Although COVID restrictions still threaten to rear their ugly head at every turn, there’s a still lot of Winter fun to be had in Brighton and beyond to get you in the festive mood. Just make sure you’re ready for the cold – and that the little ones in your life know what they’re in for.
Burning the Clocks is back! A lovely event to get you feeling festive, watch a lantern parade with samba band and more, then retreat to a pub to get warmed up after. If you are going with small kids, remember it will be cold, noisy and crowded and everyone will be hungry/thirsty/need the toilet. Wrap up warm and have a back-up plan!
Glow Wild is a magical lantern trail near Haywards Heath, with immersive soundscapes and amazing projections. It’s another outdoor event, so be prepared for the cold (and potentially wet) weather. It’s a bit of a walk – a normal walk for adults, but for kids it may induce whiny complaints. So take a buggy or trolley if you can, or be prepared to cut the trail a little short if, well, the kids legs are a little short. The good news is, the trail ends with kiosks selling mulled wine, hot chocolate, and marshmallows for toasting on the firepit, so that should be motivation to get the little ones around!
25th Nov 2021 – 2nd Jan 2022
The Royal Pavilion Ice Rink says of its facilities: “picture dancing on a stunning ice rink in front of a beautifully lit palace, looking like something off the front of a Christmas card…” Indeed. Also picture a lot of falling over. Ice skating is a must-do for some families at this festive time or a must-avoid for those of us with no skating skills or grace on the ice. Thankfully there’s a bar and cafe, so if (as with many family excursions), everyone gets a big “hangry”, you’ve got somewhere warm with food to fall back to.
30th Oct 2021 – 9th Jan 2022
The Santa Dash is on! A true seafront delight: people of all kinds dress up like Father Christmas (as they raise much-needed funds for the Rockinghorse appeal) and race along the promenade. Definitely something everyone will enjoy (a bit easier on the eye than the naked bike ride, perhaps?), just prepare yourself for the kids’ questions about who the real Santa is.
11th December at 10.30am
Fancy meeting Santa at the i360? Escape to 450ft above Brighton, meet some cheeky elves and have that all-important chat with the big guy before receiving a Christmas gift… A fab venue for a Father Christmas encounter, it’s sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike, but we feel it’s worth noting a family of four will cost around £90, but it does include a hot breakfast.
Various ‘flights’ between 4th – 24th December, booking essential
Looking do to some Christmas shopping and hoping to support local? You couldn’t get much more local than the Artists Open Houses at Christmas. Meet the creator in their studio or home and buy their art directly. You’re bound to find some hidden gems, but this might be one to discover without smaller children in tow if you have any concerns about broken pottery etc.
Weekends: 27th & 28th Nov, 4th & 5th Dec, 11th & 12th Dec
Another magical lantern trail option is Leonardslee Illuminated which has the added bonus of a more theatrical affair and funfair rides. Advice about dressing for the weather and whining about walking still stands, but the fairground will definitely take the edge off.
25th-28th Nov, 2nd-5th Dec, 9th-12th Dec, 15th-22nd Dec
Finally, there’s another chance for local Christmas shopping, combining food and drink and other festivities at Brighton Christmas Festival which is on Valley Gardens down by the Old Steine. They’ve got choirs, stalls, a Santa’s Grotto and a fairground… if only they had a lantern trail and a gang of Santas running around they’d cover all of the above!
From now until Christmas