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What’s On this week in Sussex

Thurs 5 - Fri 13 Dec 2019

Pub dog walk from The Highdown, Goring, Sat 7 Dec

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 need to book if you’re staying for lunch.

Kate’s Bakes installation, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, Thurs 5 Dec – Sun 29 Dec

Pallant House is home this Christmas to the newly opened installation ‘Kate’s Bakes’, a sumptuous bakery of knit and crochet baked goods by textile artist Kate Jenkins well known for reimagining everyday items in wool. Visitors will find part of the 18th century townhouse transformed into a festive bakery. The only difference is that every cake, mince pie and gingerbread man has been knitted or crocheted!

Arundel by Candlelight/ Xmas market, Arundel town centre, Sat 7 Dec 

On Sat Dec 7 in historical Arundel the streets will be taken over with choirs, musicians and a Christmas market and steam fair (noon to 19.00). Meet Father Christmas at Arundel Museum, follow the Arundel Gallery Trail and look out for a stilt walking Scrooge!

Artists’ Open Houses, various locations, Brighton and Hove, weekends Sat 23 Nov – Sun 8 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 a couple at Ditchling and Peacehaven. Plan your route online or pick up a brochure.

The Ho, Ho, Ho! Christmas Show, The Park Barn (opposite The Capitol), Horsham, Sat 7 & Sun 8, Tues 10 – Mon 16, Wed 18 – Tues 24

Got wee ones too young for Panto? They can help busy Steve the elf as he wraps presents and feeds the reindeer in Santa’s workshop. Every child gets to meet Father Christmas after the show. Performances are at child-friendly times of the day. Tickets are £12.50. Suitable for ages 3+ babes in arms also welcome (free). There’s a SEND performance on 15 Dec.

 The Christians, The Factory Live, Worthing, Fri 6 Dec


The Christians of Ideal World fame will the be playing as one of the early events at new venue The Factory Live in Worthing on 6 Dec. £24.75.

A Christmas Carol, The Old Courtroom, Brighton, Thurs 5 – Sat 7 Dec

Photo by David Bartholemew

See A Christmas Carol as Dickens himself performed it over 150 years ago. He was the first writer to publicly act out his own work and, in doing so, invented a new genre of performance. Working with the same script Dickens used, actor John O’Connor plays over 20 characters. It’s coming too The Old Courtroom in Brighton, as part of a UK tour to Dickens’ favourite places and will raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. £15, ages 12+

Queer Prom’s Camp Christmas, The Old Market, Hove, Fri 6 Dec 

Make the yuletide gay with this camp Christmas special. The festive line up of performers includes Denise Navidad (Rococo Chanel), Psychofag, Tayris Mongardi, Daphne, Georgeous Michael and is hosted by the one and only Alfie Ordinary. Followed by a party to 2am with DJ sets by Hard Femme of Gal Pals and Wildblood and Queenie of 1BTN and B. Don’t forget to visit Santa’s Grotto to find out whether you’ve been naughty or nice… £12. Ages 18+

Christmas Tales, Wizard Stories & Ethel Loves Me, Rye, Sun 8 Dec

Here’s a canny idea for your Christmas shopping. If you’ve children, park them in front of seasonal tales from Wizard Stories at Ethel Loves Me in Rye while you browse for unique gifts in the quirky shop. Performances (various slots between 11.00 and 14.45) are free and suitable for primary school children, call 07595 207020 or 07710 474960 to reserve a place. There’s also a wretah making workshop coming up (see below).

A Christmas Carol / Christmas Roasts, Denmans Garden, Fontwell, Fri 6 Dec / various dates

Another one-man Christmas Carol marathon – this time at the lovely Denmans Gardens at Fontwell (next door to the racecourse) on Fri 6 Dec. Tickets are £10 and it’s suitable for ages 8+ doors open 18.30 for mulled wine, mince pies and more then the show starts 19.30 and lasts an hour. Call 01243 278950 to book. The gardens have also brought back Sunday roasts and Christmas dinners can be pre-booked daily from 1 Dec.

Christmas at Fishers Farm Park, Wisborough Green, selected dates Sat 7 – Tues 24 Dec

The big fella is in big demand and Santa slots are selling out fast at Fishers so if you’d like to meet a bearded man in red get booking quick. There’s also panto entertainment in the barn with Cinderella on twice a day for eight dates between 8 Dec and 24 Dec besides the regular Fishers attractions.

The Lady Vanishes, Congress Theatre, Eastbourne, Mon 2 – Sat 7 Dec.

BAFTA-nominated Gwen Taylor and ‘Villain of the Year’ Andrew Lancel are reunited for the first time since Corrie in this fun stage adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes. When socialite Iris’ travelling companion disappears, she’s bewildered to find fellow passengers deny ever having seen her. So, with the help of musician Max, she turns detective… Tickets from £19.

