Sussex gift experiences guide
You can buy a voucher or membership online right up to the wire for some fantastic and original treats. Here are some of the best Sussex gift experiences.
Panic not – with all the great experiences that can be gifted these days, a voucher or membership is no longer a cop out but the gateway to a great treat – and you can buy them online right up to the wire! Here are some of the best Sussex-based ideas.
FOOD & DRINK
Know someone inspired by Bake Off? Turn them into a budding Mary Berry at The Artisan Bakehouse at Ashurst near Steyning. Among courses coming up in February are a Mediterranean breads workshop and Valentine’s macron making. You could also snap up a gift voucher for lunch or afternoon tea at the pretty site.
Get a friend or relative a great steer on independent eateries, with chats with passionate producers and plenty of nibbles along the way, when you give them a voucher for award-winning Brighton Food Tours. There are also boozy versions (check out the Muddy review).
Treat someone to a meal at the rather special The Curlew at Bodiam (See the Muddy review), which has gift vouchers for lunches, dinners and tasting menus, with or without wine thrown in. The Bell in Ticehurst is among pubs offering monetary gift vouchers towards a meal or an overnight stay.
Sussex has many good vineyards and several offer tours. Among individual sites you can explore are Rathfinny Estate at Alfrison, which also has a rather lovely Tasting Room restaurant (see the recent Muddy review). Experience vouchers cover straight tours, or tours combined with meals and/or overnight accommodation.
Great British Wine Tours will meanwhile take your gift recipient on a magical mystery tour from Brighton station to tutored tastings at at least two vineyards and lunch in leafy surrounds under the South Downs. They also have versions incorporating cheese or breweries.
Afternoon teas are always a winner. Treat someone to a voucher for an afternoon tea, gin flight or a tea tasting session at fabulously retro Metro Deco in Brighton’s Kemptown, or an afternoon tea, dinner or Sunday lunch at smart seafront Brighton Harbour Hotel. Country house style Park House Hotel near Midhurst is among many other afternoon tea options – with or without champagne.
SPA, BEAUTY & STAY
In East Sussex, at Wadhurst, Muddy award-winning The Beauty Bar, which has a new leafy outpost at Fair Oak Farm, is throwing in a glass of bubbly when gift recipients redeem their vouchers and you can bag a Luxury Environ Gift Set with any course of facials booked as a present. In Worthing, meanwhile, The Beauty Island Sanctuary has vouchers of different values that can be used against both wellbeing and beauty treatments from massages to hair and make-up.
For the gift of time out in a unique place, give a gift voucher for a stay in one of the themed rooms at Brighton’s fun and flirty Hotel Pelirocco. (See the recent Muddy review). There’s a special Christmas voucher rate with welcome cocktails thrown in.
Give the gift of a house tour at Charleston, or gift membership, allowing free visits, priority booking and more. Let them choose their own art with a voucher from Muddy Award winner Cameron Contemporary Art in Hove. You can also gift a tour of Farley House Farm at Chiddingly, former home of Vogue model turned war photographer Lee Miller, which was a meeting place for Surrealists including Picasso.
PLANES & TRAINS
Get that special someone a gift that leaves them flying high. At Goodwood Aerodrome they can take the controls of a vintage aircraft like a 1943 Harvard that was used for training WWII spitfire pilots, or a Piper Super Cub or the newly-aquired Stearman biplane – operated with a stick and rudder. Modern planes can also be taken for a whirl over the countryside with packages from £190. They may even get to try out some aerobatics!
A Fish & Chip Supper on a train at Bluebell Railway is one of the presents Muddy is giving this Christmas (shh!). You can also book one of the railway’s forthcoming Murder Mystery Evenings – places available monthly from February. Membership, will allow your train lover to get greatly reduced travel all year and other perks. For something extra special there are selected dates in Spring to book a Footplate Extra experience, which will let them drive and fire a steam locomotive!
OTHER DAYS OUT
Treat a couple, family or group of friends to an hour of fiendish fun working out the mad scientist, spy or murder-themed puzzles at Escape Game Brighton. Vouchers are available for two to six players.
Give someone a day – or, rather, several – at the races with an Annual Membership to Plumpton Racecourse, prettily situated under the South Downs.
Get kids cooking with clever kits from Foodini Club. Each month your postie will deliver them illustrated recipe cards for one savoury and one naturally sweetened creation, like spinach polenta chips and choconana muffins, plus the non-perishable ingredients in eco-friendly packaging. See the Muddy review.
Every child loves to play make believe and Little Street is the perfect place to have some role play fun. The branch at Chichester offers play passes for from five to ten sessions.
Check out your fave family attractions in Sussex for gift vouchers options. You can gift a day amid the vintage transport and demonstration delights of Amberley Museum, get a monetary voucher for Fishers Adventure Farm Park, or buy a Family Membership to Borde Hill Garden near Haywards Heath or the bird-tastic Arundel Wetland Centre.
LEARN A SKILL
If there’s someone in your life who’s committed to a fresh start in the new year, you can gift them a three -hour session with Organised Home & Life, to teach them the KonMari method of de-cluttering.
STAGE & SCREEN
If your gift recipient lives near an independent cinema, check out its membership scheme. Good Sussex options include the Picturehouse chain – which has two in Brighton, the unrelated Picture House in Uckfield, the Depot in Lewes and Kino at Rye.
Don’t forget also to check out memberships and vouchers from our great Sussex theatres and other major venues, or, gift a ticket for a show. There are heaps of pantos and other Christmas shows around in Sussex at the moment.
Other good options to gift coming up include:
Chichester: Moscow City Ballet’s The Nutcracker and a modern take on Twelfth Night, the BBC Concert Orchestra’s Family Concert and Sandi Toksvig live are all on in Jan.
Worthing: brilliant improvisers The Noise Next Door are doing an adult show and a family show, plus there’s Joan Collins unscripted – both in Feb. David Baddiel’s kids’ tale Animalcolm and a Q&A with Dan Snow are in March.
Horsham: Britain’s Got Talent comedian Robert White is up in Feb and Julian Clary in March, also Vienna Festival Ballet’s Coppelia in March.
Crawley: St Petersburg Classic Ballet’s Swan Lake and Saturday Night Fever and comedian Jason Manford are in Jan; Rainman and Lucy Porter in Feb and Brendan Cole in March.
Brighton: Abigail’s Party, The Full Monty and Horrible Histories are in Jan and the State Ballet of Siberia is performing The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and more in Feb at the Theatre Royal. And at Brighton Dome there’s The Vaccines in Jan, Sandi Toksvig live in Jan/Feb, comedian Nish Kumar and Hollywood’s Rob Lowe in Feb, music royalty Billy Ocean in March and Art Garfunkel in April plus more big name comedians later in the year. At the Brighton Centre catch Bill Bailey, Strictly Come Dancing – The Professionals and Olly Murs in May.
Eastbourne: The London Philharmonic, Dara O’Brien and Dan Snow are in town in March and The Comedy About a Bank Robbery and Dinosaur World Live in April.
Bexhill: Book for Nish Kumar in Jan, The Tiger Who Came to Tea in Feb, Horrible Histories in March and legendary performance poet John Cooper Clarke in May.
Tunbridge Wells: Brendan Cole is stepping out in March and The Cat in the Hat will be wreaking havoc the same month.