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Festive fun with Southern this winter

Six people celebrating the festive period with sparklers

Embrace the festive season with Southern!

Whether you're a fan of ice skating or savouring delectable treats, we've carefully chosen a variety of options to suit every taste, all easily reachable by train.

A clock tower lit up at night

Brighton - Burning the Clocks

‘Same Sky’, the largest community based arts charity in the Southeast, hosts ‘Burning the Clocks’ in which the city of Brighton comes together to celebrate the shortest day of the year. Local residents craft their own lantern using kits provided by the charity, then join a parade through the city. Afterward, they place these lanterns into a bonfire on Brighton beach to symbolize the end of the year celebrating the changing of the seasons. The event provides a moment for contemplation and reflection.

Nearest station: Brighton. Event starts at New Road at 6:30pm and arrives at Madeira Drive at approximately 7.15pm

When: Thursday 21 December

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Aerial view of Arundel town at night

Arundel at Christmas

The town of Arundel will come alive with the magic of Christmas as streets are illuminated with a spectacular display of festive lights. What makes this event extraordinary is the ceremony where the Duke of Norfolk is granted the Freedom of Arundel. He lives in Arundel Castle and plays a vital role in managing important state matters, like the recent funeral of Queen Elizabeth and the coronation of King Charles. It's a special celebration that combines holiday cheer with our town's history and traditions.

Nearest station: Arundel

When: Visit the website for details

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A man pushing three children on an ice skating sled

Portsmouth on ice

Prepare to glide into the festive spirit with excitement as the enchanting Guildhall Square in Portsmouth undergoes a magical winter transformation. Portsmouth On Ice is set to unveil a massive 646 square meters of real ice, creating a winter wonderland right in the heart of the city. With space for up to 215 skaters per session, it's an ice-skating experience like no other. SEN sessions are available too.

Nearest station: Portsmouth & Southsea

When: Saturday 25 November 2023 – Sunday 7 January 2024

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Photo by Vernon Nash and Portsmouth On Ice

A woman skating at Brighton Royal Pavilion

Royal Pavilion Ice Rink

Embrace an eco-friendly Christmas at the Royal Pavilion Ice Rink in Brighton. This magical ice rink is adorned with twinkling lights and is powered by green energy.

The spacious main rink is ideal for confident skaters, while the separate beginners' rink with penguin skate aids is a safe place for young skaters to learn. If you'd rather watch and enjoy the festive ambiance, there's no cost to spectate from the rink-side Bar & Kitchen or outdoor viewing areas.

Nearest station: Brighton

When: Saturday 28 October 2023 – Sunday 7 January 2024

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A boy ice skating

Eastbourne Lightning Fibre Ice Rink

Get ready to skate at Lightning Fibre's Ice Rink, brought to you by Feastival Events – it's bigger and better than ever! Located outside the Enterprise Centre near Eastbourne Railway Station, this covered ice rink is open daily (except Christmas Day) and is easily accessible by train. If you're new to skating, you can even rent a helpful penguin to guide you on the ice.

Where: Eastbourne

When: Saturday 9 December – Sunday 31 December 2023

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Bluebell Railway train in the winter

Santa at Bluebell Railway

Jump onboard the Bluebell Railway for a festive experience with Santa. Enjoy Christmas music and choose between Sheffield Park or East Grinstead for your Santa Specials departure. Receive chocolate coins on board and relish a scenic ride to Horsted Keynes. Visit Santa's parlour for a photo and a special gift and enjoy traditional amusements. Sip on delicious, mulled wine at the Pantry & The Buffet in Horsted Keynes. Then, re-join your train to wrap up a memorable holiday outing.

Nearest station: Board at East Grinstead station

When: Various dates in December – see website for details

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Santa and two elves in the Brighton i360

Brighton i360 - Santa in the Sky

Experience Christmas magic at Brighton i360 in December. Meet Santa and his elves during a 25-minute festive pod journey. Plus, enjoy a festive-themed cream tea afterward. Each child receives a special gift as part of the experience.

Nearest station: Brighton

When: Saturday 2 December – Sunday 24 December 2023

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Santa with a young girl on his lap

Father Christmas at Drusillas

Don't miss a magical visit to Santa's Grotto at Drusillas this winter. Cuddle up to adorable huskies, join in with singing reindeer trio, and enjoy delicious Christmas treats.

Drusillas’ Santa experience includes a personal one-to-one with Santa, photo opportunity, and a magical Christmas gift – a wonderful day out for your little ones!

Nearest station: Berwick

When: Saturday 25 November – Saturday 23 December 2023

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Photo by Ed Simmons

Santa Clause reading a book

Father Christmas’ Grotto at St. Pancras International

This enchanting experience offers a chance to meet Father Christmas, enjoy a story, share wishes, and receive a token gift. Plus, there's fun and games with playful elves. Perfect for busy families!

Where: St. Pancras International station

When: Friday 17 November – Saturday 23 December 2023

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A girl with a christmas headband on smiles at Santa

Christmas Fayre & Father Christmas at Arundel Museum

Get ready for a truly magical experience at Arundel Museum this December, and the best part is, there's no need to pre-book. Just arrive on the day, and you'll be transported to a winter wonderland of joy.

For a mere £5, your little one can meet Father Christmas, and if you have more than one child, it's only £9 for two of them. Accompanying adults get free entry, so you can share in the festive fun with your kids. Don't miss out on this heart-warming Christmas tradition.

Nearest station: Arundel station

When: Various dates in December. Visit the website for more details.

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Three people at a Christmas market

Eastbourne Victorian Market

Experience the charm of the Eastbourne Victorian Market, nestled in the heart of the town centre. This festive gathering promises live musical performances, enchanting carollers, warm and fragrant mulled wine and cider, graceful stilt walkers, a cosy Bavarian bar, a delightful Christmas market, captivating circus acts, and a dazzling Christmas parade. As an added touch of nostalgia, all vendors will be elegantly attired in traditional Victorian-Steampunk fashion.

Nearest station: Eastbourne

When: Thursday 7 December – Sunday 10 December 2023

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A street in Rye in the snow

Christmas in Rye

Celebrate Christmas in Rye. The town will be bustling with a wide array of festive activities, including a visit to Santa's Grotto, charming horse and cart rides, fairground attractions, live music scattered throughout town, delightful surprises in local shops, the High Street Races, heart-warming carol singing, and a spectacular Christmas procession led by none other than Father Christmas himself. It's the ideal family outing to immerse yourself in the festive spirit.

Nearest station: Rye

When: Saturday 2 December 2023

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Aerial view of Brighton Royal Pavilion ice rink at night

Christmas at the Royal Pavilion

Experience the enchanting world of Christmas at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, making its grand return for 2023. Immerse yourself in the opulence of elaborately adorned trees and delve into the fascinating history of Royal Christmases.

Get ready for the mischievous Royal Pavilion mice to make a festive comeback, all set to share holiday joy. Can you spot them on our free family trail?

Visit our 2for1 page to get great offers when visiting.

Nearest station: Brighton

When: Saturday 18 November 2023 to Tuesday 2 January 2024

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Photo by David Levene

Three men on stage

Countdown to Christmas in Southampton

Visit Southampton by train to get involved in the Christmas festivities from November. Immerse yourself in a world of free family fun and entertainment, including street theatre performances and music from talented local artists. And, of course, don't forget to witness the grand moment when the city's official Christmas lights are illuminated – a spectacular finale to the joyous celebrations.

Nearest station: Southampton Central

When: From November. Visit the website for more details.

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