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What’s On in Sussex this week

16 - 24 Aug

A free airshow, a festival with a fire-breathing dragon, woodland camping, alfresco films and theatre and stuff to book ahead including a chance to see the actual sets from Friends in this week’s What’s On in Sussex. Plus more for kids for the school hols here.

Airbourne, Eastbourne seafront, Thurs 16 – Sun 19 Aug

Eastbourne’s International Airshow boasts a two mile flying display line along the seafront with military and civilian aviation display teams including the RAF Red Arrows, Tigers parachute display team and more, and all for free! This year the Red Arrows will fly on the Fri, Sat and Sun. Ground displays open 10.00am – 6.00pm daily, with flying happening in a packed schedule from lunchtime until around 5.00pm. It’s a great, if noisy, day out.

Screen On the Green, Littlehampton, Fri 17 and Sat 18 Aug 

Back for it’s 5th year on East Green, this addition to the outdoor cinema in Sussex scene has the bonus of being free and non-ticketed. Just bring a rug to sit on. On Fri 17 Aug it’s an outdoor outing for recent hit The Greatest Showman. On Sat 18 Aug it’s the turn of family film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Both films will start at 8:45pm. Bring a picnic or buy Mexican street food or Dominos pizza… or sweets from the pick n’ mix stall! Soft drinks are on sale and you can BYO booze.

The Merchant of Venice, Arundel Castle, Fri 17 and Sat 18 Aug

Medieval Arundel Castle will be the backdrop for outdoor performances of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice as touring theatre group Illryia put on two evening performances alfresco. The event kicks off the 40th annual Arundel Festival (see below). Performances start 7.30 and tickets are from £20 for adults, £15 for children.

Pop-up woodland camping, Great Walstead School, Lindfield, until 28th August

Great Walstead school has launched its first pop-up campsite this August opening up its private woods for families to camp in the wilderness, switch off and enjoy getting back to basics. Prices are from £25 for two adults for a night. I visited the school at the end of term and met pupils on an overnight camping out and the woods are gorgeous and extensive.


Artwave, Lewes, Seaford and Newhaven, various locations, Sat 18 Aug – 2 Sept

Retro wallpaper by Anna Hayman

Artwave takes in three towns and their surrounding villages over three weekends and showcases the work of talented local artists. It’s not just about galleries, you get to mooch about in studios, gardens, workshops and artists’ own homes for free. There are over 150 venues with all sorts of work to admire and buy.

Sunset Screenings, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, Sat 18 and 25 Aug

The De La Warr is putting on Sunset Screenings on an outside sea-facing wall this August, with retro family-friendly options to keep kids giggling and adults sighing with nostalgia. Still to come are Back to the Future, (18 Aug) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (25 Aug). Bet you still hide from the Child Catcher, eh? Sunset is expected around 8.30pm and there are live bands and a DJ from 2pm and family-friendly activities from 6.00pm beforehand. Best of all, it’s all free! Full the full Muddy round-up of outdoor screenings in and near Sussex see here.

Arundel Festival, various Arundel locations, 18 – 27 Aug 

Arundel Festival is back, so get set for burlesque, dragon boat racing, a treasure hunt, a South Downs bike trail, guided walks, an art trail, a singing workshop, a family history weekend at the castle, theatre indoors and out and a fire-breathing dragon! As this is the 40th anniversary there will also be a 70s themed party in the town square on bank holiday Monday.

England’s Medieval Festival, Herstmonceux Castle, Fri 24 – Mon 27 Aug 

England’s Medieval Festival brings the Middle ages to lovely Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex this August. Over 1,000 costumed performers travel from across Europe to help recreate the spectacle with jousting knights, court jesters, siege recreations and crafts like blacksmithing and arrow making, with a chance to have a go at many. Children can even join warrior and princess schools. Advance day tickets are £17 for adults, £7 for children over 5, £46 for families. Don’t miss our Muddy prize draw to win a family weekend ticket with camping worth £250!

Bat Walk, Woods Mill Nature Reserve, Henfield, Thurs 21 Aug

Once the sun sets the bats emerge from their roosting spots around Woods Mill. Join a talk and walk to look and listen for them using bat detecting equipment. The event us free, though booking is essential as places are limited.

Family Art Activities, Charleston House, Firle near Lewes, Sun 19 Aug & Sun 2 Sept

Charleston already has an artistic tradition and it’s now inviting families to create their own art while visiting. Free sessions are hosted by the house’s friendly volunteers, during which you can create a range of exiting things including paper lampshades and clay models. Activities have been inspired by the art and lives of the Bloomsbury group. Parents or carers are required to stay with their children and to create artworks together. It’s for everyone aged 3 and over.

