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What’s On in Sussex

15 - 23 Feb

A best-seller on stage, film fight secrets revealed, comedy, ballet, late Valentine’s feasting and a theatre season and festival launched – all in this week’s What’s On in Sussex. If you’re looking for family-friendly action check out my Big Half Term Guide.

Kite Runner, The Hawth, Crawley, Tues 20 – Sat 24 Feb

Based on Khaled Hosseini’s international bestselling novel, this is the story of friendship and redemption brought to the stage. In troubled Afghanistan two childhood friends are about to be torn apart following a terrible incident during a kite flying tournament. Take your hanky, it’s a weepy. Tickets are from £21.

An audience with Nick Gillard, Theatre Royal Brighton, Sun 25 Feb

I was a ‘swordmaster’ for the Star Wars prequel films dontcha know? OK I wasn’t but what a very cool claim to drop into conversation at a party and the man that can do that is Nick Gillard. This world-renowned stunt coordinator and fight director is coming to the Theatre Royal Brighton on Sunday 25 February. His other credits include Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Labyrinth and several Bond films. For TV, he recently worked as stunt coordinator for The Miniaturist that aired on BBC One over Christmas. He’ll be sharing stories from 40 years in the business.

Chichester Festival Theatre new season announced (booking from 3 March)

Chichester Festival Theatre has launched its 2018 season this week. It’s to feature new plays by Charlotte Jones, Bryony Lavery and Laura Wade with headline actors including Rufus Hound, Penelope Keith, Amanda Root and Caroline Quentin. Noel Coward’s Present Laughter and the musical Me and My Girl will be among well-loved shows getting new treatments. There will also be an adaptation of David Walliams’ children’s book The Midnight Gang. Public booking for the season will open online on Sat 3 March.

Documenting Reality: Documentary in a new light, Depot, Lewes, Thurs 22 Feb onwards

Painfully relevant again following the high school shooting in Florida, Michael Moore’s affecting documentary film Bowling For Columbine will be shown at Lewes’s depot cinema with a discussion afterwards. The film investigates such massacres alongside satire of the state of the nation. The screening kicks off a six-week course called Documenting Reality, led by Wilma de Jong, senior lecturer at the University of Sussex. The full course including films is £50.

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia, Theatre Royal, Brighton, Mon 19 – Wed 21 Feb

Siberia’s acclaimed ballet company is coming in from the cold with a return to Brighton, bringing their performances of Romeo & Juliet (Mon 19 Feb), Cinderella (Tues 20 Feb) and Swan Lake (Wed 21 Feb) on consecutive days in February. Sounds like something to book for a late Valentine’s treat.

Valentine’s dinner, Billy’s on the Beach, Bracklesham Bay, Sat 17 Feb 

If you have saved your Valentine’s love-in till the weekend see if you can grab a table at Billy’s on the Beach at Bracklesham Bay. There’ll be a Valentine’s Dinner on Sat, 17 Feb, with candlelit tables, a cosy wood burning stove, and, of course, views across the beach. Moules Marinières, grilled whole bream and game pie are among options. Booking is essential.

Early Man quest, Battle Abbey, nr Hastings, Sat 10 – Sun 18

Aardman’s latest animated film Early Man, is out in cinemas on 26 January, featuring plucky caveman Dug and his sidekick Hognob. Explore Battle Abbey in search of the characters to uncover centuries of history in one day – successful adventurers get an Early Man mini model making kit. £1 on top of entry.

Brighton Festival launch – brochure available from 15 Feb 

Lexicon – No Fit State

The full programme for this year’s Brighton Festival (5-27 May) has just been unveiled, with Turner-prize nominated artist David Shrigley at the helm as guest director. As always theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate will feature, with highlights for 2018 including stand-up Bridget Christie, an exhibition from artists Gilbert and George and Problem in Brighton, a new ‘alt rock/pop pantomime’, written and directed by Shrigley himself. There will also be an overnight choral sleepover experience called The Arms of Sleep and a guest appearance by well-loved children’s author Jacqueline Wilson.

Griff Rhys Jones: Where Was I?  Regis Centre, Bognor Regis, Sun 18 Feb/ The Old Market, Hove, Tues 27 Feb 

Best known for Not the Nine o’clock News and for being one half of Smith & Jones, Griff returns with anecdotes, reminiscences and outright lies from forty years of travelling. Tickets are £18.50 at Bognor Regis on 18 Feb, £18 in Hove on 27 Feb and £15 on 9 March in at Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells.

Living With Nature, Hever Castle, Kent, Sat 10 – Sun 18 Feb

Find out how to create habitats and encourage wildlife into your garden in this RSPB workshop. Join RSPB volunteers on a stroll around the grounds to learn about natural and manmade habitats or take a self-guided Wildlife Detective walk to investigate animal footprints and tracks. In the Castle, learn about nature throughout history from how fur was used to keep warm to which birds belong to the Queen.

Robin Hood, The Old Market, Hove, Fri 9 – Sat 17 Feb

The Old Market has an action-packed adventure for half term with a modern take on Robin Hood, featuring comedy and live music. It’s pitched at ages 7+ and tickets cost £8.50 or £30 for a family of four.

Bring Your Own Baby comedy, Komedia, Brighton, Tues 20 Feb & 13 March 

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picture by Elyse Marks

Great idea – something you can enjoy with a baby that doesn’t involve being made to behave like an infant yourself. Bring Your Own Baby is coming up the next few months at Brighton’s Komedia. It’s a proper adult, sweary daytime stand-up show with toys, lights and the like to distract under 12-month-olds. You enjoy comedy without having to book a babysitter and they’re none the wiser about any filth beyond that they are filling their nappy with. It sells out in advance so get cracking. Tickets are a tenner.

