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Xmas and New Year What’s On

Xmas and New Year 2019/2020

Burning The Clocks, New Road to Madeira Drive, Brighton, Sat 21 Dec 


Hurrah for Burning The Clocks – it means it’s the shortest day of the year and we’re creeping slowly towards Spring from here on in. It’s also a lovely spectacle with children and adults carrying homemade paper lanterns to the beach for ceremonial burning of the creations, and fireworks. Over 2,000 people now take part in the parade, usually including some good drummers. Buy a lantern kit and a wristband to take part, or simply turn up to watch.

Festive shows, South Downs Planetarium, Chichester, various Dec and Jan dates

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Chichester’s Planetarium has some Christmas-themed astronomy in the lead up to Christmas. The Night Sky This Christmas looks at what can be seen now, then The Star of Bethlehem is back (22 – 24 Dec) exploring the possible origins of the bright star that appeared at the time suggested by the Bible. A mix of other shows run into Jan including Moon Landing Experience (Mon 30 Dec) The New Year Night Sky (Fri 3 Jan) and The Northern Lights, (Sun 5 Jan and Fri 31 Jan). Tickets are £7 adults, £5 children. Suitable for ages 6+

ROH Live Coppélia, various cinemas, various dates 18 Dec – 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.

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.

A Christmas Carol, 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.

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).

The Ho, Ho, Ho! Christmas Show, The Park Barn (opposite The Capitol), Horsham, 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.

Christmas Day Swim, Saltdean Lido, near Brighton, Tues Dec 25

We all know a nutter who likes to kick off Christmas Day with a chilly dip in the sea but here’s something a bit safer, if no less cold. Saltdean Lido is encouraging swimmers to get down to the pool 8.00 – 8.45 or 9.00 – 9.45 on Xmas morning. You’ll need to book ahead for a slot and they usually sell out in advance. Tickets are a tenner each including a hot drink and a mince pie. I’ll be in bed eating a chocolate orange.

Boxing Day Racing, Fontwell Park, near Arundel, Thurs Dec 26

Picture Nigel Bowles

Boxing Day isn’t all about lying about in your PJs with your face smeared with chocolate. If you can raise yourself you can take part in the tradition of a day at the races. Fontwell is laying on seven (plus the King George VI Chase from Kempton Park on the big screen) and the grounds will be suitably festive, with a giant snow globe and Santa’s sleigh plus funfair rides and face painting.  Adult tickets starts from £20 and accompanied under 18s go free so it’s a good value family day out.

Boxing Day Walk, Bodiam Castle, Thurs 26 Dec 2019

Stride off the Chrimbo excesses with a Boxing Day walk including a guided tour of Bodiam castle and its grounds, before it opens to visitors. A breakfast bap and hot drink at the end is the reward for your early start, included in the £17 charge. It runs 9.30 – 11.30. There is also a series weekday winter walks and castle tours coming up from Mon 6 Jan.

Boxing Day luxury buffet/New Year’s Eve dinner/ New Year’s Day brunch, Wingrove House, Alfriston, Thurs 26/ Tues 31 Dec/ Wed 1 Jan

Let the great chefs at Wingrove House at Alfriston pull the stops out on the food front for you this Christmas. Hurry and you might just squeak in for a Boxing Day luxury buffet (£45 per person) or the five-course New Year’s Eve special dinner (£69). You can also nurse your hangover or prep for a walk in the Downs with the New Year’s Day buffet brunch with the likes of egg benedict kedgeree, buttermilk pancakes or minute steak and eggs on offer (£25).

Pantos, various Sussex locations, various dates in Dec, early Jan

Peter Pan at The Capitol, Horsham

It’s panto season (oh yes it is…) and most continue throughout December into the first week of January. Check out the full line up around the county in the big Muddy round-up of Sussex pantomimes and other seasonal shows. It’s behind you! Actually it’s on the link below.

Christmas at Weald and Downland Museum, Singleton, various dates Thurs 12 – 27 Dec

On Boxing Day and Fri 27 Dec at the Weald and Downland Museum, see historical houses decorated for Xmas through the ages from Tudor to Victorian times,

Frog Trail/ Flights of Fancy: the Wondrous World of Quentin Blake, Nymans, Haywards Heath, throughout Christmas

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

Christmas has come to Nymans and it’s frog shaped! 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). There’s also a day of family Christmas Crafts on Mon 23 Dec (11.00 – 15.00).  The exhibition Flights of Fancy: the Wondrous World of Quentin Blake meanwhile continues into the new year, free with admission.

Super Sunday, The Dome, Brighton, Tues 17 – Fri 27 Dec 

Photo by Petter Hellman

Breath-taking stunts and dark humour combine in this international hit show from Finnish circus troupe Race Horse Company. The six acrobats blaze through scenes from ‘an amusement park for the end of the world’ showing their skill on trampolines, human catapults and a wheel of death. £15 for adults, £12,50 for kids, £65 family tickets.

Ballet Theatre UK: Wizard of Oz, Brighton Dome/The Capitol, Horsham, Sat 28 & Sun 29 Dec/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 on at Brighton Dome Sat 28 & Sun 29 Dec, then helping to cheer up January at The Capitol, Horsham on Thurs 16.

