Christmas in Sussex is a wonderful reason for a day out. From Brighton Festival to the Bluebell Railway, there are plenty of activities to get you feeling festive…
Sussex at Christmas is a truly enchanting atmosphere where festive-feeling goers of all ages can enjoy magical Christmas experiences. This winter season, you’ll find the perfect opportunities to meet Santa, so come ready to meet his reindeer and elves!
At Sussex Christmas Markets you’ll have the chance to stock up on all the Christmas essentials, from Christmas puddings to nuts and cheeses, so bring your reusable shopping bags and don’t miss a unique gift for your loved one. Loads of these items are handmade and crafted so spread some festive cheer this December by supporting local sellers.
From cosy Christmas markets to exhilarating beach walks, we’ve selected the best things to do in Sussex at Christmas. Some will require tickets due to their popularity, so book soon to avoid disappointment. Seriously, we can tell you’re all going wild for Christmas this year!
Grab a drink and get in the Christmas spirit as you scroll through these Christmas events in Sussex that cater to all kinds of joyous visitors.
Great Days Out for Christmas in Sussex
Want to find a great day out for Christmas in Sussex? Read on!
1. SteamLights at Bluebell Railway
SteamLights is a shimmering railway tour to immerse you and the family in a journey through the colourful show. Lasting 90 minutes, this experience gives you a chance to feast your eyes on thousands of beautiful Christmas illuminations.
Board the festive steam train on the platform at Sheffield Park and motor through the luminous Sussex countryside to Horsted Keynes before your return trip. Expect magical Christmas music and narration along the way to enliven all your senses.
This is a fantastic way to spend a day for Christmas in Sussex, and it will suit everyone from the kids to the grandparents.
Tickets start at £130 (for a table of 4 adults).
2. ‘Festive Fishers’ at Fishers Farm Park
You are invited to Fishers Farm Park for Santa’s grotto, where you’ll meet the elves, and get to join in some gingerbread decorating, reindeer food-making, and be put through the ‘Elf Security’ to check you’re on the nice list. This grotto is a great place for the kids to feel the magic of Christmas, plus, during your visit, be sure to catch the family pantomime. This year’s is Cinderella!
Little ones can star in the Nativity during their visit, and after you’ll have FREE access to the rest of Fishers Farm Park, featuring indoor play barns, tractor rides, pony rides, and more. Keep an eye on their website for booking info.
Dates and ticket prices TBC for 2023.
3. Leonardslee Illuminated Gardens
Prepare for a spellbound Christmas evening at Leonardslee Illuminated Gardens as you walk through the vibrant lakes and greenery. Bursting with Christmas cheer, the large-scale projections and illuminations offer a magical escape into a world of festivity (allow 60-90 minutes to complete the walk).
Perfect for the whole family this Christmas in Sussex, the Leonardslee Gardens offer funfair rides for all to enjoy and Christmas markets to buy the perfect gifts before you leave. They’re among the best gardens in England for a day out.
Tickets are from £9 to £16, and children under 2 go free. Tickets must be booked online.
4. A winter’s beach walk
Embrace the chills this winter and head over to the Camber Sands beach in East Sussex for Christmas. Voted one of the UK’s best coastal spots, Camber Sands offers a tranquil setting that is rarely achievable during the hot summer months.
Parking is stress-free and easy to find here at Christmas. You’ll find the crisp coastline just over the sandy dunes, where you’ll quickly experience the beauty of the sun shining down onto the sand and sea.
After a windy walk, escape to the nearby town of Rye where you’ll find a cluster of cosy cafes and pubs to enjoy a hot drink.
Free, but wrap up warm!
5. Brighton Christmas Festival
Voted 5th best in the UK, and arguably the best of the Sussex Christmas Markets, head down to Brighton’s Christmas Festival this winter to experience a bright and magical festive atmosphere.
Host to a wonderful variety of vendors, stalls and shows, this Christmas Market is not one to miss. Brighton’s Christmas markets are geared to entertain all ages, boasting a Santa’s Grotto for the younger visitors and an Après Ski Lodge to serve delicious, mulled wine to the adults.
Check out our extensive guide to Christmas in Brighton right here – everything you need to know about where to eat, drink and play in the city this year.
At the time of writing, dates and tickets have not yet been announced for 2023, but last year was free entry.
6. Bedgebury Trail
From 17th November to 31st December 2023, witness this national forest as it’s transformed into a spellbinding Christmas walking route. This festive, night-time experience journeys through magical tunnels and under giant baubles to immerse you in a merry atmosphere of Christmas cheer.
