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What’s On in December in Sussex

December 2018

Christmas fairs, Santa meets, racing, skating, shows, feasts, festive films, ballet, comedy, ghosts stories and more to bring you to take you through December in Sussex with bells on.

Christmas Tasting Evening, Pallant of Arundel, Fri 30th Nov

The super-deli has a tasting evening to get you in seasonal mood and stocked up for the festive period. There’ll be wines, cheeses, smoked salmon and lots of sweet treats to try. The evening runs 6-8pm and tickets are £10 – redeemable against purchases made on the night. Call 01903 882288 to reserve one.

Snailspace Farewell Event, St Augustine’s, Brighton Fri 30 Nov – to Sunday 2 Dec

Been ticking off the snail trail artworks? They’ve now left the city streets and this is your last chance to see them before they’re auctioned to raise money for Martlets Hospice. It’s the only time that all 50 artists’ snails and 57 school’s snails have been together. You’ll need to book an hour’s slot – £6 for adults, £3 for kids.

Pantos and other Xmas shows, Across Sussex, various Dec dates

Sleeping Beauty at The Capitol, Horsham

Pantos, musicals, puppetry and ballet – they’re all in the dedicated the Muddy guide to the Christmas shows on in Sussex and nearby and it’s behind you! Oh no it isn’t – it’s right here on the link below.

Muddy Xmas shows round-up 

Pop-up ice rinks, Brighton, Worthing, Chichester, Bewl Water, Tunbridge Wells and further afield until Jan/Feb

Gliding into action, are Brighton (pictured), Worthing’s, Tunbridge and Bewl Water rinks and a new Chichester one  and there are other several others for day trips into Surrey, Hants and London.

Check out the Muddy round-up.

Annie Sloan at Charleston, Firle, Sun 2 Dec 

Paint guru Annie Sloan is coming to Charleston! Spend a morning with her as she explains her relationship with the house, the modern approach of using brush strokes and her use of unusual colour combinations. Tickets are £22 – £25 but be quick and you can nab the two for one offer.

Christmas Fayre, Cumnor House, Danehill, near Haywards Heath, Sussex, Fri 30 Nov

Find over 40 specialist stalls representing wares from across London and the South East at Cumnor House’s annual Christmas Fayre on 30 Nov. Entry is £3 and proceeds go to FAST UK, which is dedicated to finding a cure for Angelman Syndrome. The Fayre runs from 10am to 4pm.

Christmas Queens 2018, Brighton Dome, Mon 3 Dec

Fancy a show that’s camp as Christmas? Join a host of Drag Queens giving their own unique take on Chrimbo songs in this festive spectacular that’s touring Europe. Tickets from £41.

Devonshire Collective, Christmas Fair, DC3, Eastbourne, 1 Dec 

Art, crafts and stocking fillers from the Devonshire Collective’s members will be on sale at its DC3 premises on Seaside Road. family-friendly craft activities, mulled wine and mince pies should help get you in the spirit.

Frost Fair at The Bell in Ticehurst, Sun 2 Dec

Frost Fairs appeared in London when the Thames froze over and people came out to share and sell their produce and help each other out. With a modern day community spirit The Bell is showcasing artisans with stalls inside and out laden with food and gifts. Entry is free and refreshments will, of course, be available. It’s on 11am-3pm

Beach hut advent calendar, Hove seafront, 1 – 24 Dec 

Head down to Hove seafront 5.30pm to 6.30pm between 1 and 24 December and you’ll find a different beach hut each day has been artistically transformed for advent. There’ll also be a chance to enjoy a mince pie and mulled wine and join in carols. Find the huts on the seafront between First Avenue and Hove Lagoon and discover which is open when via the website, or pick up a flyer in the i360 gift shop. There’s a puzzle to be built if you visit every day collecting pieces.

NT Live, Antony & Cleopatra, Thurs 6 Dec

Broadcast live from the National Theatre, Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo play Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra in his historical tragedy of politics, passion and power. Put your postcode in the website to find your nearest participating cinema. See link.

 Superman, Connaught Theatre, Worthing, Sat 8 Dec 

Is it a bird? is it a plane? No, it’s a family friendly film in December without Santa. Worthing is screening the original Christopher Reeve Superman movie, all the more poignant for those of us who remember it first time round as this year we lost Magot Kidder who played the sassy Lois Lane. Adult tickets are £7.50, children £5.

