“ West Dean Gardens / 6 miles north of Chichester / West Sussex / England „
Every year in summer, I look forward to visiting West Dean garden and its festivals. There are 4 main garden festivals in West Dean, Wholly Herbs, Chilli Fiesta, Totally Tomato Show and Apple Affair. My favourite is the Chilli Fiesta.
West Dean garden and college is situated in South East England, 6 miles north of the historic city of Chichester. West Dean is managed by a charitable trust, the Edward James Foundation and it is a community of artists, craftspeople, restorers, gardeners and farmers. The garden is set in the back drop of the rolling South Downs, a peaceful and tranquil place with occasional blearing of sheep from the fields.
West Dean Gardens is open year round. In the garden, there is a carefully restored walled kitchen garden and a few Victorian Glasshouses. There is a visitor centre with a licensed restaurant with homemade lunches and teas.
What happened at the Chilli Fiesta?
At the Chilli Fiesta, your senses come alive. Surrounded by many varieties of chillies from around the world, your sense of smell, taste and sight is titillated. Not only would you be able to see and touch the different varieties of chilli, you are also introduced to the many uses of chillies. You also get the chance to try chilli dishes from around the world such as Mexico, India, South East Asia and South America. If you are adventurous, you might like to try chilli lager too.
There are also cooking demonstration and talks on chillies and how to grow them. In some of the Victorian glass house, you will be able to see different variety of chilli growing in pots. The labels on each pot indicate the type and the condition for growing that chilli. So for those who like to learn more about growing chilli, it is an added bonus.
The admission fee for West Dean garden's event are £7.25 for Adult, £6.75 for over 60s, and £3.25 for children 5 and above.
West Dean Gardens is a beautiful place to visit if you are near Chichester or the South Coast. Beside the Chilli Fiesta which is definitely worth attending, there are also other events like open air play, music and literary festival on the grounds.
Every year around the early part of August my Husband likes to go out for the day and visit West Dean Gardens near Chichester, West Sussex. Why at this time, I hear you ask? Well for one reason, and that's to visit the 'Chilli Fiesta' a 2 day event that attracts many people to over 100 stalls and over 250 different chillies and sweet peppers on display.
There are always plenty of food tasting stalls, including dips, chutneys, sauces and my favourites - fudge, chocolate and ice cream (mmm sweet tooth I think!!!) my favourites are not just any fudge, chocolate or ice cream, they are different as they are chilli flavoured. A strange combination I thought when I first experienced it but actually you get the sweetness and creaminess followed by a kick of chilli heat, actually very nice and worth trying.
The majority of stalls are set out on the front lawns where Latin music and salsa dancing is in full swing, encouraging you to relax, soak up the atmosphere, drink chilli beer! And have a fun day. A few stalls are over in the walled garden along with many glasshouses, where you can view chillies and other produce growing.
You will be spoilt for choice, and your mouth will be full of flavours and heat! It always makes me laugh when you watch people trying out the strengths, saying "that was really nice and not too bad" to then hear them a few seconds later gasping for breath and saying "phew" as the heat of the chilli hit them!
We always take a picnic with us and sit out on the lawn, but you can buy many different foods including hot dogs, hog roasts, wraps, pancakes and the traditional ice cream vans.
It's not necessarily a great day out for the children as I wouldn't suggest they try some of the hot stuff, but there are a few things they would enjoy, this year I saw lots running around wearing some 'very large' sombreros.
My husband is really into chillis at the moment and is growing them at home; this event allowed him to pick up some growing tips, sample the heat, buy new seeds for next year and also pick up details of companies he can contact for future use.
We paid £7.25 for each adult, over 60's - £6.75, children 5yrs+ £3.25 under 5's free. A family ticket costs 17.50
The event opens at 10.30am - 5pm
More info can be found at www.westdean.org.uk/site/gardens/events/chilli.htm or www.chillisgalore.co.uk/pages/westdean.html
Overall a great day out despite being caught out by the rain! Oh well what do we expect with the British weather!
Annual Chili festival. Come taste the various foods and specialty dishes, and check out the other chilli paraphernalia.