If you’re looking for somewhere special to escape the crowds this Christmas and celebrate traditions old and new, look no further than the National Trust.
See our historic houses at Standen, Petworth, Uppark and Alfriston Clergy House decked out for the festive season with seasonal greenery and special handmade displays.
Or stroll through the frosty winter landscape gardens at Sheffield Park on a festive walk.
Timorous Beasties are the radical designers of this years’ Winter Tree at Standen. Whilst at Petworth there are room-sized festive cityscapes in the house’s showrooms, displayed alongside star items from Petworth’s historic collection.
Christmas is a time for nostalgia and in the galleries at Nymans is an exhibition of vintage children’s illustrations from nursery rhymes.
Keep little ones entertained with a trip to visit Father Christmas at Standen or Birling Gap, and stop off at ours for hot chocolate and pocket money priced Christmas gifts.
Plus there are festive carol singing events, craft and wreath making workshops in beautiful locations. Enjoy hearty soups for frosty days as well as warming puddings and sweet treats in the cafe.
Our shops specialise in artisan gifts and locally produced foods, with the added benefit of being away from the hustle and bustle of the high street.
Each magical day out supports the National Trust’s conservation work, looking after special places for people to enjoy for this festive season and many more to come.
See highlights of the best National Trust Christmas events, activities and days out across Sussex:
Make some treasured memories this Christmas at Standen as we bring you traditions, both old and new. Visit the decorated Arts and Crafts house with all the enchantment of a family Christmas through the decades. Take in the Winter Tree in the courtyard, which is guest-decorated by a famous designer each year. This year it is by contemporary design duo Timorous Beasties. They’re notorious for making cult classics from traditional design patterns such as damask, Toile de Jouy and Chintz.
• Open 25 November 2017 to 2 January 2018, 11am to 3pm
• Book for Father Christmas in his woodland grotto at Standen. Settle down for a Christmas story and receive a small present and cup of hot chocolate. 3 to 23 December, 11am to 1.30pm, £6.50 Booking essential: by phone 0344 2491895.
• Extended twilight openings until 6pm for a special view of the house after dark and Christmas shopping, on weekends in December and 16 to 22 December.
Visit Petworth and journey on a Grand Tour Christmas, inspired by the historic tradition of travelling Europe. Wandering the six rooms of the mansion you’ll discover room-sized cityscapes of countries dressed for Christmas alongside historic star items that connect to each country. The last leg of your trip is into the Chapel where a 20-foot tree awaits you.
• Open every day 11am to 3:30pm, from 2 December to 1 January 2018, except 24 and 25 December.
• Special Winter’s Trail for families outside in the parkland.
• Help us decorate our tree by colouring in your own ornaments or take them home to decorate your own. There are blank cards where you can write wishes to hang and see if they come true.
Take a festive walk through the winter garden at Nymans to the gallery, where this Christmas you’ll find a nostalgic exhibition of vintage artwork from children’s literature. Help us celebrate Maud and Leonard Messel’s tradition of giving books to local children at Christmas time. Inspired by the beautiful artwork in the Messel family’s collection of children’s literature, we’ll be taking a nostalgic look at nursery rhymes in our exhibition, ‘Sing a Song for Sixpence’.
• Exhibition open 2 December to 2 January, 11am – 3.30pm.
• For younger visitors there is a cosy story space in the exhibition, plus a Christmas family trail in the gardens inspired by Nursery Rhymes, £1 per trail.
Uppark, West Sussex
Lady Featherstonhaugh is hosting one of her famous Christmas parties – and you’re invited. Head ‘below stairs’ and discover how servants in a country house like Uppark celebrated Christmas in the Victorian era. Then sneak up to the ground floor to see the excesses enjoyed by the household. Meet some of the servants – intricately detailed paper mannequins designed and created by artist Denise Watson of Delicarta – or visit at the weekend to be greeted by some of the estate’s ‘real’ servants. There’s also plenty of fun for little ones with the outdoor trail that will take them on an adventure into the world of Victorian festive foods and traditions.
• The Country House Victorian Christmas Party at Uppark is open 2 – 31 Dec (closed 24 and 25 December)
• Family trail: £2 per child
Sheffield Park and Gardens
This December, take a stroll in the garden at Sheffield Park with it’s winding paths and mirror lakes to discover our extravagant Christmas trees dressed for a festive pantomime. We’ll be serving seasonal treats in the cafe with Christmas lunches from 18-22 December and the shop is a cave of wonders, full of Christmas inspiration so you can tick everyone off your Christmas gift list. Follow a themed children’s trail through the garden and help us find the Earl’s collection of exotic pheasants, ducks and quails which have escaped and are hiding in the garden.
• Decorated trees in the garden from 1 December to 4 January
• Christmas crafts for children on 2, 9, 16 & 23 December, 11am. Make a Chinese fan decoration inspired by Aladdin, the 3rd Earl’s favourite pantomime and hang it on one of our trees. £3.50, booking essential: 01825 790231
• Enjoy a family friendly Christmas concert with The Knole Singers on Sunday 10 & Sunday 17 December, 6.30pm. With mince pies and mulled wine by the fire. Adult £18.50, Child £8.50, Family £45. Booking essential: 01825 790231
Alfriston Clergy House
This Christmas sees Alfriston Clergy House decorated festively through the ages. The hall will be dressed for a medieval Christmas, the parlour for the Tudor era and the reading room 1920s. Decked with handmade arrangements of festive foliage, discover the stories behind Christmas traditions today that were first celebrated in the 1300s.
• Open weekends 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and17 December, 11am to 3.30pm
• Make your own Christmas decorations in a fun workshop on Sat 16 Dec 2017, 11am to 15.30. With help from Peter the gardener use natural materials to create traditional old-fashioned festive tree decorations cinnamon fancies and wooden stars.
From visiting Father Christmas, to family fun and wreath making, there’s something festive for everyone at Birling Gap, this beautiful cliff top jewel in Sussex. Or if you are feeling festively full then what better way to shake off the Christmas excesses than with a bracing cliff top walk? With gorgeous views, big skies, and fantastic downland countryside, Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters are the perfect place to enjoy one of our walking trails this winter.
• Make a beautiful Christmas wreath for your front door using natural materials and festive fancies. Sunday 27 November, 1 to 3pm, £15 per person – booking essential
• Father Christmas in his grotto at Birling Gap and family craft activities, Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 December, 11am to 3.30pm. £3 for a visit to Father Christmas, craft activities by donation.
For Christmas inspiration visit: nationaltrust.org.uk/sussex