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Amazing August! 50 things to do in Sussex this month

New Month, new marvellous Muddy guide to the best of Sussex. Family festivals, outdoor theatre, foodie events, countryside antics and much much more. Get stuck in!

From a kite festival to free ice-cream, live music to comedy, hell, there’s even jousting! This is the only guide you’ll need to track down the best experiences and adventures to keep you and your crew occupied this August.

FESTIVALS

In Sussex we are brimming with greenery and fabulous outdoor spaces, so it’s no wonder that it’s the home to some of the best festivals. UK music festivals are renowned around the globe for their creativity and if you’re into camping, glamping or just fancy an excuse to don a floral headband, see some comedy or mingle with pals, there’s something to get excited about.

With Rio Ferdinand’s One Love Festival taking place in Steyning, expect a crowd. Heather Small (the woman with one of the biggest voices in the world) is headlining along with Julian Marley and The Orb. Or perhaps you’d rather tap your feet to the man behind Everyone Loves the Sunshine. Catch the master Roy Ayres at the Good Vibrations Society Festival in Pippingford Park on 7 August. Alfresco Festival by the Kent/Sussex border is the place to be for dance music aficionados and is taking over Wilderness Wood over the August Bank Holiday.

Petrol heads may be impressed by the monsters that will be on show at Truckfest, in Ardingly, West Sussex. It’s a must-see show for enthusiasts and showcases trucks from all over the world, great for families and if you’re really keen, you can camp.

KIDS AND TWEENS

So the kids are home for six weeks and need to let off some steam. You can bribe them with cinema trips, but even better, go for a family picnic and turn a movie into a day (or night) out at these pop up screenings around Sussex. 

There are three open air screenings on offer at the gorgeous Priory Park, Chichester or you can get your Shakespeare fix with Romeo and Juliet on off at Petworth. 

Kids will roar out loud at the theatrical performance of Kenneth Grahame’s, The Reluctant Dragon which is being performed in the courtyard of Bodiam Castle. or you can pick up a free challenge card and tick off the activities as you make your way around the Medieval Fair which runs from 23 July to 31 August, normal admission charges apply, plus the dragon-themed trail (£2 per trail).

More active offspring might want to transport themselves to medieval times and experience real life jousting at Loxwood Joust near Billingshurst, where there is also archery, dressing up and ale (for the parents!) You could also secretly educate them at the Arundel Festival which takes place in the shadow of the beautiful Arundel Castle over August bank holiday. If that makes you a bit light-headed, you may want to skip the death-defying demonstrations, high octane air displays and adrenaline fuelled stunts at the Sussex Balloon Extravaganza.

There’s even more fun for the fam at Sheffield Park and Garden. Every Wednesday throughout the school holidays there are free drop-in kwik cricket sessions (a form of cricket designed for under 12s). Or enjoy a more sedate sketching trail, complete with interactive outdoor installations designed by the Wild Rumpus artist collective.

If you can get your kids interested in nature they will go ballistic for the Into the Wild Gathering, which takes place over August bank holiday. Promising over 200 workshops, wild-crafts and food, the whole family can learn something. 

Head to Nymans to experience a large-scale play installation that invites families to ‘Look out! Listen up’. Promising a summer of fun that will exhaust even the most robust child, Comber’s field has been transformed into a home of high energy interactive challenges for all ages; and when that gets a bit much, head to the Play Glade, which is just as much fun, but a little less tiring! ‘Let’s Play at Nymans’ runs daily from 23 July until 31 August from 10am until 5pm.

For a more gentle event, check out the 6th Annual Kite Festival in Bognor Regis. Cross your fingers for good weather and admire the skyline which will be filled with a flurry of fluttering flying objects and enjoy the street food stalls and thankfully for parents, a bar.

Who can refuse free ice cream? Join Ben and Jerry’s are hosting Sundaes on the Pier, serving free scoops on 6 August at Hastings Pier. Along with acts including Soul II Soul and Maribou States kids (and overgrown kids) can scale the enormous Cookie Dough climbing wall and frolic in the Banoffee Pie ball pit!

When you need more than ice cream, check out David Walliams’ incredibly rawkus adaptation of his book Awful Auntie, in an open air theatre show at Borde Hill Gardens. And finally, don’t forget to give your pooch a break, and show them off at the Family Fun Day and Dog Show at Clapham & Patcham Village Hall on 20 August. 

MUSIC FOR YOUR EARS AND SOUL

What could be better than sipping a cool cider in the sunshine, whilst watching live music? It’s always a gamble in British Summer Time, but take a chance on us, and get these dates in your dairy. With rock, soul, rhythm and blues and dance on the menu, you may need September to recover! 

East Grinstead is the place to be for a classy knees up! Bringing back the hottest vintage gathering in Sussex Summertime Swing, will have you jiving in your seat- or on the dance-floor at the stunning meadow next to St Hill Manor. No warm cider here, you can push the boat out and enjoy an English High tea or do it the Muddy way and have champers VIP style!

You can catch one of Africa’s greatest bands ‘Orchestra Baobab’ live this August as part of the all-day summer festival  ‘Hidden Beach’ at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, whose infectious sounds will be joined by Miss Feelgood, Mr and Mrs Wedderburn, Yabba Funk and Julian Humphries.

Whilst Horsham is premiering its first ever SKA FEST including a full day of live SKA bands, Northern Soul DJs and unlimited roller skating at the Rec complex- sounds like a great day out!

