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The Muddy Guide: What’s On 30 Sept – 6 Oct

Kids’ theatre, teen scares, grown-up culture, beauty at a vineyard and a party on a racecourse. Walk this way for this week’s what’s ons….

Shocktober Fest, Tulleys Farm, Turners Hill, Crawley. Various dates 1-30 Oct


Shocktober is back for another year with eight haunted attractions, live music and food and it’s a real scream – literally, for some people. The basic ticket £10 Street Pass (£12 on the gate) gives you admission to the Scream Park and includes access to the street theatre shows, live music stages, Halloween store and the three food courts. The more expensive tickets include fast track entry to the attractions, which include The Cellar Haunted House, Horrorwood Haunted Hayride and The Creepy Cottage. Shocktober is rated 12A, but under 15s must be accompanied by an adult at all times. It costs £10-£65 depending on date (Halloween being most expensive). Enter into the err spirit with fancy dress.

Party at the Races, Brighton Racecourse, 1 Oct


This new event promises a ‘carnival of dance music and entertainment’ including virtual horse racing projected onto big screens and a vintage funfair. Artists performing across three stages with Basement Jaxx headlining. Tickets start from £25 and there are various VIP options. If you’ve got the stamina you can cram in 14 hours, from 1.00pm to 3.00am. A free shuttle bus will be running from the train station.

Caudalie Vineyard Beauty Event, Rathfinny Wine Estate, Alfriston, 4 Oct


Learn about this lovely vineyard’s flora and fauna with a short guided walk around the estate then enjoy a beauty workshop using Caudalie’s vine-based cosmetics focusing on skin care during winter.  Tickets for the event are £20, which includes a light lunch and a 10% discount on all purchases.

Open morning, Dorset House School, Bury, near Pulborough, 5 Oct


If you’re looking ahead to back to school next year and you’re in the market for a top of the range one then get along to Dorset House school’s open morning on 5 Oct. Meet the head and take a pupil-led tour of the school’s historic home Bury Manor. Dorset House is co-ed, for ages four to 13 and is predominantly a day school though boarding is available for years four to eight. The open morning runs 9.30 to noon. Call 01798 831456 or email [email protected] for more details.

Picasso Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, 6 Oct – 5 Feb


This major exhibition of more than 80 works focuses on Picasso’s portraits of family, friends and lovers; covering both his familiar impressionist works and his lesser known more realist paintings from his youth. Organised with the help of Barcelona’s Museu Picasso, works on show will range from celebrated masterpieces loaned by international institutions to those in private collections being shown in the UK for the first time. Regular adult tickets are £17 but the first 100 tickets for every Friday during the exhibition are £5, available for entry at 10am and 10.15.

Why The Whales Came, Connaught Theatre, Worthing, 1 Oct


Multi-award-winning performer and storyteller Danyah Miller brings to life Michael Morpurgo’s  enchanting tale Why The Whales Came. Children Gracie and Daniel have been forbidden to go near the mysterious and seemingly dangerous Birdman. But messages and clues intrigue them and, after being lost at sea in the fog and stranded on his tiny island, they begin to unravel the Birdman’s secrets, the villagers’ fears and superstitions and learn why the whales came to the island. Aimed at ages 7+, it’s £12 a ticket or £38 for a family of four. Performances are at 2.00pm and 4.00pm so well before bedtime.

Student Day, Cass Arts, Market Street, Brighton, 3 Oct


Got a student in the family? Get them down to Cass Arts which stocks all sorts of goodies for the creatively-minded and is offering 20% discount on everything on 3 Oct plus free snacks, including Boho Gelato ice-cream, local offers and portrait sketching and prizes over the best art related fancy dress outfit. For those who spend over £20 after discount there will also be free goodie bags, with £40 worth of of art materials. Just remember to bring a student ID.  I wrote about the shop when it opened – looky-here for my virtual walkthrough.

