West Sussex is one of the most beautiful counties in the UK but it’s what you do here that will really get you under the skin of our distinctive area.
Meet our welcoming and passionate people; taste what grows from our soil; learn about our history through our traditional crafts; get involved in the activities that make us so unique and experience outstanding culture in glorious countryside. Have a go at something new and live life the West Sussex way.
Creative Experiences in West Sussex
Few things can be more fulfilling than learning a craft that’s been handed down from generation to generation.
Why not follow in the footsteps of Gwenda Morgan and learn how to make a woodcut, or a Sussex trug or even have a go at some flint walling at The Weald & Downland Living Museum. There are so many courses to choose from but they are snapped up quickly, so beat the waitlist and become a member to be the first to hear when a new course launches.
West Dean College offers an inspiring array of craft and heritage courses from traditional straw work to making a willow hare. There are courses on floristry, leatherwork, creative writing, jewellery-making, book-binding, paper marbling, the list goes on. With course durations lasting from one day to many weeks, there’s plenty for visitors and locals alike. The college offers B&B accommodation, so you can stay onsite if you choose a longer course.
Or, why not join one of Catherine Beaumont’s basket weaving courses? Catherine is a passionate and professional local basket maker from Midhurst who uses traditional techniques that have been handed down through generations. Her courses are suitable for beginners as well as those who would like to hone their basket making skills. Catherine takes bookings direct and also runs courses through Sky Park Farm, where there is also a well-stocked farm shop and café.
Modern Calligraphy Co in Chichester offers different workshops including six-hour taster workshops, full day Christmas workshops and beach retreat weekends with the aim of instilling a sense of excitement and passion for this traditional craft.
A range of pottery courses can be found at Chisel Pottery in Selsey including the Perfect Date course for two. After two hours, you and your date will have made three ceramic pieces to take home and treasure.
Active Experiences in West Sussex
Much of our area is in the South Downs National Park where you’ll find some of the country’s best wild spaces. What better way to experience them than by getting active...
Cycle the Great Sussex Way Wine Route and visit some of the country’s finest and most welcoming vineyards. Bringing together Tinwood Estate, Ashling Park Estate, Upperton Vineyard and Roebuck Vineyard the route can be enjoyed over a morning, afternoon, or extended to include an overnight stay or two. Need a bike? We can help with that too. Check out Southern E-Bike Rentals.
Learn to play polo: Recognised worldwide as the home of British Polo, as well as hosting the British Open Polo Championships every year, you’d struggle to find a better place to get to grips with this unique sport than at the prestigious Cowdray Estate in Midhurst.
Cowdray’s introductory sessions welcome everyone, whether you’re an experienced rider or not. You’ll learn about the strategy of the game, how to ride ‘polo style’ and focus on stick work. Three and five hour sessions are available depending on how much you wish to challenge yourself. Whilst you’re here, pay a visit to the award-winning Cowdray Farm Shop and Café.
Live life the Sussex way and grab a paddle board: Join Surfs SUP Watersports for a one-hour introductory session on Chichester Canal, where you’ll find calm, quiet waters and an incredible range of local wildlife. While you’re here, you can also sample the delicious home bakes on offer at the Canal Café or grab a canal side drink at the welcoming Richmond Arms.
Chichester Harbour Pub Paddle Experience with Fluid Adventures takes you for a paddle in Chichester Harbour - an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - taking a mid paddle break at Dell Quay's Crown and Anchor where you can enjoy great local hospitality.
If you’ve already got to grips with the sport and want to go your own way, check out Pulborough Paddles based on the River Arun. Here, you’ll find one of the South Downs National Park's most scenic waterways, with on site refreshments to keep you fuelled throughout the day.
Experiential Learning in West Sussex
There’s no better way to immerse yourself in the Sussex way of life than by getting hands-on and learning as you go…
Take part in Sussex’s Wine Harvest: the autumn wine harvest is one of the most thrilling times to be in a Sussex vineyard. Not only will you gather an in-depth insight into the production of Sussex’s very own sparkling wine, but you’ll learn how to harvest grapes working alongside knowledgeable locals as you go.
Volunteer at Wiston Estate and you’ll be rewarded with tea, coffee and a lunch from Wiston’s esteemed Chalk Restaurant. Or, work alongside Art and Jody, owners of the award-winning Tinwood Estate, for an enriching two-hours of harvest. You’ll then enjoy a rustic harvest buffet featuring local produce and some the delicious Sussex wine.
Learn to Forage: Sussex’s award-winning food and wine is fast-gaining a reputation as some of the best in the country. But you can’t have award-winning food without the best produce. Discover where to find our natural larder on a foraging experience.
Join Fern at Foraged by Fern on a truffle or mushroom hunting walk, seasonal foraging course or summer camp in Chichester or Arundel. You’ll learn leave feeling enthused, inspired and motivated by sustainable living.
George Linklater at Cowdray Estate will also take you on foraging walks or fungi walk and talks and during the summer months, the walk may be followed by an outdoor cook out featuring your foraged ingredients.
Alternatively, join mushroom expert Nik Westacott at the Goodwood Estate for a half-day fungi foraging course. Nik will teach you how to pick fungi unaided and include a three-course lunch and glass of wine. Look out for future dates on Goodwood’s website.
Immersive Experiences in West Sussex
We are proud of the outstanding culture on offer in our area surrounded by beautiful countryside
Indulge in the thrill of a live show at Chichester Festival Theatre, one of the most highly respected regional theatres in the UK. If you like to get there before the crowds, this is the place to go. Over the past sixty years, many productions originated at this theatre have transferred to the West End or toured nationally and internationally.
Meanwhile, Chichester’s Pallant House Galley has been described by The Guardian as ‘second only to the Tate for modern British art’. Exploring new perspectives on British art from 1900 onwards, you’ll also find a programme of exhibitions here which win rave reviews from the press.
The historic market town of Petworth, which draws in crowds from across the globe thanks to its booming antiques scene, is also home to Newlands House Gallery. Housed in an 18th century townhouse, the gallery hosts world class exhibitions of internationally leading modern and contemporary art, featuring the likes of Helmut Newton, Julian Opie and Lee Miller.
For fine art lovers, the impressive country houses of Goodwood House, Petworth House, Uppark House, Stansted House and Parham House to name just a few, all offer fantastic opportunities to experience life in a time gone by. Admire fine art, furniture, tapestries, paintings and more in what are some of Sussex’s most impressive homes.
Finally, if it’s the outdoors that tickles your fancy, have a go at forest bathing.
A unique concept, forest bathing is the practice of slowing down and totally immersing yourself in the forest atmosphere. Do just that with Swedish teacher Helena Skoog in Midhurst, bookable via the Spread Eagle Hotel. The courses run every autumn and include a delicious two-course meal at the end.
More Experiences in West Sussex