What’s On this week in Sussex
May 4 - 11
May Day Weekender, Hastings Pier, Fri 5 – Mon 7 May
As part of the famous Jack In the Green event which sees little (and big) green men running around Hastings, the pier will have an international street food festival and there will be live music on the Fat Tuesday stage. Street performers and Brewing Brothers beer will add to the fun and neighbours Source Park are offering pop-up BMX tutorials.
Bubbletastic Weekend, The Observatory Science Centre, Herstmonceux, Sat 5- Mon 7 May
There are times when you want to be in your own bubble and now you can be, at least momentarily. Stand in bubbles, make giant and even square ones and generally get in a good ol’ lather at this fun family bank holiday event. A light and colour exhibition gives you the scientific bit, so it’s educational as well. Free with normal admission.
Ladies Day Plumpton Race Course, Wed 13 May
It’s time to bring out that posh frock and big hat and head off to the geegees for some posing. There’s a prize for Best Dressed Lady, Most Dapper Gent and for the kids if they dress up. There’s a funfair and dining’s available in the Marquee restaurant. After the real racing, there’s the South East Pony Racing Finals to lose that last tenner on. From £10 in advance, accompanied under 18s free.
Kathleen Turner, Finding My Voice, The Capitol, Horsham Fri 11 May and Connaught Theatre, Worthing, Sun 13 May
Yes, it’s true, Husky-voiced Kathleen Turner – a staple of big 80s rom-coms like Romancing the Stone, The Jewel of the Nile, The War of the Roses and Peggy Sue Got Married is coming to Sussex to sing cabaret! Something we’ve previously only see her do when she played Chandler’s drag queen dad in a cameo in Friends. She’ll also be telling stories about her Hollywood career. She’ll be in Horsham Fri 11 May (£29.50) and in Worthing on Sun 13 May (£28.50).
Brighton Festival, various venues, Sat 5 – Sun 27 May
Brighton Festival is here 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 (yes, really) called The Arms of Sleep.
Brighton Fringe Festival, Fri 4 May – Sun 3 June
Running alongside the Festival of course is the Fringe with hundreds of cool and quirky, drama, comedy., spoken word, music, cabaret and kids events throughout the month. It’s the biggest in England don’tcha know? Plenty of good stuff on but for now my picks are Wot No Fish?, Circled in the Radio Times, Sh*tfaced Shakespeare, performance poet Luke Wright and Late Fight Gimp Fight (it’s a comedy sketch group!) I’ve seen them all – some several times – and they’re all great. Enjoy!
Mayfield Fringe/ Art Trail 6 – 14 May
It may be a lot smaller than Brighton’s but, not to be overlooked, Mayfield in East Sussex has its own Fringe going on with musical poetry, visual art, storytellng, theatre, film and wine running till mid May. It includes, new for this year, an Art Trail of makers’ houses.
In her Shoes, Uppark House and Garden, South Harting, near Petersfield, 5 May to 2 Sept
The National Trust’s Uppark House is commemorating the centenary of the granting of women’s right to vote with an exhibition about five intriguing women who shaped its history. Among them teenage Emma Hart was rumored to have danced on the table for the Prince Regent before becoming famous as Lord Nelson’s mistress Lady Hamilton. Mary Ann Bullock’s story is more the stuff of romantic fiction. In the 1820s Uppark’s owner Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh, then in his seventies, fell in love with her when he heard her singing in the dairy. They married, and the 20-year-old bride went to Paris to learn the social skills required for her new station in life. Free, but normal admission prices apply.
Artists’ Open Houses, Brighton, Hove, Rottingdean and Ditchling, weekends 5 – 28 May
Buy art direct from the makers, often at nicely affordable prices during this big celebration of Sussex’s creators. It’s the largest event of its kind in the UK with 200,000 visiting the festival last year. You also get to snoop around some lovely houses! There’s an exhibition this year called Art From the Edge featuring work from the marginalised in society.
G & Tea Dance, Bolney Wine Estate, Fri 4 May
A nice cuppa tea and a bit of a jitterbug put a smile on many a face during the dark days of World War II. Then they got the gin out and really went for it. You can enjoy the experience at Bolney’s celebration of VE day, the vineyard’s first vintage Tea Dance. Expect jive, jazz and swing with a DJ to take you through the eras. Included in the ticket price is a G&T or a glass of Lychgate White or Red plus a small ploughman’s platter. Tickets £14 online/£15 on the door.
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Theatre Royal, Brighton Saturday 5 May
We caught a snippet of this improv performance at a corporate do and it’s a real hoot. Shout out a musical style, a composer and a wacky situation and the Showstoppers will – literally – make a right old song and dance about it with hilarious results. This show is wildly popular when it’s at the Edinburgh Festival and deservedly earned a spin-off Radio 4 series, but for the full effect, make sure you catch it live while it’s in town. Age 14+ From £17.90
Amberley Castle History Tour and Lunch, various dates from 8 May
Not many luxury hotels can boast a Grade I listed Tudor Manor within their walls or a mention in the Doomsday Book, but Amberley can claim both. Step through the portcullis and you go back 900 years to the era of chainmail, jousting and banqueting. Local historian Keith McKenna will fill you in on the heritage as you tour the buildings and grounds. Afterwards, there’s a three-course lunch with a glass of house wine. There’s no medieval spit roast boar here – the hotel is justly renowned for its fine dining. £55 per person, pre-booking essential.
Me and My Bee, Komedia Brighton, Sun 6 and Mon 7 May / The Hawth, Crawley, Sat 19 May
A smash hit at the Edinburgh festival, this family comedy from award-winning theatre company This Egg deals with our fragile eco system and the potential disappearance of the yellow and black minibeasts. It’s £9 at Komedia, with family tickets also available, and £7 at Crawley It’s also up in Tonbridge at the EM Forster Theatre on 17 June.