Chichester Christmas Festivities

Make Chichester your destination this winter with an array of things to do, places to stay and unusual shopping opportunities.


Christmas starts here …

The build-up to Christmas kicks off with a bang in Chichester City Centre from 6pm on 27 November, as visitors are drawn to this historical cathedral city for the official Christmas Lights Switch-On, Carol Concert, Street Entertainment culminating in a breath-taking Firework Display  over the spire of Chichester Cathedral.

Christmas Carols and Services in the magnificent Chichester Cathedral
Chichester Cathedral is central to both the City’s landscape and in its celebration of Christmas.  Join in by attending one of the many Carol Services being conducted there by either the Cathedral’s choir or other local organisations.  Full details to be announced.

You can hear the University of Chichester Otter Consort at Uppark House and Gardens on 17 and 18 December, 6.30pm. Tickets to include mulled wine and mince pie.

Christmas Theatre

December heralds the welcome return of the award-winning Chichester Festival Youth to the main stage with a production of the much-loved canine classic The Hundred and One Dalmatians from 20 December – 3 January, adapted by Bryony Lavery and directed by Dale


Family Events At Uppark House and Gardens on Sundays between 9 and 30 November come and stir the Uppark Christmas pudding for Stir up Sundays. A bag of spices and a real sixpence will be yours to take home and add to your own pudding.  50p a stir. Father Christmas will be at Uppark on 6, 7, 14 & 21 December. Adult £3.50, Child £5.50 (Includes gift).  NT Members free entry except children visiting Father Christmas.

Chichester’s The Novium Museum, now with free entry for all, will be a focus for festive fun this Christmas. Write to Father Christmas from 25 November. The museum elves check the post box daily and make sure that every letter with an address gets a reply.  Wish on a star and hang it on our Christmas tree throughout December. Follow the Christmas stocking trail throughout the museum in December.  Can you find them all? Have a cracking Christmas as you create a personalised Victorian Christmas cracker. Make Christmas crafts for your tree at home. Meet the Museum’s resident ghosts on the Ghost tour, as theybring history to life. Come and meet Father Christmas is his special museum grotto on 27 November, 4, 11 and 18 December. £5 per child (includes small gift).

Enjoy a magical trip on the Chichester Canal and meet Father Christmas in his grotto. Children receive a present from Santa and there are festive refreshments for everyone.  Trips every day from 29 November to 24 December.

Kick start your festive fun and take part in a Christmas inspired animation in Pallant House Gallery’s Animating Christmas workshop for all the family. Make a snowman dance or a reindeer sing. Combine all of your favourite seasonal things to create your own short animation. Mince pies will add to the festive cheer! 5–11 years + parent/carer. Sat 6 December, 10.15am – 12.15pm and repeated 2.15pm – 4.15pm. Free but booking is essential via 01243 774557 or

Weald and Downland Open Air Museum are holding their Tree Dressing event on Sunday 7 December. A magical occasion for all the family celebrating the importance of trees in our lives.  Join in traditional songs and dances.  Bring a jam jar and turn it into a lantern, then join the procession illuminated by hundreds of lanterns and dress the trees as darkness falls.  From 26 – 28 December discover how people celebrated Christmas in the days of Henry VIII at their Tudor Christmas. The Museum is open until New Year’s Day – for opening times and entry prices visit

Children can enjoy the magic of meeting Father Christmas in his grotto in the historic Apple Store in the award-winning West Dean Gardens. Father Christmas is visiting the Gardens on 13 & 14 and 20 & 21 December (10.30am to 4.30pm). Tickets to see Father Christmas sell out early so booking is essential. Standard prices £2.50 Child (includes a gift) £5 Adult (entry to the Gardens). For further information or to book tickets visit


There is also plenty of fun for younger visitors to Petworth House this Christmas, including a fun puzzle trail through the grounds, and an opportunity to meet Father Christmas. The All I Want For Christmas trail encourages young adventurers to explore the Pleasure Grounds to find out who wants what for Christmas.  Once the puzzle has been unravelled, children have the opportunity to write their own letter to Father Christmas and post it to the North Pole. £3 to include a small prize. 13 Dec – 24 Dec 10.30am – 3pm.  Father Christmas will be at Petworth on the weekends of 13 & 14, 20 & 21 Dec, 11am-3pm. He’ll be waiting in his evergreen grotto to find out who’s been naughty or nice. £5 per child to include small gift. Families will also have the chance to work off some energy throughout Christmas by following Cook’s Baking Trail in the Pleasure Grounds. All the ingredients for her special gingerbread recipe have been lost in the grounds; will you find them and write them down so you can make your very own Gingerbread Snowman at home? 26 Dec – 2 Jan 10.30am – 3pm. £3 to include small prize. For further details of dates and prices, please call 01798 342207 or visit


A family activity day with a festive theme, Saturnalia at Fishbourne Roman Palace on 14 December 11am – 3pm.  Activities include food tasting, decoration making, dress in Roman costume, make a beeswax candle to take home, story-telling and lots more.