Small Wonder Festival, Charleston House, Firle, near Lewes 28 Sept – 2 Oct


Catch the last few days of this festival dedicated to short stories in the atmospheric setting of at Charleston House, one time hang out of the Bloomsbury Set. Modern day famous writers like Lionel Shriver and Ali Smith are talking about their work and even if you’re not a devotee you can dip your toe in with fun nights like Literary Death Match – ‘a read-off and slapstick showdown’ and the Under The Sea themed slam in which audience members can read their own three minute stories. I went to the slam last year at the festival and it was great fun. This year it’s hosted by lovely Holly Dawson who runs Lewes Short Story Club – a brilliant informal monthly reading group that I get to when I can. Read my feature on it here.

The Family Travel Show, Olympia, London 1 – 2 Oct 


Thinking about your next holiday? Here’s where you’ll get a lot of inspiration in one place. Beach breaks, safaris, cruises and city stays are all represented at the only UK show dedicated entirely to family travel. There’s even a crèche and climbing zone on site for when young ones are, err climbing the walls.

African Night Fever presents: Reggae Party, 30 Sept, Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham


The sounds and tastes of the Caribbean come to Ropetackle with skanking roots, reggae and dance hall. The evening will feature reggae singer Earl Sixteen and his band, known as one of the pioneers of modern reggae beats. Influenced by his mentor, Dennis Brown, Earl was lead vocalist for The Flaming Phonics, has also had a successful solo career and more recently been frontman of British electro-reggae band Dreadzone. All that skanking will work up a hunger, so Cummin Up chefs will have Afro-Caribbean food for sale. Advance tickets cost £12.50.



The Shawshank Redemption, The Hawth, Crawley, 10 – 15 Oct 


It is one of the most popular films ever and now the stage version of The Shawshank Redemption is on tour with TV favourites Paul Nicolls, Jack Ellis and Ben Onwuke, best known for their respective roles in Eastenders, Bad Girls and London’s Burning. Based on a novella by Stephen King, the prison drama follows Andy Dufresne, facing a double life sentence for murder but protesting his innocence, who strikes up an unlikely friendship with the prison fixer Red and plots to tackle a bullying warden. In the meantime at the Hawth, there’s just a few days left to catch Tommy Steele – yes really, the famous one from all those Hollywood films – in musical The Glen Miller Story, running until 1 Oct.



Borde Hill Gardens and Sculpture Trail, near Haywards Heath, until 30 Sept/Oct 2


Lovely Borde Hill Gardens are soon to close for the season and gear up for a week’s reopening with decorated fun over Halloween. Fri 30 Sept is the last time you can catch this year’s extensive Sculpture Trail, (check out my feature and pics here) and Oct 2 is the last day the garden is open. Haunted Halloween Fun runs in line with the school holidays, 22 – 30th Oct.  Entrance to the gardens is £8.20 adults, £5.50 children, £23 for a family ticket.

Mr Popper’s Penguins, Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, 28 Sept – 1 Oct (Chichester in Dec) 

Mr Poppin's Penguins group

Mr Popper spends his time dreaming of Antarctic adventures but is astounded when one day a packing crate arrives on his doorstep with a live penguin inside. If you’ve seen the Jim Carrey film version of this story with CGI birds you’re going to be wondering how penguins are going to move about on stage. Remote control? Trained dogs inside? OK, it’s puppetry. Anyway you can see the results in Tunbridge Wells. Ali over at Muddy Kent has been already and reckons it’s a great bet for youngish kids. See her review here. Tickets cost £12.50. The show is also coming to Chichester’s Minerva Theatre for 7-11 Dec. Sounds like a perfect Christmas present. 

Clangers, Bagpuss & Co. V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London until 9 Oct


I just LOVE the Small Films stop frame animation series created by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin.  The Clangers, Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog, Pogles’ Wood and Ivor the Engine and more feature in this exhibition with original puppets, sets and film equipment from the shows – squeal! Get misty-eyed if you’re old enough and get children to meet the original Clangers and see artwork for their modern day counterparts. There are often also fun free activities for kids in the museum and the Olympic Park is not far away. See my review here

Chiddingly Festival 22 Sept – 2 Oct


Live bands, comedy acts, classical music, puppetry and chilling films are all in the mix for Chiddingly’s annual arts festival.  There’s a jazz breakfast, local beers and ciders to sample and weekend workshops including circus skills and comic making for kids and African drumming for all ages. Chiddingly Artists’ Open Studios will be running alongside so you can have good browse and snap up some art for your walls while you’re there.

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