As the days grow shorter and our thoughts turn to the festive season, the historic towns and villages of Sussex look dazzling decked in fairy lights. Visits to Christmas Markets in Sussex, where the mulled wine flows and the chestnuts roast, are sure to get you into the festive mood.
Sussex has a fabulous range of Christmas markets and festive events to enjoy. Here’s our selection for 2021.
above: Carols by Candlelight at Bailiffscourt, Climping, top image: Arundel at Christmas by Nigel Cull Photography
If you can’t visit these events due to isolating or social distancing you may like to check out our Sussex Gift Guide. Our guide is packed with local arts, crafts, food, wine, experiences and Sussex inspired gifts from Sussex people and businesses. All worthy of your support at this time.
What’s on in West Sussex this Christmas
(scroll down for East Sussex)
Winter Fair at South of England Showground Ardingly
Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 November 2021 | Adults £6.75, senior citizens/students £5.85, under 16s go free with a suggested donation of £1
A fabulous Christmas market is held annually in the South of England Showground. A giant snow globe, chocolate workshop and vintage carousel transform the South of England Showground into a winter wonderland. Santa will be holding court in his magical grotto and there’ll be clothing, accessories, gifts and greetings pavilions. More than 60 food stalls will tempt your tastebuds.
Stir-up Sunday, The Spread Eagle, Midhurst
Sunday 21 November 2021
Join Historic Hotel’s Executive Chef Martin Hadden on the last Sunday before advent in stirring the Christmas pudding, whilst making a wish, as he shares the secrets about how to make the perfect Christmas pud in this festive and fun workshop.
This is followed by either a delicious two-course roast lunch or a festive afternoon tea, while The Spread Eagles elves will carefully wrap and dress the puddings so that they are ready to be taken home to be cooked on Christmas Day.
Christmas Wreath Workshop at The Spread Eagle, Midhurst
24 & 30 November, 08 & 14 December
Join a two-hour workshop with local florist Kate Smith with morning tea and coffee and homemade biscuits, followed by a two-course lunch with a glass of wine. Price £55 per person (all materials included).
Shopping at West Dean Gardens
The gardens and gift shop are open at West Dean during December 2021
You’ll find many unique gifts, not available on the high streets, as well as beautiful festive decorations and cards. Or give an experience and buy a voucher for a Gardens visit with afternoon tea.
Horsham Christmas Market
Sunday 05, 12, 19 and 24 December 2021
Discover festive goodies and delicious Sussex street food from local suppliers and traders while listening to the music played from the bandstand at Horsham Christmas Market at the Carfax.
Christmas at Amberley Museum
04 & 05, 11 & 12, 18 & 19 December 2021
Father Christmas is visiting Amberley Museum on selected weekends in December when the museum will be open from 10am to 4pm. Explore the 36-acre site and festive activities with market stalls, children’s crafts and a family Christmas trail.
Pre-Booking is required to see Father Christmas.
Bluebell Railway Santa Specials and StreamLights
Santa Specials | Weekends from 27th November to 24th December 2021 | SOLD OUT
StreamLights | Various dates throughout November and December | Limited availability
Bluebell Railway in Uckfield will light up the winter nights with thousands of colourful lights orchestrated to music and with festive scenes along the way amongst the trees and clearings.
You can even add a hamper to your journey for a small extra fee
Weald and Downland Christmas Events
Find that perfect gift and enjoy a great day out at this bustling Christmas Market with over 150 stands selling arts, crafts, food, unusual gifts and much more. As well as craft and trade stands, there will be festive music and tasty seasonal treats to sample and buy. You’ll also get to see where ‘The Repair Shop’ is filmed.
Prices: £8 for adults (over 18s), free children aged 0-17 years, free disabled people (plus a single helper). Entry is free for Annual Members. Tickets include admission to both the Museum and to the Christmas Market.
The Kennels’ Christmas Market, Goodwood
04 & 05 December 2021
A fabulous collection of hand-picked stalls selling with local produce, festive gifts and artisan food and drink. It’s also a rare chance to buy produce from the Goodwood Estate not normally available to the public. This is a relatively small market but the stalls are excellent.
Admission is complimentary but non-members must pre-register here.
Arundel at Christmas, Arundel
Throughout December 2021
This Arundel by Candlelight has become Arundel at Christmas with a series of smaller event being held throughout December.
A s always Christmas trees light-up the shops, restaurants and pubs, creating a beautiful festive scene, while in the town square stands a traditional tall Christmas tree (donated by the Duke of Norfolk’s estate).
Highlights include the Christmas Farmer’s Market, Festive Sundays with roaming street entertainment, seasonal menus at our restaurants and cafes, Christmas performances by local choirs, festive swims at Arundel Lido, and, of course, the opportunity to visit Santa’s grotto.
