Lewes’ entertainment scene is packed with excellent options including world-class opera at Glyndebourne, fab local theatre at the Lewes Little Theatre, live music courtesy of the Lewes Con Club and The Lansdown Arms, and cinema at The Depot. As if that’s not enough, we have both Premier League and non-league football, first-class cricket and a National Hunt racecourse.
Entertainment in Lewes
The jewel of Lewes’ entertainment scene is Glyndebourne. It’s one of the oldest and most respected Opera festivals on the planet, which brings world-class operatic productions to the area throughout the summer months and hosts performances in its state-of-the-art theatre over autumn.
Productions were initially performed in the organ room of the Glyndebourne manor house, which dates back to the 15th century. Today everything takes place in the estate’s beautiful 1,200-capacity horseshoe theatre which is as much a feat of architecture as it is an incredible home of opera.
While there’s no official dress code, Glyndebourne is a fancy affair with most guests adhering to a black-tie policy. It’s popular among the aristocracy, who used to be allowed to land their helicopters on the lawns, but Glyndebourne isn’t all pomp with no purpose. The production quality is par excellence, thanks in part to extended rehearsal periods prior to long production runs.
It’s never easy getting tickets to Glyndebourne, so be sure to look at what’s on well in advance and learn about when tickets go on sale. If you miss out on initial sale but your in Lewes during the festival, there’s a slim chance you can get lucky with returned tickets if you visit on the day. It’s worth a try, as the world-class opera festival takes place just a ten-minute drive from our Lewes Town Centre hotel.
As well as a leading opera festival, Lewes is also home to a stunning three-screen community cinema that goes by the name of Depot, which you can find on Pinwell Road, a minute or so away from Lewes Station. It’s completely independent, which allows it to curate its own excellent programme of films that range from blockbusters to art house and foreign releases. It’s well loved by the community and also features an exceptional cafe and restaurant that’s so good we named it among our favourite places to eat in Lewes.
Lastly, let us tell you about the Lewes Little Theatre on Lancaster Street. It’s a brilliant little theatre with 70 years of heritage and home to Lewes Theatre Club. It puts on between six and eight productions each year, which range from Shakespeare’s plays such as The Merchant of Venice through to noir classics like Dial M for Murder. Tickets are reasonably priced and the quality is always high.
When it comes to seeing live music in Lewes, firstly we need to nod to Glyndebourne. The world-class opera festival also features classical music recitals that’ll take your breath away. The London Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment also alternate between productions.
The Lansdown Arms is one of our favourite pubs in Lewes and hosts regular gig nights, jam sessions and open mics. Obviously, it’s a lot more casual than Glyndebourne. It’s a top-class community pub with a welcoming atmosphere and well worth visiting while you’re in town.
You’ll also want to head to the High Street to hunt down the legendary Lewes Con Club. It’s a not-for-profit social club and the top entertainment venue in Lewes town centre. The sound is always excellent and the con club books some brilliant bands not just from the Brighton and Hove area but bands from London, as well as tours from the rest of the country. It’s intimate, the volunteers who run the club live for music, and the bar has a number of CAMRA awards to its name.
Sports fans have some excellent options in and around Lewes. Brighton and Hove Albion F.C. compete in the Premier League and play their home matches at the 30,000-capcity Amex Stadium. If that’s not local enough, Lewes FC is a non-league club that plays at The Dripping Pan in front of an enthusiastic following.
Sussex County Cricket Club is the oldest of England and Wales’ first-class county clubs and is based at The County Ground in nearby Hove. Racing fans can also pay a visit to Plumpton Racecourse in the village of Plumpton. It’s a National-Hunt horse-racing course with a full calendar of races and a large grandstand with varying degrees of hospitality.