Sussex Gift Experiences
Check out our round-up of unique, last minute Xmas shopping saviours
In a last minute present buying panic? Instead of running full tilt at the Boots smellies counter get a voucher or subscription for something really unique. Most of these Sussex gift experiences can be bought online right up to the wire! Share on social with the hashtag #InLoveWithLocal if you bag one.
Gardens and history
Treat someone to an Afternoon Escape voucher for cream tea and West Dean Gardens entry for two people (£25) or a monetary voucher (available to purchase from the Gardens Shop) in £5, £10 or £20 denominations.
Treat a family to a day ticket (£28) to Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens, which also has numerous foodie experiences (see below).
Pick up vouchers for Denmans Garden and Cafe at the little Oasis at Fontwell. It’s also a new RHS partner garden meaning free entry with RHS membership on Thursdays. You could also gift the Design Your Own Garden masterclasses coming up in Jan, March and April.
Swoop and buy a falconry experience (£65) or other treats at Herstmonceux Castle at Hailsham.
For history or countryside lovers, gift an annual daytime membership to Weald & Downland Living Museum set in 40 acres at Singleton near Chichester (£35 per adult, £68 joint adults, families £92, with discounts for seniors). It also gives the recipient a 10% discount in the cafe and shop.
There are numerous great National Trust properties in Sussex and beyond. Give someone access to them for free for a year with a gift membership for individuals, couples or families.
A day at the races
Your friend or relative will have money spare for a flutter when you gift them a racecourse day out. Fontwell Park near Arundel has vouchers for a Paddocks ticket (£13) Complete Raceday (£30) or Premier Lounge Restaurant for two (£138). Brighton Racecourse has options from £18 to £70 including a behind the scenes tour and dining packages. At Lingfield Park, just over in Surrey, an afternoon tea package (£55) is among options.
Biking the Downs
Gift someone a day out on two wheels in the South Downs with a regular or electric hire bike from Amberley-based Chalkpit Trails. They’ll kit you out, meet you afterwards and suggest some good routes. Email them for a voucher.
Treat a couple, family or group of friends to an hour of fiendish fun working out the mad scientist, spy or murder-themed puzzles at Escape Game Brighton. Vouchers are available for two to six players.
Sussex has many good vineyards and several offer tours. At Bolney Wine Estate buy a voucher for a regular Taster Tour (£25), a Grand Gourmet Tour (£45), which includes a tasting of five wines with a food matching plate, or a Sparkling Afternoon Tea Tour (£35).
Various options at Bluebell Vineyard Estates include a blending workshop (£30) and a vineyard tour, ploughman’s lunch and trip for two on the nearby Bluebell Railway (£80). You can also buy a Hindleap tour and tasting for two voucher, presented with a wine gift pack (£60).
Great British Wine Tours will meanwhile take your gift recipient on a magical mystery tour from Brighton or Tunbridge Wells stations to tutored tastings at at least two vineyards and lunch in leafy surrounds under the South Downs. They also have versions incorporating cheese or breweries.
FOOD & DRINK
Pastry making, Easter and Irish baking, gluten free bread, Valentine’s macrons, and pastries are among the tasty small group workshops coming up for the new year at The Artisan Bakehouse at Ashurst near Steyning. Most classes are suitable for beginners or enthusiasts and you can gift vouchers towards one in £20 denominations.
Top of the chocs
Let a loved-one learn how to make ganache fillings, temper chocolate, roll truffles and decorate moulds, and come away with a bounty of handmade creations, thanks to a masterclass from well-loved artisan chocolatier Noble and Stace. Regular workshops run in West Sussex with numbers capped at eight, you can gift someone an undated voucher (and you might just get some of the haul!)
Keep them buzzing well into the new year with a gift subscription (from 24.15) for ethically-sourced coffee from expert Arundel roasters Edgcumbes, delivered weekly, fortnighly or monthly for three, six or 12 months. You can select your preferred coffee type and your grind and even choose a country for the beans to hail from. If you know an uber coffee fan, you can also get them a gift vouchers for a Home Enthusiast Coffee Course (£45).
Afternoon teas are always a winner for a present and are offered by several smart places across Sussex. At Chichester Harbour Hotel you can gift one for £18 (or £24 with champagne) or buy vouchers for a three course Sunday lunch for two (£50), a cocktail masterclass (£30) or a gin tasting (from £30).
