The best virtual and home-based events in Sussex

PUBLISHED: 00:00 01 May 2020

Die Entführung aus dem Serail (c) Richard Hubert Smith

Die Entführung aus dem Serail (c) Richard Hubert Smith

Richard Hubert Smith

Get your culture fix from the comfort of your living room with our guide to the best virtual events

Die Entführung aus dem Serail


While Glyndebourne has unfortunately had to delay all festival performances until 14 July, opera aficionados can still enjoy the experience online. Until 20 May Mozart’s first Viennese opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail is available to view free online at Operavision. The opera boasts some of his most spectacularly virtuosic vocal music, especially for the heroine Konstanze. David McVicar’s hedonistic culture-clash comedy sets the action in an 18th century eastern fantasy of sun-filled gardens and cool, shady terraces.


Flowers for Mrs Harris

Chichester Festival Theatre

For the first time, Chichester Festival Theatre is streaming a selection of its archive productions online, beginning with the musical Flowers for Mrs Harris which is available until 8 May. Flowers for Mrs Harris is the story of Ada Harris, a char-lady in post-war London whose drab life of dusting and scrubbing is transformed when she glimpses a Christian Dior dress in one of her client’s wardrobes and sets her heart on going to Paris to buy one for herself.

Flowers for Mrs Harris is available on CFT’s website at and is free to watch.


Chris Riddell on Desert Island Discs

BBC iPlayer

The Brighton artist and political cartoonist was a guest on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in March. The programme is a fascinating insight into his life and influences. Charmingly, he also illustrated his musical choices - you can view his eight gorgeous drawings on Radio 4’s Twitter.


Damian Barr’s Literary Salon podcast

Hear the world’s greatest writers telling new tales and revealing their own stories.

Brighton writer Damian Barr’s Salon is in its 11th year and has more than 110 interviews with some of the world’s most engaging writers. Tune into the podcast to hear readings and personal tales from Diana Athill, Jojo Moyes, Anthony Anaxagorou, Tracey Thorn, Okechukwu Nzelu, John Waters, David Mitchell, Yaa Gyasi, Maggie O’Farrell, Armistead Maupin and many more…

Find it on iTunes or Soundcloud


The Odditorium podcast

Welcome to the Odditorium, a portal into the fringes of culture; its mavericks and pranksters, adventurers and occultists, artists, comics, eroticists and even the odd chef. Each podcast features a guest speaker recorded before a live audience, somewhere in the UK. Hosted by Brighton-based Sony Award-winning presenters, Dr Bramwell and his ill-prepared sidekick, Mr Mounfield.

Find it on iTunes or Stitcher


Michael Escolme’s Corona Wildlife Diary

As the world shuts down around us the uplifting role that wildlife plays in our lives becomes more vital than ever. Sussex Wildlife Trust’s learning and engagement officer – and Sussex Life columnist – is documenting a daily diary of what he finds in his garden. Michael’s lyrical and humorous prose is balm in troubled times.


Comedy from Jen Brister

Brighton-based Jen is a critically acclaimed stand-up comedian, writer and actor. She is a regular performer on the UK and international comedy circuits. She has written for BBC Scotland, presented for BBC 6 Music and Juice FM, and has been a regular contributor to magazines and online sites including Diva, g3, Standard Issue and The Huffington Post.

Jen has been a regular performer at Brighton Komedia’s Krater Club but while we’re in lockdown, you can gorge on videos on her website.


Brighton Early Music Festival

Throughout the year, BREMF contributes to the vibrant arts scene in Brighton and Hove through its programme of choral concerts, workshops and schools projects. The annual festival takes place in late October and early November and has built a reputation for lively and inspired programming, often exploring connections with different art forms and using performance formats and spaces that challenge preconceptions of early music.

Subscribe to BREMF’s YouTube (search Brighton Early Music Festival) page to see more than 30 short films including past performances: they plan to add more digital content over the coming months. At the time of writing, the organisation’s first online concert has been viewed 1,969 times raising a total of £1,929.28 in support of musicians facing loss of income during the pandemic.


