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What’s On in Sussex Jan 2020

Jan 2020

Plenty of ways to pep up your new year in our January What’s On in Sussex.

1927: Roots, The Old Market, Hove, Fri 3 Jan to Sat 18 Jan 

Here’s an antidote to everything sparkly to start the new year. From the company behind Golem and The Animals and Children Took To The Streets, this brand new show is a collection of rarely told folktales, brought to life to a live score and fusing intricately handcrafted animation, the style of early cinema and a fondness for the fantastic, the dark, the weird and the wonderful. Check out the trailer. Advised for ages 12+  Tickets from £22.

Storytelling/ winter walks & castle tours /Bodiam Castle, selected dates Mon 6 Jan – Fri 14 Feb. 

On weekends between 11 Jan and 2 Feb join costumed storytellers for medieval-inspired children’s stories in a candlelit tower at Bodiam Castle, recreating a winter tradition from days of yore. Free with admission. Look out too for a series of weekday winter walks and castle tours coming up from Mon 6 Jan. If you’re really organised, book ahead for the Valentine’s Dinner nights in Feb.

Thriller Live, Theatre Royal, Brighton, Wed 8 Jan – Sat 11 Jan (& Crawley in Feb)

The long running West End show is on tour and dropping into Brighton with over two hours of Michael Jackson hits and dances covering pop, rock, soul and disco. Tickets from £16.65. It’s also coming up in Crawley, 17-22 Feb.

Wellbeing workshops, Brooklands Barn, Arundel, various Jan and later dates

Happy new you! There are numerous wellness retreats of a day or more coming up at Brooklands Barn including a New Year Body retreat (6 – 8 Jan) Pilates (15 – 17 Jan and 31 Jan – 2 Feb), Depression recovery (27 – 29 Jan), Mayura Detox and Cleanse (24 – 26 Jan) and Yoga and Meditation (7 – 9 Feb). Plenty more too throughout spring.

All About Eve, NT Live, encore screenings, various cinemas, Jan 9 – 18 and early Feb dates

Gillian Anderson plays the role made famous by Bette Davis in the 1950 film while Lily James stars as her ‘biggest fan’ in this tale of obsession and jealousy. The live cinema screening was in spring 2019 but there’s another batch of encores coming up including Portsmouth (Thurs 9 Jan), Croydon (Thurs 9 Jan), Horsham (Wed 15 Jan) Worthing (Sat 18 Jan) and Uckfield (Mon 3 Feb). Follow the link to find your nearest.

One day courses, West Dean College, near Chichester, various dates 10 Jan onwards

Among the many arts and craft courses from short to full-time at West Dean College are numerous one day workshops for beginners and improvers. Consider the likes of enamel silver earring making (10 Jan); Silversmithing (16 Jan); Screen printing on fabric (23 Jan); making a felted ‘cobweb’ scarf (24 Jan); stone carving (25 Jan); introduction to Life Drawing (26 Jan) and jewellery making (29 Jan). Most cost under £150 and there are many more throughout spring. As a bonus, the college is set within the lovely West Dean Gardens.

Pub dog walk from The Highdown, Goring, Sat 11 Jan

The next of The Goring’s regular dog walks is on Sat 11 Jan. Meet at 10.00 in the pub for Danish pastries and a hot cuppa before setting off at 10:30. The walk takes just over an hour, getting back in perfect time for a spot of lunch. No tickets required for the walk but drop The Highdown an email at to let them know you’re coming. You’ll also need to book if you’re staying for lunch.

The Ultimate Sussex Cruise Show, Fontwell Park Racecourse, Sun 12 Jan

Considering a cruise? Some ships accommodate 80 passengers, some 6500. Some are geared to active families, others to pensioners… and that’s before we even get onto the itineraries – from the Med to the Antarctic… and price – from good value to all-out luxe. Find the right line for you at this show, featuring the likes of Princess Cruises and Cunard. From 10:00 – 15.00 Free entry, free parking.

West Side Story, Sun 12 Jan, Depot, Lewes

What's On in Sussex this week

As part of the BFI’s touring season of musicals the Sharks and the Jets clash in West Side Story, the Sixties New York set musical update of Romeo and Juliet. This screening at Depot in Lewes is followed by a Q&A with Glyndebourne artistic director Stephen Langridge. Adult non-members £8. It’s also on at Shoreham’s Ropetackle on Thurs 9 Jan for film club members and their guests only (£6).

