As well as being home to the glorious South Downs National Park and one of the most wonderful stretches of coastline in the south, Sussex is also known for its up-and-coming arts scene. While the famed opera house of Glyndebourne in West Sussex has been the venue for the annual Glyndebourne Festival Opera since 1934, newer festival and gallery additions are making this county, just a couple of hours from London, a top cultural destination to visit.
FESTIVALS IN SUSSEX
Hosted every September, the Rye Arts Festival is a wonderful celebration of the arts, and 2020 will be the 49th year of the event. The largest arts festival in East Sussex, it promises yet another eclectic programme, spanning classical and contemporary music, dance performances, literature, art exhibitions and more.
This jazz-funk festival is gaining a great reputation and is also easily reached via public transport from throughout East Sussex. Love Supreme’s line-up often features some musical titans as well as making room for new bands that still carry the torch. Among the iconic acts who have performed at the festival are The Jacksons, Gregory Porter, George Benson and Herbie Hancock. The festival setting is beautiful too, so be sure to book early.
- Where: Glynde Place, Glynde, East Sussex, BN8 6SX
- Stay at: Cuckmere Lodge, Alfriston (sleeps 5 + 1 dog)
Other festivals to check out:
VENUES IN SUSSEX
You can find one of the UK’s most famous opera houses, Glyndebourne, in the quaint Sussex village it’s named after. A few miles outside Lewes, it constantly surprises and wows visitors with its long season of world-class opera events. It’s also home to the Glyndebourne Opera Cup, a competition showcasing the rising stars of opera. Bring a picnic and champagne to enjoy during some of the best live events available in the UK throughout the Great British summer.
This iconic art-deco-style seafront pavilion in Bexhill is a must-see for its unspoilt charms as well as being one of the most popular theatres in Sussex. The De La Warr is a wonderful art space hosting a bold programme of artistic events, live music, stage shows and a diverse film programme. It has a fabulous gift shop that reflects the diversity of its calendar. If you like modern art in all its different shapes and forms, you must include the De La Warr Pavilion on your holiday itinerary.
Other fantastic venues:
Looking for a bite to eat before or after a show? Have a browse through our 'Favourite places to eat' guide to find the best on offer across the county.
ART GALLERIES IN SUSSEX
One of the most popular art galleries in Sussex, the Hastings Contemporary, formerly the Jerwood Gallery, is a modern art exhibition space along the seafront in Hastings Old Town. It has a busy ongoing calendar of events with a focus on modern and contemporary British art. The Jerwood Collection aims to showcase the best of British and contains pieces by Sir Stanley Turner, LS Lowry, Augustus John, and Sir Frank Brangwyn. A number of temporary exhibitions also visit the gallery throughout the year.
- Where: Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings Old Town, East Sussex, TN34 3DW
- Stay at: Hunnerpaloo, St Leonards-on-Sea (sleeps 4 and 1 dog)
Image: John Lord
An award-winning contemporary art gallery in the heart of Eastbourne, the Towner Gallery started from a collection of just 22 paintings in 1923. The new state-of-the-art premises opened in 2009, and, alongside its number of visiting exhibitions, is home to its own collection of more than 4500 works, specialising in modern British art.
- Where: Devonshire Park, College Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 4JJ
- Stay at: South Downs Cottage, Eastbourne (sleeps 2 and 1 dog)
Another great gallery:
MUSEUMS AND COLLECTIONS IN SUSSEX
Image: Amy Meredith
Established over 120 years ago, the Hastings Museum is home to an eclectic collection of exhibits, including the Native North American collection and the interactive dinosaur gallery. Two galleries also tell the story of Hastings in finer detail: Before Hastings, chronicling those who lived in the area from the prehistoric to the Saxon age, and The Story of Hastings in 66 Objects.
Image: George Redgrave
The Weald & Downland Living Museum brings over 950 years of rural living to life across its several buildings, all set across a 40-acre site. Among the rooms and buildings to be seen in all their traditional glory are the Tudor kitchen, Victorian smithy, bakehouse and dairy, with demonstrations of crafts such as blacksmithing taking place throughout the day. Come and visit one of the lovely museums in Sussex and find out all about the county's rich history.
- Where: Singleton, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0EU
- Stay at: The Beach Huts, Chichester (sleeps 4)
Another fascinating museum:
If all this has tempted you to spend your next holiday in Sussex, take a look at our varied collection of wonderful holiday homes in Sussex.
If you fancy an afternoon off to discover the great Sussex countryside (and buy a bottle or two while you're at it!), why not pay a visit to one of our top Sussex vineyards while you're there?
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