This Christmas in Sussex, the Bedgebury Magical Trail will glow with sparkling illuminations and festive sounds. Bring the whole family to take pictures with the giant Christmas trees and to warm up over the crackling flames in the fire garden.
Don’t worry about bringing snacks, because all walkers can grab a bite from the street food vendors along the way.
Tickets cost between £13 to £19.
7. Bodiam Castle
Located in East Sussex, the 14th Century Bodiam Castle is an idyllic spot for winter walks and family photos. Enjoy the fresh air this winter, as you walk through the castle courtyard and grounds.
With vast grounds to discover, bring your walking boots or wellies and walk through the beautiful landscape. Take your festive photos, with views over a picturesque moat and castle towers. This is a great spot to spend time amongst history this Christmas in Sussex.
When it’s time to warm up, pop into the Castle’s Wharf Tea Room, where you’ll find all sorts of hot drinks and snacks to enjoy. If it’s a Christmas present you’re after, then head to the gift shop where you’ll encounter all kinds of festive gift inspirations.
Tickets from £5.50 to £11.00.
READ MORE: The Best Christmas Songs in England
8. Brighton Palace Pier
A fun-packed location that can keep the whole family busy. Christmas at Sussex is a magical time so make the most of the festivities by visiting the Brighton Pier. Here, you’ll find arcades, dodgems, rides and more!
With no entrance fee, you can enjoy all the pier has to offer at an affordable cost. Spending time with loved ones is crucial for the Christmas period – so sip on a hot chocolate at the Palm Court Restaurant and Bar, while the kids make life-long memories in the arcade.
Sea views and crisp winds will keep you fresh this Christmas and set the perfect scene to enjoy fish and chips as a family.
9. Glow Wild 2023 at Wakehurst
The Glow Wild trail at Wakehurst is a wonderful way to get in the Sussex Christmas spirit. The spellbinding winter lantern trail works for all ages, and is now in its 10th year.
Tickets start from £11.50 in its opening week, so book soon. After that the price goes up to £19 for an adult.
“As darkness falls, the gardens are brought to life with beautifully hand-crafted winter lanterns and captivating light installations created by leading artists.
This year, Glow Wild celebrates the sublime, inviting you to become part of the trail and discover awe-inspiring moments in nature.”– GLOW WILD 23
10. Seaford Christmas Magic Market
Head to the Seaford Christmas Magic Market on December 2nd 2023 to pick up your Christmas gifts for friends and family. Held in Seaford Town Centre, you’ll find some unique presents, and some tasty treats too.
11. Weald and Downland Christmas Market
At Weald and Downland Living Museum this year from the 25th – 26th November you can get prepared for Christmas by visiting boutique market stalls located around the Museum.
Walk around boutique market stalls of around 100 hand-selected stallholders (some of the best in arts, crafts and food from the weald region!), learn how to make Victorian paper Christmas decorations, greet the donkeys in the animal pound, visit the Building Craft Gallery with the kids, listen to the Christmas choirs sing, and more. Booking is essential so don’t miss out on your tickets.
Entry is £8.50 for a child and £17.50 for an adult.
12. Enjoy Christmas in a National Trust park
National Trust sites go all out at Christmas, and the ones in Sussex have some brilliant festive fun planned. As well as visiting Bodiam Castle (mentioned above), why not plan a visit to:
- Petworth House to see their enchanted winter forest in the Marble Hall
- Nymans to see ‘A Nutcracker Christmas’
- Standen House for ‘Spun Glass Theatre presents: Tales of Betwixtmass’
- Sheffield Park and Garden for the ‘Christmas with Mouse and Mole Family Trail’
- Lamb House to time travel back to a 1970s Christmas
- Bateman’s for ‘A Writer’s Christmas’
- Uppark House and Garden to see the decorations in the mansion house
Christmas in Sussex
There is loads of fun to be had at Christmas in Sussex. You can explore the Christmas markets, enjoy the many wonderful Sussex days out with all their Christmas decorations up, and head to the coast too.
We hope this has opened your eyes to some of the fantastic days out in Sussex for Christmas you can enjoy. Wrap up warm and enjoy! If you have any others you think should be on this list, let us know in the comments.
Quick List: 12 Great Days Out for Christmas in Sussex
- SteamLights at Bluebell Railway
- ‘Festive Fishers’ at Fishers Farm Park
- Leonardslee Illuminated Gardens
- A winter’s beach walk
- Brighton Christmas Festival
- Bedgebury Trail
- Bodiam Castle
- Brighton Palace Pier
- Glow Wild 2023 at Wakehurst
- Seaford Christmas Magic Market
- Weald and Downland Christmas Market
- Enjoy Christmas in a National Trust park