Christmas carol concert, Horsted Keynes station Bluebell Railway, Dec 1/ A Horsted Christmas, Fri 21 Dec  & other events

Join the free carol concert at Horsted Keynes station on Sat Dec 1 with music from the Bluebell Railway Band or book one of the remaining carriages quick for A Horsted Christmas, on Fri 21 Dec. The new event includes with a Christmas picnic en route and time at Horsted Station meeting Santa and his reindeers and taking a whirl on the Victorian fairground. Trains depart Sheffield Park and East Grinstead. You may also be able to grab a Twixtmas rover ticket or Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinner on the Golden Arrow if you’re quick.

Christmas at Amberley Museum, 1 & 2, 8 & 9, 15 & 16 Dec

Amberley Museum is welcoming Father Christmas and children can ride to meet him on the Santa Express to hear a story and get a present. There’ll be market stalls in the barn, kids’ crafts and a family Christmas trail besides. Tickets for Father Christmas are pre-book only – Adults £10, Children over four £16 including museum entrance. Or, pre-book for breakfast with Santa at 9am in the cafe (at £7 per adult and £5 per child).

Make a Coatigan in a day, Sew In Brighton, Hove, Dec 1 

Don’t know what a coatigan is? Is a cosy cross between a coat and a cardigan, of course, and you can rustle one up in just one day at Sew in Brighton. If you’re improver level, meaning you can already handle a sewing machine, chose sweatshirt material or boiled wool and they’ll show you how step-by-step on the day 10.30 – 17.00.  It’s £87 on the day, or ensure a place by booking in advance.

Arundel by Candlelight, Arundel town centre, Fri 7 and Sat 8 Dec 

On Dec 7 and 8 in historical Arundel, shops, restaurants, pubs and homes will be decorated with Christmas trees, there’ll be a lantern parade and a Christmas Market with gifts and seasonal treats. Indulge in mulled wine, chestnuts and a hog roast, meet Father Christmas at Arundel Museum, skate on an artificial rink in Jubilee Gardens, follow a Christmas stocking trail and more.

Festive Fun Race Day/ Christmas Race Day Mon 3 Dec/ Mon 17 Dec 

Planning a works Xmas outing? There’s be live music, a festive atmosphere and racing on at Plumpton in the lead up to Christmas, with action on the track 3 – 17 Dec. Advance tickets are from £13

Christmas at Fishers Farm Park, 1 – 24 Dec

The big fella is in big demand and Santa slots are selling out fast at Fishers so if you’d like to meet a bearded man in red get booking quick. There’s also panto entertainment in the barn with Dick Whittington and his cat besides the regular Fishers attractions.

Artists’ Open Houses, various locations, Brighton and Hove, 24 & 25 Nov, 1&2, 8&9 Dec

Want some really unique pressies? Drop in on artists’ and designer-makers’ homes and studios throughout the city for this pre-Christmas reprisal of the May festival. There are also one opening apiece in Ditchling and Eastbourne. Plan your route online or pick up a brochure.

Christmas wreath making, Charleston House, Firle, Fri 7 Dec

Got some annual leave to use up? Take a Friday off to learn to make Christmas wreaths with a difference at Charleston, bringing new textures, colours and ingredients to traditional Christmas themes. It’s £110 (£100 for an additional friend) including lunch, tea and coffees, and all tools and materials.

The Scummy Mummies, Komedia, Brighton, Tues 11 Dec

Helen and Ellie are heading to Brighton promising a great pre-Christmas comedy night out for pooped parents. Expect scummy carols, yuletide sketches, stand-up and Santa stories. Tickets are £15. They sold out well ahead last time they were in Sussex.

The Greatest Showman, Community Cinema, The Bell, Ticehurst, Wed 11 Dec 

The Bell has been putting on midweek films in its stable room as the winter nights draw in. In the run up to Christmas it’s The Greatest Showman (PG).

Rich Hall’s Hoedown, Assembly Hall, Worthing, Thurs 13 Dec

I’ve seen Rich Hall many times and he always puts on a good show. You may have seen the gravel-voiced comic from Montana on QI or his own recent documentaries but you’ve missed out if you haven’t heard his hilarious country-style songs, often improvised by drawing in details about audience members. In this show he promises stand-up on Trump’s America and Americana music with a twist. Tickets are £18.50.

