The atmospheric, vibrant and historic towns and villages of 1066 Country are the perfect backdrop for Christmas festivities. Here is our round-up of events where you can shop, enjoy the festive ambience and maybe even meet Santa himself…
Brightling Evening Christmas Farmer’s Market is in the Village Hall on 6th December from 5pm till 7pm – selling gifts and seasonal foods.
The Christmas Fair at King John’s Nursery, Hurst Green on the 6th December is perfect for presents and mulled wine is an added bonus. Find an array of Christmas presents provided by a variety of stall holders.
Rye Arts and Crafts Fair is at Rye Community Centre on the 6th December between 11am to 5pm. The ideal venue to pick up beautiful local arts and crafts for you or as presents for loved ones. You can also visit the cafe for refreshments. Free entry. They are also holding another Craft Fair on the 20th December between 11am and 5pm.
7th December Christmas Fair at Blackstock Farm
13th – 14th December Hamper Weekends at Carr-Taylor Vineyard, Westfield
Blackstock Farm’s Winter Wonderland and Grotto will take place every weekend from the 29th November and every day in the Christmas holidays until 1pm on Christmas Eve.
Visit Santa in his grotto at Priory Meadow Shopping Centre – Father Christmas is available in his grotto every Thursday evening, weekends and every day in the two weeks before Christmas. Tickets can be bought in advance from the Customer Service desk in the Mall – or on the day subject to availability. The undercover real ice rink is also open for all the family from 29th November till 5th January 2015.
Drusillas Park -Children can visit Santa himself in his Christmas Cottage and receive an early gift (£6) (from 29th November onwards at weekends and from 13th – 23rd December daily). The Winter Wonderland Illuminations will be showcased every day in an official light show starting at 4.30 pm when the lights ‘dance’ to music. This runs from 29th November till 4th January. Other exciting additions to these events are Meet Santa’s Reindeers Tinsel and Twinkle and Hug a Husky in an Ice Cave.
The famous Christmas lights on the resident’s homes in Westfield are switched on on the 4th December at around 4pm. There are collections in aid of St.Michael’s Hospice, and it is amazing to see the ever-growing displays of lights and general Christmas decor festooning the main road through the village.
Meet Santa at Bodiam Castle in his medieval grotto, and find out about Christmas traditions old and new on 6/7/13/14/20/21/22nd December.
Meet Santa in a novel way, on a Santa Special train ride with the Kent and East Sussex Railway, on a journey from Tenterden to Northiam Station. All children receive a present, drink and chocolate, and adults can enjoy sherry or port and a mincepie. Advance booking essential. Adults and children – standard class £19.00 per person. Available on 6th, 7th, 13th, 14th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th December.
There’s another chance to visit Santa – this time in his front room – at Bewl Water on 6th/7th/13th/14th/20th/21st December. Gates open at 11am, admission is £4 per person, and kids aged 4 and under are free. This time, you can drop in on him and Mrs Christmas in his very own Living Room. Children will receive a gift and a photo, which can be emailed to you. There are also Christmas Fair Trade stands and arts and craft activities.
Another venue to meet Santa, is running from 20th to 23rd December at Knockhatch Park, where the kids can also receive a gift (£3.50 per child)
Already a classic, this is a chance to sing a long at the top of your voice with a theatre full of other devotees (and their kids!) at Sing – a – long – a – Frozen, which is at the White Rock Theatre, Hastings on the 6th December at the times of 11am, 3pm and 6.30pm. Dress up as your favourite character, sit back and watch the film on screen, and enjoy the live interaction with the show’s host.
Aladdin starring Louie Spence as Slave of the Ring is on at the White Rock Theatre from Friday 12th December to Sunday 28th December. This magic-carpet rid of a show promises family fun, mystery, magic and mayhem. Check the website for pricing, tickets from £16.
The Railway Children is on at The Stables Theatre, Hastings from 12th – 14th December and 16th – 23rd December This class tale of three children who live near a railway line with their Mother in Yorkshire, they attempt to discover the reason for their Father’s disappearance. Check the website for ticket prices.
Great Expectations is on at St.Thomas Church, Winchelsea on the 14th December at 4.30pm. Dickens well-loved epic tale of the story of young Pip is brought to life by the Rain or Shine Theatre company. £10 adult, £6 child (under 15).
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is on at Battle Memorial Halls on the 20th and 21st December. This is a traditional family pantomime. From £7 a ticket.
Joyeux Noel is a selection of Christmas carols from all over Europe, as sung by the female classical singing duo Melodia, and you can enjoy them in a couple of locations in or near Battle. The cost also includes a seasonal refreshment on arrival. Watch (and join if you like!) at The Orangery Tearoom, Ashburnham Place on the 20th December at 7pm or at Battle Memorial Hall on the 21st December at 7pm. The cost is £10, £5 for Under 12s, or students for £7.
Another choice for festive entertainment, is in the impressive surroundings of Herstmoncuex Castle. Join the Aanna Colls Singers in the Castle Ballrom for Carols at the Castle and refreshments of mulled wine, mince pies and a present for children from Father Christmas. Tickets are £12.50, Seniors are £10 and children are £7.50. On Sunday 21st December from 2.30pm in the Ballroom.
Warm up your voice with a big festive singalong at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill. Led by Lorraine Bowen, the challenge is to Deck the Halls with Bexhill Voices!, and then relax with a screening of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Join in (or just listen) as Lorraine’s 60-strong local singers, belt out the favourites Fairytale of New York and Walking in the Air, amongst others. This is on 21st December at 4.45pm, and costs £10.00.
Another chance to shop for the festive season, at Little Common Christmas Extravaganza, based around the shops at Little Common village. Get into the spirit at the traditional Carol Service at the Community Centre on 2nd December at 4.30pm, with festive music and singing, readings from local church ministers and free refreshments of jacket potatoes, soup and mincepies. Children can meet Santa in his grotto, and there is a also a Christmas Showcase and Craft Fayre on 4th December from 10am to 12.30pm at St.Mark’s Church Hall. Late night shopping is on 6th December from 5pm to 7pm. This coincides with the Christmas lights switch-on at 5pm by a local personality. The rest of the evening includes competitions, games, entertainment and much more.
Robertsbridge Christmas Capers is on 5th December between 7pm and 9pm. Shops open in the High Street – carols, street theatre, Father Christmas grotto, music and bagels.
Old Town Christmas is on 6th December in Hastings picturesque and quirky Old Town from 10am to 5pm. A festive family day with a Christmas market in Courthouse Street, children’s games in the High Street, a crat fair in All Saints Street, a Twelve days of Christmas shopping trail in the Old Town, choir, carols, and drumming and the classic festive film ELF showing at the Electric Palace Cinema. In support of Surviving Christmas.
Make the most of another Late Night Shopping opportunity, by popping along to Battle’s Late night shopping event. This is on the 11th December until 9pm. Enjoy the spectacle of traders in fancy dress, the new Battle Winter Wonderland and refreshments on the Green from 5pm. Children can even visit Santa in the atmospheric surroundings of Battle Abbey. There is free car parking in the Abbey car park on the 11th and 12th December.
Christmas Wreath workshop at Merriments Gardens, Etchingham is on 5th December, starting at 10am and ending at 12pm. A decorative wreath making workshop led by Heather Lee from Battle House of Flowers. Have fun learning techniques, and take home your very own creation. There’s also wine/teas and coffees and mince pies to be enjoyed. Booking essential.
Visit the National Trust’s Batemans at Burwash. Enjoy a Kipling’s Christmas, with a special Christmas Trail for the children leading to the Elves workshop. . Running from the 29th November till the 31st December.
Bexhill Santa Dash is on 6th December at 10.30am from the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill. This fun family event gives a chance for participants to raise money for a chosen charity, and allows runners the choice of jogging either 5km or 2km wearing a Santa suit! Adults and children over 5 years of age are eligible, and for the entry fee of £11 for adults and £6 for under 12’s, you get to keep the Santa suit too.
For those looking to participate in or watch a distinctly eccentric and traditional sporting spectacle, then head for Winchelsea for their annual Streete Game. Castle Street is the venue every Boxing Day – 26th December – (11am) for this bizarre and bruising spectacle. Three teams try to win an object called “The Frenchman’s Head” – it’s not! – and place it in a goal at one end of the street. There are no rules and little mercy is shown to players or spectators who get in the way!
St.Mary’s Church, Battle are hosting their Christmas Crib and Tree Festival in the church on the 1st December from 9.30am to 5pm. Lunches and teas are available. Come and see a variety of beautiful Christmas trees, as decorated by different local organisations, and vote for your favourite.
The Lights of Love Service is an annual service with the aim of remembering our loved ones that have passed away. It is organised by St.Michael’s Hospice in St.Leonards. You can donate and dedicate a star on one of their Christmas trees, and attend the church service at St.John’s Church nearby. The Service is at 3pm on the 7th December and the tree lighting ceremony is at 4pm. There are other church services in Battle, Bexhill, Hastings Old Town, Rye, Ticehurst and Hastings Crematorium.
The RSPCA Centre at Mallydams Wood, Fairlight, is holding their annual Festive Open Wood event on 13th December from 3pm till 6pm. Follow the twinkly walk through the woods to the Christmas log fire, the Soundwaves choir and the Four Altos saxophone players. Mince pies and hot drinks are available from the Tea Room, and a free shuttle bus is running every 5 minutes from the car park at Hastings Country Park to Mallydams Wood and back from 2.45 pm to 6.15 pm, as there will be no car parking at Mallydams (except disabled drivers) Entry is £1 per head.
A chance to get into a different form of Christmas ‘spirit’! join Tina Brown (local ghost walk leader and writer) around the fire at Ye Olde Pumphouse, George Street, Hastings, for some Tales from Christmas Past. On the 17th December at 7pm. The price also includes coffee and a mince pie. The cost is £7 each.