South Downs Dark Skies festival, various locations, Fri 9 – Sun 25 Feb

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Wrap up warm and get out for this annual celebration of the South Downs being designated a dark sky site. There are several guided stargazing events and tie-in activities, many of them free or low cost including stargazing sessions on weekends at Battle Abbey 3 -25 Feb. See my full round-up of what’s on in Sussex here.

Some People V. Reginald D. Hunter, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, Sat 24 Feb

You may have seen him on 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Have I Got News for You and the hugely popular three-part BBC2 series which documented his road trip from North Carolina to New Orleans through 150 years of American popular song.
Now, you can see Reginald D. Hunter at the De La Warr pavilion. Tickets are £23.

Winnie The Pooh: Exploring a classic, V&A museum, London, until Sun 25 Feb 

AA Milne’s enduring bear is the subject of this charming exhibition (the V&A’s first ever family show), which features letters, sketches, ceramics, photographs and fashion. There’s a free pop-up interactive performance each day at 11am, 1pm and 3pm that includes role-play and story-telling. Children are encouraged to dress up as their favourite character or bring their best-loved cuddly toy.

National Trust trails, various locations, half term week 

Several National Trust houses have children’s trails over half term. Petworth House has a trail, (until 25 March) based on woodland animals and poems, to coincide with its current William Blake exhibition, while Uppark, near Petersfield is encouraging children to spot, listen and draw signs of Spring. At Kipling’s former home Bateman’s at Burwash, solve clues to follow a toy treasure hunt in the garden and house. There’s also a seasonal trail at Nymans near Haywards Heath. Most activities are a small charge on top of regular entry, some have a prize attached.

The Big Jive All-Dayer, Assembly Hall, Worthing, Sat 24 Feb

Can you handle 12 hours of swinging? No, not the one with keys in a bowl… this is jive, swing and rock ‘n’roll with bands, DJs, vintage stalls, food and drink from 1.00pm – 1.00am. Tickets are £26 in advance. 

Orchid Festival, Kew Gardens, Surrey, 10 Feb – 11 March

Things are going totally tropical this month at Kew Gardens. Their annual orchid festival takes in Insta-friendly displays of the vibrant Thai blooms, Thai street food and musical performances, workshops on how to grow these notoriously tricky flowers and Thai afternoon tea at The Botanical restaurant. King prawn, lemongrass and coriander tartlet followed by Thai sticky coconut cream rice with mango salsa? Yes please.


Brighton Science Festival, various locations, Feb 10 – 18

Over 100 fun and educational events include getting creative in the kitchen with Slime Time and Potions and Commotions; an exhibition of an arctic adventurer; mad machine building; monster making; a rocket factory; eco cars; shadow puppets; coding and a guided bike tour of the solar system (kind of). Heaps going on for children – sounds a Half Term saviour – with some activities also pitched at adults.


Rye Scallop Week, various eateries around Rye Bay, 24 Feb – 4 March 

One of my fave foods has a festival all to itself with special menus, cookery demos and live music. The Gallivant, Webbe’s at the Fish Cafe, Globe Inn Marsh, The Mermaid Inn, Carey’s Steakhouse and Seafood, Landgate Bistro, Muddy Award winner, White Dog Inn and many more are getting involved. There’s also a harbour walk and even a big scallop quiz.

George’s Marvellous Medicine, Theatre Royal, Brighton, Tues 27 Feb – Sat 3 March 

photo by Manuel Harlan

Remember when Rik Mayall read this on Jackanory back in the day? Absolute classic. Anyway here it is as a live show. A Roald Dahl adaptation that’s perfect for kids ages 5 plus, as George tries to cure his rather mean Grandmother of her nastiness with a special potion. Don’t try this at home! Tickets are from £19.

Chinese New Year Extravaganza, The Hawth, Crawley, Tues 27 Feb 

Chinese New Year will be seen in in style with this showcase of performing arts. On stage will be lion dancers, contortionists, acrobatics, kung fu performers and a demonstration of the ancient magic of err face changing – sounds intriguing. Adult tickets are from £22 with discounts for children/family tickets.

Wedding Fair, Park House Hotel, near Midhurst, Sun 4 March  

Got engaged on Valentine’s Day? Get your jammy self down to this wedding fair at Park House Hotel set in 10 acre grounds near Midhurst. Check out the venue itself with the beautiful timber-framed barn dressed for a wedding reception, and meet some of the hotel’s trusted big day suppliers. What’s more, you’ll get a glass of champagne on arrival and there’s 20% off the Sunday lunch menu for attendees.

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, Brighton/Tunbridge Wells/ London 4 March onwards

See the latest and best films touring around the UK courtesy of the world’s most prestigious mountain film festival. The programme Includes Edge, featuring 90-year-old iceskating wundergran Yvonne Dowlen; and Stump, a documentary that follows fearless rock climber Maureen Beck, born missing a lower arm. Amazing stuff. It’s up at Brighton Dome on 4 March and again with a different programme on 18 April; at The Assembly Halls Theatre, Tunbridge Wells on 19 April, and at London’s Union Hall Chapel on various dates in March.

Food and room offers, Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Winchester and elsewhere, Jan, Feb, March. 

Hotel du Vin and Mal Maison always decent new year offers on. This time round there’s a current £50/£50 room offer (stay for £50 when you spend £50 in the brasserie). The nearest Mal is at Brighton Marina. At sister chain Hotel du Vin meanwhile check out the ‘Weekend Starts Early‘ Friday stay offer where your room is from £75 when you spend £75 in the bistro. They also have a similar Settle in Sundays deal which I’ve used myself several times where the rooms are from £30 – £50. The nearest Hotel du Vins are Brighton, Tunbridge Wells and Winchester.

Find more ideas here

Things to DoThis Week

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Sussex