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Things to Do in Sussex this month

Dec 2017

Ongoing shows, exhibitions, events and more things to do in Sussex for this month. Find more up to the minute things to do in my latest weekly what’s on. Plus find a full round up of Xmas shows here.

Aladdin, Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, Fri 8 Dec – Wed 3 Jan

Former EastEnders heartthrob Michael Greco was twice voted sexiest man in soap and you can oggle him the flesh while your kids get on with the serious business of booing and cheering at Aladdin at the Assembly Hall Theatre just over the border in Tunbridge Wells. Greco plays Abanazar alongside Britain’s Got Talent‘s woman of many voices Jess Robinson as the slave of the ring while Aladdin himself is CBBC presenter Mark Rhodes. We’re promised a traditional show packed with slapstick, singing, dancing, beautiful costumes and plenty of audience participation (come on, you know you secretly love it!).

Chichester Festival Theatre, Swan Lake 3- 4 Jan and Sleeping Beauty 5- 7 Jan 

A great way to kick off the new year. A classic tale of love and betrayal Swan Lake is performed by Moscow City Ballet in early Jan and followed by Sleeping Beauty. (tickets from £15).

Grease, Theatre Royal, Brighton, Mon 11 – Sun 31 Dec

Grease is the word – it’s also the big Christmas show at Brighton this year. Tom Parker from boy band The Wanted plays Danny alongside Over The Rainbow winner Danielle Hope as Sandy and EastEnders’ and Strictly‘s Louisa Lytton as Rizzo. Tickets are from £20.90 and if it’s the one that you want, you’d better get booking like greased lightning!

Lego brick animal trail and ‘make and take’ until 14 Jan /  wreath making workshop Sat 16 Dec

You can’t fail to spot birds at Arundel Wetland Centre at the moment because besides the real ones are giant colourful creatures on the Lego Brick Animal Trail. The 1.5 metre creations include a Hawaiin goose, a kingfisher and an otter. Various Lego ‘make and take’ sessions are also coming up for the holidays in which kids can create a frog and a fly (£5 + centre admission). Sounds like a nice antidote to Santa’s grotto. Adults then get in on the act on Sat 16 Dec at a Christmas wreath making workshop. (£12, ages 17+). A kids’ Christmas Crafts bauble and gift box creation session (free with admission) follows on Thurs 21 – Sat 23 Dec.

Source restaurant launch, Proud Country House, Brighton, from 24 Nov

Grade 1 listed Georgian mansion Stanmer House was built back in 1722 and having been recently restored is officially re-launching as Proud Country House with – here’s the exciting bit – a new seasonal British restaurant called Source. It opens on Nov 24 serving up locally sourced meats, fish and produce from within a twenty-mile radius – ambitious and no doubt delicious. Loving the colour scheme already.

Burning The Clocks, New Road to Madeira Drive, Brighton, Thurs 21 Dec


Hurrah for Burning The Clocks – it means it’s the shortest day of the year and we’re creeping slowly towards Spring from here on in. It’s also a lovely spectacle with children and adults carrying homemade paper lanterns to the beach for ceremonial burning of the creations, and fireworks. Over 2,000 people now take part in the parade, usually including some good drummers, and over 20,000 spectators turn out to watch, so expect crowds and road closures.

One Small Step for Major Tim + other shows, South Downs Planetarium, Chichester, Sun 16 Nov and later

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Chichester’s Planetarium has plenty of good shows on in the lead up to Christmas. One Small Step for Major Tim, based on Peake’s mission is on Saturday 16 Dec then there’s The Star of Bethlehem (21 – 24 Dec) – an astronomical detective story for both Christians and non-Christians, which explores the possible origins of the famous bright star that appeared at the time suggested by the Bible. There’s also The Quest for Extrasolar Worlds on various dates. Tickets are £7 adults, £5 children.

Neon Noel at Little Chelsea, Eastbourne, weekends from Fri 1 Dec

It may not be rivalling Vegas anytime soon but it’s likely to charm the kids. A four minute light, visual and audio show will be projected onto Eastbourne’s Town Hall clock tower every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 17 Dec at 4.30pm, 5.30pm and 6.30pm. (Check the website). It all kicks of during Little Christmas in Little Chelsea on 1 Dec music which features street entertainment, stalls, late night shopping and – aww – real reindeers.

