We last went to the West Dean Chilli Fiesta in 2015 so we thought it was time to head back this year. What shocked me a little was how much the tickets had increased in price and how almost unaffordable it has become. Given that I wanted to look for ways to make the most out of your ticket price.
The main jist of the festival is around chillis (obviously) so there are a hundred odd stalls selling everything from chilli chutney to beer, ice cream and plants. Most of these stalls offer free tasters of their wares so you can spend the day wandering round tasting chilli products without buying anything. It is done by lots of people but equally if you taste something amazing would you really be able to resist?
There are also loads of hot food and drinks stands to choose from, pizza, cheese toasties, burgers, noodles plus many many more! However, given we are looking for the free or cheaper things to do at this festival you can opt to bring in your own picnic.
West Dean itself is a beautiful place with lots of places to sit down with a picnic blanket and same sausage rolls so it isn’t hard to find somewhere that fits in with what you want. Most people opt to set up base in front of the stage where music and acts play all day and evening. You can’t bring in your own alcohol but everything else is game! Especially good if there are a few of you or you have kids!!
Looking for a snooze in the sun while the kids are entertained? Looking to watch something to wile away the afternoon? West Dean have an outdoor cinema put up with various showing throughout the day. Twined with retro deck chairs it was a peaceful retreat from the chaos of the chilli stalls.
The gardens at West Dean are another option for free activities at the Chilli Fiesta or just when you have had enough chilli and need to cool down! On our last trip, plus when we attended their Apple Festival, we only wandered round the kitchen garden and orchard where their famous glass houses are.
This year not only did we do that but we walked along their sculpture train and spring garden. More woodland in nature it had a nice path accessible for all and sculptures dotted around. The artwork had been created by community artists and each came with a description of the story it was trying to tell. It was busy as the festival was packed with people but it was a nice short walk.
You also get a good view of the small campsite – wouldn’t it be amazing to camp on the grounds of this amazing place!? Not strictly free but it would allow you to extend your day or weekend with some tent time. Always a plus!
On the whole the Chilli Fiesta is a good day out, it does run well into the evening which we never manage to make it to, with music and entertainment galore. The stalls are the highlight of the festival as there is some wonderful produce on offer. We always end up buying something, this year we came back with chutney, cheese, knives and a new scarf!
It has got expensive but for what is on offer (I haven’t even mentioned the ferris wheel, house of mirrors or workshops you can attend) it does represent good value. You just have to look for ways to make the most out of it. No doubt we will go back and hopefully they will be able to keep finding fresh new things to offer.
Have you been to West Dean? Did we miss anything!?
Like it? Share it!