The South Downs Planetarium will be revealing the astronomy behind the timeless Christmas mystery – The Star of Bethlehem. Join in this story of cosmic detection, travel back in time to see the night sky of over 2000 years ago. What was the bright object that drew the Wise Men from the East, the event that heralded the birth of Christ? What was the Star of Bethlehem? 21 Dec at 1.30pm & 3.30pm. 22 Dec at 3.30pm. Tues 23 Dec at 7.30pm and Wed 24 Dec at 1.30pm. Tickets: Adults £6.00, Children £4.00.

Pop along to the Christmas Cookies & Clay Decorations free family workshop at the Otter Gallery, University of Chichester on Monday 22 December, 10am-12noon. Decorate festive cookies and make Christmas decorations and gifts out of air dry clay.



Workshops for grown-ups

Petworth House has a number of demos and creative sessions to help you have the perfect Christmas. No Sweat Mon 1 Dec 11am – 1:30pm:Cooking Christmas lunch can cause even the most enthusiastic cook to break out in a sweat. In this fast paced demonstration Ian Pearce will show how you can create a festive feast for six in just 1 hour from start to finish without swooning from fatigue! £18 to include morning coffee and a two course lunch. A Grand Entrance Tues 2 Dec 10:30am – 3pm:What could be more welcoming at Christmas than a sumptuous wreath assembled from fresh foliage and winter blooms. Under the expert eye of experienced florist Christine Clothier you will triumphantly carry home a festive flourish for your front door. £35 to include materials, morning coffee and two course lunch. It’s a Wrap Thurs 4 Dec 10:30am – 2pm: Despite your best efforts, do your gifts end up looking as though you wrapped them whilst wearing mittens? Fear not, discover clever tips and cunning plans to turn even the most awkward shaped gift into a decorative triumph. £18 to include morning coffee and two course lunch.  Must book in advance.


At Uppark House enjoy a lovely two course festive lunch and gather creative tips for making the perfect Christmas in hands on workshops. Festive swag making workshop, 3 December from 10am, £40. They provide all the materials plus coffee and biscuits, two course lunch and a mini tour of the house. Then take your swag home to use in your Christmas decorations. Festive wreath making at Uppark, 4 December from 10am, £40. Make your own Christmas wreath to take home. Includes coffee and biscuits on arrival, two course lunch and mini tour of the house.  Christmas goodies, 10 December 10am, £25. A demonstration of festive culinary skills just in time for Christmas. Coffee on arrival and two course seasonal lunch with Christmas cake as dessert.  All workshops must be pre-booked on 01730 825415 option 2.


Christmas Shopping

High on many visitors list of things they love about the area are high quality shopping and choice. Chichester city centre is justly proud of its mix of famous High Street stores and high quality independent shops.  Always chic and never ordinary, the city caters for the true shopper in ways many would love to emulate and never will!  Late night shopping in Chichester on Thursday 27 November, 4, 11 and 18 December.

From 6 – 14 December, the Chichester Christmas Market on North and East Street, Chichester.  Stop by for stocking fillers and last minute unique gifts from local traders and crafters.

Selsey Lights Switch-On is 29November, from 5pm -8pm. There will be stalls and rides in the High Street, Santa’s Grotto in Amanda’s Hobby Hideout, plus entertainment and other festive events throughout the day.

If antiques are more to your liking, then Petworth a small market town nestling in the South Downs National Park is a must. The number of antique related stores there means that for its size, Petworth punches with the big boys and some more!

Midhurst’s week-end of Christmas activity starts with the Street Party on the evening of Friday 5 December – between 6pm and 9pm at Church Hill, Market Square and West Street. The party will include free attractions and entertainment, roundabout rides and carol singing. Father Christmas will also be making an appearance in his grotto on West Street and there will be late night shopping. On Saturday 6 December, there will be a traditional Christmas Fair at The Grange Community and Leisure in Midhurst – lots of stalls and Santa will be there too.  The historic Market Square will be welcoming live reindeer on Saturday 6 December – a treat for young and old alike and a first for the town. Businesses around the town will be joining in the festive spirit with special offers or in-store activities.

Save the date for The Stansted Christmas Fayre, 21 – 23 November.

Petworth House Christmas Fair, 22 November. Get your Christmas all wrapped up at the Petworth House Christmas fair and find the perfect gifts for all your friends and family. There are four marquees filled with festive treats as well as the National Trust shop. £5 adults (to include NT members) children are free.


Love Lane Vintage presents ‘The Winter Brocante’ will be atPetworth House on 29 November. This curated fair will showcase wonderful antiques, textiles, vintage pieces, French brocante and Christmas giftware. Please see for more information.


Christmas Market, Weald and Downland Museum: 15 – 16 December. Browse over 130 stalls, seasonal food and music. Plus a chance to tour the Museum’s historic building.


Places to Stay

Check out the Visit Chichester website ( for great places to stay across Chichester, Selsey, Petworth and Midhurst area. Whether you want a City, Coast and Country base, a B&B, Hotel, Self-Catering or Caravan Site – there’s plenty to choose from.


For more information on the Chichester area, things to do and places to stay go to