Brighton Christmas – 12 things to do in Brighton this Christmas
While mostly considered a summer destination, Brighton at Christmas is a wonderful all-rounder, and never one to turn down an opportunity to party.
As a city known for its excess, a Brighton Christmas doesn’t hold punches, so if you’re looking to party or shop, take in a show or something a little off the beaten track, we’ve got just the thing for you.
1. Ice Skating
During the winter months, the Royal Pavilion becomes the winter wonderland backdrop for the outdoor skating rink pop up. Open during the daytime with a separate small person rink; it’s an excellent spot for a family trip to get in the spirit of things. Open in the evening too for something a little more romantic, where you can pirouette to impress. Food and drinks are available with indoor seating and plenty of mulled wine to warm you up after a turn or to build up your courage before heading out if your pirouettes aren’t all that.
2. Brighton Christmas Parties
If there’s one thing Brighton does well its party, and a Brighton Christmas party is no exception. From the work ‘do’ to the friends’ reunion, venues in the city vie for trade by creating every type of party in a box imaginable.
So if you’re looking for a lavish sit-down meal or want to pop shapes with the MD into the early hours, there’s something for you. Check out our Christmas party listings here and for all the best foodie events in December check out our Food and Drink events listings. If you don’t fancy cooking on Christmas day you can see whose willing to do all the hard work for you with our Christmas day lunch guide.
3. The North Laine
The iconic North Laine is decked out in the winter with super street lights to bring a little twinkle into the gloom. The lively and colourful streets take on a winter market feel of their own, and with shops and stalls selling quirky and handcrafted items, you’ll be sure to pick up some wonderful gifts for a distinctly Brighton Christmas. Plenty of pubs and cafes fill the winding streets, mingling the smells of spiced hot drinks and mince pies into the hustle and bustle of it all.
4. The Santa Dash
Some days you can step into the city and never quite know what you’re going to see. Pop out for a pint of soya milk and get an eye full of naked cyclists, or go to restock that stack of ever-diminishing mince pies only to see hundreds of sprinting Santas tearing up Hove Lawns. The Santa Dash is a charitable fundraiser that starts at the Peace Statue at the start of December. If you’re looking to join in the Ho-ho-Hove event registration is approximately £20 and includes a Santa suit.
5. The Lanes
Like the North Laine, The Lanes in the south of the city are a twisting and cobbled maze, again made sparkly and magical with wonderful festive street lights. Here you’ll find more antique shops and boutiques compared to the North Laine’s trendy and arty offering and more restaurants rather than cafes. Distinctly Dickensian charm prevails – watch out for the Artful Dodger!
6. Ghost Stories
Christmas should be a little bit spooky, so why not try one of the Brighton Ghost Walks to get you in the spirit. Starting at The Druid’s Head in the Lanes you’ll be guided around the winding streets by one of the company of ghoulish Victorian gentlemen, Silas, Ebenezer or Jasper. With theatrics and panache, they will regale you with tales of grizzly murders, apparitions and strange goings-on. The 70-minute tour ends by returning you relatively safely to The Druid’s Head, perfect for warming up and steady the nerves. The tour is suitable for brave children and adults alike. If your nerves aren’t completely shot by this stage, the Greene Room in Brighton’s oldest pub The Cricketers is said to be haunted by Jack the Ripper suspect Robert Donston Stephenson. His apparition is still sometimes seen there, but rather unnervingly, given the context, only by women.
7. Pubs with fires
Tackling the Brighton Christmas streets can be demanding, cute and diverse as they are they’re not a shopping centre with climate control. So when the wind is blowing and the snow (or most likely rain) is falling keep this list of pubs with real fires handy so you can find somewhere warm and cosy to dry off. Or do all your shopping online from in front of the pub fire – most of them have wifi.
8. Artists Open Houses
The Artists Open Houses are a great way to achieve three things, legitimately nose around some lovely Brighton houses, do a mince pie and mulled wine tour of neighbourhoods and pick up unique crafted Christmas gifts. Smaller than the May Festival Artists’ Open Houses, the Brighton Christmas event has a more crafty and present-focused feel to it and runs every weekend from 23rd November to the 8th December
9. Country Pub Walks
A clear, bright and cold day presents the perfect opportunity for stretching the legs with walks around the Sussex countryside. There are numerous good pub trails available, many of which feature trips through chocolate box villages and idyllic country pubs. Pop into one of these charming establishments to warm up with real ale and hearty grub, open fires and evergreen decked beams, guaranteed to kindle the Christmas spirit in the Grinchiest of hearts.
10. Brighton Christmas Panto!
The campy-hammy ridiculousness of Panto truly has a place in the Brighton Christmas rundown. Enjoyed by adults as much as children, 2018 sees the return of classics Peter Pan at The Brighton Hilton Metropole and The Wizard of Oz at the Attenborough Centre. If you ‘don’t do panto, darling’ then the Theatre Royal, Brighton Dome and Brighton Centre all provide a line up of festive extravaganzas to lighten your spirits.
11. Burning of the Clocks
The Brighton Christmas spirit has its alternative expression in the Burning of the Clocks parade at the winter solstice. As an anti-consumerism tonic to the season of excess, the one-day event begins with family-oriented workshops building giant paper lanterns. After dark, the lanterns are paraded through the city to the seafront east of the Palace Pier and burned with a spectacular fireworks display. Part Wicker Man, part Blue Peter, uniquely Brighton; Burning of the Clocks is a lovely family event with an entirely different tempo for the season.
12. Christmas Day swim
Weather permitting every Christmas day hordes of maniacs congregate on the Brighton beach west of the Palace Pier for a refreshing dip. Not organised by anyone, not for any particular cause and frequently discouraged by the council, the Christmas day swim takes place at 11 am for all who are so inclined.