The organisers of the 2013 Brighton Festival have announced that the former Children's Laureate Michal Rosen will be its guest director. Andrew Comben, chief executive of Brighton's Festival and the Dome theatre, comments that this is the sixth year for which an invitation has been extended to a well-known person in the arts.

"Guest directors bring knowledge and experience to this festival, which has helped us to nurture and grow an extraordinary range of art and ideas, apealing to our local, national and international audiences. For several decades Michael has entertained, educated and moved audiences of all ages. He has the infectious energy of a polymath and is curious about and interested in everything – perfect for such an eclectic and wide-ranging festival as ours”.

Rosen said, “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to be involved with Brighton Festival. It’s exciting but it’s also going to be a challenge! I am a great believer in festivals – they are an informal college of the arts for everyone. There’s been a big change since I was a child when the arts were tucked away in theatres and galleries and Brighton Festival takes cultural activity and brings it to many different audiences across a whole city”.

Some of the programme highlights have already been revealed. They include the commissioned The Great Enormo – a new work for narrator and full orchestra written by Rosen and composed by James Morgan and Juliette Pochin. Rosen will narrate the piece and will be joined by the City of London Sinfonia for this world première.

Another world première, celebrating the Benjamin Britten centenary year in collaboration with Aldeburgh Music, is Britten: The Canticles. Performers include Ian Bostridge, Iestyn Davies, Richard Watkins, Julius Drake and Sally Pryce. The piece will be staged by Neil Bartlett and Paule Constable. Britten’s five canticles span most his composing life, distilling his opera-writing ability into five individual concert pieces linked by musical drama and theatre.

The British première of My Life After will be presented by Lola Arias, one of Argentina’s most successful playwrights and performers. It tells the true stories of six actors whose real parents lived unscathed through the dictatorship in Argentina in the 1980s – a period when thousands of people disappeared and are presumed to have been killed. The work deals with a generation’s need to process a collective trauma which is examined and ultimately resolved creatively and playfully through stories, dreams, family photos and live music.

For more than 25 years Brighton Festival has opened with the Children’s Parade, which now includes participants from local infant, junior and secondary schools, nurseries and playgroups, community groups and bands across the city. Big, bright, colourful and fun it is one of the most spectacular community events in the UK with up to 4,000 participants from 75 groups and an audience of 10,000. This year the Children’s Parade, devised and delivered by Same Sky, will be themed around the alphabet in a response to Rosen’s interest and passion for language.