When: 10th – 12th August 2018, from 10am
Where: West Dean Gardens, nr Chichester, West Sussex
£: Tickets cost from £18 for adults and from £2.50 for children
What is it?
From Friday 10th to Sunday 12th August, the UK’s biggest chilli festival will return West Dean Gardens in Sussex for its 23rd year.
The Chilli Fiesta is a family friendly event with cooking demos, stalls, displays, live music, dance, talks, and activities, all set in the grounds of West Dean. The festival also features full camping facilities on the West Dean Estate, which is situated in the heart of the South Downs National Park.
Throughout the weekend, there will be tours of West Dean’s iconic walled gardens, as well as gardening talks and presentations from a panel of experts; where you can pick up advice on how to grow your own chillies and learn about the origins of chilli plants.
Food writer, photographer and gardener, Mark Diacono will demonstrate how to make the best garden cocktails (with tasters), exploring which herbs work best and how to grow them. Diacono will also offer A Taste of the Unexpected, where he will share ideas for growing delicious, unfamiliar edibles, and unusual varieties, including plants such as Szechuan pepper, Chilean guava, Swiss mint and Scotch lovage.
Joy Michaud from Sea Spring Seeds, will give an insight into growing and tasting different chilli varieties, and West Dean Gardens’ resident chilli expert, Sarah Wain, will explain how best to care for your chilli plant.
The Cookery Theatre will be hosted by Giles Thomson, former Executive Head Chef of the Ritz Hotel, and Owner and Executive Chef of The Earl of March, with guest chef appearances throughout the weekend. The Chilli Alchemist will be giving a talk entitled How to pick a hot sauce? about what to look for, how to consider the use of a sauce, what difference certain ingredients can make, and just everything else you may need to know when picking your hot sauce!
Visitors will also be able to pick up new culinary skills from Jackie Kearney, award-winning author of Vegan Street Food and My Vegan Travels; and Tim Anderson, MasterChef Winner (2011), restaurant owner, and author of Nanban and Japaneasy. Also making an appearance at the festival is the UK’s only singing chef, and chef patron of Fine Dining in Worthing, Jean de Rien.
There will be 150 chillies on display in the Victorian Glasshouses at West Dean Gardens, and a wide range of chilli-related food stalls will be at the festival. With more than 140 stalls, visitors can expect a great variety of quirky gifts available to purchase, from hot and spicy foods of the world, to chilli plants, seeds and gifts. To cool down, there will be local ice cream on offer as well as a selection of bars including champagne, cocktails, Los Amigos, craft cider and ales, and The Potting Shed for gins and matching tonics. As well as chilli tasting and expert cookery demonstrations, there will be an outdoor cinema, Latin music, flamenco dancing, face painting and a vintage fun fair.
There will be more than 30 dance and music acts performing at this year’s fiesta. World Champion dancers, and stars of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, Neil and Katya Jones will make their Chilli Fiesta debut. Immersive entertainment from local vintage queen Dawn Gracie, will transport you back to the 50s and 60s; whilst festival favourites, The Fontanas, will bring their trademark funky Brazilian and afro Latin vibes to the festival.