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Sussex Summer Festivals

The weather is getting warmer, and now is the perfect time to kick back, relax and do something fun. With that in mind, here’s our pick of the best Sussex summer festivals.

Sussex summer festivals

Festival of Chichester

10th June to 9th July

With a month-long celebration of the arts and over 90 events being hosted for a four week period, the Festival of Chichester accommodates all looking for some summer fun. For entertainment seekers, theatre and cinema events are included as well as a classical music programme to indulge in. For those interested in sights to explore, the walks and exhibitions are just the thing for you, and book events, talks and poetry readings are available for literary lovers out there. The Novium Museum is hosting the highly anticipated ‘Magic of Middle-Earth’ exhibition of artwork celebrating the ‘Lord of the Rings’ fantasy novels, and there is much more in the works to explore. To find out more, visit:

summer balloons

Arundel Festival of the Arts

18th to 28th August

Celebrate music, art and theatre this August as Arundel pulls out all manner of exciting events for summer explorers this year. Events of particular interest include AbbaMagic on the high street and a music festival against the Castle backdrop, with gallery and theatre trails to discover for those looking for a bit of adventure. Duck races, horse and carriage as well as Tuk Tuk rides for younger individuals are also available, and local food and drinks will be widely on offer and varied from pop-up markets. To find out more, visit:

Beach Life Festival Eastbourne 

15 and 16 July

The free two-day festival featuring events along the Eastern Seafront and in Princes Park – launches the summer holidays early, showcasing local music and street food delights. Visitors will be able to try their hand at water sports and skating, as well as watching fast-paced displays from skaters and competitors in the Roller Derby, with five junior skaters already selected to represent Team GB in the Junior Roller Derby World Cup. Buzz Active will be offering taster sessions in windsurfing, sailing and paddleboarding, and also adding to the festival vibe, the VW Bus Stop returns with colourful campervans on display along the beach. The event starts at 11am each day until 6pm.

Eastbourne festival

Brighton Festival

Ends 28th May

Coming to a close this bank holiday weekend, Brighton Festival continues to offer up many attractions this year for local culture lovers. With theatre, circus, comedy shows and music running over the May month, it’s a brilliant opportunity to support traditional and upcoming talent. A theatre adaptation of Moby Dick runs from the 25th to the 27th and tickets are selling fast! The London Symphony Orchestra is also performing at the Brighton Dome Concert Hall on the 26th and is certainly worth a booking. For more information, visit:

sunset audience

Jolly Good Festival, Haywards Heath

17th June

An event geared towards families with children aged 6-12 years old, and aimed to make the most of some glorious summer weather, Hayward Heath’s ‘Jolly Good’ festival has all sorts in the works this year. With five activity zones set to accommodate over 50 activities altogether, and performances to boot, there will be plenty to get stuck into. Rock climbing, archery, bouncy slides, an obstacle course, crazy golf and canvas art are among the many attractions running over the course of the festival. Refreshments are also available to energize you along the way. To book tickets and to discover more, visit:

summer picnic

Elderflower Fields Festival, Ashdown Forest

26th to 29th May

Ashdown Forest will be teeming with life this bank holiday weekend as their Elderflower Fields festival coaxes families looking to stretch their legs in the swiftly approaching summer weather. An event celebrating nature amongst family, sport and adventure events are tailored particularly for younger children wishing to become acquainted with the great outdoors. Their Dragonfly stage and bar will also be providing food and musical entertainment for celebrators looking to relax and Sunday the 28th marks their great family picnic and dance event for all to enjoy. Incorporating arts, crafts and discovery activities that encourage curiosity for the natural environment, there are events for all types and plenty of spaces in which to chill in the summer weather. For more information, visit:

summer girl field

Newhaven Festival

June to July

For those who fancy heading to the coast, we love this Sussex summer festival in Newhaven which celebrates with a bit of culture and community and will be hosting a number of exciting events for travellers local and afar. With art exhibitions, a gin and fizz festival, theatre performances, a Sussex Day celebration, and fish festival, many opportunities for a spot of indulgence and entertainment are presented. For Sussex Day, on June the 16th, a fantastic afternoon has been planned at the Denton Island bandstand, with music from local bands and food and drink provided by local producers. Keep an eye on their website for event dates so you don’t miss out:

