HUNDREDS of artists have flung open their doors for the Christmas Open Houses trail.

The scheme is running in Brighton and Hove and across Sussex for the next few weeks.

Mince pies, mulled wine, and a warm welcome are among the treats which can be enjoyed by visitors, as well as the chance to buy unique pieces for Christmas.

There are more than 60 venues hosting events in the trail, which has been running since 1981.

Among those opening their galleries are Martin Thomas and Holly Bell on Brighton beach.

The 229 Studio has been in an arch for ten years, with Ms Bell working alongside Mike Moran and Ulrika Jarl.

She said: “I think opening our gallery is a great way to get people down to the seafront.

“A lot of Brightonians don’t realise we are here, it is often the tourists.

“We make almost everything in the shop here and open houses and galleries shows we are artistic and we are a working studio.”

Martin Thomas in his studio nearby said: “The trail gets people out around town, and brings artists together, so it helps raise awareness of what we are doing.”

One of the larger venues displaying art is the Regency Town House in Brunswick Square, Hove.

There portrait and still life painter Jane Palmer is exhibiting her latest works alongside other artists.

She won Artist of the Year at the Artists Open Houses awards in May this year and said the venue has given her a chance to display more of her work.

Interior designer Diana Garnier has opened up space at The Villa Studios in Walpole Terrace, Brighton.

She said: “I was inspired to take part in the open houses scheme because two of my neighbours were artists, but sadly they died.

“So it is in honour of them really.

“I like to welcome local artists and give a platform to people who may not have displayed work before.”

Some of the artists included in her studio were ceramics artist Juliet Walters, paints and printer Philip Dunn, landmarks prints from Illona Drew, sculptures by Gareth Willias and felt art by Mirka Nowysz.

Meanwhile nearby in Walpole Road, Sophie Wake has opened her studio front room. She won Best Artist’s Open House at the awards in May, and has lived there for 11 years.

Ms Wake started to paint seriously four years ago, after a career of more than 20 years as an illustrator, working for publications including The Guardian, The Telegraph, BBC magazines and in advertising.

She said: “The open house in May went so well that I decided to give the winter open house a try. I have made a new range, and the front room here is my studio. I have had hundreds of people come to visit, sometimes as many as 200 per day.”

The Artists Open Houses festival began on Saturday and runs for three consecutive weekends, ending on December 8. It’s a rare opportunity to view their work in the place it was created – and a chance to buy work directly from the artists in their own homes.

A full list of artists, and a map detailing where to go can be found online by visiting: