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What’s On in Sussex in May

May 2019

Plan some fun with our look ahead at May. Watch out too for our weekly updates and half term guide.

Brighton Festival, Sat 4- Sun 26 May/ Brighton Fringe, Fri 3 May – Sun 2 June

The Warren at Brighton Fringe

The largest multi-arts festival in England, the Brighton Festival hosts a strong programme of art, theatre, dance, music, literature and family shows. Running alongside the Festival of course is the Fringe with hundreds of cool and quirky drama, comedy, spoken word, music, cabaret and kids’ events throughout the month. It’s also the biggest in England don’tcha know? Plenty of good stuff on, we’ve tickets stuck on the fridge already in Chez Muddy. Enjoy!

Jack In the Green, Hastings Sat 4 – Mon 6 May

Seeing little (and big) green men running around Hastings? No need to lay off the drink, it’s the  famous Jack In the Green festival with folk dancing, a drum off, a procession and plenty of chances to party in venues around town.

Spring Ladies Day, Lingfield Park Racecourse, Surrey, Fri 3 May

Get the girls together for an afternoon of racing and entertainment just over the border at Lingfield’s Spring Ladies’ Day. There will be live music from Gary Birtles and Lorrie Brown, a best-dressed competition and a mini-shopping village.

Good Life: Revive, Recycle, Restore, Weald & Downland Museum, Singleton near Chichester, Sun 5 & Mon 6 May

Rural communities were the masters of up-cycling and sustainable living well before it ever became fashionable. The Good Life mini festival at Weald & Downland Museum over the bank holiday will show you how to embrace the habit in today’s world. Activities include a fashion Swap Shop, a repair cafe, knit and natter, chef demos and upcycling with Salvage Sister, plus talks on eco-living, kids’ crafts, circus skills and bug hunts and mindfullness sessions for all ages.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Capitol, Horsham, Mon 29 April to Sat 4 May

Daniel Goode as Basil, Jonathan Wrather as Henry and Gavin Fowler as Dorian.

In a world obsessed with selfies, social media profiles and cosmetic surgery, Oscar Wilde’s warning story of a man whose ever-youthful appearance hides his darker side seems as relevant as ever. It comes to The Capitol, Horsham with Jonathan Wrather – best known for starring as Joe Carter in Coronation Street and Pierce Harris in Emmerdale – in the role of Lord Henry Wotton. Tickets from £21.50.

Foodies Festival, Hove Lawns, Sat 4 – Mon 6 May

This foodie fest is packed with demonstrations from Celebrity MasterChef winner John Partridge and chefs from Brighton’s top restaurants; music, including Queen tribute band Flash; an extended kids zone with cookery theatre and even a new dog zone. Tickets are £19 for a day, £29 for the weekend, £58 for a family. Under 12s go free.

Horrible Histories, Pavilion Theatre, Worthing, Fri 3 – Sun 5 May 

Everyone’s favourite history teachers are back! With not only actors but 3D special effects this time, the Horrible Histories team promise people from the past will hover at your very fingertips. You and yours have a chance to see Awful Egyptians (3 and 4 May) and/or Terrible Tudors (4 and 5 May). Tickets are £16.50 per show or £27.50 to do the double.

Cinema Paradiso/ A Star is Born (1976), Picturehouse Cinemas, Brighton and further afield, Sun 5 May /Sun 19 May

What's On in Sussex this week

Beautifully heartwarming film Cinema Paradiso, about an Italian filmmaker recalling his childhood, is getting another outing on Sun 5 May as part of Picturehouse’s Vintage Sundays season. Then, on Sun 19 May there’s a chance to see the 70s version of A Star is Born staring Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand.

Shadowlands, Chichester Festival Theatre, Fri 26 April – Sat 25 May

Hugh Bonneville plays the author C.S. Lewis of Narnia fame alongside Liz White as Joy Gresham, in this new production of heartbreaking romance Shadowlands at Chichester Festival Theatre. Keep an eye out for the Muddy review. Tickets are from £10.

Artists’ Open Houses, Brighton, Hove, Rottingdean and Ditchling, weekends Sat 4 – Sun 26 May

Buy art direct from the makers, often at nicely affordable prices, during this big celebration of Sussex’s creators. It’s the largest event of its kind in the UK with around 200,000 visiting. You also get to snoop around some lovely homes and gardens!

The Muddy Stilettos Awards, Sussex, nominations close Wed 8 May (Finals 15 – 22 May)

Nominate your favourite independent lifestyle business across Sussex in categories including cafe, destination pub, florist, photographer, bar, family attraction, fitness instructor, best newcomer and many more by Wed 8 May. The final five will go into the finals (15 – 22 May) when you’ll get a chance to vote again. 

Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of Four, Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne, Tues 30 April – Sat 4 May 

When Mary Morstan arrives at 221B, Baker Street to request help to unravel the mystery of her missing father, Holmes and Watson enter a murky world of murder, corruption and stolen jewels. There’s even a bit of romance.  It’s suitable for ages 11+ it’s a GCSE set text too this year, so handy for teens. Tickets are from £16. (Under 16s and students £9). Nice contemporary staging but faithful to the text. See the Muddy review.

The Great Escape, various venues, Brighton Thurs 9 – Sat 11 May

This is the weekend when the music industry decamps to Brighton to see up-and-coming acts. Over the years many that have played the festival have gone on to become household names, including Adele, Kasabian, Mumford & Sons, Tinie Tempah, Ellie Goulding, Rizzle Kicks and George Ezra. Three-day tickets for multitude performances are £75, but there are one off options and usually plenty of free shows in the streets (check out the square beside the library). It’s a must for music fans with the bonus that you fall out of venues close to delis and restaurants rather than into a traditional festival mudbath. Also catch the coverage on BBC 6 Music.

Arlington bluebell walk and farm trail, near Polegate, until 9 May (and other bluebell locations) 

Best bluebell walks in Sussex

The most famous of Sussex bluebell spots is the Arlington walk that has been around since 1972 and now incorporates seven trails over three farms, one of the routes wheelchair accessible. It’s open every day 10.00 to 17.00 until Sun 9 May. The website gives you ‘status updates’ of how the flowers are doing. 23 charities are involved providing refreshments. There’s also the opportunity to watch cows being milked from a viewing gallery at Parkwood Farm in the afternoons. For other bluebell locations see also our round-up feature on the best bluebell spots in Sussex with places to eat and drink nearby.

Jim Tavaré: From Deadpan to Bedpan, The Capitol, Horsham Fri 10 May / The Hawth Crawley, Mon 13 May 

In 2017 comedian, BAFTA award winner, Harry Potter actor and double bassist Jim Tavaré was involved in a near fatal car crash collision in LA. He lived to tell the tale and is bringing it to the stage, drawing the shock and humour from the tale of 30 broken bones, collapsed lungs and sky high US medical bills. The show won the Spirit of the Fringe Award in Edinburgh last year. Catch it in the studio at Horsham’s Capitol Theatre on 10 May.

Bognor Regis Big Sleep Out, Sat 11 May

To mark Stonepillow’s 30th anniversary, the Big Sleep Out is coming to Bognor Regis for the very first time. Swap your bed for a cardboard shelter for just one night, and get sponsored to sleep out, so others don’t have to. The challenge raises funds and awareness of homelessness charity Stonepillow’s work across West Sussex. Tickets are £12. Register now. There’s a similar event at Brighton Open Air Theatre in September to support the Clock Tower Sanctuary.

The Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fair, Fri 10 – Sun 12 May

Clare Trenchard Wolves at Petworth, HD Flying Colours Gallery

In the lovely setting of Petworth Park browse a tempting selection of fine period furniture, oil and watercolour paintings, clocks, vintage watches, jewellery, sculpture, silver, lighting, ceramics, glass, enamels, prints, 20th century design and more. Tickets are £10.

Best of the Fest, Women Over 50 Film Festival, The Towner, Eastboune, Sat 11 May 

The Towner gallery’s Women Over 50 Film Festival (WOFFF) celebrates older women on both sides of the camera. On 11 May a Best of the Fest programme (£8.50) mixes documentary, animation, drama and experimental short films and on the same day there’s a free accompanying workshop – How to Make a Film on Your iPhone – led by BBC journalism trainer Deirdre Mulcahy. 

Nordic Fringe Season, The Old Market, Hove, Mon 13 – Sat 18 May

2100: A Space Novelty

The Old Market has plenty of shows as part of the wider Brighton Fringe but here’s a special week from our friends in the North. There’s Daddy Issues – a comedy performance from Sweden about women who date older men; an Icelandic man’s experiences of online date having last been single decades before in I Wouldn’t Date Me Either; Reykjavik burlesque in Ladies and Gentlemen; a Norwegian homage to intergalactic adventures in 2100: A Space Novelty and much more.

Flint Barns Wine Club, Rathfinny Estate, Alfriston, Thurs 16 May 

Following the success of the first on Valentine’s Day, May see the return of the Flint Barns Wine Club.  You’ll be guided through a four-course menu, each course paired with a different wine – a good opportunity to try the estate’s newly released Sussex Sparkling.  Tables are communal and tickets are £65. Fancy staying over? Call off the taxi and enjoy 10% off a Flint Barns bedroom when you book the Wine Club.

