It’s summer, which can only mean one thing. No, we don’t mean rain. It’s festival season! Time to dig out those shorts and wellies, some kind of camping equipment, and socks for days as you take to the open fields in search of fun, festivities and food and drink at the best festivals in Sussex!
Here’s our little roundup of some of our favourite festivals in Sussex and the South East – and our guide includes something for everyone, kids included. Happy camping!
1. BYLINE FESTIVAL
A festival with a bit more to it than just musical entertainment, Byline offers a chance to dance to the sounds of a large selection of headline bands such as Pussy Riot or the Blow Monkeys, as well as DJs to groove all night to. But this event also offers a chance to engage with eye-opening talks at the media circus about the importance of journalism and the mess of British politics. Have a laugh too, with their large selection of comedy acts, and be the change you want to see in the world with the use of biodegradable glitter, cups and tents recycled for the homeless.
23 – 26 August, Pippingford Park, Uckfield
2. FIRLE VINTAGE FAIR
One of the area’s most established niche events now, we always love Firle. Enjoy a weekend in the picturesque Sussex countryside accompanied by vintage inspired shows, performances, workshops, fashion and artisanal food. Hop on the vintage bus shuttling between the fair and Lewes Station to catch the action, including a show of the classic Charleston, swing or tap whilst indulging in some homemade cakes, savories, and organic beverages. Hop on one of the Victorian inspired fairground rides to the sound of some of the best vintage swing bands you’ll hear. This isn’t a weekend to miss out on if you’re keen on the vintage lifestyle.
Firle Vintage Fair
9 – 11 August, Firle Park, near Lewes
3. THE GREAT GATSBY FAIR
Ever wanted to party like it’s 1922 then this one is for you, minus the Great Depression, obviously! The Great Gatsby Fair presents an opportunity to bring the whole family together to enjoy some of the finer things in life from the swing era. Vintage bikes and cars, dance competitions, delicious food and a fun fair all make for a great family day out in the early 20th century.
Great Gatsby Fair
19 – 21 July, Bexhill-On-Sea
4. MAGICAL FESTIVAL
The three day music, arts and wellness festival returns to Borde Hill. The aim for this festival is to make you feel like your most authentic self, dance, sing, parade, dress up; a program of tons of music and acts will make you want to groove! This unique and diverse festival is an experience for those who feel like they could do with a bit of loosening up! Drop that stress, and let it go at Magical.
19 – 22 July, Borde Hill Garden
5. CHICHESTER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Last year, attendances soared for the 27th Chichester International Film Festival. Five venues based in the city at Chichester Cinema at New Park. The festival featured films from over 35 countries along with Q&A sessions from over 30 actors, directors and producers. Chichester Film Fest is truly for the film lover – check out the extensive ranges of events through what is over two weeks of extraordinary creative programming.
Chichester International Film Festival
8 – 25 August, Priory Park, Chichester
6. SUSSEX GIN FESTIVAL
Nothing has exploded recently quite like gin, and Sussex Gin Fest is just around the corner to satiate your need to discover what all the rage is about in the Great British gin revival. Sussex is among the top players on the leaderboard when it comes to who has the best Gin in the UK. Artisan, bespoke and small batch gins are all featured at this celebration; and they’re all waiting for you to try them. Though you can’t be drinking all that on an empty stomach, can you now? Artisan food of the sweet and savoury variety will be available, as well as featuring a barbeque ran by Michelin star chefs: Mann & Moore.
Sussex Gin Festival
13 July, Borde Hill
7. BRIGHTON PRIDE
Did you really think I was going to write a Sussex festival piece and not include Brighton Pride? Don’t make such preposterous accusations! Brighton Pride will be returning to Brighton, naturally, with main events all over the city for the whole weekend. Pride in the Park will be headlined by none other than Kylie Minogue, as well as Clean Bandit. The famous Kemptown village party will also be returning for the weekend, as well as the fabulous street parade throughout the city. Pride will be concluding with LoveBN1Fest on the 4th of August, a celebration of everything Brighton and Hove headlined by Jessie J.
2 – 4 August, Brighton
8. ARUNDEL FESTIVAL
Music, art, theatre, food, entertainment and events; what more could you pack into a festival? I don’t know, and Arundel festival has more! From Circus theatrics to an annual river duck race, Arundel Festival is one of the biggest community and volunteer led festivals in the South of England and runs across a ten day period in a range of different venues and locations. Check the website for more details.
16 – 26 August, Arundel
9. WEST DEAN CHILLI FIESTA 2019
Are you in need of a spring in your step? The Chilli Fiesta may be just what you need. Featuring brilliantly spicy foods from around the globe, as well as live Latin music, chilli cooking and gardening demonstrations and many different bars for your fill of refreshments. There’s more to it than just tongue sizzling chillies, bring the family along for a great family day out and join in on the biggest chilli festival in the UK.
9 – 11 August, West Dean Gardens
10. RYE INTERNATIONAL JAZZ & BLUES FESTIVAL
The time is nigh for the eighth annual Rye International Jazz & Blues Festival, soak up some sun in the medieval town of Rye over the bank holiday weekend; and bask in the electric atmosphere from the free musical performances in the heart of the town. You can expect to hear some of the very best from the plethora of Jazz genres from a fantastic selection of talented artists from all over.
Rye International Jazz & Blues Festival
22 – 26 August, Rye
11. GOODWOOD REVIVAL
The only historic race meeting to be staged in period theme, recreating the romance and glamour of motor racing as it used to be, the Goodwood Motor Circuit comes alive for Revival, both on and off the historic track. And Chris Evans enjoys this “…more than Christmas!” Dress up in whatever vintage suits you best, and come and appreciate the amazing machines on the track. A truly unique and VERY British event – tickets are limited for this now so look sharp if you want to go.
13 – 15 September, Goodwood