19 Great Things to Do in Brighton at Christmas

Brighton is great all year round because of its proximity to the seaside, but it really comes alive at Christmas. Whether you’re looking for Brighton Christmas events like Brighton’s best Christmas markets or the Brighton Christmas Festival, or you just want to spot some lights or go for a cold water dip, there are some fantastic Christmas days out and things to do in Brighton at Christmas.

Brighton at Christmas, Brighton Pier, England

It’s time to have a very Brighton Christmas! From the Brighton Christmas Festival to the Brighton Christmas Market, everything we love about this seaside city turns festive this time of year, so whether or not you have a Brighton postcode, you’ll love these days out in Brighton at Christmas.

Want a sneak peek of what’s to come below? We’ve found places to spot Christmas trees, places to look out for beautiful Christmas lights, places to visit Santa in Brighton, and much more!

Here’s what’s on in Brighton at Christmas and the festive season…

1. Visit the Brighton Christmas Festival 

Dates: TBC for 2023

The Brighton Christmas Festival is the ultimate thing to do in Brighton at Christmas. Each year you can get in the festive spirit with weeks of fun for the entire family. The Brighton Christmas Festival runs every year and really is a must for your December calendar.

Brighton Christmas Festival in Brighton
(Image: @bnchristmasfest Instagram)

There’s a Christmas market, an après ski lodge for drinks, and food stalls too. You’ll see the big wheel for miles around, and there are plenty of shows and attractions. Last year there was a talent show called Sussex Stars, where you can cheer on the best of the county’s talent (or get involved yourself!). Don’t miss the Brighton Christmas Festival as it’s a really great day out.

READ MORE: The Best Places to Visit in England in 2023

2. Watch the Cinderella Pantomime

Dates: 20th December 2023 – 30th December 2023

This year the Fairy Godmother is coming to The Hilton Brighton Metropole for the biggest Christmas panto in Brighton. With great costumes and scenery, amazing music and a fantastic West End cast, you’re bound to have a brilliant day out at the panto by booking your family tickets to this one.

Concession tickets start at £7.50 depending on the date you choose, and tickets go up to around £30 for the best seats.

“This spectacular new production of Cinderella has all the magic and mayhem you have come to expect from Brighton’s biggest family panto. You can look forward to rip-roaring comedy, dazzling costumes, stunning scenery, live music, and our usual stellar West End cast.”

– Cinderella at The Hilton Brighton Metropole

3. Go up the i360 and see Santa 

Dates: Selected dates between 2nd December 2023 – 24th December 2023

Fancy a view over Brighton from 450 feet high? You can see out to the South Downs, and the Seven Sisters from the top of the i360 viewing point, and at Christmas it’s extra magical when you can do some Christmas tree and Christmas light spotting from up high.

i360 Brighton, England

For a truly iconic activity in Brighton at Christmas, buy your ticket to see Santa up the top. It’s called ‘Santa in the Sky’, and gives the kids a chance to meet both Santa and his elves. Santa experiences on the pod don’t have to be just for kids! While up there, the adults can also enjoy a festive tipple from the highest bar on the South Coast, the Nyetimber Sky Bar.

This year, for the fist time you can upgrade your ticket to a Flexi ticket or to include a festive Cream Tea served in their beach building after your pod journey. And hurry, you can save 10% when you book your tickets before Monday 16th October!

“Escape to 450ft above the city with Santa and his Elves in our festive viewing pod this Christmas! Meet Santa’s cheeky Elf Experience hosts before capturing the magic and posing for a photo with the big man himself! At the end of the journey, every child will receive an early Christmas gift from Santa.”

– i360, Brighton

4. Skate at the Royal Pavilion Ice Rink

Dates: 28th October 2023 – 7th January 2024

The iconic Royal Pavilion really is a stunning place to skate, offering a beautiful backdrop for gliding across the ice.

Royal Pavilion Ice Rink in Brighton, England
(Image: @royalpavilionicerink Instagram)

A great romantic date night for couples, a fun activity for families with adventurous kids, and even a great night out with friends in Brighton at Christmas. Plus, this year Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Ice Rink is powered entirely by green energy – so it’s a guilt-free activity for fans of all things eco-friendly. The Independent newspaper said it “Must win hands down for atmosphere”. It’s best to book tickets in advance.

READ MORE: The Best Day Trips from Brighton

5. Walk in the Burning the Clocks parade for Winter Solstice

Date: 21st December 2023

The Winter Solstice (which marks the shortest day of the year and celebrates the longer days coming back) is celebrated in different ways around the country, but in Brighton it’s particularly spectacular. It’s celebrated with a paper lantern parade through the city and a ceremonial beach bonfire.

Burning The Clocks parade, Brighton in England
(Image: David B Young from Brighton, UK)

This event has been running for over 20 years, and this year it’s happening on the 21st of December. Around 2,000 people are set to join the procession to the beachfront, which ends with a dazzling fireworks display. Lantern Kits are available to purchase from stores or you can make your own if you want to take part, and the event itself is free.

6. Enjoy the Brighton Komedia Christmas Party 

Dates: Selected dates between 1st December 2023 – 22nd December 2023

If you’re looking for a truly festive night out in Brighton at Christmas, book a ticket to the Komedia Christmas party. Expect work parties and Christmas jumpers galore at this event in the Komedia basement.

This is the ultimate night out if you’re organising a festive get-together for work, or for a group of friends to celebrate the season. Included in the ticket price is a delicious 3-course Christmas meal, an award-winning comedy show (two top stand-up acts and an MC), and an after-party ’til late. Get a ticket before they’re snapped up.

7. Sing along at the Christmas Carol Concert

Date: 14th December 2023

If you’re reeeally into carol singing and want to double down on the services this year, the Christmas Carol Service at the Royal Pavilion is an iconic Brighton Christmas tradition for many families.

The Royal Pavilion’s Music Room will be decorated for the season, and you’ll listen to Christmas carols performed by two talented Sussex-based choirs. Grab a ticket in advance before they sell out, from £35 which includes an interval glass of prosecco or a soft drink, and a mince pie. Lovely stuff! This is a great one if you’re looking for something cosy and festive in Brighton at Christmas.

8. Escape from A Christmas Carol at Preston Manor

Dates: Selected dates between 9th December and 31st December 2023

Who doesn’t love Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? It’s on the agenda for 2023 at Preston Manor, but it’s something you will never have experienced before; it’s half escape room, half immersive theatre experience where you’ll meet the famous ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

Get ready to explore the Edwardian manor house and complete challenges and puzzles to keep the story going as you search for the true meaning of Christmas. Intrigued? You can book your tickets here.

“A puzzle adventure from the creators of the UK’s top rated Escape Room! Solve puzzles, crack codes and interact with wild Dickensian characters to search for the true meaning of Christmas! A highly anticipated immersive theatrical experience in a historic manor house provided by the Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust. This will be a Christmas cracker!!”

– A Christmas Carol

9. Take the kids to SeaLife Brighton

Dates: 2023 dates TBC

SeaLife Brighton is said to be the oldest continually operating aquarium in the world, and one of the best aquariums in England. At Christmas last year their ‘A Very Merry Octonauts Christmas’ was a great success and super fun for the kids involving a scavenger hunt where children answered Christmas conundrums hidden around the aquarium.

Events for this year have not yet been confirmed, but it is likely there will be something similar so keep an eye on their website. Even if not, SeaLife in Brighton is a fantastic day out with so much to see and do for the whole family.

10. Go for a swim on Brighton Beach

Dates: All year round!

If you’re not afraid of a little chill (or let’s face it, a BIG chill) then no trip to Brighton at Christmas is complete without a brrrrrr-ave dip in the water. Brighton Beach is one of the most popular beaches in England, and for good reason.

Take up a spot on the pebbles, and get in your swimming cossie (and Santa hat for seasonal effect) for a dip in the freezing cold water of the English Channel.

Brighton beach, England

You can do a few laps of the shoreline if you’re a strong swimmer, but honestly just a quick dunk will do for an invigorating winter activity that’ll leave you with a holiday glow and a Rudolph nose! Finish off with plenty of towels, blankets and jumpers to get the heat back in you, and then grab some hot chips from one of the many seaside vendors. Watch out for seagulls, they love ’em.

11. Check out The Brighton Lights at One Garden Brighton

Dates: 14th December 2023 – 23rd December 2023

There’s loads going on at One Garden Brighton this year. You can visit their enchanting wonderland for a captivating winter light show, as the restaurant is transformed into a magical garden bar. You can sample Christmas themed cocktails featuring ingredients from local businesses. Register for tickets here.

They also have Christmas lunch options available, Christmas markets on 3rd and 10th December, Christmas wreath making on the 25th and 30th November, and a Christmas table decoration workshop on 14th December. You could literally spend your entire December here! You’ll find all their workshops here.

Food and drink in Brighton at Christmas 

Since a BIG part of Christmas is the delicious food, we’re also rounding up the best eating experiences in Brighton at Christmas.

12. Eat at Brighton’s Open Market

Dates: Selected dates between 25th November and 16th December 2023

Visit the Open Market in Brighton at Christmas and you’ll get to enjoy the Christmas Maker’s Market on Saturday 25th November and Saturday 9th December, featuring a range of gifts, crafts, artwork and snacks from the talented makers, and the Christmas Vegan Market on Saturday 2nd December where you’ll find a tasty range of plant-based hot and cold food, alongside gifts, crafts, beauty products and more.

There is also more at the Christmas Produce/Food & Drink Market on Saturday 16th December, so you can chow down all through the festive season. Make sure to check out all the great places in Brighton for afternoon tea, too.

13. Try new dishes at Shelter Hall Food Market 

Dates: Christmas events on selected dates throughout November and December 2023

Visit the Shelter Hall Food Market on the seafront where they partner with the best chefs in Sussex and are always changing their menu to include delicious new recipes. And they have some scrummy new ones hitting Brighton at Christmas.

Shelter Hall, Brighton, England
(Image: @shelterhallmarket Instagram)

There are cocktails, and you can visit the Skylark Bar for amazing views over the seafront. This season there are winter igloos available to book, a gospel Christmas choir on the 4th, 11th and 18th of December, and an après-ski-by-the-sea event on the 10th November. Book early to grab a spot.

14. Eat Christmas lunch in The Lanes and beyond

Dates: Christmas menus available throughout December, check individual restaurants

There’s delicious food to be found in the iconic, historic alleys of The Lanes, a must-visit in Brighton at Christmas. Enjoy steak at Kokedama, brunch at Lost in the Lanes and Sunday lunch at The Mesmerist.

The Black Lion and The Cricketers serve expertly cooked pub favourites, and if you’re looking for seafood in Brighton at Christmas, Riddle & Finns in The Lanes is often regarded as the best seafood restaurant in Brighton.

If you’re exploring outside of the Lanes and looking for a Christmas lunch option, the Salt Room restaurant is known as one of the best places for Christmas lunch in Brighton, and has a great view of the iconic West Pier ruins to give you that local feel.

Then there’s The Coal Shed, who are “masters of cooking over fire” and have a festive menu with all your favourites. The Walrus has some great Christmas options, and North Laine Brewhouse is good for drinks.

Or if you’re in the mood for a little more entertainment with your Christmas lunch, Proud Cabaret Brighton is hosting their Christmas Cabaret All Stars, with performances from an all-star cast of dancers, circus performers, aerialists, and fire breathers.

15. Check out what’s on at Rockwater 

Dates: Christmas event dates TBC

If you’re looking for somewhere a bit different for a more relaxed time in Brighton at Christmas, definitely check out Rockwater on the coast. This unique beachside spot has everything; yoga, sea swims, craft workshops, comedy nights, live music, cocktails and more.

It has everything you could ever want for a chilled out Christmas, and last year they hosted a Christmas quiz, a Christmas bauble making workshop, kids Christmas yoga, and Christmas cupcake decorating. It’s likely they’ll have more on this year so keep an eye on their website to get booked in when events come up.