Eddie Izzard, Expectations of Great Expectations, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, Sun 29 Dec 

A work in progress reading/performance of Dicken’s well-loved novel, from the surrealism-slanted comedian. Sounds intriguing. Tickets from £20.

The Snow Queen, Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, Fri 13 – Tue 31 Dec

After seasonal but non-panto? Kai meets the Snow Queen and is transported far away in this famous tale. Follow the journey of his friend Gerda as she sets off all alone to find him on an enchanting, winter adventure.

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.

The Wizard of Oz, Chichester Festival Youth Theatre at the Festival Theatre, Sat 14 – Sun 29 Dec

Don your ruby slippers and join Chichester Festival Youth Theatre on the yellow brick road. This one’s not a panto but a faithful adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s novel and features all the songs from the 1939 classic film, including Over The Rainbow, If I Only Had a Brain and We’re Off To See The Wizard.

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 storytelling sessions over the school holidays.

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 a corner of the 18th century townhouse transformed into a festive bakery counter. The only difference is that every cake, mince pie and gingerbread man has been knitted or crocheted!

NYE party package, The Beauty Bar, Wadhurst, Tues 31 Dec 

Party to go to? If you’re in range of Wadhurst check out the New Year’s Eve special package with manicures and make-up from a guest artist at the double Muddy Award winning Beauty Bar. They also have handy gift vouchers for you to give as pamper presents.

New Year’s Eve set menu, The Cat Inn, West Hoathly, Tues 31 Dec

The Cat Inn at West Hoathly has a special set menu for New Year’s Eve. Among several inventive courses are beef fillet with stout glazed brisket and salt baked parsnip with goats curd, chestnut sorrel and apple. It’s £55 for the meal and an optional extra £45 for a matched wine flight. Be quick and you might just bag one of the last places.

New Year’s Eve Party, Trading Boundaries, Sheffield Green, near Uckfield, Tues 31 Dec

wine celebration new year

A three-course dinner, a cheeseboard buffet to top you up later, live music from the City Funk Orchestra and fizz for the screening of the countdown in London all adds up to a top New Year’s Eve at Trading Boundaries. Soul vocalist Mary Pearce sings with the orchestra and has an impressive CV including working with Prince, Michael Jackson and Primal Scream. Tickets are £95.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Theatre Royal, Brighton, Tues 17 Dec – Sat 4 Jan

Well-loved drag musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert will be back in Brighton this Xmas with Strictly winner Joe McFadden. Don’t expect all the bitchy cutting wit of the original film but do expect dazzling costumes, dance floor classics, a poignant backstory and plenty of feel-good fun to get you in festive mood. Tickets from £13.

Moscow City Ballet: Sleeping Beauty, Chichester Festival Theatre, Thu 2 Jan  – Sun 5 Jan

The classic romantic fairytale set to Tchaikovsky’s glorious score and danced by the Moscow City Ballet is coming to Chichester in early January. Beat the back-to-work blues with this new year treat complete with Princess Aurora, wicked Carabosse and the Lilac Fairy and, of course, great dancing backed by a full orchestra. Tickets from £10.

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.

All About Eve, NT Live, encore screenings, various cinemas, Jan 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.

Santa Flights, BAi360, Brighton, Sats and Sun until 24 Dec

Santa will be on board special flights on the British Airways i360 pod in the run-up to Christmas, getting airborne without a sleigh to give presents to children. Standard ticket prices for adults, children £4.95 including gift.


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.

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).



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

Got a new year’s resolution to get your garden in order? Join this inspiring 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.

Vegan Feast Cookery Workshop, Brooklands Barn, Arundel, 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.

Upcoming shows this spring to book for self or gifts…

Chichester: Sleeping Beauty ballet and Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue stage tour in Jan and comedian Rich Hall, Raymond Brigg’s The Bear and a BBC Concert Orchestra family show in Feb.

Horsham: A ballet Wizard of Oz in Jan, kids’ favourite Zog live on stage in Feb and Horsham Comedy Gala with Henning Wehn, Zoe Lyons and Ahih Shah in April.

Worthing: I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue in Jan, comedian Josie Long in Feb, BalletBoyz in March and Ron Brydon and Billionaire Boy in April.

Brighton: Thriller Live and Jennifer Saunders in Blithe Spirit are in town in Jan, various ballets and Blood Brothers are up in Feb and West End hit musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is set to dazzle in April at the Theatre Royal. Comedians Rhod Gilbert and Stewart Lee are in Jan and Jimmy Carr plus kids’ show Zog are in Feb at Brighton Dome. There’s Jack Whitehall in Jan, crooners Michael Ball & Alfie Boe in March and retro fun with Rick Astley and Simple Minds in April at the Brighton Centre.

Hove: Comedian Sean Munnery and new musical The Addams Family in Feb and the Reigning Women season in March.

Crawley: The Buddy Holly Story, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty ballets in Jan, comedians Josie Long and Lucy Porter in Feb, Rob Brydon in March and Horrible Histories and An Evening of Eric and Ern in April.

Eastbourne: Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue tour is in early Feb, the London Philharmonic visits in late Feb and Brendan Cole dances in in March along with Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art starring the excellent Matthew Kelly and David Yelland.

Bexhill: Sandi Toksvig in Jan, Rob Brydon and Rich Hall in Feb and Stewart Lee in March and the Lightning Seeds and Soul II Soul getting retro in March and April.

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

Find more ideas here

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