By Ann Evans
If you like things hot and spicy, get your tickets booked for the West Dean Chilli Fiesta with camping and fireworks. The 3-day extravaganza takes place on the 7th, 8th and 9th August at West Dean Gardens near Chichester.
After humble beginnings back in 1995 the Chilli Fiesta has grown to become one of Britain’s national treasures, and is now one of the biggest and original chilli festivals in the UK attracting around 22,000 people. It received the Tourism Event of the Year Bronze Award at the Beautiful South Awards for Excellence 2014/15.
This year celebrates its 20th anniversary and the three days will be packed full of cookery demonstrations, live music, glasshouses bursting with chillies, talks and over 180 stalls selling all kinds of chilli based gifts and produce.
This family-friendly event takes place in the spectacular grounds of the Estate in the heart of the South Downs National Park. As part of the 20th anniversary celebrations festival-goers will be treated to a spectacular firework display on the Saturday.
There’ll be no shortage of live entertainment over the weekend. On stage there’ll be Groupo Lokito, The Fontanas, charismatic singer and musician, Jesus Cutino and his band Son de Cuba and Brazilian/Latin group Sambossa. Several bands will be making their debut this year including Levi Roots, who will not only be bringing his culinary expertise to the cookery theatre but also leading his band on the main stage. Also making their first appearance at Chilli Fiesta are Tom & Ash, Adriana, Quinto, Lokandes, The Vodoo Love Orchestra, the famous Gypsy King Tribute Band, Bamboleo, and Elisangela, plus local bands Ed Goodale and Steel Strum. The popular Mariachi Tequila Band, will be spending the day amongst the crowds getting them into the Latin groove.
In the Cookery Theatre, Sussex cook and food writer, Rosemary Moon, will be hosting a series of food demonstrations where you can learn top tips and sample delicious chilli delights. Rosemary will be joined over the weekend by The African Chef and Petworth bakery specialist, Danish-born Master Baker, Troels Bendix.
Levi Roots, who appeared on Dragon’s Den in 2007 with his now famous Reggae Reggae Sauce, will be giving demonstrations in the Cooke Theatre on Sunday, making his famous Home Style Jerk Chicken Wings and his Hot and Fruity Caribbean Coleslaw.
Family fun will include a vintage steam fun fair, Antonio the Tambourine Juggler, face painting, Punch and Judy shows, Rock School workshops and new for this year The Great Chilli Throwing contest!
Of course the stars of the fiesta are the chilli plants, and Sarah Wain, West Dean Gardens’ chilli expert, will be giving talks and tours around the Victorian glasshouses in the Walled Garden. You’ll be able to see around 250 varieties of chilli, and learn how to grow them at home. There’ll be talks from other gardening experts in the Gardening Theatre throughout the weekend.
Camping is divided into different zones, so check out their website to decide which zone suits you. And if putting up a tent isn’t your thing you could have a Glamping experience in a furnished bell tent for two, nestled in a beautiful tree-lined corner of the campsite.
As the festival has grown in recent years, demand for tickets means early booking is advised. You could also take adv antage of the Early Bird discounted prices which are available until 31 July.
For full details and to book, go to: www.westdean.org.uk/chilli