16. Enjoy Festive Afternoon Tea

Dates: Slots available every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day 2023

Everybody loves a visit to Dobbies, but especially at Christmas when it feels extra magical. Their Festive Afternoon Tea this year seems to be available from 1st November – 31st December 2023, minus 25th and 26th December, and you can enjoy unlimited tea and coffee, with 3 tiers of delicious treats in a choice of traditional, vegan or festive.

This afternoon tea is £13.50 per person, so a great deal for your Christmas days/nights out with friends. Book your tickets here.

17. Have breakfast with Santa at Dobbies

Dates: Dates TBC on the Dobbies website

Ever wanted to have brekkie with Santa? Then there’s a Santa’s Breakfast event at Dobbies you’ll love. The whole family can come along to meet Santa, enjoy a Christmas fry up, take part in fun activities, and take home a gift. Kids aged 3-10 will enjoy this event most, and younger children can still take part but may need an adult’s help with some of the activities.

18. Check out what’s on at the Royal Pavilion

Dates: Selected dates throughout December 2023

One of the most spectacular places to visit in Brighton at Christmas has to be the Royal Pavilion, and there are lots of events and activities to take part in this year. Here are a few of our favourites:

  • See the decorations – At Christmas, the palace is transformed with festive decorations and twinkling trees, and you can walk around to take it all in. Watch for the beautiful winter sleigh in the Music Room, and the festive mice hiding in the trees!
  • Take part in a Christmas Tree Decorating Masterclass – On Saturday 25th November you will turn your tree into something really special! Led by Marcus Bagshaw (in charge of decorating the Royal Pavilion Christmas tree), you will learn tips for creating a spectacular Christmas tree at home, with a short tour of selected decorated trees in the Pavilion, followed by a Christmas tree decorating demonstration in the William IV room.
  • Decorate your own Christmas wreath – Also on 25th November, create a seasonal wreath with greenery sourced from the Royal Pavilion Garden. Experiment with foliage, and add your own unique ideas to your creation. You’ll also receive a mince pie and a hot drink.
Christmas Tree Stories event at Royal Pavilion Brighton, England
(Image: brightonmuseums.org.uk)

19. Indulge at the Royal Pavilion Christmas Banquet

Dates: 8th December to 16th December 2023

If you want to celebrate Christmas in “regal splendour” (and have a slightly bigger budget!) then the Royal Pavilion Christmas Banquet will be the star on top of your Christmas festivities. On selected dates in December, put on your black tie best and join for a drinks and canapé reception in the palace’s stunning Great Kitchen.

You’ll then enjoy a 3-course dinner with wine in the Banqueting Room. Tables are in groups of 10, so if you’re in a smaller group you may be asked to share a table – all part of the merry fun! Spaces fill up fast for this popular event, so grab your spot as soon as you can.

Brighton at Christmas

Brighton at Christmas is really special for all ages, whether you’re a local or not! Brighton is one of the most popular days out in East Sussex at the best of times, but this time of year there’s tonnes to do. If you’re going further afield, don’t forget to check out these 12 Great Days Out for Christmas in Sussex.

Quicklist: 19 Great Things to Do in Brighton at Christmas

  1. Visit the Brighton Christmas Festival
  2. Watch the Cinderella Pantomime
  3. Go up the i360 and see Santa 
  4. Skate at the Royal Pavilion Ice Rink
  5. Walk in the Burning the Clocks parade for Winter Solstice
  6. Enjoy the Brighton Komedia Christmas Party 
  7. Sing along at the Christmas Carol Concert
  8. Escape from A Christmas Carol at Preston Manor
  9. Take the kids to SeaLife Brighton
  10. Go for a swim on Brighton Beach
  11. Check out The Brighton Lights at One Garden Brighton
  12. Eat at Brighton’s Open Market
  13. Try new dishes at Shelter Hall Food Market 
  14. Eat Christmas lunch in The Lanes and beyond
  15. Check out what’s on at Rockwater 
  16. Enjoy Festive Afternoon Tea
  17. Have breakfast with Santa at Dobbies
  18. Check out what’s on at the Royal Pavilion
  19. Indulge at the Royal Pavilion Christmas Banquet

Caitlin McAllister

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