Byline Festival, Pippingford Park near Uckfield, Fri 24 – Mon 27 Aug 

I was at the debut of this journalistic-themed festival last year and I’ve booked again for this August. It mixes debate and workshops with music, comedy and more, in a low-key, good value event, with free camping. The line-up so far includes visits from John Cleese, Hugh Grant, Gary Lineker and Andy Hamilton plus the Cambridge Analytica whistleblowers in debate, while Pussy Riot, Badly Drawn Boy, The Priscillas and The Blow Monkeys provide the music. There are kids’ activities too and camping is free. Advance tickets are £50 for a day (£20 children) £120 for the full festival, with a £199 deal for a family of up to four. Look out for early-bird bargains for next year after it closes.

Various shows, Brighton Open Air Theatre, until 30 Sept

B.O.A.T in Dyke Road Park is a lovely space to lounge with a picnic and catch adults and kids shows, comedy and more. Still to come this summer the programme includes Little Women (21 Aug), Treasure Island (22 Aug), The Railway Children (2 Sept), The Wizard of Oz (29 Sept) and the Brighton Beach Boys (30 Sept).

Wiggly Weekend, Fishers Adventure Farm Park, Wisborough Green,  18 Aug – 19 Aug and later dates

Alongside its regular attractions, Fishers has an action-packed range of holiday events. Next up is Wiggly Weekend (18 Aug – 19 Aug) letting children encounter reptiles, bugs and amphibians from around the world. Finally, a Beach Party (25 Aug – 26 Aug) will include games like volleyball and limbo plus a water slide then there’s a chance to earn a medal for completing the assault course on Army Weekend (01 Sep – 02 Sep).

Picturehouse pop-up cinema, Preston Manor, Brighton, 23 – 26 Aug 

Brighton’s Picturehouse is going alfresco at Preston Manor for the end of August with a singalong version of The Greatest Showman (23 Aug), cult classic Donnie Darko (24 Aug), Thelma and Louise (25 Aug) and the recent re-release of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine (26 Aug). Films start around 8pm, or dusk. Bring cushions and a (booze-free) picnic, there will be a cash-only bar on site.

Musical picnics, Borde Hill Gardens, near Haywards Heath, Suns in Aug

You don’t have to go full Glyndebourne for music and alfresco lounging this summer. Borde Hill Gardens has musical picnics on Sundays in August from jazz to brass bands. The entertainment is free with garden entry and Pimms is available. There’s also a programme of children’s events for the school hols.

2 for 1 Oriental package, The Beauty Island Sanctuary, Worthing, until 31 Aug

You don’t need a flight to Asia this summer to get a taste of the Far East. The Beauty Island Sanctuary in Worthing has a bargain two for one Oriental Spa package featuring an hour’s Thai Fusion Body Massage and an hour’s Thai Fusion facial, both using hot stones, plus an hour’s use of its spa zone with hydrotherapy pool and sauna, plus soft drinks and fruit on hand. The package, for two, costs £130 on Tues and Thurs or £145 on Suns.

Children’s Have A Go Volleyball sessions, Yellow Wave, Brighton, Tues 21 and Thurs 30 Aug

This beach volleyball court with a nice cafe on Madeira Drive is a great family-friendly place to hang out at any time and watch sportier people doing their thing, especially as there’s a sandpit on site and a playground next door. For the school holidays it has Have a Go sessions for children mixing fun games, drills and skills. There are different times for 5-7s, 8-11s and 12-16s and each session is £6.50. Leaflets are available on site, or give them a call.

Nicole Kidman short film season, Hever Festival Theatre, Kent, Tues 21 – Fri 24 Aug

More alfresco film action. Celebrate the flame-haired Aussie actress with a series of her films including Moulin RougeThe Stepford Wives (2004 reboot) and Eyes Wide Shut (they seem to have brushed over Australia – very wise, it was a shocker). The theatre is outdoors but the seating is covered.

Science Saturdays, Petworth House, Sat 18 August

Book ahead for Science Saturdays at Petworth House this Saturday. Join hands-on workshops from Dragon’s Den winners Sublime Slime filled with goo, smoke and bubbles. Children also get the chance to create their own sweets. It’s £7 per child and will depart from Church Lodge reception to a secret location, so house entry tickets are not required. Book ahead on 0344 249 1895. The house also has an inventors’ trail inspired by former inhabitant and experimenter Elizabeth Ilive and suitable for 4- 12s.

