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The West Dean’s Chilli Fiesta is back this weekend! 

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

Taking place in the grounds of West Dean College and Gardens with the magnificent College buildings and the hills of the South Downs in the backdrop! Showcasing the UK’s biggest, best and longest running Fiesta, for Chilli! A fun family fiesta with music, dancing, demonstration kitchen, stalls, traditional fair ground games and rides, food and drink, and even camping it is the place to be this weekend.

I went along as it opened yesterday and I can highly recommend a visit along with the family this weekend! A great atmosphere, with traditional heltiskelter, lots of children’s activities, Teen Theatre with bands playing and the hustle and bustle of the stalls selling and sampling all things chilli.

We sampled so many delicious and very hot products: crisps, nuts, sauces, jams, marinades, a few favourites were Pimento Spicy Ginger drink, Chilli Oil from the Dorset run Chilli Oil Company and Satan’s Nuts from Hot-Headz.

Chilli Fiesta 2016

Sat in the sunshine with an ice cream in front of the huge stage there was a full live music schedule running till late. The headline dance act included Joanne Clifton and Giovanni Pernice of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. We sat down and listened to  ‘Steel Strum’ who were excellent playing covers we all recognised.

After strolling round the chilli plants, all colours, shapes and sizes and heat levels we even caught a few minutes of some Latin American dancers shaking to the salsa!

Chilli Fiesta 2016 Dancers

There was a lovely family feel, relaxed and ‘chilled’ as you walked around the grounds. A ‘country fair’ feel with dogs and children running around with their face painted and we even came across a traditional Punch & Judy show which I haven’t seen for far too long.

I feel much more knowledgeable on chillis and found there to be lots of experts around to answer any questions you had.

Chilli Fiesta 2016 - chillis

Every type of chilli plant and seed would have been available to buy and the list was as long as your arm of all the chillis on display and available. ‘Sweety Drops’ were delicious little yellow and red tear-shaped peppers quite sweet tasting as their name suggests, which I can imagine would be great raw in a salad, on pizza, or cooked quickly with courgettes as an accompaniment.

Chilli Fiesta 2016

The other chillis I enjoyed for the first time were ‘Purple Prince’ a stunning purple chilli from Peru and a Roccoto chilli that is known as an apple chilli from its shape and little black seeds inside.

There is a great line up of celebrity chefs over the weekend.

I remember the entertaining Rustie Lee and was very keen to watch her in the demonstration kitchen. She was making an African Jerk marinade and dumplings. Rustie used Scotch Bonnet chillis for a full fiery sauce. She does make it fun and is passionate about her ‘hot’ cooking, I don’t think she stopped laughing through-out her demonstration.

Chilli Fiesta 2016-Rustie Lee-chef

The early evening was just beginning to warm up as we left with the entertainment, food and drink all hotting up!

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