Christmas Grotto/ Elf show, Knockhatch Adventure Park, Hailsham, weekends 7 & 8, 14 & 15, 21-23 Dec 

Have you been good? Take your Christmas list along to Santa at Knockhatch Adventure Park. His Meerkat Elves have bought his grotto to Froggies indoor play area, where every child will receive a hand wrapped present from Father Christmas himself. It’s £5 per child on top of standard entry. There will also be an elf-themed festive Big Top Live Show included, free with park entry on the same day as the grotto opens – Sat 7, Sun 8, Sat 14, Sun 15 Sat 21, Sun 22 and Mon 23 Dec.

Tea Concert, St Barnabas Church, Bexhill, Sun 8 Dec

Mezzo Soprano Lucilla Graham appears at Bexhill’s St Barnabas Church on 8 December accompanied by Helen Ridout on piano. The afternoon event is a programme of Tea Arias and Sea Songs.  Lucilla Graham: £10.

Cinderella, Worthing, Fri 29 Nov to Sun 5 Jan

Strictly’s Ian Waite is the prince’s cheeky sidekick Dandini, CBBC favourite Naomi Wilkinson is Cinders, A1’s Mark Read is Prince Charming, Nicole Faraday from Bad Girls is the Wicked Stepmother and comedian Mark Jones is Buttons. If you fancy a date with the ugly sisters, get booking.

Jack & The Beanstalk, Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne, Fri 6 Dec – Sun 12 Jan

Another panto early out of the blocks. The team behind 2018’s Cinderella promises more Fe-Fi-Fo-Fun this year with Clarabelle the cow, a bad tempered giant and Simple Simon bringing home the beans.

Christmas at Amberley Museum, Amberley, various dates (Santa 7, 8, 15 and 21 Dec)

Amberley Museum is welcoming Father Christmas and children can ride to meet him on the Santa Express with availability left for 7, 8 15 and 21 Dec – but you’ll need to pre-book. There’ll be market stalls, kids’ crafts and a family Christmas trail besides. The sprawling museum is now open year-round Wed – Sun.

Sail to Santa, WWT Arundel Wetland Centre, Sat 7 & Sun 8 Dec, Sat 14 Dec & Sun 15

Forget the North Pole, at Arundel Wetland Centre you can board an elf-powered boat for a gentle ride through the reedbeds to visit Father Christmas in his frosty grotto. Try the Naughty or Nice-0-Metre before you board (gulp) and receive a WWT goody bag from the man himself. £6 per child, £2 per adult plus regular centre admission. 

Blood Brothers, Congress Theatre, Eastbourne, Tues 10 – Sat 14 Dec 

Here’s a good early Xmas present for someone (or yourself). Willy Russell (also of Shirley Valentine fame) penned this tragi-comic tale which follows twins separated at birth and living very different lives and with adults playing children for a large part. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get some serious ear-worms. Tickets are from £18.50.

Great Lives: Lee Miller, Radio 4, Tues 10 Dec 

Vogue and war photographer, surrealist, cook and Sussex resident Lee Miller is the subject of ‘Great Lives’ programme 10 Dec, on BBC Radio 4 at 4.30pm. Nominated by Lindsey Hilsum of Channel 4 news. She will be discussed by Lindsey Hilsum, Antony Penrose and Andrew Parrish.

Leonardslee Illuminated, Thurs 12 – Sun 15 and Thurs 19 – Sun 22 December

Sussex gains a new glow-in-the-dark garden trail this year with the new Leonardslee Illuminated event, celebrating the first winter since the gardens’ relaunch. The event will run from 12 – 15 and 19 – 22 December, with enchanting light displays, music and theatrical performances around the grounds and large scale projections onto Leonardslee House. It takes about an hour to explore and you’ll need to book a timed ticket. There will also be a vintage fun fair and Christmas market.

Festive door wreath making, Ethel Loves Me, Rye, Thurs 12 Dec

Join an afternoon of festive door wreath-making hosted by Warrior Flowers at this fun and stylish gift shop in Rye High Street, 18.15 to 20.30. £45, book in advance by emailing jo@ethelloves me or calling 07595 207020.

Dick Whittington, The Hawth, Crawley, Fri 6 Dec – Sun 5 Jan 

We can only imagine the innuendos as Dick Whittington takes to the stage at Crawley. I’m a Celebrity… winner and Eastenders actress Charlie Brooks is set to be booed as Queen Rat with Gemma Hunt from CBeebies’ Swashbuckle as Fairy Bowbells and Channel 5 Milkshake! presenter David Ribi in the title role.

A Christmas Carol, Fri 13 – Sun 15 and Sun 22 – Tues 24 Dec, The Capitol Studio, Horsham

Acclaimed character actors Jack Lane  – (who was just brilliant in his one man show Wisdom of a Fool) and David Benson (One Man, Two Guvnors) between them play every character in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in this brand new staging of the classic story.


Just So Christmas at Bateman’s, Burwash, 30 Nov – Sun 5 Jan 2020 

There’ll be animal magic at Bateman’s this festive season with the rooms decorated in opulent colours and themed floral arrangements and Xmas decorations inspired by Kipling’s travels and creatures in his Just So Stories. Enjoy wandering through the 17th century house or venturing out into the garden and estate for a walk through the Winter Garden Trail. Daily, 11.00 – 16.00. There will also be and Twilight Opening evenings on Sat 7 and Sat 14 Dec and storytelling sessions come the school holidays.

