Christmas is a magical time to be in Sussex – think roaring fireplaces, crisp winter walks and some great family fun. It’s also full with some fantastic festive events and days out over the Christmas period – from children’s activities to local Christmas markets, there is loads going on for everyone to love and to get everyone in the Christmas spirit!
Check out our handpicked favourites below:
A Christmas Carol Brighton: The Immersive Dining Experience
The Windmill, 69 Upper North Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 3FL
3rd December – 29th December 2019
You are cordially invited to the parlour of Mr Ebeneezer Scrooge for a rousing rendition of this timeless classic. Through parlour games, festive songs and a little spirited trickery, we must warm the heart of the bah-humbugging miser.
A show about Christmas spirit, caring for those we love, and having a good old-fashioned knees-up couldn’t be a more perfect way to warm a cold winter’s evening. All tickets are £59 plus a booking fee of £1.95 and include a Christmas feast created by MasterChef winner Natalie Coleman. This heart-warming theatre show is perfect for Christmas parties, fun with friends or cheering up the family Scrooge!
Volk’s Railway Visitor Centre, Madeira Drive, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 1EN
7th December 2019 – 22nd December 2019 (weekends only) 10:30am – 2:30pm
All aboard the Seaside Santa Express! Tickets are now available for this year’s Santa Express on Brighton seafront. From 7 December, Father Christmas will be joining the Volk’s Railway, spreading some magic at the railway’s Visitor Centre every weekend up until Christmas as he gets ready for the big night. While he fixes up his sled, you can take a very special train ride to visit him!
Make special Christmas gifts, eat tasty snacks, ride on the UK’s oldest Electric Railway and visit Santa in his grotto. Not one to be missed.
Christmas at Drusillas
Drusillas Park, Alfriston Road, Alfriston, BN26 5QS
23rd November onwards (weekends only), 14th – 23rd December (daily), 10am – 5pm
Meet Santa in his magical Santa’s Grotto at Drusillas Park. No festivities would be complete without the star attraction, and visitors to Drusillas will not be disappointed as Father Christmas makes a welcome return to the zoo. Children can visit Santa in his cosy Christmas Grotto and receive an early Christmas gift! Back by popular demand, visitors will also have the opportunity to come face-to-face with Huskies as they meet and greet visitors in the Ice Cave; you’d be barking mad to miss it!
And new for 2019 – a beautiful 24 foot Giant Christmas Tree located in the middle of the Events Arena. Soak up the festive atmosphere, sip your mulled wine and tuck into a yummy mince pie while you’re watching the Giant Christmas Tree twinkling in time to music. Let it fill you with Christmas cheer!
An Elizabethan Feast
St George’s Church, St George’s Road, Kemp Town, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 1ED
11th December 2019, 8pm – 10pm
Choral gems by William Byrd, Robert Parsons, Orlando Gibbons, John Bull and Thomas Weelkes. The Ashdown Consort of Viols will accompany the choir and perform instrumental pieces from the 16th century. This is the perfect occasion to get into the heart of truly historical seasonal music.
Music for Advent, Christmas and Candlemas, perfect for those who want to step back in time this Christmas season…
The Fairy Tale Fair – Christmas Craft Fair at Brighton Open Market
Brighton Open Market, Marshalls Row, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 4JU
Sunday 8th December 11am – 4pm
The Fairy Tale Fair will inspire shoppers with 48 stalls and 60+ carefully chosen, talented local designer and makers. There will also be a selection of yummy of homemade treat stalls too, as well as the permanent cafes to stop and relax in between all that shopping and browsing!
For the little ones, face painting, special guests and live performers including a Christmas choir, live singers and princesses including Elsa & Olaf! It’s also a unique chance to purchase handmade, one off festive gifts and stocking fillers that you certainly won’t find on the high street! Shop local, sustainably and avoid the stress and hustle of the big high street brands this Christmas.
Santa Dash Brighton
Hove Lawns (opposite Adelaide Crescent near the Peace Statue)
Saturday 14th December, 10.30am start
If you want something to help you prepare for the excesses of the season then why not start it with a festive run. Taking place on 14th December, this charity event will host thousands of Santa’s running on the streets and raising money for charity. The run starts at Hove Lawns and encompasses a 2.5km there and back for a total of 5km run. Santa suits are provided as part of your entry fee so it is easy to take part and run for a great cause.
