Festive Things To Do in Sussex

If you’ve been stuck at your desk and haven’t yet managed to do anything Christmassy yet, you may be thinking it’s too late.  But even though Christmas is only just over a week away, there is still time to get into the spirit of things with some thoroughly Christmassy events. So, as we all (hopefully) start to wind things down for the holidays, how about one of these experiences to get you well and truly in the mood:

Leonardslee Illuminated

Sussex, Christmas and the National Trust

There are a number of fabulous National Trust properties in Sussex and the National Trust tends to do Christmas really well. Lamb House in Rye closes on the 19 December so you have two days to whizz over there and see their Mapp and Lucia Christmas. If you don’t make it to Rye in time, don’t worry, as Bateman’s near Burwash is open throughout the Christmas holidays (except the 24 and 25 December). They have decorated their hall in full finery with a snowy white theme and a Christmas tree inspired by the opulent and divine embroidery in the Parlour.


Standen near East Grinstead has various Christmas events including Twilight openings when there will be a choir singing in the courtyard and a selling exhibition hosted by The Sussex Guild (every day until the 23 December). Nymans near Haywards Heath is open and celebrating Christmas until the 3 January with “a collection of Christmas trees each designed to reflect a unique aspect of Nymans’ spirit, past and present.” And Petworth’s celebrations are suitably extravagant with Christmas traditions celebrated through the years, including Georgian, Victorian, post-war and the future.

Petworth House

Finally heading west, we’ve mentioned Uppark before with their fabulous Georgian family Christmas. They are closed on the 25 and 26 December but otherwise open.

Uppark House

Christmas Illuminations

Although Leonardslee Illuminations may now be sold out, at the time of writing you can still get tickets to the Light Up Trail at the Cowdray Estate near Midhurst which runs to 31 December. They describe their event as an “after-dark festive light trail inspired by the theme of Joy”.

Cowdray Light Up Trail
Photo credit to Benjamin Clegg

For other illuminations, you might try and watch the Bluebell Railway SteamLights. When we last checked there were hardly any tickets left for the train (this Sunday only) but there are various places you can see the train go by including near the Horsted Keynes platform, Sharpethorne, and parts of the Sussex Border Path. Pretty amazing to see an illuminated steam train fly past through the darkness. There are also some tickets available to Glo Wild at Wakehurst for after Christmas and this is another truly magical event.

Glow wild at Wakehurst, West Sussex

Christmas concerts  

There are a couple of really special concerts taking place in the next few weeks. On the 2 January, the Lewes Music Group will be bringing you their Vienna in Lewes concert, a collection of beautiful Viennese classics including the best of Strauss and the likes of the Can Can, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky. The band are all young and either still at music college or recently qualified. Lewes Music Group has grown out of the original youth band and was founded by Daniel Lauro (conductor/player/composer) and the band are supported by Lewes Mayor, Stephen Catlin, and Lewes Town Council to promote community and youth inclusion in classical and contemporary music. It’s classical but youthful too!

Lewes Music Band

On 20 December, the Mediaeval Baebes are performing their evocative and ethereal Christmas concert at St Mary’s Horsham (tickets still available at time of writing) which combines classics and folk music in their own unique way.

Medieval Baebes Horsham Tour

The Pavilion on Eastbourne seafront are also hosting music nights in the run-up to Christmas and also on Boxing Day. Entry is free. On Boxing Day there will be music, mince pies and mulled wine with Highway 24 performing with a mixture of Christmas and Country hits.

Performances and shows

At the Brighton Dome, at the moment you can still get tickets to the Circolombia: Acelere – one of the world’s leading circus companies and a high-energy modern circus show with a distinctively Latin feel. Performances are on the 18, 19, and 21 to 27 (not Christmas Day). Or you could catch the Ballet Theatre UK’s production of the Snow Queen on 29 and 30 December. At Chichester Festival Theatre what about something fun with The Stick Man adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Stick Man on until the 24 December. Or while in Chichester, you might want to pop in and experience the Chichester Cathedral Carol Service on the 19, 20, and 21 December.

Chichester Festival Theatre

Ice skating 

Nothing says Christmas quite like a bit of ice skating and a winter wonderland. There is still skating available at The REC Rooms in Horsham and at the Royal Pavilions in Brighton (until 9 January).

Royal Pavilion Ice skating

Hopefully, one of the above will tickle your fancy and help you get into the spirit of Christmas.  Now, all we have to do is hope that Covid and its evil helper Omicron don’t put pay to all the fun and festivities. But do stay safe whatever you choose to do.

Do check availability and Covid restrictions before attending any event. 




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