Museums at Night, Weald & Downland Museum, Singleton nr Chichester, Fri 17 & Sat 18 May

Weald & Downland is taking part in Museums at Night with an atmospheric of a guided walk.
Follow the lamplight tour to different spaces around the museum, to hear a series of night-time stories on the theme of poaching featuring characters from history. At the end of the evening gather around an open fire for a hot drink and biscuits. Pre-booking essential, tickets are £25. 16+ and not for those easily scared. The evenings run from 9pm for around two hours.

All About Eve, NT Live, encore screenings, various cinemas, 9 May and later dates

Gillian Anderson is leading the cast of All About Eve reprising the role played by Bette Davis in the 1950 film, while Lily James, no less, stars as her ‘biggest fan’ in this tale of obsession and jealousy. The live cinema screenings sold out fast but there are still encores coming up including Crawley on 9 May,  Tunbridge Wells on 30 May and East Grinstead on 13 June. Follow the link to find your nearest.

Charleston Festival, Firle, Fri 17 – Mon 27 May

This 17 – 27 May sees the 30th Charleston Festival. It’s been on sale since late Feb but there are still some hot tickets left, including a debate on whether literature is moral or immoral, featuring Lionel Shriver of We Need to Talk About Kevin fame; Insiders/Outsiders considering the contribution of refugees from Nazi Europe to British culture; and a talk about protest in popular culture from Tate director Maria Balshaw and Emmaline Pankhurst sculptor Hazel Reev.

Dr John Cooper Clarke, The Luckiest Guy Alive, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, Thurs 16 May

The most famous performance poet of them all,  John Cooper Clarke is still packing out big venues and The Luckiest Guy Alive is his first new collection of work out in over 30 years (we’ve been listening to the audio version in the car and it’s a cracker). Sure he’ll do his greatest hits like the ultra-sweary Chickentown too. Tickets £28.50.

Best of British Gin Festival, New Inn, Hurstpierpoint, Sat 18 May

gin G&T

Muddy Award-wining wine merchants South Downs Cellars have a Best of British Gin Festival happening at the New Inn in Hurstpierpoint with over 30 of the best gins the UK has to offer, presented by the very people that make them. You pay for entry then buy tokens to taste… well perhaps not all 30 but the ones that catch your eye. Get your designated driver sorted pronto!

Chris Difford, Komedia, Brighton, Mon 20 May (and Battle in June)

Squeeze’s Chris Difford is back at Brighton’s Komedia this month, the award-winning lyricist wrote hits like Up The Junction and Cool For Cats along with Squeeze co-founder Glenn Tilbrook and has had a successful solo career besides.  Tickets are £22.50. He’s also coming up at an intimate venue in Battle in June.

Pastry, chocolate and macron making, The Artisan Bakehouse, Ashurst, Tues 21, Wed 22 and Fri 31 May

There are some tasty treat-making workshops coming up for may at the Artisan Bakehouse. On 21 May is a Sweet and Savoury  Pastry Making class. Noble & Stace experts are dropping in to lead an Artisan Chocolate Making masterclass on 22 May and, ooh la la, learn how to make melt in the mouth French Macrons on 31 May. Each class has fewer than 5 places left so get your teeth into booking. Courses cost £115-£150 which includes lunch and your treats to take home.

Spymonkey: Cooped, Pavilion Theatre, Worthing, Wed 22 – Sun 26 May

Described as Hitchcock’s Rebecca meets The Pink Panther, Spymonkey’s deliciously demented take on the pulp Gothic romance overflows with comedy characters, farce and physical comedy. Directed by Cal McCrystal, who was behind National Theatre’s One Man Two Guvnors. We saw Spymonkey’s Shakespeare Complete Deaths the other year and it was brilliant. Tickets from £12.50.

Ivo Graham, Motion Sickness, The Hawth, Crawley, Wed, 22 May

Following an acclaimed, sold-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe last year, comedian Ivo Graham is taking his show Motion Sickness on tour. It rolls into The Hawth, Crawley on Wed, 22 May.

Sussex Street Food Festival, The Stade, Hastings, Sat 25 – Mon 27 May

Hastings will host the Sussex Street Food Festival over the second May bank holiday weekend. Some of the best foodie treats from across the world from arancini balls to doughy churros to jerk chicken, Vietnamese food and more will be available from a wide range of stalls on the Stade. Register now for a free ticket to guarantee entry at peak times and you’ll be entered in a prize draw to win a meal and cocktail each for four people.

Andrew Maxwell: Showtime, Komedia, Brighton, Fri 24 May

On Muddy’s list of reliably good stand ups is Andrew Maxwell. Edinburgh Fringe critics think so too as he got a host of five-star reviews for his last outing with Showtime. Now he’s bringing it to Brighton with a mix of personal stories, political observations and the odd surprise foray into character cameos.  Tickets are £14.