Among good Sussex pubs offering gift vouchers are the Michelin BiB Gourmand-rated The Cat Inn at West Hoathly (also a double Muddy Award winner), The Bell in Ticehurst and the The Highdown at Goring. They all also offer stays.
You can also gift great seafood – from winter chowders to summer salads at seafront restaurant CrabShack in Worthing (phone 01903 215070 or or pop in for a voucher).
Dinner for two in the newly Michelin-starred Interlude Restaurant (from £180) is among numerous tasty gift voucher options at Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens near Horsham. You can also gift afternoon tea (pictured) with garden entry (from £40), a cheese or chocolate and wine pairing experience (£30) or a tutored wine tasting (£20), or for something really fun, let your loved-one learn how to slice open a bottle of sparkling wine with a sword during a Sabrage sparkling wine experience (£25)! Combine several of the treats in the Whole Day Experience for Two (£140).
At Poppinghole Farm Spa at Robertsbridge even day guests get to hang out in their own characterful cottage between treatments and dips in the pool. Gift a spa day (from £150 including an hour’s treatment, wine and lunch) or gift vouchers for individual treatments. Read the recent Muddy review.
Chichester and Brighton Harbour Hotels have several spa voucher options including a massage lesson for two (£150).
For the gift of time out in a unique place, give a voucher for a stay in one of the themed rooms at Brighton’s fun and flirty Hotel Pelirocco. There’s a current £99 Christmas voucher deal for a one night midweek stay for two people in a Standard Double Room including breakfast and two house cocktails.
At characterful, foodie boutique hotel Wingrove House at Alfriston you can book bed and breakfast vouchers for weekdays (from £125) or weekends (from £155) or give a monetary voucher towards a meal or stay.
Canvas & Stars is offering gift vouchers for its Girls Go Glamping and other experiences which mix nights in luxury bell tents with pamper treats like a hot tub and procesco.
Sussex-based personal shopper and wardrobe consultant Nicola Fleming has 22 years in the retail fashion industry having worked for the likes of Ralph Lauren, Donna Karen and LK Bennett. Give a loved one a voucher for a session with her to revamp their look or get ideas for a capsule collection.
Help someone learn a skill for the new year. The Globe Inn Marsh at Rye has one day art classes with expert tuition for groups of up to six in January and February. A class costs £95 per person including lunch, coffee, refreshments and all materials and you can give one with a gift voucher.
Know someone eco-conscious, or with a car that’s their pride and joy? Give a Christmas Gift Voucher (£33) for a full valet on their doorstep. Carhop which operates within 30 miles of Worthing will clean their vehicle inside and out with no water. Yes, that’s right, no water! Or, better still, gift an annual subscription (from £15 a month for an exterior clean).
Every child loves to play make believe and Little Street is the perfect place to have some role play fun trying out different jobs and vehicles. The branches at Chichester and Horsham offer five after school passes for £20 or annual passes for 10 visits for £50-55, valid for up to three children.
Also check out your fave family attractions in Sussex for gift voucher and annual pass options. You can gift a day amid the vintage transport and demonstration delights of Amberley Museum, get a monetary voucher for active and animal fun at Fishers Adventure Farm Park at Wisborough Green or buy a Family Membership to Borde Hill Garden near Haywards Heath, which always has heaps on for the school holidays, or the bird-tastic Arundel Wetland Centre.
In East Sussex, Knockhatch at Hailsham has gift vouchers and annual passes, which are sure to prove good value as there’s plenty undercover for year-round fun. You can also adopt an animal from a meerkat to a wallaby and book a keeper experience.
There are also gift vouchers (from £20) available for the adult or family versions of Phileas Fogg’s World of Adventures in Brighton – an immersive experience with challenges threaded through themed sets.
STAGE & SCREEN
If your gift recipient lives near an independent cinema, check out its membership scheme. Good Sussex options include the Picturehouse chain (which has two in Brighton), the unrelated Picture House in Uckfield, the Depot in Lewes and Kino at Rye plus the Capitol Cinema Club in Horsham.
Don’t forget also to check out memberships and vouchers from our great Sussex theatres and other major venues including The Old Market in Hove where the TOM’s Friend membership give you 15% off selected shows and 10% off at the bar and The Capitol, Horsham (from £18) where you get discounted tickets for most theatre shows plus the Capitol Cinema Club perks.
Shows to gift
There are heaps of pantos and other Christmas shows around in Sussex at the moment. Here are some more things coming up that would make good presents.
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: Comedians 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.