What’s On in February in Sussex
Here’s your starter for ten on the good stuff coming up nearby over February. Keep your eyes peeled for my weekly updated What’s On in Sussex and my dedicated Half Term guide.
Chinese New Year Extravaganza, The Hawth, Crawley, Tues 27 Feb
Chinese New Year will be seen in in style with this showcase of performing arts at Hastings and Crawley. On stage will be lion dancers, contortionists, acrobatics, kung fu performers and a demonstration of the ancient magic of err face changing – sounds intriguing. Adult tickets are from £22 at both venues with discounts for children/family tickets.
The Little Match Girl and other Happier Tales, Minerva Theatre, Chichester, Tues 6 – Sat 10 Feb
Having debuted at the Globe in London this beautiful puppet production bring Hans Christian Anderson’s magic to Chichester The Little Matchgirl is combined with The Princess and the Pea, The Emperor’s New Clothes and Thumbelina. It has been getting great review. Tickets are from £20.
Devonshire Collective, Digital Weekender, Eastbourne, Fri 9 – Sun 11 Feb
Fri 9 Feb kicks off a special weekend at DC1 Cafe & Gallery as it puts on its second Digital Weekender with the theme of Storytelling: Real & Unreal. A technologist explores how fictional technology might actually work, journalists consider ‘fake news’, there’s a live DJ set and comedian Jo Neary as compere. The fun continues with an immersive drama and a stop animation workshop for children on Saturday 10 then a virtual reality workshop on the Sunday. Events are from free up to £15.
A Brave Face, Capitol Theatre, Horsham, Sat 10 Feb
The UK’s leading full mask theatre company – Vamos – is back with this play exploring Post-Traumatic Stress, the unseen injury of war, and the impact it can have on families. This compassionate story was created from two years of research with ex and serving soldiers, families and health professionals and follows a soldier from 2009 Afghanistan to his return home. It’s suitable for ages 12+ Tickets are £12.
Natural Selection, Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, Sat 3 Feb – 22 April
New exhibition Natural Selection is the culmination of a five-year collaboration between artist Andy Holden and his father, well-known ornithologist Peter Holden. It covers an ornithological journey: from the building of nests to the collecting of eggs and featuring objects, sculptures, videos and animation. Entry is free.
Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes workshops, The Hawth, Crawley, Mon 12 – Fri 16 Feb
Want to drop your kids off to have some fun over half term? Be quick and you could get them on a week of workshops at the Hawth which culminate in them performing Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. Somewhat bizarrely I was once given the book for a Valentine’s present and they are cracking fun stories turning soppy princess tales on their heads. The workshops take place 10.30 am to 3.30 pm and Mon to Fri and cost £85 (£75 for Youth Theatre members) – bargain childcare! But be warned, there’s limited availability already.
Ski sale, Marlborough House School, Hawkhurst, Sat 3 Feb
Need to get set for the slopes this half term or later? Ticehurst’s appointment-only barn shop Chilli Ski has a sale of new and nearly new jackets, salopettes, goggles, gloves, thermals and more coming up at Marlborough House School, Hawkhurst. Just drop in between 9.30am and 4.30pm on Sat 3 Feb – the money you save on kit can go towards apres ski!
Brighton Science Festival, various locations, Feb 10 – 18
Over 100 fun and educational events include getting creative in the kitchen with Slime Time and Potions and Commotions; an exhibition of an arctic adventurer; mad machine building; monster making; a rocket factory; eco cars; shadow puppets; coding and a guided bike tour of the solar system (kind of). Heaps going on for children – sounds a Half Term saviour – with some activities also pitched at adults.
Fat Tuesday, various venues, Hastings, 9 – 13 Feb
Fat Tuesday is of course the English for Mardis Gras and it’s less about stuffing chips and chocolate and more about catching some great music in a party atmosphere. Venues across Hastings welcome some of the best emerging and established acts from across the UK. 2018, partners include BBC Introducing and The Joe Strummer Foundation so that’s a pretty good stamp of approval. Saturday is wall-to-wall acoustic sets. There’s also an umbrella parade and other family-friendly activities.
Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, V&A Museum, London, Sat 3 Feb – 10 June
The V&A’s new exhibition, celebrates the golden age of the big boats, looking at their design and cultural impact. Exhibits include Goyard luggage once owned by the Duke of Windsor, 1920s bathing suits and a door panel from the first class lounge of the Titanic. Tickets are £18.
Come Dancing, La Havana, Chichester, Sat 10 Feb
A family bereavement prompted Hannah Pleasance and her brother Ben to start organising nights where people could get out and enjoy life by dancing their socks off for free. The next is up on Saturday 10 Feb at Chichester’s La Havana from 8.00pm – 1.00am and yes, entry is free – just turn up early for a better chance of entry. You can buy drinks at the bar.