Vintage and Very Nice Christmas Market, Chichester
12 & 13 December 2021
With a wide range of local traders and makers offering unique Christmas gift ideas, the market takes place in the Assembly Room, the Council House, North Street Chichester.
What’s on in East Sussex this Christmas
Royal Pavilion Ice Rink, Brighton
30 Oct 2021 – 09 Jan 2022
With the Royal Pavilion as a backdrop, this has to be one of the most beautiful ice rinks in England. The ice is powered entirely by green energy. There’s also a rink side bar and restaurant serving warming snacks, a selection of drinks, mulled wine and hot chocolate with marshmallows.
Tickets are £15 for adults (12 and over), £10 for under 12s with discounts for group bookings. Tickets can be booked through the Royal Pavilion Ice RInk website.
Hastings Pop-up Emporium
- Sat 06 & Sun 07 November 2021 – 11 am – 4 pm – The Stade Hall, Hastings Seafront, Hastings Old Town
- Sat 11 & 12 December 2021 – 11 am – 4 pm – The Stade Hall, Hastings Seafront, Hastings Old Town
This Christmas Pop Up hosts a wonderful selection of talented local makers, creatives and small businesses from Hastings and the surrounding areas. Entry is free.
Brighton Christmas Festival and Market
Friday 26 November – Friday 31 December 2021
The main festival and Christmas Market take place in the Old Steine and new Valley Gardens that run from The Royal Pavilion to St Peter’s Church. However, the event is city-wide event with many popular attractions and venues joining in.
With over 150 festive stalls, the festival includes two purpose-built entertainment venues, live shows, fairground and the chance to visit Santa’s Workshop.
There will be an Après Ski zone for adults with mulled wine and all the Alpine feels. Brighton Christmas Festival and Market will be a sparkling winter attraction in Sussex this winter.
Brighton Christmas Festival is FREE to enter for you to wander around, browse the Christmas Markets and soak up the festive atmosphere. Ticketed attractions including Santa’s Workshop will be on sale soon. Advance booking is recommended for these.
The festival includes two purpose-built entertainment venues, live shows, and an opportunity to visit Santa’s Workshop.
Father Christmas and Christmas Market in Battle
Saturday 27 November 2021
At 1:50 Father Christmas’s sleigh is escorted with a musical parade down the High Street to his Grotto at Memorial Hall. Father Christmas sees children in his Grotto from 2:15 till 4:45. There are refreshments, entertainment and Christmas market in the hall. Children’s rides take place on the Abbey Green and at 5pm the lights are switched on by Father Christmas.
There’s free parking all day in the town’s Rother District Council car parks and the Battle Abbey car park.
Battle Gala Night and Late Night Shopping
Late Night Shopping Thursday 09 December 2021
With traders in fancy dress, choirs and bands all around town, games, competitions and more, you’re guaranteed a magical time at Battle’s popular annual gala night and late night shopping!
Festivities start at 1.50pm with Santa’s High Street Parade, all are welcome. Visit the Battle Museum in the Almonry and sample what the unique, independent shops and cafes have to offer.
Shops will stay open until 8pm on Thursdays in the run up to Christmas. There are a range of unusual and independent shops in Battle High Street and lots of new openings recently so do visit if you haven’t dropped by Battle recently.
Many shops also provide online shopping and on Thursdays and Saturdays throughout December there is free car parking in the town in the Rother and Abbey car parks.
Frost Fair at Charleston near Firle
Charleston Farmhouse near Alfriston in East Sussex opens its newly restored eighteenth century barns for their Frost Fair. Discover some of the South’s finest designers and creators selling beautifully crafted gifts.
Step into the Threshing Barn for winter lunches, hot chocolate and mince pies. A selection of natural wreaths, garlands and Christmas trees are for sale in the Barnyard and for the creative, there are craft activities in the Outer Studio. The Snow Queen will be welcoming visitors in her enchanted Christmas grotto.
Check the Charleston website for ticket availability (£5) and details. Booking recommended
Christmas in Rye
CANCELLED FOR 2021 DUE TO RETURN 2022
Rye Christmas Festival starts in the morning with Santa arriving by boat at Strand Quay. Visit festive stalls, Father Christmas in his grotto and see the reindeer. Eat food from street vendors as you’re entertained by street performers. Enjoy carols, pantomime and the colourful procession as it wends its way through Rye’s ancient streets.
Carols by Candlelight, St George’s Church, Kemp Town, Brighton
CANCELLED FOR 2020
A carol service for everyone, featuring NHS Community Choir Brighton and The Choir of St George’s Church. Join us for a drink and a mince pie from 5.45 pm. Carols by Candlelight service at 6.30 pm. During the service, there will be an opportunity to hang a star on the Christmas Tree in memory of a loved one.
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