Free Jan admission/ Design Your Own Garden course, Denmans Garden, Fontwell, throughout Jan / weekly on Mons 13 Jan – 30 March & 20 April – 6 July

Get in free to Denmans in January, have lunch or cake in the tea room and see which early spring plants are peeping. If you’ve a new year’s resolution to get your garden in order you can also, from 13 Jan, join an inspiring Design Your Own Garden course led by experts Nigel Phillips FSGD and Amanda Patton MSGD. Learn to evaluate the potential of your garden, measure and draw up a plan, and choose the right plants and where they fit in your design. Classes will be held on Mons from 10.00 — 13.00 at Denmans, with scheduled visits to other gardens. £575 one term, £1,000 two terms.

Present Laughter, NT Live from The Old Vic, various cinemas, 13 Jan onwards 

As he prepares to embark on an overseas tour, star actor Garry Essendine’s colourful life is in danger of spiralling out of control. Engulfed by an escalating identity crisis as his many and various relationships compete for his attention, Garry’s few remaining days at home are a chaotic whirlwind of love, sex, panic and soul-searching. It’s a Noel Coward classic filmed at the Old Vic starring Andrew Scott. Basically another excuse to see the hot priest from Fleabag! Find your nearest screening via the link.

Galapagos paper-cut art exhibition, BlackShed gallery, Robertsbridge, until 1 Feb

Catch some beautiful, intricate pictures from paper-cut artist Ian Penney in the Galapagos exhibition at BlackShed gallery in converted farm buildings at Robertsbridge. This new collection has been inspired by Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species and The Voyage of the Beagle and travels from the Galapagos to Darwin’s own garden where he bred pigeons.

The Buddy Holly Story, The Hawth, Crawley, Mon 13 & Tues 14 Jan 

Few stories are as bittersweet as that of Buddy Holly who was both hugely successful and tragically killed at an early age. The multi award-winning West End show of his life story is the most successful rock ‘n’ roll musical of all time and you can catch it in Sussex. All the feel-good hits are there Raining In My Heart, That’ll Be The Day, Everyday, Peggy Sue and more. See the Muddy review from when it last came to Sussex and bag one of the last few tickets – most left are around £35. It’s also coming to Hastings in May.

An introduction to Mindfulness, Flint Barns at Rathfinny Wine Estate, Polegate, Wed Jan 15

If tackling stress is among your New Year resolutions, check out this vineyard mindfulness morning. Following a healthy cooked breakfast, practicioner Elizabeth Martin will conduct an immersive 45-minute wellbeing session of cognitive techniques and short mindfulness meditations. Learn how to become consciously aware of your thoughts and shift your emotions into intentions. £20.

Spa Open Evening, Chichester Harbour Hotel, Thurs 16 Jan

Come and join the friendly spa therapists at Chichester Harbour Hotel’s HarSPA for bubbles and canapés, a tour, treatment demos and goodie bags between 17.00 and 19.00 on Thurs 16 Jan and get yourself 10% off all treatments, products and vouchers purchased during the event. Book a place via or 01243 680165.

One day art classes, The Globe Inn Marsh, Rye, 16 & 30 Jan (and 13 & 26 Feb)

Kick off your creativity in 2020. The Globe Inn Marsh at Rye has one day art classes with expert tuition for groups of up to six coming up twice a month in January and February. From £95 per person including lunch, coffee, refreshments and all materials.

Ballet Theatre UK: Wizard of Oz, The Capitol, Horsham, Thurs 16 Jan

Here’s a refreshing way to see The Wizard of Oz on stage. Ballet Theatre UK will be dancing up the Yellow Brick Road this January in a full length family-friendly production based on the original novel. It’s helping to cheer up January at The Capitol, Horsham.

Sleeping Beauty, ROH Live, various cinemas, Thurs 16 Jan and later dates

Tchaikovsky’s enchanting score and Marius Petipa’s original choreography beautifully combine with sections created for The Royal Ballet by Frederick Ashton, Anthony Dowell and Christopher Wheeldon in this performance screened at various cinemas on Thurs 16 Jan and other dates. Find your nearest on the link.

Historic Life Weekend: Stories, Weald & Downland Museum, Sat 18 Jan – Sun 19 Jan

Wrap up warm and make your way between different historic homes to listen to stories around the fire. There will be a variety of old tales, classics and new works inspired by the museum (10.30 – 16.00). The Saturday of the same weekend sees a wassailing event. Help create some noise as part of a tree ceremony (13.00, 14.15 and 15.30) in the hope of a good harvest. Free with admission.