Royal Opera House: The Nutcracker, live at various cinemas, Tues 5 Dec and later encore screenings 

ROH, 2015. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

Get Christmassy and cultured at the same time with a live screening of the Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker at various Sussex cinemas on Tues 5 Dec.  There are also encore screenings at later dates. For instance, at the Connaught Cinema, Worthing that Boxing Day feeling that you should move from the settee but you can’t be bothered to raise yourself is neatly solved by booking their repeat screening then. Use the postcode search on the website to find your nearest participating cinema. Some are also screening The Winter’s Tale in February.

Moonlight Drive-in Cinema, Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent, various dates

Grab the blankets and recline those seats, The Moonlight Drive-In Cinema at the Hop Farm is back with some Christmas faves including Elf (21, 22 and 24 Dec) Home Alone (22 Dec)  Love Actually (23 Dec) The Polar Express (23 and 24 Dec) and err Die Hard – well it is set at Christmas! (21 Dec)/ There are also several outings for the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The Treason Show: That Was the Year that was ’17, Brighton pubs 21 – 23 & 27 – 30 Dec 

A bit of a Sussex institution, this end of year round-up from the local satire group is bound to have plenty of material with the election that backfired and Trump’s antics for starters. There are usually local references too, with Southern Rail often the target for some sweary songs. It’s on at a couple of Brighton pubs but be quick. The session at Shoreham’s Ropetackle on New Year’s eve has already sold out. See the link for deets. Tickets are from £15 up.

Airplay, 21 – 26 Dec, The Snow Queen, 29 – 30 Dec,  Brighton Dome

Airplay. Image: Florence Montmare

Two Christmas favourites come together at The Dome  Circus and comedy follows in Airplay, with a run from 21-26 Dec featuring flying umbrellas, giant kites and a huge snowglobe. Finally, for 29 – 30 Dec it’s festive ballet The Snow Queen from Ballet Theatre UK. Tickets for each show are from £10.

Mischief & Mystery in Moominvalley 22 Dec – 2 Jan,  The Old Market, Hove

Following the Cinderella and the Beanstalk panto mash up at the Old Market, coming up on 22 Dec to 2 Jan is Mischief & Mystery in Moominvalley,  a show with charming pupperty and a pop-up book set aimed at 3-7-year-olds. Covering a year in Moominvalley, it starts when Moomintroll wakes up in the middle of winter with a “something-wrong-feeling”. Tickets are £8.

Boxing Day Racing, Fontwell park, near Arundel, Tues Dec 26 

Boxing Day isn’t all about lying about in your PJs with your face smeared with chocolate. If you can raise yourself you can take part in the tradition of a post festivities day at the races. The premium tickets have already sold out for Fontwell Park’s family race day on 26 Dec but you can still grab a paddock (£19) or paddock plus (£24) ticket.


Christmas Banquet, Royal Pavilion, Brighton Fri 8, & 22 December

No photocopying your bum at this Christmas party. Brighton’s Royal Pavilion invites you to celebrate in regal splendour with a drinks and canapé reception followed by a three course dinner with wine and coffee in the palace’s magnificent Banqueting Room. Book a private table for 10, or share a table if there are fewer of you. The dress code is black tie – or go the whole hog with Georgian or Regency period dress. Tickets are £99 (members £89) but be quick, the dinner on the 15th has already sold out.

Exhibition on Screen: David Hockney at the Royal Academy, various Sussex cinemas, 27 Nov and later 

Miss the recent Hockney exhibition in London? See it from a cinema seat thanks to the latest Exhibition on Screen film shot in ‘Ultra HD’, including an interview with the artist. It actually covers both  A Bigger Picture, 2012 & 82 Portraits And One Still Life, 2016. Screening venues include New Park, Chichester (25 Nov); Dukes at Komedia, Brighton (27 and 29 Nov); Ropetackle, Shoreham (Nov 27);  Capitol, Horsham (10 Dec). Also this weekend is Canaletto and the Art of Venice at the Odeon Tunbridge Wells, (26 and 27 Nov). Then, on Mon 23 Jan  is a preview of Cezanne, Portraits of a Life – an exhibition starting in Paris and coming to London. Find your nearest participating cinemas via the link.

Komedy Krackers, Caroline of Brunswick, Brighton, Wed 29 Nov, Wed 28 Dec & Wed 31 Jan. 