The Guilty Feminist, The Brighton Centre, Sun 26 May  

Host of the hit comedy podcast The Guilty Feminist and author of the book of the same name, Deborah Frances-White, tackles the state of 21st century feminism in her touring version of the show. Tickets from £16.75.

Big Bank Holiday Family Fun Day, Fontwell Park Racecourse, Sun 26 May

One the most popular event days in the calendar at Fontwell happens on the late May bank holiday. The Family Fun Day sees free entertainment for all including inflatable fun with an assault course, mini horse racing, a bouncy castle and laser quest, pony rides for kids, circus performances and a funfair. Bring a picnic and watch seven exciting horse races. Book in advance to save £5 off the adult price. Under 18s go free.

Shift, The Old Market, Hove, 28 May – 2 June

The Barely Methodical Troupe are returning to The Old Market with their latest show, Shift. The contemporary circus outfit have been creating a storm over the last five years with their shows Bromance and Kin (Muddy saw the latter and it was great!) so this looks like a must see. Tickets are £12.

Lewes Railwayland Holidays Clubs, May half term and Summer hols, Tues 28 – Fri 31 May and later dates

Book now for this popular holiday club running again from May half term, where children can rise to the fire lighting challenge, build dens, discover pond life, listen to stories and join in games, crafts and campfire cooking. Older children signed up for the full four days will also have the opportunity to achieve the John Muir Award. 2019 clubs run 28 May – 31 May, 29 July – 1 August, 5 August – 8 August and 28 Oct – 29 Oct. Book for two-day or four-day sessions.

Replicate Your Clothes workshops, Sew in Brighton, May, June and July dates

Been glued (or Velcroed?) to the Great British Sewing Bee? Brush up your own skills on one of the popular Replicate Your Clothes workshops from Sew in Brighton. Make a pattern from a fave outfit to recreate in a different fabric, or tweak the original. There are several dates coming up.


Isle of Wight Walking Festival, Sat 4 – Sun 19 May

Catherines Lighthouse

St Catherine’s Lighthouse

Best foot forward, the popular Isle of Wight Walking Festival returns for 2019 with the best walks, scenic strolls and adventurous ambles. Whether you’re a serious walker or just want to discover more of the beautiful area, there’s a huge range of guided walks and events throughout the calendar to get you moving. Plus, there’s more than ample opportunity to stop at some of the fabulous drinking establishments on offer while you work your way around.

Mary Quant, V&A, London, Until Feb 2020

Must-see exhibitions in London at the moment include the V&A’s retrospective of iconic 1960s designer and the mother of  miniskirts, Mary Quant. It features over 200 garments, accessories and exclusive unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive.


Indian supper club, Billycan Camping, Manor Farm, Arundel, Sat 1 June

Campfire curry? Sounds heavenly. Learn to prepare a lamb mince starter and wholemeal Indian paratha (naan bread) followed by an Indian inspired 4 course dinner in the beautiful surroundings of BillyCan farmland with Jaya who runs an Indian cookery school in Surrey. £60 per adult, £75 for adult and one child, £85 for an adult and two children


Dinosaur World Live, The Capitol, Horsham, Tues 4 – Wed 5 June 

This interactive family show brings life-like beasts to the stage, so if your child would like to tickle T-Rex under the chin get get some tickets in the bag.

 Mud Monsters Run, near East Grinstead, Sun 9 June

Are you up for tackling the fun Mud Monsters Run obstacle course challenge near East Grinstead? Grab your partner or friends and take on slides, walls, tyres, streams, monkey bars and more in pursuit of a medal. There are 5km, 10km and 20km circuits to choose from and the spirit is camaraderie more than competition. The next Mud Monsters Run is on 9 June. Entry from £49, with discounts for teams of 10+

An evening of Eric & Ern, Pavilion Theatre, Worthing, Sat 22 June

There was a time when the Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show was watched by millions. Now the late comedians’ best sketches are being resurrected in this seasonal live show that getting great reviews. I can’t believe no one’s thought of this before! It’s back in Sussex at Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre in June.

Shakespeare’s Globe comes to Brighton Open Air Theatre, 10 – 13 July

 One of my fave days of last summer was spent with a hat and a picnic watching the Globe at BOAT. They’re back again with the same format whereby audience cheers decide which play gets performed on the day with a choice of The Comedy of Errors, Pericles and Twelfth Night this year. Tickets have just been released. Book now for 10 – 13 July. £17.50, or £45 for a family ticket.

Margaret Atwood in conversation, Brighton Dome, Thurs 31 Oct

Catch The Handmaid’s Tail author Margaret Atwood being interviewed on stage this autumn – Halloween in fact – and talking about her much anticipate sequel The Testaments. Tickets are from £19.50.

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