coast tulips

Medieval Festival Weekend, Arundel

8th to 9th July

The lower lawns of Arundel Castle will be ringing with the clash of armor this summer as their Medieval tournament re-enactment takes place. The festival marks the 1474 celebration hosted by the Earl of Arundel for the birth of his first grandson, and this year’s event will offer access to the castle, grounds and gardens for individuals interested in exploring this rich history. Demonstrations of combat, archery, historical crafts and falconry are among the variety of activities those of all ages can get stuck into and there will also be a tented encampment to trawl through. For more information, visit:

medieval knights

Festival of Colour, Petworth

11th June

Petworth Park and House are celebrating summer with a bang this year with courtyard music, family games and activities honouring their ‘colour’ theme of the year. Their grounds offer ideal picnic spots for families looking to relax and outdoor activities will be available for individuals hoping to siphon off a bit of energy. Their ‘Explorations in Paint’ exhibition, curated by the Royal Academy, will also be available for viewing and Elmer the Patchwork Elephant will be visiting the Pleasure Gardens in an art parade full of colour. See if you can also spot all the Elmer sculptures along the trail as you bask in the sunshine. To find out more, visit:

summer bird

Waterlily Festival, Uckfield

17th June to 16th July

Witness the spectacular waterlilies on the Sheffield Park lakes this summer, with several beautiful species in a variety of colours to appreciate. The festival accommodates a whole host of art events, workshops, activities and outdoor installations for visitors to get involved in. Make sure to look out for the giant dragonflies and flowers on display created by local artists to mark the occasion and why not book one of the watercolour, sketching or photography workshops for a chance to capture the glorious natural sights around the area? For more information, visit:

water lilies

Kite Festival, Bognor Regis

26th to 28th August

Beginning in 2015, the Bognor Regis Kite Festival has proven so popular with locals that it has become an annual occurrence over the August Bank Holiday. Now with more success than ever, the festival opens once again this year to all UK kite fliers and will feature demonstrations from some international guests. Hosted in the King George 5th Playing Fields, visitors can anticipate the usual brilliant display of colourful and unique kites catching the breeze alongside one another. Live music, bars and street food will also be accompanying this spectacle for those hoping to make a day of the event and a children’s fair with entertainment and inflatable rides will be provided for younger participants. Kite traders and workshops will be open for crowds curious about the craft as well as other creative and entertainment stalls. Make sure to be there for the Saturday evening as the LED-illuminated kite display promises to delight all those who catch a glimpse. For more information, visit:

summer kites

Worthing Festival 

10th to 18th June 

On the sunny south coast, this festival is a celebration of arts and culture and includes music, theatre, dance, art, comedy, the spoken word, film, heritage, workshops and family events at different venues across Worthing. You can find out more here: Worthing Festival

Worthing Pavilion Theatre

Living History Festival 

26th to 28th August 

Head to gorgeous Michelham Priory in East Sussex for a festival that includes historical living encampments starting with the Medieval period and moving forward in time. There will be traditional food, blacksmiths, and activities to take part in all designed to immerse you in the past.  For more information visit: Michelham Priory Festival

Michelham Priory

Chichester Cheese and Chilli Festival 

1st and 2nd July 

Expect chilli and cheese, of course, at this event but lots more too! There will be cooking demonstrations, talks, interactive sessions, and even chilli eating competitions! There will also be live music and a circus/fire performer along with Punch & Judy and children’s entertainment. Find out more at: Chilli and Cheese Festival 

Cheese and chilli festival

If you’ve enjoyed this post about Sussex summer festivals, you may also enjoy:

Roger Gibson and Chichester Film Festival

Sussex Craft Beer Festival Returns

Steyning Food & Drink Festival

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