The largest winter LGBT festival of its kind in Britain got underway on Saturday, with over 50 events scheduled to take place over nine days in Brighton and Hove.

Now in its third year, the Winter Pride festival raises funds for the city’s main free Pride Festival in August.

Supported by the city’s gay venues, all kinds of events will be taking place over the course of the week, including music and entertainment, as well as a Health Open Day.

Gay venue the Marlborough is hosting a special ‘Bright’n’Queer’ comedy night.

There will also be ‘Cat’s Mud Wrestling’ at the Candy Bar, with many more similar events set to take place in other venues, such as Wild Fruit and Revenge.

There will also be a fundraising night at Candy Bar, organised by Calabash (formerly People Of Colour) will showcase the diverse talent of the gay community with an emphasis on music of black origin.

Lovers of culture can also enjoy a ‘Cocktail Master Class’ at Dr Brighton’s, as well as ‘We Love Bitter and Twisted Pop’ event being organised by the Sussex Arts Club.

A writing workshop is also planned by Queer Writing South.

A one-day festival celebrating bisexuality will also be staged and will be opened to all visitors.

The BiFest has been initiated by Bright on Bothways, with speed-dating, mud-wrestling, a Trans Sauna, as well as a ‘Saucy Swim’ from the nudist beach also included in the schedule.

In keeping with the sporting theme, a ten-pin bowling contest will once again take place due to popular demand. Initiated by the Brighton Lesbian and Gay Sports Society, BLAGSS, which also plan to organise a walk over the beautiful Sussex Downs.

Also returning is The History Ball, a 1950′s theme organised by Brighton and Hove City Council’s Workers Forum.

There will also be a Bent Double special for Pride in addition to a Cabaret Supper at the Rendezvous Casino and a Women’s Valentine Ball at the Babylon Lounge.

Visitors to the week-long fundraiser are urged to make donations whenever possible, as part of the ‘Keep Pride Free’ initiative.

Free guides will be available from various outlets throughout the city, and visitors can also access the calendar of events at www.brightonpride.org

The main summer Pride Festival will be taking place between Saturday 28th July and Sunday 5th August 2007.

The event is the largest LGBT free park event in Europe.