The Rocky Horror Show, Theatre Royal, Brighton, Thurs 13 Dec – Sat 5 Jan

Think you could do the Timewarp again? You’ll be pleased to know that the musical is live at Brighton’s Theatre Royal for Christmas. With Trigger Happy TV’s Dom Joly playing the narrator and Strictly’s Joanna Clifton as Janet. Get out your fishnets and vamp it up! Tickets are from £13.

Festive supper club, Artisan Bakehouse, near Steyning, Sat 15 Dec

Michael Notman Watt who won Young Chef of the Year in the 2018 Sussex Food & Drink awards is hosting a festive supper club at Artisan Bakehouse (winner of Best Sussex Eating Experience) on 15 Dec. There’ll be a welcome glass of Wiston sparkling wine, then the menu includes rare roasted pigeon carpaccio with picked cranberries, walnut ketchup; roast woodland pork loin, candied apple grits, sea kale, pickled girolles and I’m loving the sound of the white mulled wine slush puppy! Tickets are £65. There are also just a couple of places left to nab for the table decoration making Xmas workshops with festive cream tea. Book ahead also for Michael’s black tie New Year’s Eve supper club.

Make a belt in a day, Wolfram Lohr, Hove, Fri 14 Dec 

Handcraft a present – to self or someone else – on this workshop that will help you make a belt of your choice in a day. It’s at leather specialists Wolfram and Lohr in Hove. Tickets are £85. There are also workshops in January you could gift for Xmas including one making a wallet or a clutch bag.

The King & I, from the Palladium, various cinemas, (selected Dec dates)

Photo by Matthew Murphy

The well-loved musical, loosely based on the true story of a British governess in the royal household of Thailand in the 1900s, is currently playing at London’s Palladium to rave reviews. Here’s your chance to catch it at your nearest cinema as several across Sussex are putting on screenings. The first wave were on 29 Nov but many are repeating it in December including Chichester, Worthing, Littlehampton, East Grinstead, Brighton, Uckfield and Tunbridge Wells. See the trailer here and find your nearest participating cinema via the link below.

Ghost Stories for Christmas 2018 – Now We Are Six, The Lantern Theatre, Brighton, Thurs 20 – Sat Dec 22

Thought the spooks were over with Halloween? Think again because Brighton’s original Ghost Stories for Christmas returns to  for an evening of macabre and chilling tales to raise money for charity.
The evenings are inspired by the Victorian tradition of telling ghost stories at yuletide and will this year feature tales by Joan Aiken and horror masters Clive Barker and Ramsey Campbell, with theme of the darker side of childhood and family life. ​Tickets are £10 including a mince pie and glass of mulled wine/apple juice with proceeds going to Brighton Alzheimer’s Society. Ages 14+

Burning The Clocks, New Road to Madeira Drive, Brighton, Fri 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.

Bolshoi Ballet, The Nutcracker, Live from Moscow, various cinemas, Sun 23 Dec

See the ballet in Moscow this Christmas without the minus degree temperatures. The Bolshoi’s performance of the Nutcracker is being beamed live to selected cinemas, with plenty in Sussex involved.  Put your postcode into the link to find your nearest and get yourself in festive mood.

The Star of Bethlehem and other shows, South Downs Planetarium, Chichester, various Dec dates.

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Chichester’s Planetarium has some Christmas-themed astronomy in the lead up to Christmas. The Star of Bethlehem, A Cosmic Detective Story is back  (21 – 24 Dec). It’s a show for both Christians and non-Christians, which explores the possible origins of the bright star that appeared at the time suggested by the Bible. There’s also a look at The Northern Lights on 30 Nov and later dates, and To The Moon & Back – 50 Years Since Apollo on several days.  Tickets are £7 adults, £5 children.

Christmas Day Swim, Saltdean Lido, near Brighton, Tues Dec 25

We all know a nutter who likes to kick off Christmas day with a chilly dip in the sea but in recent years official swims have often been cancelled due to dangerous weather concerns. Saltdean Lido has stepped in with its first Christmas Day Swim. You’ll need to book ahead, there are only 150 tickets, split over two morning sessions and they are a tenner each including a hot drink and a mince pie. I’ll be in bed eating a chocolate orange.

Boxing Day Racing, Fontwell Park, near Arundel, Wed 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. Tickets start from £19 in advance for the paddock.