Get lost in nature with RGB Kew

Despite closing on 22 March at both Kew Gardens and Wakehurst, RBG Kew continues to connect people with nature as springtime bursts into bloom. Virtual Kew offers inspiring visuals of their world-class living collections together with fun facts and activities for home, plus downloadable learning resources to support teachers, parents and pupils working at home.

Visit the website or join their social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to find behind-the-scenes footage capturing the myriad wonders of RBG Kew.


NGS virtual garden tours

Despite having to close its garden gates for the first time in its 93-year history under current government guidelines, the National Garden Scheme has launched a new scheme that will keep its stunning gardens virtually open through the coming weeks and raise funds to replace lost income from gardens not opening. Virtual garden visits, many filmed by their owners, will be hosted on the National Garden Scheme’s website. Mary Berry, president of the National Gardens Scheme, said: “I think it’s a fantastic idea, typical of the resourcefulness which has kept the National Garden Scheme going for over ninety years. I urge you to support it generously.”


Art at home

Towner Eastbourne is working to provide some cultural inspiration digitally while we’re all at home and working through these difficult circumstances. Watch out for TOWNER Looks – close-up picks from curators of lesser-known collection works – as well as suggested reads and films in TOWNER Reads and TOWNER Watches. They will also work with artists to ensure opportunities to engage with Towner continue. Visit the website or follow their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook channels for more information.


Comedy from Simon Evans

Comedian and former Sussex Life columnist Simon Evans is inviting fans to subscribe to his Patreon site. He promises “daily updates, increasingly manic, including new material, lots of archive and ‘Ordible’ which consists of me reading classic, coincidentally out of copyright material to accompany you on your Govt-approved walks.”


Shipley Arts Festival

The annual arts festival has embraced digital technology to move some scheduled performances online. So far this has included a live broadcast with Julian Lloyd Webber and poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion in aid of the NHS Charities. Subscribe to the YouTube channel or email for regular updates.


Hastings International Piano

Hastings International Piano, the charity responsible for Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition and Hastings International Piano Festival, has launched an online concert series to support the careers of their prizewinners in this time of national crisis. The short recitals premier every Friday evening on Facebook at 7pm GMT and at

The concerts are free to view, but viewers are able to make a voluntary donation to Hastings International Piano Engagement Fund, or choose to join as a friend whilst watching. These donations help to continue the organisation’s work supporting young pianists as well as engagement projects offered to the young people of Hastings and the surrounding area. This includes free tickets to events as well as workshops, school visits and inspirational talks from visiting artists.


Tour Hastings Contemporary

In a UK first, Hastings Contemporary has teamed up with Bristol Robotics Lab to offer its members and audiences old and new alike the opportunity to visit the gallery via the Double, a two-wheeled videoconferencing robot that can guide an operator and up to five people through real-time tours of the gallery and its current exhibitions.

The gallery is initially planning to offer robot-assisted guided tours of its current programme to visitors stuck at home, led by its curators and gallery team, as well as applying the technology further to allow local artist-educators to facilitate interactive art lessons by piloting local children via the robot around the gallery.

The gallery is also planning to develop a new online hub of art and mindfulness resources, with the children of key workers in mind; creating bespoke digital art lessons and creative learning activities for many of the now closed schools in Hastings; and virtual 3D renderings of its three postponed spring shows,

Victor Pasmore: Line & Space, Stephen Chambers: The Court of Redonda, and Quentin Blake: We Live In Worrying Times.

To visit the gallery and be among the first people in the UK to experience this technology email


Jazz in the shed

Jazz singer Joe Stilgoe’s latest tour was cancelled due to the pandemic, so he decided to bring his music to fans anyway by broadcasting daily concerts live from his garden shed at 1pm.

Followers of the Hove-based musician can make song requests over social media and give their feedback - so far concerts have included a session dedicated to children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House and a musicals special. Follow Joe on YouTube for big tunes and witty repartee.


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