Get your jazz hands ready and head to Rye’s International Jazz & Blues Festival  which celebrates its ten year anniversary this year. With headliners including Curtis Stigers and Emilie Sande, you can book for one show or go to all of them! Expect the whole town to get involved with the free fringe events too. 

Horsham Fake Fest is back! After a two year hiatus, you can dig out your bandanas and boogie on down to the best lookie likies in the whole of Sussex. You’ll be rubbing shoulders with U2, Oasis, Kasabian and more! Or if you’re in Crawley, head just over the Surrey border to their musical extravaganza, Lingfield Rocks which promises a stellar line up of tribute acts on 21 August.

The Volks Club in Brighton is planning a Reggae Carnival for one night only on 29 August. You can expect to dance all night to live reggae, dancehall and afro beats on bank holiday Monday. 

Or perhaps you’d prefer to dig out your baggy trousers for the original SKA band, Bad Manners, who are taking to the stage at the REC in Horsham on 26 August. This conveniently co-indices with Brighton Mod Weekender which has an assortment of events throughout the city, and you’ll spot a fine line up of scooters on Marine Parade with events culminating at the Komedia.

FOR THE CULTURE VULTURES

You don’t have to spend your whole August dancing, although Muddy would like to try! We’re lucky that there are plenty of cultural events to woo you. Eastbourne Vintage Festival promises a magical step back in time from the 1920s to the 1970s with classic vehicles, live bands, best dressed competitions, a vintage marketplace, and Victorian funfair- along with a daily doggy pageant. 

Head to the beautiful Petworth House and Park until 7 September for late evenings, art workshops, and archaeology, there are themed events including curator talks and classical music. Whilst yoga, painting and photography workshops can be enjoyed in the ancient parkland, you can also take a guided walk to reveal Petworth’s ancient past.

Embrace your inner Dylan Thomas at Hastings Bookshop Poetry Festival . taking place on 27 August at The Printworks, you can expect to be serenaded by some of the newest and best voices in UK poetry. 

Wine aficionados will already know our local winery, but on ​​27 Aug, Ridgeview Wine Estate will be turning into Ridgefest! And you don’t just have to drink wine (although we wouldn’t judge you if you did!)  With panoramic views of the beautiful Sussex countryside and South Downs beyond, visitors can expect live music, street food, cocktails and your favourite English Sparkling Wine. There’s even a silent disco.

Chichester has enough blockbusters to keep the biggest film fan entertained! Celebrating its 30th International Film Festival this summer it has a catalogue of open air screenings, discussions, exclusives and world cinema.

Art lovers will be thrilled to hear that the Treve Cottage Art Show is making a return to Petworth House, showcasing 19 local and national artists in their stunning grounds. It’s free entry and there will be free activities on the weekends, so why not bring a picnic? The artworks are on show until 6 Aug. 

If you’ve never been to Thailand but are inspired by its spicy food and exotic culture, the Magic of Thailand Festival should be on your agenda. Taking place in Preston Park, Brighton, this two day extravaganza will have food, dancing, and much more. If you are more interested in Carnival than spice, get a taste of Brazil at the most authentic Carnival Club Experience yet! Caipirinhas will be flowing and tail feathers shaking as spectators will be entertained by Latin dancers, a Samba Band & Steel Drummers, confetti showers and body painting if you want to really get into the spirit of things!  

THEATRE AND COMEDY

Sussex almost outdoes itself with its theatrical offerings, and you can catch big-name shows in our larger venues, such as Mama Mia! at the Brighton Centre and Jimmy Carr’s Terribly Funny 2.0 at Hastings and Crawley and Joe Lycett: More, More, More! Tour at the Theatre Royal Brighton.

However, if you’re looking for something a little bit different, why not try a hilarious dinner. ‘Only Fools the Sequel’ at Tottington Manor Hotel & Restaurant serving three courses and lots of laughs- presumably you won’t find a fly in your soup! 

Another TV classic, Are You Being Served? has been transformed into a stage show, with innuendos a-plenty. Book your tickets ready to glean all the gossip from the staff at Grace Brothers department store, between 17-20 August at the Grove Theatre, Eastbourne; and remember Stan Boardman? He’s back in hisNaughty & Funny unscripted show which documents his struggles and successes. Catch him at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Eastbourne. 

Over at Brighton’s glorious open air theatre, there are shows every week, including Alice In Wonderland, Battle Song and Pirates of Penzance; whilst the Brighton Centre are going all space age with Professor Brian Cox’s  Horizons: A 21st Century Space Odyssey . The ex- songwriter turned scientist will lead you on a journey to uncover the significance of the cosmos and the reason we are here.

With your feet firmly back on the ground, head to Nymans for an outdoor performance of The Railway Children (which is also showing at Brighton Little Theatre on 16 August).

You can join Mowgli, Baloo and co in Wakehurs’s lovely open air theatre, and sing your heart out to the Jungle Book tunes. Just don’t embarrass the kids! Or if you fancy something a little more grown up pop along to Battle Abbey for a one off performance of As you Like It. 

SUSSEX PRIDE

Finally, dig out your glitter and get ready for the variety of Pride celebrations around Sussex. Brighton Pride kicks off the party with a weekend of celebrations on 5-7 August. Expect to spot a few thongs thrown at Christina Aguilera who is headlining.

The British Airways i360, is hosting a Pride silent disco, and back by popular demand, Drag in the Park returns on Pride Sunday for a fabulous family friendly show at BOAT. Seahaven’s Pride Family Festival takes place on 27 August, and rainbows will be out in full force in Crawley on Sunday 20-21 August.

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