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Enjoy the very best festive events, activities and days out when you spend Christmas in Sussex. From meeting Father Christmas in his magical grotto to shopping for artisan goods and unique gifts at enchanting Christmas markets, Sussex has a little bit of everything. With a range of cosy cottages for Christmas, we can help you plan a festive break that the family will always remember.
Christmas activities and events in Sussex
This stunning ice rink is bringing its magic atmosphere back to the Royal Pavilion in Brighton for another festive season, and this year, it’s powered entirely by wind and solar energy! Is there a better way to spend quality time together than gliding around the twinkling ice rink before sipping mulled wine, hot, chocolate and festive treats in the Rinkside Bar and Kitchen?
- When: 2 November 2019 – 19 January 2020
- Where: Royal Pavilion, Brighton
Wakehurst’s majestic woodlands and stunning botanic gardens come to life with beautiful light displays and glowing lanterns. Take a night-time stroll through the woods, admiring the scenery along the way. Children can also have a go at lantern making, at an extra charge, and you can toast marshmallows over a firepit and sample some festive food and drink.
- When: Thursdays to Sundays from 21 November – 22 December 2019
- Where: Wakehurst, Ardingly, Haywards Heath, RH17 6TN
Throughout the festive season, Nymans brings plenty of family fun to days out in Sussex, and for 2019, it is very much frog shaped. Inspired by Quentin Blake’s tale, ‘The Story of the Dancing Frog’, there will be a festive family trail, frog-shaped sculptures, wreath-making workshops and a chance to take part in drop-in craft activities to work on projects like glitterball tree ornaments, lily pad clay gifts and tutu-themed decorations.
- When: 23 November – 23 December 2019 (selected dates – see website)
- Where: Handcross, near Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 6EB
Forget the Polar Express: the Bluebell Railway has its own special Santa Express! This vintage railway makes its way through the Sussex countryside on a festive rail ride to remember. Departing from Sheffield Park or East Grinstead, Santa will be on board to greet all the children and give out presents. On arrival at Horsted Keynes, you’ll find an amazing Christmas wonderland with a Victorian fairground and a Christmas pantry filled with yummy treats.
- When: 30 November – 24 December (selected dates)
- Where: Sheffield Park Rail Station, Sheffield Green, TN22 3QL
This truly magical event is a highlight in the Christmas calendar, with the fairytale castle looking down on a quintessential market town. Representing the true spirit of Christmas, the after-dark event brings the community together for a joyful evening of festive shopping and Christmas cheer.
- When: 7 December 2019
- Where: Arundel town centre
“Christmas in Rye is a magical time. A time for planting memories in young minds and revisiting places held with fond affection with a loved one.” - Visit Rye Bay. Need we say more? The one-day festival will see Santa come to town by boat; there will be a procession, carol concert, fair rides, performances, street vendors, a pantomime, workshops and the chance to meet Father Christmas, Mother Christmas and the reindeer. It really is a bundle of festive fun that spreads Christmas cheer across Rye.
- When: 7 December 2019
- Where: Rye town centre, TN31 7JJ
Dine in festive style at the magnificent Herstmonceux Castle. Choose from lunch, dinner or afternoon tea sittings and be delighted with guided tours of the castle, festive music and the wonderful sounds of Christmas carols. A wonderful way to get the family into the festive spirit during your break in Sussex.
- When: 13 – 22 December (selected dates – see website)
- Where: Herstmonceux Castle
More Christmas activities and events in Sussex
See Father Christmas in Sussex
There’s much to see at Drusilla’s Park this Christmastime. Throughout the season, children and families are invited to visit Santa's cosy cottage to meet the man himself! Continue the festive fun with the giant 24-foot Christmas tree and a visit to the Husky Cave before warming up with a mulled wine and a yummy mince pie. Join in with the festive cheer at Drusillas this Christmas to experience the festive magic first-hand.
- When: 23 November - 23 December (selected dates - please see website)
- Where: Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex BN26 5QS
- Stay nearby: The Loft (sleeps 2) Cuckmere Lodge (sleeps 5)
There is lots for families to love about Christmas at Sussex County Gardener. Little ones will enjoy meeting Santa in his Winter Wonderland before taking part in the workshops to make kid’s Christmas crafts like crackers, decorations and sweets. You can also book to have breakfast with Santa, enjoy a festive Christmas lunch and so much more!
