What’s On in December in Sussex
There’s plenty going on, Christmassy and otherwise, for December in Sussex. Grab your diary and check out our What’s On, roughly in date order.
Christmas Fayre, Cumnor House, Danehill, near Haywards Heath, Sussex, Fri 29 Nov
Find over 40 specialist stalls representing wares from across London and the South East at Cumnor House’s annual Christmas Fayre on 29 Nov. Entry is £5 including a glass of mulled wine or a soft drink and proceeds go to the Respiratory Unit at Royl Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton. The Fayre runs from 10.00 to 16.00.
Edgcumbes Winter Market, Arundel, Sat 30 Nov
The coffee experts have gathered foodie-focused Sussex stars and other makers for a winter market at their roastery and Muddy-award winning Edge cafe. It runs 10.00 – 15.00 and supports the Snowdrop Trust. Get down there and bag some Xmas fare.
Free entry with National Lottery ticket, various attractions, Sat 23 – Fri 29 Nov/ 1 Dec
To celebrate the National Lottery’s 25th birthday, you can enter some attractions for free to Fri 29 and in some cases over the weekend if you bring along a your lottery ticket. Pallant House Gallery, Weald and Downland Living Museum, WWT Arundel, Battle Abbey, Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft and several National Trusts properties are included.
HEROES with Carl Barat DJ set/ The Christians, The Factory Live, Worthing, Sat 30 Nov/ Fri 6 Dec
The Libertines’ Carl Barat will be taking to the decks as a DJ, mixing current and classic music from the nineties to today on 30 Nov. It’s one of the launch events at The Factory Live in Worthing. 18+, tickets £11. The Christians (pictured) of Ideal World fame will the be playing the venue on 6 Dec. £24.75.
Tree Dressing, Weald and Downland Museum, Singleton, Sun 1 Dec
Tree Dressing is a magical family occasion. Make a greenery headdress and turn a jam jar into a lantern to join the illuminated procession and dress the aspen trees as darkness falls.
Then, join in with traditional songs and dances around the trees. Winter warmers on offer will include mulled apple juice and spiced biscuits.
The Noise Next Door At Sea, Komedia, Brighton, Sun 1 Dec
Brilliant improvisers The Noise Next Door are back with a family show to kick of December – with a chance for you or yours to chip in on what ridiculous scenarios unfold on stage. A Muddy favourite. Tickets are £8 and it’s suitable for ages 8+
Brighton Art Fair at Lewes, Lewes Town Hall, Sat 30 Nov & Sun 1 Dec
As it says… get down there for quality art works to adorn your walls, or to gift. And yes, there’s a cafe. Entry £7.50.
Christmas Spa Days, Poppinghole Farm Spa, Robertsbridge, Sun 1 Dec – Mon 23 Dec
Take time out from worrying about shopping and sprouts, or treat someone to an early pressie, with a soothing Christmas Spa Day at Poppinghole Farm Spa. Hole up in a luxury decorated cottage for the day, get full use of the facilities including swimming pool and hot tub, and enjoy a one hour treatment (worth £70) a two-course festive lunch with a bottle of fizz plus mince pies and an Elemis gift, for £150 per person on weekdays, £200 at weekends. An overnight Yuletide Break (including breakfast box) is £220 on weekdays, £270 weekends. Gift vouchers for other dates are also available.
Christmas Open Day, Brighton Dome, Sat 30 Nov
Make Christmas decorations and other festive fancies for free away from the hubbub of the high street and get a silly snap in the family photobooth. There will also be a lucky dip for Brighton Dome shows on the day for National Lottery ticket or scratchcard holders as part of the Lottery’s 25th birthday #ThanksToYou celebrations. The free event runs 11.00 to 16.00.
The Lovely Bones, Chichester Festival Theatre, Tues 26 – Sat 30 Nov
In this inventive stage adaptation of the critically-acclaimed novel, follow the ghost of murdered school girl Susie Salmon as she invisibly observes her old life from beyond the grave. Will she be able to somehow connect with her family once more and hint at the man who killed her? Tickets from £10.
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.
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.