Sleeping Beauty ballet, The Dome, Brighton Sat 29 & Sun 30 Dec

In their sixth Christmas season in Brighton, join Ballet Theatre UK’s talented young company of international dancers recreating the fairytale to Tchaikovsky’s magical score. Tickets from £10.


Bodiam Castle, near Robertsbridge, throughout December

Children can follow precious gems trail around the castle and grounds as part of an Indian themed exhibition and there are storytelling and craft activities. Festive afternoon teas available in the Wharf tearoom each weekend in December.

Santa Flights, BAi360, Brighton, selected dates between 1 – 24 Dec

Santa and his elf will be on board special flights on the British Airways i360 pod in the run-up to Christmas, getting airborne without a sleigh to give presents to children.

The Snowman and The Snowdog exhibitions, Nymans, from Sat 17 Nov/ Brighton Museum till 6 Jan/ Peter & the Wolf + The Snowman screening, Brighton Dome Mon 24 Dec

Image © Snowman Enterprises Limited

 If you’re not feeling festive yet, Nymans will sort you out. The National Trust home and garden near Haywards Heath just opened an exhibition of original drawings from The Snowman and The Snowdog to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the classic tale by Sussex author Raymond BriggsThere will also be a snowdogs trail in the garden coming up in Dec. There’s another The Snowman-related exhibition already running at Brighton Museum with the tale reimagined by Michael Morporgo of War Horse fame with illustrations by Robin Shaw on display. Then, come Christmas Eve there’s a screening of the classic film, alongside Peter and the Wolf at Brighton Dome.

Glow Wild, Wakehurst, Thurs to Sun 22 Nov – 16 Dec

This popular winter lantern festival sees trees, ponds and forest floors illuminated with hundreds of glowing lanterns and fire torches, many made by local school children and volunteers. Adults £14, Children £8. Be warned, it sells out early.

Pre-Xmas package discount, The Beauty Island Sanctuary, Worthing, Weds and Thurs till 24 Dec 

It’s gearing up to party season and The Beauty Island Sanctuary, handily just opposite Worthing Station, has a special pre-Xmas offer on Wednesdays and Thursdays. There’s 50% off its its Sea Breeze package which incorporates use of the hydrotheapry zone with a glass of Prosecco and 90 mins of spa treatments including a exfoliation and a moisturising gold shimmering body wrap.

Christmas Grotto, Hever Castle, Kent, 24 Nov – 24 Dec

At Hever’s magical Grotto children will be greeted by Mother Christmas and taken by an elf through the snowy ‘forest’, to meet Father Christmas in his log cabin and receive a gift. Ride the carousel and enjoy vintage fairground stalls, meet characters along the Christmas trail and even huskies.

The Everyday and Extraordinary, Towner Art Gallery Eastbourne, Sat 29 September – 6 January

CRAGG, Tony AC 1992

This new touring exhibition, conceived by the Towner and Birmingham Museums Trust, looks at how found or everyday objects have been used in art works. It examines how Surrealists used ‘the everyday’ to invoke humour and satire and how Pop Artists directly appropriated items from popular culture. Entry is free.


Rob Lowe, Stories I Only Tell my Friends: Live, Brighton Dome, Sat 16 Feb – tickets released Fri 9 Nov

Rob Lowe – yes the Rob Lowe, of ‘Brat Pack’ and West Wing fame is coming to Brighton. Having published two New York Times best-selling memoirs, Rob is taking his tales on the road in an honest, hilarious peek behind the curtain at Hollywood, fame, fatherhood, marriage and more. The Hollywood hottie is not here till Feb but tickets go on general sale Fri 9 Nov at 10am. They’re from £33 (pay more for a meet and greet). Early Xmas present to self?

Ian McKellen on Stage, Minerva Theatre, Chichester, 5 April & Theatre Royal, Brighton 15 -19 July – tickets released Fri 9 Nov

Sir Ian McKellen is to celebrate his 80th birthday next year by touring with a new solo show to raise funds for theatres. On Friday 5 April he will be coming to Chicheter’s Minerva Theatre for an afternoon and evening show in aid of the theatre’s Ageless campaign then in July he’ll be taking up residence for a week at the Theatre Royal Brighton. Tickets for Chichester will only be available by online ballot – it’s now open and will close at noon on Wed 14 Nov. You can buy up to two tickets at once for £80 each. Tickets for the Brighton dates can be bought in the usual way and start for £30.25 – be quick!

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