The Burning of the Clocks
Saturday 21st December. The parade leaves from New Road at 6:30pm and arrives at Madeira Drive at approximately 7:15pm. The event finishes at 8pm.
If you want to do something with your family this Christmas, why not have a go at this activity. The day starts off by creating giant paper lanterns which will be later released at the beautiful Brighton seafront just before the twinkling fireworks display. This festival is unlike any other bringing the local people together as they see their beautiful lanterns burn across the cold crisp night.
Lantern packs are available from: The Book Nook Hove – £30.00, HISBE Food Brighton – £30.00, Seed ‘n’ Sprout Kemp Town – £30.00, Royal Pavillion – £33.00. Burning the Clocks lantern packs contain all the materials you will need to make 2 of the Precious Planet lanterns. It allows 4 people, wristbands included, to take part in the Burning the Clocks parade and provides all the details you will need to join in on the night.
Christmas at the Royal Pavilion
The Royal Pavilion, Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1EE
Drop-in activities for children and families: Saturday 14 & Sunday 15, Saturday 21, Sunday 22 & Monday 23 December, 11am-4pm.
Experience a magical Christmas at the Royal Pavilion. The Palace is transformed with festive decorations and glittering trees and Georgian desserts fit for a king are on show in the Deckers’ Room.
A replica of Queen Victoria’s sleigh awaits you and your family, where you can create your own Christmas photos to remember the day!
Royal Pavilion Ice Rink
The Royal Pavilion, Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1EE
2nd November 2019 – 19th January 2020
If you fancy indulging in a classic winter sport with a beautiful backdrop then head towards the Brighton Pavillion where a fantastic pop-up Ice Skating rink appears each winter. During the day this is a great spot for families to come and have some fun. There is also a side rink for the smaller members of the party.
At night the rink becomes a fantastic romantic place for couples to twirl and spin with some lovely background music. Afterwards, they can warm up with some mulled wine and good food which is available nearby. There will also be indoor seating if you want to build up your courage by watching the others before you head out.
Cuckfield Christmas Tree Festival
Holy Trinity Church, Church Street, Cuckfield, RH17 5JZ
Friday 6th December, 11:30am – 7:30pm, tickets are £5pp
Over three days, this beautiful display of trees decorated by local organisations, clubs, societies, schools and businesses is a pure visual delight for both young and old. This year’s partner charity is The Alzheimer’s Society. Full live music programme and refreshments throughout.
National Trust Christmas at Nymans
Handcross, near Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 6EB
Christmas is coming to Nymans…and it’s frog shaped! Leap into a fantasy world this festive season with an exhibition and programme of events and activities celebrating Quentin Blake’s extraordinary artwork. Visit the house to see it decorated ready for Christmas, have a go at festive craft and a family trail, join a storytelling session in the gallery and enjoy school holiday boredom busters.
Santa Specials, Bluebell Railway
Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex, TN22 3QL
7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th December, starts at: 10:20am, 11:55am, 1:30pm and 3:10pm
A Christmas visit to the Bluebell Railway is a magical experience! Enjoy a journey through the Sussex countryside in all its winter splendour. Santa and his elves will be on board with a present and chocolate treat for all the children (he won’t forget the grown-ups, there’s a mince pie for them!).
Sit back and enjoy the trip to Horsted Keynes station where you will find a Victorian Fairground – tokens for rides/attractions will be available to purchase for 20p at the station, and a Christmas Pantry – serving hot & cold drinks and festive snacks. Your Santa Special experience will last for between 1½ and 2 hours & includes your return train ride and time at Horsted Keynes station.
Hurstpierpoint Christmas Fair
Village Centre, Trinity Road, Hurstpierpoint
Saturday 7th December, 4pm – 7pm
Known affectionately this year as ‘It’s a Wonderful Hurst’, the annual High Street Christmas Fair is coming up fast. Santa will be making a very grand appearance in his grotto, there will be live entertainment and Christmas Carol singing, as well as an incredible new addition this year: a snow cannon! To keep you going throughout the day, food and drink stalls with be selling a range of Christmas treats to suit every taste including pork burgers, vegetarian chilli, hot dogs, pizza, roast chestnuts, hot chocolates, candyfloss, mince pies, and even yorkshire pudding wraps. In addition to Christmas stalls, the traders will be open and ready to help you with all of your Christmas shopping needs – what more could you need?