One of my favourite spots near Chichester is West Dean College. I’ve only got to know it in the last few years and visited inside the house for the first time this year as our dear friends Alice and Neil were super kind and invited us up. Neil works at West Dean and Alice has studied there a number of times so they were perfectly placed to give us a guided tour in May.
This weekend I’ve been back up there again, with Alice and Neil but this time it wasn’t for a peaceful, quiet and creative reflection on the beautiful college and gardens but for something entirely more spicy – the annual Chilli Fiesta!
It’s a great festival that spans the whole weekend from Friday to Sunday. The gardens are filled with music, colour and lots of chillis. One of the nicest things is that all the vendors are from within a few miles, at most, a county away. Most are foodie stalls with chilli products but many also sell cheeses, cured meats, kitchen accessories and increasingly a few artists in the mix. There are two stages for music; a smaller acoustic stage and the big main stage. They host samba, salsa and jazz bands over the three days – something to dance to all day long. A food demonstration tent hosted some great sessions including one from my absolute favourite local cook, Rosemary Moon. I’ve seen her present at several events locally and she’s such a funny lady as well as being a really creative, innovative cook. I’ve definitely collected more than one of her books!
As all this is set in the stunning grounds of West Dean, visitors to the festival also get to potter around the gardens which at this time of year are utterly gorgeous. The flowers are in full bloom and the kitchen gardens are bursting full of produce.
This is one place that is worth visiting at any time of the year as the seasons are all so beautifully represented but this part of the year really is something special.
I had such a blast at the Chilli Fiesta, catching up with my good friends, eating some delicious food (including an enormous ice cream from a local dairy) and soaking up the sunshine.
A lovely summer Saturday!