houses (AOH) festival? Start here.

Want to get the most from your time visiting the Brighton open houses? This post will help! With so much going on, it’s easy to become flummoxed and not know where to start.

I’m a visual artist that went from enjoying the May open houses to opening my own! I’ve seen both sides of the AOH giving a unique perspective for your enjoyment.

note: I show Brighton photography and Sussex prints, landscapes and seascapes.

Clarity limited edition print

What is the Brighton open houses festival?

Artwork is traditionally displayed at art fairs, art exhibitions, online galleries and of course art museums. All of the best bits from each have been combined to form the artists open houses.

Artists open their homes or studios across AOH festival weekends and open invite the public to take a look, meet the artist and, optionally, buy their artwork. Many artists share their home or studio with other artists for a greater variety of art often curated to look beautiful alongside each other. Call it a free art show with some festivities thrown in!

The summer AOH festival runs over the weekends and bank holidays of May. It’s a great way to see behind the scenes, discover new artists and get to know the vibrant art scene across Brighton, Hove, Portslade and Ditchling.

Many types of artwork are on display, including; sculptures, paintings, illustration, photography, gift cards, jewellery, printmaking and in many styles i.e. fine-art, contemporary art, abstract, impressionist etc.

What’s in it for artists?

The event is a great way for local artists to exhibit their work, whether it’s their toe-dipping debut, or they’re an emerging artist or a seasoned veteran. Being welcomed into an open house is a unique experience that offers a uniquely 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!

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.

Where are the open houses?

Open houses are spread across Brighton & Hove and are helpfully arranged into trails as shown on the AOH map for different areas in and around the city. See the brochure for a map – free from an open house – or online at the AOH website.

Visitors often explore one or two trails in a single outing. Some make it their mission to squeeze in house visits every weekend in May – completing all art trails over the 4 weekends! There are usually well over 100 Brighton open houses in May, so get ready!! 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 Houses are mainly in Brighton & Hove but Ditchling also gets
an honourable mention along with a few outliers, too.

Trails listed 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 or Artist? Check the official website for listings.

When are the Open houses, Well, open?

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). See the listing or the AOH website for the opening days of each venue.

Christmas Open Houses run over 3 weekends, usually starting in late November into mid-December. The selection of art and crafts available is different to the summer event and more focused on smaller items for Christmas gifting. 

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 in the brochure or online if there’s a house you particularly want to visit – in case they’re closed or open for limited hours.

Private Views or PV are often run independently of the AOH opening days/hours. An invite to view the artwork ahead of the public opening is a special experience and also great if you’re looking to grab an original piece of art before they sell out. Talk to your favourite artist / venue to find out if they have a PV planned… and bag yourself an invite!

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. 

What standard of art is on display?

Artists may be full-time professionals of many years or it may be their 1st time exhibiting their work, either way, there’s a great variety and many gems waiting to be discovered!

Are Brighton 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 into your 1st open house especially if it’s quiet – but please open that door and come in! You’ll be glad you did!

What Types of artworks are displayed?

Many varied works of art are available to view including visual arts and sculptures alongside; mixed media, paintings, crafts, jewellery etc. If you can imagine it, then you’ll probably find it here!

AOH 2023 Open Houses Update

All is well and visiting open houses is entirely back to normal with no restrictions on visitor numbers and no need to check in to each venue.

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 photo gallery of Brighton prints and photos of Sussex.


Picture of Matt Goddard

Matt Goddard

Matt is a professional landscape photographer and the sole content author here. Based in Sussex, he centres his work around his home county and surrounding South East England landscape. Matt has taught photography to over 150 students on a one to one and group basis since 2016. Visit Full Biog
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