Things to Do This Month

July 2017

National Theatre’s Jane Eyre, Theatre Royal, Brighton, July 24 – 29 

The National Theatre’s critically-acclaimed re-imagining of Charlotte Brontë’s literary classic takes on the gargantuan task of telling her story from birth to adulthood and does so with a sparse set and great inventiveness. Muddy’s editor-in-chief Hero Brown up in Oxford raved about it – you can see what she thought here. Tickets are from £15.90

Quentin Blake: The Only Way to Travel, The Jerwood, Hastings, 14 June – 15 Oct

Sir Quentin Blake’s madcap pictures are synonymous with Roald Dahl’s work and many other children’s tales. Hastings – where the artist spends half his time, will be hosting the largest UK public gallery exhibition of his work to date at the Jerwood. What’s more Black has created a host of new images exploring challenging issues from mental health to the refugee crisis under the theme The Only Way to Travel. It’s on until mid Oct.

Summer Kids’ Fest, Proud Country House, Stanmer Park, Brighton, Sat 1 July – 17 Sept

From story-telling to hip hop dance classes, bushcraft and tree climbing sessions to bike tours and interactive theatre, todders’ yoga to mosaic workshops – it’s all happening at Proud Country House this summer. There are morning and afternoon sessions seven days a week. Sounds a school holidays life saver! What’s more it’s a not-for-profit event and all ticket proceeds will go to local children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House. Check out the full schedule of events and book ahead for individual activities.

Fiddler on the Roof, Chichester Festival Theatre,  10 July – 2 Sept

Photo by Johan Persson

TV comedian and actor Omid Djalili stars as Tevye, alongside Tracy-Ann Oberman of New Tricks, EastEnders and Friday Night Dinner as Golde in this brand new production of the well-loved musical. In a small village in Imperial Russia in 1905 a poor dairyman and his wife are blessed with five witty and beautiful daughters. The local matchmaker is busy making marriage plans for them all but they have their own ideas. See my review here.

 Saltdean Lido, reopening,  Saltdean nr Brighton, from Sat 17 June

When my other half tries to entice me to swim in the sea my usual response is “sure, if you take me to the Caribbean” but famous Saltdean Lido – now you’re talking. OK it’s not the sea but it is outdoors… and it’s heated! Best of all, I love its Modernist/Deco curves. It’s finally reopening after a massive regeneration project and will be opening weekends from 17 June, then daily from 8 July to 17 Sept. You’ll need to book in advance for the opening day and some sessions have already sold out.

Open Air theatres this summer, various locations, until end Sept

There’s something magical about theatre alfresco and you can find outdoor performances from Shakespeare to Window in the Willows, with characters from Darcy to Dinosaurs across Sussex and nearby this summer. See my round-up here.

Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, Until 17 Sept

Eric Ravilious, Two Women in a Garden, 1939. Fry Art Gallery

A major new exhibition has just opened at the Towner based on celebrated Sussex artist Eric Ravilious. Based on new research and telling a story that has never been told before, this show coincides with the 75th anniversary of the artist and designer’s death. It explores the significant relationships and working collaborations between Ravilious and an important group of friends and affiliates, including Paul and John Nash, Enid Marx, Barnett Freedman, Tirzah Garwood, Edward Bawden, Thomas Hennell, Douglas Percy Bliss, Peggy Angus, Helen Binyon, and Diana Low. Many of Ravilious’ key works will be shown alongside works by his contemporaries embracing watercolours, woodcuts, lithographic prints, book jackets and illustrations, patterned papers, wallpaper and fabric design.Entry is £8, under 18s free.

Outdoor film screenings, various Sussex locations, various dates

I’ve rounded up the outdoor cinemas popping up across Sussex and nearby this summer at lovely locations from beaches, to village greens, to castles. Most are putting on both adult and family-friendly shows including retro 80s classics like Tron and The Goonies and modern faves like Star Wars: Rogue One. Some need booking in advance, some are even free. See my full round-up here. 

Arundel Castle, Norman Knights Tournament, Sat 15 – Sun 16 July / International Jousting & Medieval Tournament Week  Tues 25 July – Sun 30 July

12th century Knights and Crusaders meet in a combat tournament on the upper grounds of Arundel Castle, set beneath the Keep from the same era. A tented encampment will include a variety of crafts and demonstrations of the period plus a falconry display, story teller and have-a-go-archery (for the over eights). There’s also an International Jousting & Medieval Tournament Week coming up for the start of the school hols Tues 25 July – Sun 30 July. Arundel do these reenactments well, mixing with fun authenticity and they’re included in the usual admission price. See my review of a similar event at the castle here

Claws, Sea Life Brighton, from 22 April 

Sea Life Brighton is unveiling its latest attraction, Claws. It features shell-dwelling freaks like Japanese spider crabs with a leg span of a whopping 1.3 metres which could grow to the size of a car and a brightly coloured peacock mantis shrimp which can move its arms with such force it can boil water! Sounds downright creepy – yet strangely compelling!

