12 of the best Christmas events in Sussex

Glow Wild at Wakehurst

Glow Wild at Wakehurst - Credit: Jeff Eden / RBG Kew

Jingle bells, it's Christmas all the way! Whether you're a music lover, fair goer or twinkly lights snapper, we've rounded up the best festive events in Sussex...

Krater Christmas Parties, Komedia, Gardner Street, Brighton BN1 1UN
When: December 2-4, 9-11 and 16-18
How much: From £45 per person
After a year of Zoom calls and working from home, turn off mute and get the party started at Komedia’s comedy club. Book a table with friends or colleagues and enjoy a night of the finest funnies in the area, including Charlie Baker, The Noise Next Door and Angela Barnes. Tuck into all this alongside a festive meal with meat and veggie options available – just make sure to finish your mouthful before laughing out loud.

Aladdin, North Street, Horsham, RH12 1RG
When: December 3-31
How much: Family tickets from £85
Local lad Toby Miles of Les Misérables and Mamma Mia! fame (see the December issue for our interview with him) soars on stage as Aladdin with Rosie Cava-Beale as Princess Amirah. Join them as they explore mystical lands with gorgeous sets, amazing costumes and lots of favourite songs. Warm up your vocal chords and get ready to be enchanted.

READ MORE: The best Christmas markets in Sussex

Shepherds Arise! Various locations
When: Christchurch (December 5), and St Michael’s Church (January 2), Lewes, St Margaret’s Church, Rottingdean (December 12), and Standen House, East Grinstead (December 19)
How much: Free with collection charges for the churches. The East Grinstead event requires the National Trust entrance fee
Nearly 30 enthusiastic local singers and musicians are presenting a selection of old West Gallery carols from Sussex villages, accompanied by flute, fiddle, bassoon, clarinet and concertinas, with the musicians playing the lively dance tunes from old Sussex manuscripts. Between the carols are readings about Christmas in Sussex in the past. Starts 2.30pm, Standen 4pm.

Glyndebourne has a range of festive concerts on this season

Glyndebourne has a range of festive concerts on this season - Credit: Robert Workman

Handel’s Messiah, Glyndebourne, New Road, Lewes, BN8 5UU
When: December 10
How much: £10-£60
Coming to the Glyndebourne stage this festive season is a concert performance of Handel’s Messiah. This is a rare opportunity to see – and hear – Glyndebourne’s exceptional chorus centre-stage. While most oratorios put the spotlight on the soloists, Handel’s Messiah has the group at its heart. As exhilarating now as it was then – this is a piece that wholeheartedly showcases its singers. With Glyndebourne’s long history of superb Handel stagings, this is one not to be missed.

Sleeping Beauty at Devonshire Park will be anything but a snoozefest

Sleeping Beauty at Devonshire Park will be anything but a snoozefest - Credit: Eastbourne Theatres

Sleeping Beauty, Devonshire Park, Compton Street, Eastbourne, BN21 4BW
When: December 10 to January 9
How much: £14.50-£23.50
The Eastbourne Theatres team will bring plenty of stand out spectacles to the Devonshire Park stage, including live band, stunning costumes, dazzling effects and even a fire-breathing dragon! It will also be filled with the cheeky shenanigans you know and love from the panto. It will be the 20th pantomime from the crew, and audiences can expect a show packed with magic, mayhem, mad-cap merriment and more.

See Santa in the sky at the British Airways i360

See Santa in the sky at the British Airways i360 - Credit: Julia Claxton Photography

Breakfast and Fly with Santa, British Airways i360, Lower Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2LN
When: December 11-24
How much: £17.25-£26.50, child £4.75-£21
Forget squinting in the sky for a speck of red – you can board the i360 and pay a visit to Santa as you view the Brighton skyline. Enjoy a festive breakfast before embarking on the Elf Experience, during which children can meet the big man himself and ask all those burning questions. The elves will be on hand to help you snap a family photo too.

Light Up a Life, St Barnabas House, online
When: December 13
How much: Donations appreciated
Each year at Christmas time, St Barnabas House holds a special service, Light up a Life, for the local community to join together to remember and celebrate the lives and memories of loved ones. After initial plans to hold two events at Worthing Assembly Hall, on December 13, sadly the decision has been made to go virtual again at 7pm, with a special performance by the St Barnabas House community choir.

That’ll Be the Day Christmas Special, Congress Theatre, Carlisle Rd, Eastbourne, BN21 4JR
When: December 14-15
How much: £28.50
One of the loveliest parts of the holidays is indulging in nostalgia, and you can do just that at the rocking and rolling show to the tunes of That’ll Be The Day. The show reflects the music and tone of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, with revor, Gary and the gang celebrate the festive season by bringing back the good times, combining the best pop Christmas classics and traditional songs with comedy routines.

Christmas Market, The Hub, Quarry Farm, Robertsbridge, TN32 5RA
When: December 15
How much: Free entry
Pick up gorgeous last-minute trinkets crafted by local makers at this cosy market. From handcrafted silver jewellery to candles made in Robertsbridge, you can choose from a huge variety of gifts. To top it all off, there will also be seasonal dishes, mulled wine and sweet treats to taste, including scrumptious mince pies. From 4pm-8pm.

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Interactive Winter Wonderland, Brighton Marina, BN2 5WA
When: December 18-21
How much: Free, booking essential
Visitors can meander through the indoor walking trail, filled with snow, clouds and sparkles, before heading into the elves’ workshop to make a starry wand. This will then be illuminated to create true Christmas magic. Afterwards, they can show their creations off to Santa, who will greet them with a gift.

Light up your holiday calendar with a festive trip at Bluebell Railway

Light up your holiday calendar with a festive trip on the Bluebell Railway - Credit: Casey Photography

Steamlights, Bluebell Railway, Uckfield, TN22 3QL
When: Until January 8
How much: £110-£170, picnic box extra £12.50, £6.50 per child
Although the nights are drawing in, there’s no reason to sit in the dark. Instead, sparkle, glow and shimmer on a magical steam train covered by thousands of colourful lights. Settle down in the luxury of your own compartment, and journey through the Sussex countryside with festive scenes and a light show along the way. Order the picnic box for an extra special treat.

Glow Wild, Kew, Wakehurst, Selsfield Road, Haywards Heath, RH17 6TN
When: Until January 2
How much: From £14, child £10
This year’s Glow Wild explores the impact of the ‘anthropause’ (the global slowing of human activity) on nature, featuring new bespoke installations from award-winning artists, and more than 300 hand-crafted lanterns. Plus for the first time, visitors can enjoy a special four-course feast in Wakehurst’s Elizabethan Mansion, situated in the heart of the gardens next to the UK’s tallest living Christmas tree.