Christmas in Brighton
A trip to the seaside needn’t involve sunshine and ice-cream. There are plenty of reasons to plan a magical Christmas in Brighton for family or friends. Here are some of our favourite festive happenings for inspiration.
Santa in The Sky
For an extra special Brighton Christmas for kids (of all ages) arrange to join Santa and his elves soaring high above the city. There’s no Rudolph needed for this flight, just book for the Brighton i360 Santa in the Sky experience. Every child will receive a gift during the airborne meet and greet, and this year there’s a chance to extend the family occasion with adults’ and children’s cream teas in the beachfront restaurant, teaming classic scones with mince pies and festive chocolate cake.
Santa will be taking flight throughout December, but it pays to put the experience top of your list because early bookers can bag a discount.
Artists’ Open Houses
With so many independent stores in North Laine and The Lanes there are plenty of good reasons to shop in Brighton at Christmas. But, for that especially unique present, coincide your visit with Artists’ Open Houses. The festival (also on in May) sees local creatives welcome visitors to their homes and studios. Handmade cards, tree decorations, pottery, framed prints and even bespoke paintings and sculptures are available to buy, with the added fun of a mulled wine or mince pie or two along the way. The event runs for three weekends from 25/26 November.
Royal Pavilion Feasting
The dazzling Royal Pavilion is a treat for the eyes throughout the year but if you’re in Brighton at Christmas it’s a festive must-see. The landmark, once the opulent holiday home of the Prince Regent (later George IV), sparkles with Christmas trees, and children will love spotting the mischievous mice hiding in scenes throughout the rooms. On selected dates you can pick up festive tips in wreath making and tree decorating workshops; join a carol concert; or hear a talk on royal Christmases past. For a truly unforgettable Christmas with a loved one, book a place to dine in splendour at one of the Pavilion’s Banquets.
Showtime at the theatre
A big show will make your Christmas in Brighton extra memorable, and tickets also make for great presents. The city’s historic Theatre Royal has the hit West End music Six, a sassy take on the lives of Henry VIII’s ill-fated wives, in residence this festive season, running December 19 to January 6. Before then (December 14 and 15), Fairytale of New York has singers, musicians and dancers performing festive and Irish pop classics, while on December 11 comics including Ed Gamble will put you in good spirits with a Live at Christmas gig.
Burning the Clocks lantern parade
Usher in Christmas in Brighton in magical style by visiting for Burning the Clocks. The city marks the shortest day of the year on December 21 with a lantern and drumming procession for kids and adults, starting near the Theatre Royal and ending on the seafront. It’s a wonderful spectacle incorporating large, illuminated puppets and you can even take part if you buy a lantern kit in advance. Festivities end with a bonfire and fireworks on the beach.
Get match fit for the party season and have fun in the process with a cocktail making masterclass. Hotel Pelirocco, just behind Brighton i360, and Brighton Harbour Hotel, near the Palace Pier both have workshops, so why not make a night of it while learning tips to impress your Christmas guests? To book the experience at Pelirocco you must be a group of eight or more staying overnight in the hotel, where the rooms have witty themes from Mods to knitting. At Brighton Harbour Hotel, classes are available for two people upwards and could be combined with a session in the subterranean spa.
Get your skates on
Details of the 2023/24 season are yet to be announced but keep your eye out for the return of perhaps the UK’s most picturesque skating rink, right beside the colourfully lit onion domes of the Royal Pavilion. It also has a pop-up café-restaurant strung with fairy lights, from which you can watch the action whilst nursing a hot chocolate or mulled wine or enjoying a hearty meal. It all makes for a memorable Brighton Christmas for kids of any age.
Musical memories at Brighton Dome
Brighton Dome has plenty of seasonal musical entertainment lined up. On December 2, Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus will be retelling a certain rags-to-riches fairytale in Sing-Derella. If you’re spending Christmas in Brighton for family fun, don’t miss Muppet Christmas Carol in Concert (December 9), a movie screening with live orchestra accompaniment. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra follows with a Christmas Concert including choirs (December 10). Folk star Kate Rusby has a festive show on the 12th, and if rock’s your bag, book for The Darkness who are sure to perform Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) during their December 20 set.