Clangers, Bagpuss & Co, Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, near Cranbrook, Kent, until Sun 4 Feb
I spent a happy hour or so getting all nostalgic at this V&A Museum of Childhood exhibition when it was on in London (see my post here). Now it is just over the border in Kent – where creators Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin actually created their wonderful stop animation programmes. Yes, you get to see the real Bagpuss, Clangers, artwork from Ivor the Engine and much more. Catch it before it moves on.
Valentine’s menus, Billy’s on the Beach, Bracklesham Bay, Wed 14 and Sat 17 Feb
Fancy a stroll along the beach followed by a sharing platter for two? This Valentine’s Day, Billy’s on the Beach, at Bracklesham Bay, is serving up a ‘Lovers’ Lunch‘ menu of specials or sharing boards from noon, priced from £6.95. If you have to save your love-in till the weekend there’ll also be a Valentine’s Dinner on Sat, 17 Feb, with candlelit tables, a cosy wood burning stove, and, of course, views across the beach. Moules Marinières, grilled whole bream and game pie are among options. Booking is essential.
Lewes Youth Theatre Group: The Legend of Robin Hood, Lewes Little Theatre, 2 – 4 Feb 2018
Putting a modern spin on the legend of Robin Hood, Lewes Youth Theatre Group performs this production written by American dramatist and screenwriter Larry Blamire. They promise nail-biting sword fights, wise-cracking merry men, a fesity Marion and new-fangled twists. Matinees and evening performances run across 2 – 4 Feb 2018. Tickets are £8 adults, £6 children.
South Downs Dark Skies festival, various locations, Fri 9 – Sun 25 Feb
Wrap up warm and get out for this annual celebration of the South Downs being designated a dark sky site. There are several guided stargazing events and tie-in activities, many of them free or low cost including stargazing sessions on weekends at Battle Abbey 3 -25 Feb and an open day with astrophotography ‘how to’ sessions at Midhurst Rother College, West Sussex on Sat 10 Feb. See my full round-up of what’s on in Sussex here.
The Russian State Ballet of Siberia, Theatre Royal, Brighton, Mon 19 – Wed 21 Feb
Siberia’s acclaimed ballet company is coming in from the cold with a return to Brighton, bringing their performances of Romeo & Juliet (Mon 19 Feb), Cinderella (Tues 20 Feb) and Swan Lake (Wed 21 Feb) on consecutive days in February. Sounds like something to book for a Valentine’s treat.
Into the Wild, Wild Winter Warmer, Forest Row, near East Grinstead, 16 – 18 Feb
Not many festivals going on in Feb yet the Wild Winter Warmer at Emerson College at Forest Row, is billed as a chance to come together in the heart of winter with music, storytelling, dance, song, meditation, yoga and much more. It’s booze-free so you’ll getting into the spirit in a more figurative way. You can camp if you’re hardy, or share a heated yurt. There are also rooms available in the college. Early bird tickets of £80 include all music and workshops.
Lucy Porter, Komedia, Brighton, 14 Feb
Prefer something non-cheesy for Valentine’s Night? Book this ahead. Reliably good comedian Lucy Porter is at Komedia, Brighton using her own anecdotes to illustrate how you must pick your battles in these enraging times. Tickets are £14.
Ed Byrne: Spolier Alert, Theatre Royal, Brighton Thurs 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? This time 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? This might just be my Valentine’s present to self. Tickets are from £28.15
Kite Runner, The Hawth, Crawley, Tues 20 – Sat 24 Feb
Based on Khaled Hosseini’s international bestselling novel, this is the story of friendship and redemption brought to the stage. In troubled Afghanistan two childhood friends are about to be torn apart following a terrible incident during a kite flying tournament. Take your hanky, it’s a weepy. Tickets are from £21.
War Horse, Brighton Centre, Thurs 25 Jan – Sat 10 Feb
There are still tickets left for weekdays for this outstanding National Theatre production at the Brighton Centre. Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo it features those incredible, life-size puppets of the horses. I took my mum to see it in London and it really is as good as the hype. It’s suitable for older children upwards and tickets are from £22.30. See a review by Muddy Oxon here.
Rye Scallop Week, various eateries around Rye Bay, 24 Feb – 4 March
One of my fave foods has a festival all to itself with special menus, cookery demos and live music. The Gallivant, Webbe’s at the Fish Cafe, Globe Inn Marsh, The Mermaid Inn, Carey’s Steakhouse and Seafood, Landgate Bistro, Muddy Award winner, White Dog Inn and many more are getting involved. There’s also a harbour walk and even a big scallop quiz.
