AN ADVENT calendar with a difference has made its annual debut, with a special performance for those who showed up to the opening of the first door.

The beach hut calendar is now in its tenth year.

It runs in various huts along Hove seafront to mark the Advent period from December 1 to Christmas Day.

Each day, a new door is opened to reveal an installation, performance or other surprise as schools, churches and independent artists contribute, this year with a theme surrounding the Nativity story.

Last night, the first door was opened to reveal children from King’s School in Portslade, who had filled their allocated beach hut with painted clay stars from the Year 7 class.

Pupils from the school choir sang carols to onlookers.

Kate Vincent, assistant headteacher at the school, organised the collaboration along with colleagues Linda Phelan and Charlotte Grosvenor.

She said: “Just as the star appeared in the nativity story, to guide the shepherds and the wise men, we are opening the 2017 beach hut advent calendar with the star.

“We have used the verse from Isaiah 9:2: ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned’.”

The calendar, which is run by Beyond Church, celebrates its tenth event with a printed calendar to accompany the month’s event at the beach huts, which is being sold online at and City Books in Hove.

Across the 24 days, schools, youth clubs, churches and independent artists – and even some of the beach hut owners themselves – will contribute ideas to the project.

Mulled wine and mince pies will be on offer for visitors.

Martin Poole, founder of Beyond Church, said: “We’re trying to get away from the commercial element of Christmas and get people thinking back to the true meaning of Advent.”

Tonight’s hut will be put together by photographer Sarah Sutherland-Rowe with All Saints Church in Hove.

Mr Poole said: “One of the brilliant things about our Advent calendar is you don’t know what will be behind each door until the day.”

l Turn to page 7 to see how a pub has been transformed into a winter wonderland