Press Release: Gardening at West Dean's Award Winning Chilli Fiesta

"Live Latin bands and dance demos, plus gardening workshops and a vintage fair mean there's plenty of fun even if your tastes are more korma than Demon Red."
The Daily Telegraph, Top 20 UK food festivals for 2018

From 10th -12th August 2018, the UK's biggest chilli festival returns for its 23rd year. West Dean's Chilli Fiesta is a family friendly festival set in the beautiful grounds of West Dean, with full camping facilities in the grounds of West Dean Estate, in the heart of the South Downs National Park. The Estate is home to West Dean College of Arts and Conservation and the glorious West Dean Gardens.

Throughout the weekend, there will be tours of West Dean's iconic walled gardens, taking place at 1pm and 3pm daily. In addition to this, there will be 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 varied 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. Another offering from Diacono is 'A Taste of the Unexpected', where he will share ideas for growing delicious, unfamiliar edibles, and unusual varieties of those you may know, including plants such as Szechuan pepper, Chilean guava, Swiss mint and Scotch lovage.

Award-winning garden and food writer, Lia Leendertz, will also make a guest appearance at the Chilli Fiesta. Leendertz frequently writes for The Telegraph and The Guardian as well as writing several gardening books including The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2018, and the cookbook Petal, Leaf, Seed: Cooking with the treasures of the garden.

Joy Michaud, from renowned vegetable growers Sea Spring Seeds, will give an insight into growing and tasting, from different chilli varieties to the best Capsicums to grow and eat, and West Dean Gardens' resident chilli expert Sarah Wain will explain how best to care for your chilli plant.

There will be 150 chillies on display in the Victorian Glasshouses at West Dean Gardens, and a wide range of chilli-related food stalls can be found onsite. With over 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 funfair.

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What else is on?

• Over 30 music and dance acts including: The Fontanas, Katya and Neil Jones from Strictly Come Dancing, Dawn Gracie, Dust Blues, Manfred, Fire & Rain, Viva Santana and The Wayfarers.
• Flamenco performances and workshops with professional dancers, including Latin American, Salsa, and Belly Dancing
• "Goblet of Fire" Pyro display followed by a Pyromusical (choreographed Fireworks display)
• Outdoor cinema, with showings throughout the day
• Camping and acoustic campsite entertainment

Cookery Theatre

• Hosted by Giles Thomson former Executive Head Chef of the Ritz Hotel, and Owner and Executive Chef of The Earl of March
• Guest chefs include actor and Strictly Come Dancing Winner, Joe McFadden; Executive chef of Stein Restaurants, Jack Stein; Award-winning vegan chef and author Jackie Kearney; MasterChef 2018 contestants Anthony O'Shaughnessy & Sweta Choudhury, Chef and Author of Japaneasy, Tim Anderson, and the UK's only singing chef Jean de Rien
• The Chilli Alchemist, will be giving a talk entitled 'How to pick a hot sauce?'

Children's entertainment

• NEW for 2018: Juggling and circus skills with Dan the Hat workshop
• NEW for 2018: Drop-in art centre
• Outdoor cinema with popular family films all day
• Vintage funfair (additional charge)
• Face painting
• Punch and Judy shows


Wake up in the beautiful grounds of West Dean and make a weekend or mini break of it. Full camping facilities include great showers, flushing toilets and a 24-hour shop.

campsite on the rolling West Dean Estate is split into three zones: Jalapeno (close to the event arena and enhancing the festival atmosphere); Pimento (quiet camping area away from the main arena ideal for a good night's sleep); and Bell (family friendly and close to the toilets and showers).

A limited number of pitches are available so early booking is essential, tickets are available for the full weekend (three nights) or for one night (Saturday).

Ticket Information

early bird rates shown (20% off full price)* *Early bird offer ends on 27 July 2018 Friday Day Ticket: Adult £14.40 Saturday Day Ticket: Adult £16.00 Sunday Day Ticket: Adult £14.40 Child Ticket (any day): £2.00 3-day pass with camping: Adult £92.00 Child £28.00 Note: Children age 4 and under enjoy free entry, ages 5 - 15 require a child ticket. Children are to be accompanied by a paying adult.

Book online at:

Notes to Editors

• West Dean Gardens is part of the Edward James Foundation, charitable trust No. 1126084, also comprising West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studio.

• West Dean College is situated on the A286, six miles north of Chichester and within easy access of Portsmouth, Guildford, Brighton and London

• All photography is free to use for editorial purposes

For further information, media accreditation, filming opportunities and high-resolution digital images please contact:

Annie McGrath
Golden² Consulting
10-11 Lower John Street London,
+44 (0)207 439 2822


Lia Leendertz
Lia Leendertz
Mark Diacono
Mark Diacono
Chilli Plants at West Dean Gardens
Chilli Plants at West Dean Gardens