The Winter Landscape Watercolour Workshop, Denmans Garden, Fontwell, Sun 1 Dec
On 1 Dec, join artist Jo Dowers for a three-hour watercolour workshop in the beautiful setting of Denmans Garden. Experiment with masking fluid, ink and a limited palette inspired by the winter landscape. £35 with all materials, light refreshments and garden entrance. Suitable for all abilities. There’s also card making every other Friday.
Christmas Market, The Highdown, Goring, Mon 2 Dec
The Highdown is hosting its first ever Christmas Market and it’s in a handy after work slot. Teaming up with the likes of Crafty Brewing Company, Charlene’s Chocolates and Jessica Lila Florist, it will have lots of goodies on offer, including personalised baubles, home-made candles, live music and (of course) plenty of mulled wine. 18.00 – 20.30. There are wreath-making workshops there too on Tues 10 and Fri 13 Dec.
Pantos and other Xmas shows, Various Sussex locations, various dates
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.
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.
Chris Difford: Christmas Shopping, Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea, Wed 4 Dec
Squeeze co-founder Difford brings his solo show to the Ropetackle. Difford and song writing partner Glenn Tilbrook penned hits including Labelled with Love, Up The Junction and Cool for Cats and you can expect to hear his interpretations of them, sprinkled with anecdotes about his musical life. Support is from Boo Hewerdine. £20.
A Christmas Carol, The Old Courtroom, Brighton, Thurs 5 – Sat 7 Dec
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+
Slade: Rockin’ Home for Christmas tour 2019, White Rock Theatre, Hastings, Thurs 5 Dec
It’s Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiistmas! No chance that hit won’t be getting an outing when glam rock veterans Slade, with original members Dave Hill and Don Powell, perform in Hastings at the start of the festive season (just wish I had the royalties for that song). £22.50.
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+
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 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.
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!
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 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.
Xmas wreath making workshops, various locations, throughout Dec
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.
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.
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, 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.
Christmas at Weald and Downland Museum, Singleton, various dates Thurs 12 – 27 Dec
There are just a few slots left to meet Green Father Christmas – representing old winter, and receive a traditional toy on 12, 17 and 20 Dec, then, on Boxing Day and Fri 27 Dec, you can see historical houses decorated for Xmas through the ages.
Cabaret Boheme: A Christmas Cracker, The Old Market, Hove, Sat 14 Dec
The sensationally sassy santas, who have just completed the Blacklace Burlesque course, will be on hand to kickstart the holidays with this mix of burlesque, cabaret and circus. Ages 18+ £15.
Cushion Concert, Manor Barn, Bexhill, Sun 15 Dec
This cutely-entitled ‘Cushion Concert’ at Manor Barn – is for kids/parents/grandparents and features the story of Babar the Elephant based on the books by Jean de Brunhoff. The story-teller is Anna-Helena McLean with Helen Ridout on piano. Chairs £8, kids with cushions £5.
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.
Elf Trail, Chichester city centre, 23 Nov – 18 Dec
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.
Super Sunday, The Dome, Brighton, Tues 17 – Fri 27 Dec
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.
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).
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 turn up to watch.
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.
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).
New Year’s Eve set menu, The Cat Inn, West Hoathly, Tues 31 Dec
Besides its festive meals in the lead up to Christmas, 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. Book well ahead.
New Year’s Eve at Restaurant Interlude, Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens, Lower Beeding, Horsham
The newly Michelin-starred Restaurant Interlude at Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens has two special degustation menus on offer for an indulgent New Year’s Eve. Choose from the £90 garden Experience and the £120 Estate Experience. Lobster, estate biltong and fallow deer are among ingredients and there are plenty of unconventional twists.
Ice rinks, various Sussex locations, until Jan
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
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.
LAST CHANCE TO CATCH
NT Live: Fleabag, encore screenings, Brighton, Worthing, Tunbridge Wells, Horsham, various dates 2 – 18 Dec
Tickets for the West End run of Fleabag were hotter than Andrew Scott’s priest and the NT Live screenings also sold out but there’s another chance to catch Phoebe Waller-Bridge doing her tragi-comic monologue of the dysfunctional 30-something at Brighton on Mon 2 Dec, Worthing on Sat 14 Dec at at Tunbridge Wells on Sun 15 Dec and Horsham on Wed 18 Dec.
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.