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What’s On in Sussex

Thurs 22 - Fri 30 Nov

Frost Fair, The Hay Barn, Charleston, Firle, Sat 24 – Sun 25 Nov 

As is only fitting for somewhere with a famous arts heritage, some of finest makers, creators and designers from Sussex and nearby will be taking part in the Frost Fair at Charleston. Look out for Forage and Bloom wreaths, Halinka Fairies (see our gift guide), Rathfinny Wine Estate’s tipples, Susie Petrou vintage clothing, Amy Isles Freeman painted bowls and many more. It runs 11am – 5pm with entry a fiver and includes free festive art activities for children (till 4pm). There’s also a chance to meet the Snow Queen in her magical grotto. Christmas shopping has never been so pleasing.

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.

Christmas Wine tasting evening, South Downs Cellars, Hurstpierpoint, Sun 25 Nov

Muddy Award-winning South Downs Cellars will be cracking open its festive choices and answering your tricky questions at its Hurstpierpoint Christmas Tasting at Hurst Bowls Club  2pm-6pm on Sun 25 Nov. Tickets are £15 per person – available from in store or online and there are festive discounts on many options. See also Muddy’s Xmas wine matching feature with a chance to win a bottle of Sussex sparkling.

Matthew Floyd Jones in… Richard Carpenter is Close to You, Komedia, Brighton, Thurs Nov 29  

This show was one of my faves at Edinburgh Fringe last year. One half of musical duo Frisky & Mannish plays Richard Carpenter of The Carpenters fame, trapped in a purgatory where he opens supermarkets for people who are only interested in hearing about his late sister. It’s part comedy, part cabaret, and an increasingly surreal imagined tale on sibling rivalry. Performer Matthew Floyd Jones has a beautiful voice and he drops in Carpenters hits, lyrically altered ‘for legal reasons’. “Stormy days and Thursdays get me down…” Very funny, very slick. Tickets are £12.

Shakespeare in Love, Chichester Festival Theatre, Mon 20 – Sat 24 Nov

Young Will Shakespeare has writer’s block working on his play Romeo & Ethel until he meets Viola de Lesseps, who herself wants to enter the all-boy world of acting. Sure, that’s really how it happened. You’ve seen the award-winning film, now catch it on stage in this adaptation by Lee Hall of Billy Elliot fame. Tickets are from £10 with most left from £24 up.

City Books QI Evening, Ropetackle, Shoreham-by-Sea, Thurs Nov 21

Watch QI on BBC2? Here’s your chance to learn some more offbeat trivia as the writers of the spin off books from the series (including James Harkin from hit podcast No Such Thing As A Fish) drop in to the Ropetackle for an evening of fun facts supported by Hove’s City Books. Still a few tickets left.

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.

The King & I, from the Palladium, various cinemas, Thurs 29 Nov (and later 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 put on a screening on Thurs 29 Nov. (Some are also repeating it in December for a Christmassy treat). See the trailer here and find your nearest participating cinema via the link below.

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 wreath-making, Sheffield Park, Thurs 29 Nov 

Just the – 12pm slot left for Christmas wreath-making at Sheffield Park on 29 Nov, working with greenery gathered for the grounds under expert guidance. It’s £22 adults, £12 children and booking is essential.

Woodcut Christmas card making/wreath making, Charleston House, Firle, Tues 27 Nov/Fri 7 Dec

Photo by card workshop artist Helen Brown

Charleston runs some beautiful arts and craft workshops and they tend to sell out early so, if you’d some annual leave to use up, take Tues 27 Nov off and book to learn how to make your own woodcut printed Xmas cards from design to carving, inking and printing.  It’s £90 (£80 for an additional friend) including lunch, tea and coffees, and all tools and materials. Christmas wreath making is also coming up on Fri 7 Dec (£100-£110).

MADE Brighton, St Batholemew’s Church, Sat 24 Nov

The popular Christmas fair with quality designer-makers is back at St Batholemew’s Church in Ann Street (the one built to the same dimensions quote for the ark in the Bible) while its original hangout of the Dome’s Corn Exchange is renovated. It runs 10.30am – 5.30pm on Saturday. £5 on the door.

An Audience with Kate Humble, The Capitol, Horsham, Fri 30 Nov, 

Photo by Tim Martin

The wildlife presenter will be dropping into Horsham to talk about her life working with animals, the far flung places that this has taken her and her new book – Thinking on my Feet. Tickets are £24.50.

Cine City: Brighton Film Festival, various locations Eastbourne, Lewes and Worthing, 9 – 25 November

What's On in Sussex this week

It’s called Brighton Film Festival but this showcase of world cinema actually runs across Brighton, Eastbourne, Lewes and Worthing, with premieres previews, talks, Q&As and special events. Key films from Sundance, Cannes, Venice and other major film festivals will be show ahead of their UK release.

The Snowman and The Snowdog exhibitions, Nymans, from Sat 17 Nov/ Brighton Museum now 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.

Crocheted poppy installation, Standen House & Garden, East Grinstead, from Nov 7 for two weeks

Thousands of crocheted poppies are on display around the Standen House garden to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War. The event runs for a fortnight from Nov 7

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.


Philip Jackson Sculpture Exhibition, Augustus Brandt gallery, Petworth, 19 October – 24 November

One of Britain’s most respected and commissioned sculptors, who has produced some of our country’s best-known public works presents his largest exhibition to date at Petworth’s Augustus Brandt gallery. More than 50 works are on show at the store’s 18th Century Georgian townhouse – the first time Jackson has exhibited his work inside.


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. 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.

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+

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. Book in advance to get the course for £67 (it’s £87 on the day).

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.

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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