Birdwatching walk, from The Globe Inn Marsh, Rye, Sun 19 Jan & Sun 16 Feb

Join local artist and keen bird-watcher James Tomlinson on a ramble through the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. James will discuss environmental issues facing the area and highlight the great work of the people at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, Sussex Wildlife and Friends of Rye Harbour. Start at the Globe Inn Marsh on Military Road for coffee and a bacon butty from 9,00 before setting off in the Ramblinns bus at 9.45 to ramble (around 2 to 2.5 hours), then get a bus ride back to the Globe. Places strictly limited to 12 people. £12.50 per head with funds benefittng Rye Harbour’s forthcoming Education Centre.

Swan Lake / Sleeping Beauty, St Petersburg Classic Ballet, The Hawth, Crawley, Mon Jan 20 /Tues Jan 21

Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet accompanied by a full orchestra are bringing the best loved Russian ballets – Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty to the UK on a new year tour and they’re dropping into Crawley in late Jan. Tickets 37.50 per ballet or binge on both for £62.50.

Blithe Spirit, Theatre Royal, Brighton, Wed 22 Jan – Sat 25 Jan

By all accounts Jennifer Saunders is ab fab in this latest revival of Noel Coward’s well-loved comedy Blithe Spirit. Novelist Charles Condomine and his second wife Ruth are literally haunted by a past relationship when an eccentric medium (played by Saunders) accidentally conjures up the ghost of his first wife, Elvira, at a séance. Tickets from £16.65.

Burns Night, Chichester Harbour Hotel, Sat 25 Jan

Xmas and New Year are over but here’s the next excuse to party. Scot or not, Burns Night is a good reason to eat, drink and be merry. Chichester Harbour Hotel is among places putting on a special evening. There’ll even be a piper! It’s £27.50 a head with a welcome drink and three courses, or £45 with three matched whiskies or wines.

Country Music Night for Chestnut Tree House, Knockhatch Adventure Park, Hailsham, Sat 25 Jan

Dance along to music from Mick Sweetman and the Golden Spurs Country Music Club all in the good cause of raising money for the Chestnut Tree House charity. Pizza, burgers, chips and soft drinks will be on sale at the Hungry Toad Cafe. BYO booze. Tickets £5 each.

Early bird openings, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Arundel,  Sat 25 Jan – Sun 26 Jan

Up with the lark? The WWT Wetland centre at Arundel is opening early at 8.00, just 15 mins after sunrise, for you to catch the ‘golden hour’ when the reserve is awakening. Regular admission applies.

Beat the Blues Raceday, Fontwell Park Racecourse, Sun 26 Jan 

Worked your way nearly through Jan and in need of a pick-me-up. How about a day out watching seven races at the UK’s Only figure of 8 jumps track? Tickets start from £10 and under 18s go free, or you can treat yourself to a meal above the track with a £49 (Jan sale price) Premier Restaurant ticket.

Noble and Stace chocolate workshops, Ashurst/Midhurst, Tues 28 Jan and later dates, 

The next Noble and Stace chocolate-making workshops with availability are coming up at the  The Artisan Bakehouse, Ashurst on Tues 28 Jan (and same venue Fri 13 March) – £115 per person, including tea, coffee, cake and a two-course lunch with wine. There a special Valentine’s masterclass too on Tues 11 Feb. There’s a workshop too at South Downs Centre, Midhurst on Wed 5 Feb £99 including tea or coffee. Have a fun experience and produce plenty of your own handcrafted chocs, truffles and bars to take home. Check out the Muddy review here.

National Trust snowdrop spots, Nymans, Sheffield Park and Petworth, Jan & Feb 

Image National Trust, Meghan Doran

In January and February we rely on plucky snowdrops to cheer up the winter landscape. Nymans, Sheffield Park and Petworth are among the best spots to catch them.

ROH Live Coppélia, various cinemas, various dates until 21 April

This classic story of love, mischief and mechanical dolls returns and is being screened from the Royal Ballet on various dates. Use the search bar in the link to find the nearest screening to you for this and other shows.

Various workshops, The Artisan Bakehouse, Ashurst near Steyning, 29 Jan and later dates

There’s just one place left for gluten-free breadmaking on 29 Jan (£135) at The Artisan Bakehouse. Other tasty small group workshops coming up include introductions to breadmaking and sourdough and Glorious Grains (Feb), Irish baking (March), Easter baking, pastry making and chocolate making (April).

Kaiser Chiefs, The Brighton Centre, Thurs 30 Jan

Music from the upcoming album besides some faves no doubt as Kaiser Chiefs come to Brighton. As a bonus Razorlight are special guests. There’s also support from Life. Tickets various prices.