I’ve enjoyed John Pendall’s comedy musings up at Edinburgh Fringe the last couple of years. The S&M enthusiast and amateur escapologist holds up pictures of his kittens if he thinks his ‘vanilla’ audience may be getting flustered! He’s one of the comics coming up up the sticky stairs of Brighton’s Caroline of Brunswick pub, which often puts on bargain comedy nights. Komedy Krackers is actually free, but of course you’ll be expected to buy a drink, and make a donation if someone’s shaking a bucket. It’s coming up again on Wed 28 Dec if you can pull yourself out of your turkey coma, and on January 31. 

Ed Byrne: Spolier Alert, Worthing, Wed 15 Nov; Crawley, Sat 18 Nov; Eastbourne 11 Dec; Tunbridge Wells; 8 Feb & Brighton 15 Feb.

I love Ed Byrne to an extent it gets my husband twitchy. He was one of the first comedians I got into back when he took apart Alanis Morissette’s song Ironic line by line for being nothing of the sort. I saw his show last year and he’s still got plenty to say… and in an Irish accent – what’s not to like?  In this show he asks are we filled with righteous anger at a world gone wrong, or are we all just a bunch of whiny little brats? In short, are we spoiled? There were still a few tickets left at Worthing last time of looking, at £25.50 each, then he’s at The Hawth, Crawley on Sat 18 Nov; The Hippodrome, Eastbourne on Mon 11 Dec; Assembly Halls, Tunbridge Wells, Thurs 8 Feb and Theatre Royal, Brighton, Thurs 15 Feb.

Quiz, Minerva Theatre, Chichester, Fri 3 Nov – Sat 9 Dec

Remember the coughing major who with an accomplice won Who Wants To Be Millionaire? by cheating? The story is coming to the stage in Chichester in a new play by James Graham, whose political production This House transferred from Chichester to the West End last year. With a wider theme about society’s attitude to truth and lies, it will be supported by free talks on 8 and 27 Nov, a free quiz on 24 Nov and demonstrations from the creative team in a Theatre Day on 15 Nov (£5). Tickets for the show start from £20 (youth prologue tickets just £5).

Victorian Country House Christmas Party, Uppark 2 – 31 Dec (except 24 & 25 Dec)

NT photo by Nadia Mackenzie

Go back in time at Uppark this December by dropping in on the aftermath of a Victorian Country House Christmas Party hosted by Lady Featherstonhaugh. Peek at the excesses in the dining room then below stairs discover how servants celebrated in the Victorian era. In the week see intricately detailed paper mannequin servants created by artist Denise Watson of Delicarta. At weekends there’ll be real servants to greet you. Meanwhile a new outdoor family trail (£2 per child) helps kids make fun discoveries about Victorian festive foods and traditions.

Pop-up ice rinks, Brighton, Worthing, Horsham, Tunbridge Wells & more until Jan/Feb 

Pull on your tan tights and dust off your triple salchow –  the pop-up ice rinks are back in Sussex! Brighton’s Pavilion rink (pictured) opens this Sat 4 Nov. I got a sneaky peek at the preview event and it’s as pretty as ever and there’s full meals and mulled drinks to be had in the terrace cafe/bar alongside. Worthing and Horsham’s rinks are already open and there are more coming, at Tunbridge Wells and further afield. See my full round-up for dates and links.

Slava’s Snowshow, Southbank Centre, London, Mon 18 Dec – Thurs 4 Jan 2018

Part of Wintertime at the Southbank, this show’s been all over the world (80 countries, no less) and piled up heaps of awards so they’ve had plenty of time to refine their offering. It’s suitable for kids 8+ and is full of clowning and feel-good fun stuff for all ages.

Cézanne Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, now – 11 Feb 2018

This brings together over 50 of Cézanne’s portraits from collections across the world, including works which have never been on public display in the UK . Over a working life of some forty-five years, Cézanne made almost 1,000 paintings of which around 160 are portraits and this exhibition offers a fascinating insight into this central aspect of his work.

Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, Sat  18 Nov – 4 Feb

Hogwarts in the Snow – as regular as Christmas!  The festive makeover will see Christmas trees line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model. Visitors will even be able to touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice. Great for older kids.

National Theatre Posters, Wolfson Gallery, National Theatre, South Bank, London, Wed 4 Oct – 31 March

Theatre posters advertising National Theatre productions from 1963 to the present day are on display in a free exhibition at the building until March. Curated by Rick Poynor, professor of Design and Visual Culture at the University of Reading. it explores changing promotional styles and features some famous productions.



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