- When: 23 November – 24 December
- Where: Mark Cross, East Sussex, TN6 3PJ
- Stay nearby: Snaffles (sleeps 4)
Tulleys brings the ultimate Christmas experience to Sussex with an array of festive activities for all the family to get stuck into. Climb aboard for a tractor ride through the forest before arriving at a log cabin to meet the man himself! Among the things to do in this winter wonderland are gingerbread decorating, meeting real reindeer, story time, elf hunts, puppet shows and toy building.
- When: 30 November – 24 December (selected dates - please see website)
- Where: Tulleys Farm, Turners Hill, near Crawley, RH10 4PE
A magical Santa experience where little ones are invited to ask the man himself about the wonders of Christmas. Each child will then receive a special gift to take away and treasure. Santa will be waiting in his cosy log cabin in the Christmas wonderland, where you can also get up close with the donkeys in the Nativity scene and meet Father Christmas’ faithful reindeer.
- When: 30 November – 24 December (selected dates)
- Where: The Llama Park, Wych Cross, East Sussex
Christmas markets in Sussex
The annual winter fair is a shoppers’ dream! Get ahead with Christmas preparation with a plethora of artisan goodies, unique gifts, decorations and delicious local produce. It’s not all about the shopping though; make it a family day out and enjoy live music, chocolate-making workshops, cake decorating masterclasses, wreath making, the chance to see Santa, a vintage carousel – and so much more!
- When: 23 – 24 November 2019
- Where: South of England Showground, Ardingly, West Sussex, RH7 6TL
A sprinkle of Christmas magic will be coming to the Horsham Markets this December, which take place every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. As well as the usual seasonal food, drinks, treats and gifts, there will be festive entertainment and live music to get everyone in the Christmas spirit.
- When: Every Thursday/Saturday/Sunday from 1 – 22 December 2019
- Where: The Carfax, Horsham
This one-day event brings a variety of Christmas fun to the town centre. As well as plenty of market stalls you can expect all-day entertainment, which in the past has consisted of local choirs, the Town Band, a visit from Father Christmas, crafts, a magician, funfair and a nativity, to name but a few. The stalls will stay open to 8pm, and the Christmas tree lights will be switched on at 6pm. A full programme of activities will be announced two weeks before the event.
Christmas breaks in Sussex
This luxurious boutique-style property with spectacular sea views offers a special base for a Christmas break in Sussex. The cinema room with 6ft projector screen, Apple TV and sound system, is sure to be a big hit with every member of the family. Especially on those chilly winter days when you just want to snuggle up and keep warm. An opulent, spacious living room and dining room offer the perfect entertaining spaces. Set in the heart of Hasting’s old town, you will be just a short walk from an array of friendly pubs.
Chenies, Middleton-on-Sea, sleeps 16
The perfect setting for winter walks along the coast, this large family home is located right on the beach, at Middleton-on-Sea. Sleeping 16 people across seven rooms, and with plenty of large living space, it is the ideal house for extended families coming together at Christmas. There are plenty of extras that will appeal to every age group, including a hot tub, pool table, table tennis, children’s play area, and a TV room for the kids to use.
Melpies, Burwash, sleeps 16
Get cosy in the countryside in this converted coach house and hayloft. Take brisk rural walks and daily strolls into the village to collect supplies or enjoy a pub lunch at one of two pubs. That’s if you can tear yourself away from the cosy atmosphere of the cottage. With plenty of entertaining space and the added luxury of a games room, you’ll hardly be able to tear the children or the big kids away. Split across two buildings, it's the perfect accommodation for a couple of families staying together. Please note: The swimming pool is only available May - September.
Book a Christmas break in Sussex
Our cottages are in some of the most sought-after destinations on the south coast such as Pevensey Bay, Camber Sands, Eastbourne, Rye and Bexhill-on-Sea, so we are confident that you will find the perfect cottage for Christmas in Sussex.
Are you thinking about heading across the border? Check out our guide to Christmas in Kent for more inspiration.