Northern Lights, South Downs Planetarium, Chichester, Fri 31 Jan

Chichester’s planetarium has one of a series of seasonal astronomy shows at the end of the month, looking at the wonderful Northern Lights, (Fri 31 Jan). Tickets are £7 adults, £5 children.

Tutankhamun – Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh, Saatchi Gallery, until 3 May

One of the biggest cultural events in the winter calendar, this exhibit features 150+ original artefacts found in the Pharaoh’s tomb that was famously unearthed in 1922. Tickets from £24.50 (off peak).


Frog Trail/ Flights of Fancy: the Wondrous World of Quentin Blake, Nymans, Haywards Heath, Frogs till 5 Jan / Art till 19 April

Welcome to Planet Zog ©A P Watt at United Agents on behalf of Quentin Blake

The new year has come to Nymans and it’s frog shaped! Until Sun 5 Jan, look out for froggy sculptures in the National Trust garden inspired by Quentin Blake’s The Story of the Dancing Frog, created by Wild in Art and painted by artist John Thompson. Dogs as well as frogs are welcome every afternoon (trail £1 plus admission). The exhibition Flights of Fancy: the Wondrous World of Quentin Blake meanwhile continues until 19 April, free with admission.

Ice rinks, various Sussex locations, until late Jan / Feb

ice rinks in Sussex, skatingin Sussex, pop-up rinks in Sussex

Rinks at Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Bognor and Crawley close in Jan, Worthing’s in Feb. Find your nearest rink in Sussex and nearby in our Muddy round-up.

William Blake, Tate Britain, London, until 2 Feb

Poet, painter and printmaker William Blake created some of the most iconic images in British art. This new exhibition, the largest of Blake’s work for almost 20 years, features over 300 original works, as well as a recreation of the small domestic room in which he showed his paintings in 1809. I’ve been and thought the vibrant colour and detail in some of the illustrations was remarkable. £18.


Romesh Ranganathan, The Cynic’s Mixtape, Congress Theatre, Eastbourne, Tues 21 and Wed 22 April/ Brighton Dome Sat 6 June

Fresh from The Reluctant Landlord,  The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan, A League Of Their Own and  Judge Romesh, the comedian is going back on the road to talk about all the things he has found unacceptable since his last tour, including why why none of us are truly free, and his suspicion that his wife is using gluten intolerance to avoid sleeping with him. Get in quick, it’s down to the last few tickets already!

Josie Long: Tender,  The Hawth, Crawley / Pavilion Theatre, Worthing, Wed 5 Feb /  Feb Sat 22 Feb 

Photo by Giles Smith

A confident, very likeable comedian, Josie Long has been around a while but this is her first new show in five years. It’s a tale of new motherhood that in the wrong hands could be a self-indulgent yawn-fest, as she’s well aware (“I believe I may be the only woman this has ever happened to…”) but she does a cracking set which veers through trying to urgently get an expensive chicken cooked while in labour to her concerns about climate change. I saw it at Edinburgh Fringe last year and it was a hugely enjoyable show. It’s at Crawley on 5 Feb (£18) and Worthing on 22 Feb (£15.50).

Vegan Feast Cookery Workshop, Brooklands Barn, Arundel, Tues 11 Feb

Already vegan, or on your new year resolution list? On this special demo cookery day ay Brooklands Barn Retreat, Toni, creator of will show you how to make family vegan staples including nut roast with homemade gravy, easy lasagne and scrummy chocolate brownies.

In Loyal Company, Connaught Studio, Worthing, Thurs 13 Feb

I saw this wonderful show at Edinburgh Fringe last year where it sold out. David William Bryan is an acting tour de force, throwing himself (quite literally a lot of the time) into the role of his great uncle – a WWII soldier and prisoner of war – plus a host of other characters along the way. It’s a highly physical performance leaving poor Bryan drenched in sweat and with a standing ovation for his efforts. A bittersweet true-life story that will make you laugh and cry. Tickets from £14. Ages 8+

Zog, The Capitol, Horsham, Thurs 6  – Sat 8 Feb

From the kiddy lit masterminds behind The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, Zog, the story of an eager to please dragon, is bound to win the hearts of the littlies. Tickets £15.50 (kids/concessions £13.50) It’s also coming up at Brighton Dome 19 – 21 Feb.

Rufus Wainwright with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, White Rock Theatre, Hastings, Fri 28 Feb

Highly acclaimed pop singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright stars with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Feb as part of Hastings International Piano Festival.

Compiled by Debbie Ward

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