Best festive fairs in Sussex

What can be more heart-warming than a Christmas Market – all twinkling lights, tasty treats and hot mulled wine?

The UK has some fantastic, festive and famous fairs and there are some wonderful festivals for foodies at this time of year.

Christmas signs © Weald and Downland Museum

But sometimes small is beautiful and the best seasonal shopping experience can be just around the corner.

Here are a few in Sussex that we think are worth a visit.

Festive fairs in Sussex

Petworth is holding its annual Christmas Fair and switch on of the lights on Saturday 7 December 2019. There’s all day entertainment with lantern making and parade, buskers, magicians and a live nativity with Darcy the donkey processing from St Mary’s Church down Lombard St and into Market Square.

Rye Christmas Festival races  © Tony Ham

Rye celebrates on Saturday 7 December 2019 with Santa’s grotto, story-telling, a pantomime, procession, street performances and festive races! Some events are so popular they will run on the Sunday too.

Chocolate Santas © congerdesign from Pixabay

Chichester Christmas Market is on from 7 – 15 December 2019 with an array of stalls, providing unique Christmas gifts, festive groceries and tipples. Hayling Island Donkey Sanctuary will also be there with their much-loved Christmas Nativity Scene, with real donkeys.

Eastbourne’s hosting several events. You can find Santa’s Magic Kingdom at The Beacon every weekend from 30 November to 15 December. Meads Magic returns for its eighth year to Meads Village on Friday 29 November. Little Chelsea hosts Little Christmas in Grove Road and South Street on Friday 6 December and Sovereign Harbour floats its festive market on Friday 13 December.

Silver Band at Weald and Downland Museum © Weald and Downland Museum

One of our favourites is the Weald and Downland Living Museum’s Christmas Market where you can buy arts, crafts and unusual gifts all with an historic twist. Carol-singers, street performers and musicians add to the atmosphere. It’s been extended this year and takes place from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 November.

Another Sussex Museum that does Christmas proud is Amberley where you can ride the Christmas Train to visit Father Christmas in a 19th Century Ticket Office, visit market stalls and take a frosty stroll following the Family Christmas Trail.​

Arundel by Candlelight

Arundel by Candlelight is always something special. The historic town is packed with independent retailers and the famous castle and cathedral provide the perfect festive backdrop.

Arundel by Candlelight, Christmas Fair

The market on Saturday 7 December boasts a range of hand-picked stall-holders, and there is an array of seasonal treats such as roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and hog roasts. Worth noting the town does get very busy so if you can get there by public transport, you’ll be less stressed!

And finally a family favourite – Raystede animal sanctuary near Lewes is holding its annual Christmas Fair on 30 November and 1 December 2019. It’s one of their many fundraisers to support their work rescuing and re-homing animals of every shape, size and colour. And, unlike many other festivities, dogs are welcome!

Raystede Christmas poster 2019 © Raystede

Looking for more, perhaps further afield? Check out The Beautiful South listings for south-east England.

Do you have a festive fair near you that you love to visit every year? Let us know in the comments – who knows, maybe we’ll be there too next year!

Photos copyright:
Weald and Downland Museum
Arundel by Candlelight
Gerhard Gellinger, Pixabay
Jill Wellington, Pixabay
congerdesign, Pixabay

Tony Ham

Where to next?
Christmas Traditions
Padstow Christmas festival
A taste of Christmas past

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