Elf Trail, Chichester city centre, 23 Nov – 18 Dec

Live snow globe

Chichester city centre has launched a festive Elf Trail. From 23 Nov until 18 Dec, seek out 12 hidden elves around the city centre, to win one of the prizes they are guarding. Details of the Elf Trail can be found in Chichester BID’s Festivities Brochure, available at most shops in the city centre or online. Look out also for the Live Snow Globe, Lost Elves and Brass Santas who will be performing on the High Street in the lead up to Christmas and during the late-night shopping evening on Thurs 19 December.

Xmas wreath making workshops, various locations, throughout Dec

Xmas wreath workshops Sussex

Nowadays there are more Xmas wreath workshops than you can shake a leafy stick at. Here’s out round-up of 18 of the choices across Sussex for Nov and Dec, many with mulled wine and mince pies involved, some with afternoon tea, lunch or dinner.

Bond Spectacular Christmas parties/ Jingle and Mingle parties, Fontwell Park/ Brighton Racecourse, various Dec dates

There’s a new Bond film on the horizon and, while we can’t promise Daniel Craig will turn up in his trunks, you can get in 007 mood this Christmas in Sussex with themed Bond Spectacular Christmas Parties at Fontwell Racecourse on Sat 7 , Sat 14, Thurs 19, Fri 20 and Sat 21 Dec. You can also get lofty ideas and party up at Brighton Racecourse overlooking the twinkling lights of the city at one of the Jingle and Mingle parties coming up on Fridays and Saturdays throughout December.

Sussex Christmas Barn pop-up, Gipps Farm, Barcombe, until 24 Dec 

From now until Christmas Eve you can shop for decorations, gifts and more at this cosy pop-up. There are tree ornaments from handmade felt animals to sparkly baubles and fun figurines, also paintings on sale and a chance to buy locally grown Christmas trees or various types. You can also stop for cake or a mince pie or a full lunch (coq au vin was recently on the menu).

Polar Express, Phileas Fogg’s World of Adventures, Brighton, various dates

Board the virtual train at Phileas Fogg’s World of Adventures then travel through 14 themed sets, whilst being immersed in action-packed challenges as you help save Christmas. £19.95. Book a Polar Express + Grotto Combo ticket if you want to meet Santa as well. (£24.95).

Ice rinks, various Sussex locations, until Jan

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

Brighton, Worthing and Tunbridge Wells have been open a while, Bognor and Crawley join them this week. Find your nearest rink in Sussex and nearby in our Muddy round-up.

British Wildlife Photography Awards, Bodiam Castle, Sat 5 Oct – Sun 5 Jan 2020

It’s the 10th anniversary of the British Wildlife Photography Awards and now’s the chance to see this always stunning exhibition in Sussex in the lovely setting of Bodiam Castle until 5 Jan.

Flights of Fancy: the Wondrous World of Quentin Blake, Nymans, Haywards Heath, Sat 26 Oct – April 2020

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

Leap into a fantasy world with a new exhibition of work from legendary illustrator, Sir Quentin Blake at the National Trust property Nymans. His quirky pictures have graced Roal Dahl books and this set accompanied his own stories The Story of the Dancing Frog and The Green Ship. Inspired by the exhibition, froggy sculptures will be taking over the garden this Christmas, while in the new year wellness events will tie in with Quentin’s work for hospitals. Free with admission.


Pantos and other Xmas shows, Various Sussex locations, various dates

Peter Pan at The Capitol, Horsham

It’s panto season (oh yes it is…) and there are plenty of other festive options besides with ballet, musicals, circus, drag and more   check out the full line up the big Muddy round-up of Sussex pantomimes and other seasonal shows.

Nellie Limelight and the Oysters of Time, Theatre Royal Brighton, Thu 19 Dec – Sun 5 Jan

Photo by Pete Jones

Here’s a Christmas treat for youngsters – a promenade performance at Brighton’s Theatre Royal. Theatre detective Nellie Limelight receives an anonymous call for help and sets out to investigate. Who is Dame Battie Baubles? What has Bert built in his workshop? Why is there seaweed in the grandfather clock? Follow the intrepid investigator around the theatre to uncover a story of stolen jewels, pantomime villains, a broken time machine and a misplaced sea creature. £12 – £14.50.

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

Here’s an anecdote 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. Advised for ages 12+ Check out the trailer. Tickets from £22.

Noble and Stace chocolate workshops, early 2020 Midhurst/Ashurst, Wed 8 Jan and later dates

The next Noble and Stace chocolate-making workshops with availability (timely gifting as an experience) are coming up at the South Downs Centre, Midhurst on Wed 8 Jan (and same venue 5 Feb) – £99 including tea or coffee and 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. Have a fun experience and produce plenty of your own handcrafted chocs, truffles and bars to take home. Check out the Muddy review here.

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