Sing-a-Longa Beauty & The Beast, Theatre Royal, Brighton, Sun 11 Feb
Sick of the songs from Frozen? This new singalong event visiting Brighton lets you and yours exercise your lungs along to the live action Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson instead. You’ll be taught hand actions beforehand and get a props bag. There’ll also be a prize for best fancy dress costumes. It’s on at 2.00pm and 7.00pm tickets are £15 adults, £12 children. All together now… “Tale as old as time…”
Griff Rhys Jones: Where Was I? Regis Centre, Bognor Regis, Sun 18 Feb/ The Old Market, Hove, Tues 27 Feb
Best known for Not the Nine o’clock News and for being one half of Smith & Jones, Griff returns with anecdotes, reminiscences and outright lies from forty years of travelling. Tickets are £18.50 at Bognor Regis on 18 Feb, £18 in Hove on 27 Feb and £15 on 9 March in at Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells.
National Trust Snowdrop spots, West Sussex, Jan & Feb
In January and February snowdrops cheer up the winter landscape. Wakehurst’s displays of snowdrops form huge drifts as you walk from the Visitor Centre and around the trees near the Mansion Pond. A new Winter Garden will be opening in February featuring snowdrops among the 35,000 plants. Volunteer guides lead a tour daily at 11.30am. At Nymans, Handcross, near Haywards Heath visitors can spot snowdrops, camellias and magnolias underplanted with daffodils and grape hyacinths. Snowdrops can also be found in the bulb meadow in the walled garden. By Valentine’s Day, over 150 different types of plant will be flowering at Nymans.
George’s Marvellous Medicine, Theatre Royal, Brighton, Tues 27 Feb – Sat 3 March
Remember when Rik Mayall read this on Jackanory back in the day? Absolute classic. Anyway here it is as a live show. A Roald Dahl adaptation that’s perfect for kids ages 5 plus, as George tries to cure his rather mean Grandmother of her nastiness with a special potion. Don’t try this at home! Tickets are from £19.
William Blake In Sussex: Visions of Albion exhibition, Petworth House, 13 Jan – 25 March
Like anyone who studied Blake at school, my main memory is learning that he used to hang out naked in his garden talking to angels in the trees. Most famous of course for the poems The Tyger and the verses that later became the hymn Jerusalem, he was also a prolific artist and from now until 25 March you can see his paintings inspired by the Sussex countryside at Petworth. Tickets are £16, including entry to the grounds.
Bring Your Own Baby comedy, Komedia, Brighton, Tues 20 Feb & 13 March
Great idea – something you can enjoy with a baby that doesn’t involve being made to behave like an infant yourself. Bring Your Own Baby is coming up the next few months at Brighton’s Komedia. It’s a proper adult, sweary daytime stand-up show with toys, lights and the like to distract under 12-month-olds. You enjoy comedy without having to book a babysitter and they’re none the wiser about any filth beyond that they are filling their nappy with. It sells out in advance so get cracking. Tickets are a tenner.
Modigliani, Tate Modern, until 2 April 2018
The Tate Modern’s comprehensive retrospective of Modigliani’s work is quite a treat. During his brief, turbulent life he developed a unique and instantly recognisable style. His nudes are a highlight with on display – the largest group ever reunited in the UK. In 1917, police closed down his only ever solo exhibition on the grounds of indecency! Also expect sculptures, and portraits of his friends, lovers and supporters, including Pablo Picasso and his partner Jeanne Hébuterne. Entry to the exhibition is £19.70 tate.org.uk
LAST CHANCE TO CATCH
Jungle Book, Chichester Festival Theatre, 25 Jan – 3 Feb
An inventive new production of the well-loved Jungle Book tale is coming to Chichester for a short run, with new songs in the mix. It’s adapted by the Olivier Award-winning Jessica Swale, directed by Max Webster who’s also worked at the Old Vic, with music by Joe Stilgoe. Tickets are from £10.
Food and room offers, Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Winchester and elsewhere, Jan, Feb, March.
Hotel du Vin and Mal Maison always decent new year offers on. This time round there’s 50% off al la carte dining at Malmasion when you use an e-voucher until 3 Feb. There’s also a current £50/£50 room offer (stay for £50 when you spend £50 in the brasserie). The nearest Mal is at Brighton Marina. At sister chain Hotel du Vin meanwhile check out the ‘Weekend Starts Early‘ Friday stay offer where your room is from £75 when you spend £75 in the bistro. They also have a similar Settle in Sundays deal which I’ve used myself several times where the rooms are from £30 – £50. The nearest Hotel du Vins are Brighton, Tunbridge Wells and Winchester.