Sculpture Trail, Borde Hill Garden, nr Haywards Heath, 12 May – 2 Oct

Sussex’s celebrated crime writer Peter James officially opened Borde Hill’s 2017 sculpture trail this Thursday. I attended the preview and there are a lovely variety of pieces as always, from pretty ceramic bowls to iron peacocks to hefty stone monuments. It’s a great extra reason to visit these varied gardens and, should you be in the market for a piece of original art and have deep pockets, you’ll be pleased to know all the sculptures are for sale with prices starting from £250. Keep an eye on summer events at Borde Hill including children’s trails and musical Sundays.

Constable and Brighton, Brighton Museum, Sat 8 April – 8 Oct

John Constable and his family stayed in Brighton 1824-1828 during which time the great artist repeatedly walked along the coast and up into the Downs. This new exhibition will follow Constable’s walking and painting sequences, illustrating the sketches and paintings he produced as he explored the local landscape. It will explore the impact and influence of that work and bring the sketches, drawings and paintings back to Brighton for the first time.There’s a special talk on the subject on 13 April. It’s free with museum entry.

30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing – shows and screenings, various locations – coming up

It’s 30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing, would you believe it? It’s three decades since Baby was put in a corner and there are all sorts of shows, screenings and celebratory nights coming up in Sussex in Aug and Sept. See my separate feature here.

The Art of the Brick: DC Superheroes, South Bank, London, runs to Sept 2017

This contemporary art exhibition by LEGO® artist Nathan Sawaya uses nearly 2m bricks to create large-scale sculptures of the most enduring Super Heroes and Super Villains: from Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, to The Joker and Harley Quinn. You’re on the South Bank so plenty to do afterwards too.


Costume Trail, from Worthing Museum, until summer 2018


Worthing Museum’s impressive collections of clothing from bygone eras have been used as inspiration by costume designers from the likes of Downton Abbey. Now outfits are out on display across the town in a series of changing displays at local businesses across Worthing (I snapped this Art Deco dress above in the Connaught Theatre). The Costume Trail trail mostly spans clothing from 1740 to the present day but also includes a 1612 jacket. It’s free, it’s educational, and there’s a chance to win four tickets to the Connaught Cinema if you correctly answer questions featured in the trail map, which is available from the museum welcome desk.

Tunnel: The Archaeology of Crossrail, Museum of London Docklands, London, until 3 Sept

I saw a preview of this exhibition on the telly and it looks amazing. It’s the most complete range of archaeological objects unearthed by Crossrail to be displayed and has gone on display alongside the story of Europe’s largest infrastructure project. Over 10,000 artefacts shine a light on people in almost every important period of the Capital’s history from Mesolithic tool makers and inhabitants of Roman Londinium to those affected by the Great Plague of 1665. There are skeletons, tools, pottery, even makeshift ice skate blades fashioned from bones. Entry is free.

Robot Zoo, Horniman’s Museum, London SE23, until 29 Oct

It doesn’t get much cooler than a robotic zoo. Let’s be fair it needs to be impressive to schlep deep into south east London. But it’ll be worth it to see a robotic rhino, a squid with 18-ft tentacles and a mahoosive house fly with a vacuum cleaner for a mouth at the Horniman’s Museum in Honor Oak. All the robot animals are made from everyday machines and gadgets. Through interactive games and challenges the creations will reveal how real anatomy works. Plus this museum with its quirky exhibits and large cafe and terrace is a big favourite with families at any time. Tickets: Adults £7; Kids, £4.

Star Wars Identities, 02, London, until 3 Sept 


Picture Lucasfilm

Learn about the characters of Star Wars in a new dimension through this exhibition which boasts some 200 props, models, costumes and artworks from the original Star Wars films <squeal!>.There’s also an interactive identity quest that helps you learn your Star Wars identity (please not Jabba the Hut!) It’s all about what forces shape you – geddit? It’s open daily from 10am onwards till Sept so plenty of time to catch this one.  Tickets cost from £20 adults, £10 children and £48 family off peak.

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