New festival for West Sussex

A major new festival celebrating everything that West Dean College stands for makes its debut this summer on the Sussex arts calendar.

The West Dean Festival, promising “a magical escape for all the family”, runs from August 26-29.

Ellen Cheshire, head of communications at West Dean College, said: “A few years ago we were thinking ahead. There were all the people at our Chili Fiesta wishing they didn’t have to go home at 5pm. Plus also this year is the 40th anniversary of when the College opened. We were thinking how could we capture and celebrate everything that (College founder) Edward James was interested in - the arts right across.”

The festival is the result - an event breaking new ground in many ways, not least the fact that for the first time people will be allowed to camp on the parkland at West Dean.

“We are intending an intimate festival feel,” Ellen said. “We are looking at no more than perhaps 3,000 people on site at any one time.”

Ellen confirmed: “This is not a one-off. This is the first of many - we hope!”

Music and the crafts will be the key elements in the festival which will feature a number of workshops, all included in the entry fee. As for the music, the festival is still in negotiations with some acts, but already an impressive list is confirmed.

“The West Dean Festival is a festival at which people can come together to share their love of making, music, ideas, performance, dance, film, storytelling, cooking and eating.

“By mixing the skills of West Dean’s great complement of experienced makers with musicians, entertainers and talkers, we will create an exciting weekend for all those with the youthful enthusiasm and the freedom of heart to come and be part of this cool newevent.

“For those who want to kick-back and listen to some great music we have the main Big Top which will present a variety of singers and players performing every style from folk to ska, rock’n’roll to soul, classical to blues.”

The mix of established and up-and-coming performers is being programmed by music directors Marlon (son of Keith) Richards and Chris Sullivan.

Activities will be running from midday on Friday, August 26 through to 11.30pm on Sunday August 28 – but there’s no need to rush off, as you can stay until the Monday.

Early Bird: Weekend Adult ticket (£95) and Weekend Child ticket (£47.50) includes camping and all materials. Day tickets from £25. Book on line at

Musicians confirmed so far include: The Third Degree; Max Pashm; Katy Prado and the Mamboleros; The Polecats; The Royal Organ Duo; The Topcats; King Salsa; and Ray Burley.