Polo at Cowdray, until Sun 23rd Sept

The public are welcome to watch polo at Cowdray throughout the season, with matches held every Sat, Sun and Bank Holiday Mon and on most weekdays. Bring your own picnic, or order one from the Cowdray Farm Shop & Cafe. There’s also a snack bar in the grounds. Except during the Gold Cup, weekends and bank hols tickets are £5 each (under 12’s free) and weekdays are free. Call 01730 813257 or see the tournament section of the website for the day’s play.

Torchlight tours and backstage workshops, Theatre Royal, Brighton, 17 & 18 Aug

There are torchlight tours on 17 & 18 Aug (£8.50) and a technical Backstage World workshops for older children exploring light, sound and more (£8.50 or £22.50 for an adult and two children). Look out too for the theatre out and about at the BAi360 terrace on 21 Aug, with free seaside-themed arts and crafts.


Me & My Girl, Chichester Festival Theatre, Mon 2 July – Sat 25 Aug

Me and My Girl review, Me and My Girl, Chichester Festival Theatre, Me & My Girl

Photo by Johan Persson

Following the success of Half A Sixpence, which transferred to the West End, Chichester Festival Theatre has launched another cracker of a retro musical. Matt Lucas and Caroline Quentin star in Me and My Girl, the tale of a cockney barrow boy who inherits a fortune and the Duchess intent on transforming him, Pygmalion style. The Sun Has Got His Hat On and The Lambeth Walk are the well known numbers. Tickets are from £10.  Read the Muddy review here.

Worthing Museum & Art Gallery, Dressed to Impress: Netsuke and Japanese men’s fashion, until 25 Aug

WMA has teamed up with the British Museum for the first time for a special exhibition exploring Japanese men’s fashion during the Edo period (1615-1868). The BM has brought items out of storage for the summer in a rare display of clothes, accessories and prints spanning 200 years. Entry is free.


Friendsfest, Preston Park, Brighton Fri 7 Sept till Sun 16 Sept

“Oh – My – God!”  as Janice would say, the actual sets from Friends are popping up in Brighton! Yes, you can look round Monica’s, Joey and Chandler’s and Ross’s apartments and Central Perk, see original memorabilia and take part in Friends-themed activities including the chance to recreate the title sequence. Weekends have sold out already but there are plenty of weekday afternoon and evening slots still. The tours run at ten minute intervals between noon and 22.00. I have a ticket myself. Could I be any more excited? It’s £27.50 plus booking fee (so £29 if you print at home) pricey but unique.

The Play That Goes Wrong Mon 27 Aug – Sat 1 Sept / West End Comedy Theatre Workshop, Tues 28 – Fri 31 Aug

Tickets are selling fast for this West End hit on tour. The farce is all about a Drama Society’s attempts to stage a 1920s murder mystery battling on through collapsing sets and the like. It won an Olivier award for best new comedy and apparently made Joanna Lumley cry with laughter. You can test it out for yourself with tickets from £16. Meanwhile, 10 – 16s can learn the secrets of silliness in a West End Comedy Theatre Workshop before watching the show and meeting one of the cast. Slapstick and physical theatre are to the fore in this multi-day drop off. The course fee is £100 and sessions run for at least five hours a day at varied times.

Surrealists’ Picnic, Farleys House Farm, Chiddingly, Sun 26 Aug

Here’s something weird and wonderful. The second annual Surrealist Picnic is being held at the former home of Vogue fashion and war photographer, model, cook and surrealist Lee Miller. There will be jazz bands and surreal performance and dressing up is encouraged. Light up cockroaches in blue jelly was among dishes last year, so get creative! The event runs 4 – 8pm and tickets are £15.

The Children in the Moon, Charleston, Wed 29 August

The Make Shift Ensemble present an original take on centuries-old children’s verse packed with puppetry and live music and presented outdoors. Spend an afternoon in the beautiful grounds of Charleston and bring a picnic. Afterwards there will be the opportunity to get creative – use clay to create a glittery moon dish, design mini books, make magical hanging stars from willow, paint story stones, draw and paint in the garden. Tickets are £6 adutls, £4 children.

Horrible Histories, The Capitol, Horsham, Thurs 13 – Sun 16

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. On Thurs 13 – Sat 15 it’s Awful Egyptians and Thurs 13 – Sun 16 Terrible Tudors, with various day and evening times to chose. Tickets are £15.

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