Feel Alive This Summer: The Must-See Live Entertainment in West Sussex

Whether you want to feed off the buzz of live music, watch live theatre, attend a talk or simply be entertained and inspired this summer, you’ll find a huge range of entertainment on offer in Chichester and surrounding areas this summer. We’ve handpicked the seven must-see live entertainment events happening in and around Chichester this summer, so you can plan ahead.

The Festival of Chichester

When: 15 June - 21 July 2024

Clear your diary now for the summer months. With thrilling theatre, brilliant book events, inspiring talks and poetry, fascinating exhibitions, educational walks and tours, memorable cinema, one-off open days and community galas all taking place in Chichester between Mid-June and Mid-July, it’s likely you’ll need some wiggle room in your schedule to indulge.

These fantastic events, being delivered by performers from across the world, come as part of the annual Festival of Chichester. During this month-long celebration of the arts, watch as performers of the highest calibre - including a great sprinkling of fine local talent of course - entertain you and the whole family throughout the summer. With a scope as huge as that of the Festival of Chichester, you’re guaranteed to find an event to inspire you, whatever your age or interests.

Listen to the live music of George Harrison, explore an exhibition on how dinosaurs started life as hatchlings, spend an evening in conversation with Hugh Bonneville, watch the Chichester Singers Summer Concert or be entertained by burlesque, drag and comedy at Chichester Cabaret Club.

Appetite whetted? Attend a lecture by John Sherlock on Roman Ingenuity and Engineering, watch an Organ Recital by international recital Margaret Phillips, attend a live recording of the Three Ravens podcast, join an organised cycle around Chichester with Bognor and Chichester CTC and Cycle Bognor, attend the evening takeover of Pallant House Gallery by Chichester Pride, or make the most of the free day of entertainment at the Chichester Gala.

Summer sorted? It probably is now. With approximately 100 inspiring events like the above on offer, many of which are free of cost, it’s well worth booking in advance (where applicable) to secure your tickets. Find out more.

Festival of Chichester

Live Theatre at Chichester Cathedral

When: 16th June, 31st July and 4th August

Hamlet, performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men, The Merry Wives of Windsor, brought to you by The Pantaloons and The Adventures of Doctor Doolittle with Illyria; a summer programme of outdoor theatre awaits in the atmospheric surroundings of Paradise; the green space within the Cloisters at Chichester's iconic Cathedral. Bring a chair, pack a picnic, sit back and be entertained as you're transported by the outstanding productions.

We recommend booking soon for these productions as they'll sell out! Find out more.

Petworth Festival

When: 10 - 27 July 2024

With this year’s festival marking an incredible 45 years of celebrating music, Petworth Festival is certainly one not to miss this summer. Immerse yourself in everything from classical music, jazz and the blues to poetry recited by some of the most impressive performers in the country.

Running from 10 to 27 July, you’ll find a myriad of musical and poetry events taking place in intimate venues every single day of the festival, including daytime and lunchtime events. The festival, which promises to deliver performances that will lodge themselves indelibly in your mind, culminates in a highly anticipated performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue by Ronnie Scott’s supremo pianist James Pearson.

Other showcase events for the festival include The Wonder of Stevie - a triumphant celebration of the music of Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours - a vivid recreation by The Transatlantic Ensemble, Jazz in the Stables headlined by Anglo/Cuban powerhouse Eliane Correa, Aretha - the brilliant Vanessa Haynes of Incognito stars, Roachford - the dynamic front man of Mike and the Mechanics with his own band and Comedy Double Bill - with Mark Watson and Mark Simmons.

As with the Festival of Chichester, it is highly recommended to book your tickets for the exciting events taking place at Petworth Festival as soon as possible, to avoid disappointment.

Summer Theatre at the Weald and Downland Living Museum

When: Selected evenings between 28 July - 1 September 2024

Imagine yourself on a warm and hazy summers evening. You’re sitting outside, the rolling hills of the South Downs National Park are your backdrop. You’re surrounded by friends and family, homemade picnic and drink in hand, enjoying British live theatre at its very best. Sounds serene, doesn’t it? It’s all possible this summer thanks to the Weald and Downland Living Museum’s Summer Theatre events.

With a series of 11 one-off performances taking place at 5.30-8pm on selected summer evenings between 28 July and 1 September 2024, this is your chance to experience some of the best live and outdoor theatre around. Performances include Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, The Secret Diary of Henry VIII, Great Expectations, The Tale of Gemima Puddle-Duck and Peter Pan.

Added theatre bonus: Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors will also be playing in Petworth House’s Pleasure Garden on Friday 14 June, from 7pm - 9pm.

People watching open air theatre at Weald & Downland Living Museum

Stansted Summer Festival

When: 13 and 14 July 2024

For the fourth year running, Stansted Park is welcoming you to an eclectic weekend of eccentric family fun and quirky entertainment.

Once a year, this quintessential country estate - which is home to a Grade II listed Stately Home, delightful tearoom, large garden centre and thriving farm shop - becomes an astonishing hive of activity.

Of course, you’ll find the expected (but equally exciting) summer festival activities, ranging from family events, woodland crafts, stalls, classic cars and mouth-watering food and drink to indulge in. But it’s the quirkier activities that has earnt Stansted Summer Festival its stand-out reputation. From talks, live music and performances to a Napoleonic camp and reenactments, this is one summer event you’re sure to remember.

reenactment at Stansted Park

Pallant Summer Lates

When: Thursday evenings between 16 May - 17 October 2024

Add a dose of culture to your summer with Pallant House Gallery’s Summer Lates. If the idea of sitting in the sunshine, sipping wine, admiring art and being serenaded by live music sounds up your street, then this could be just what you’re looking for this summer.

Between 16 May and 17 October, Pallant House Gallery will be serving drinks in its courtyard garden - one of Chichester’s beautiful hidden spaces - from 5-8pm, whilst offering half-price admission to the gallery during this time. What’s more, on the first Thursday of every month (except May) the cultural experience will be amplified with live music being performed in the courtyard too.

Whether it’s a date-night, friend-night or even solo-night, this unique combination of live entertainment and culture is a not-to-miss experience this summer.  

Chichester International Film Festival

When: 9 - 25 August 2024

A film festival may not spring to mind when searching for live entertainment, but the Chichester International Film Festival (9th - 25th August 2024) is a film festival with a twist.

Having been a firm fixture in Chichester’s summer calendar since 1992, this year's festival kicks off with a series of open air screenings (9th – 11th August) showing five films in the picturesque setting of Chichester's Priory Park in Chichester and harnessing bright LED technology to allow afternoon screenings in the sunshine so you can picnic and soak up films like The Lego Movie and Wonka (in aid of Stonepillow). Evening showings offer a true cinema under the stars experience, where you can catch BarbieDirty Dancing and Stop Making Sense, the iconic concert film featuring Talking Heads. 

New Artistic Director, Walter Francisco reveals some of the themes for this year’s event: “This year's Festival will include a showcase of Spanish and Portuguese films, a centennial tribute to Marlon Brando, a focus on Greta Gerwig, live music events, world cinema, a series of films by Finnish writer and director, Aki Kaurismäki and much more. We will also be presenting many UK and world premieres, and re-introducing a selection of short films. We are excited to be developing lots of new collaborations with local businesses as well as students, fostering new talent and giving a platform to emerging filmmakers.”

The eagerly anticipated full 2024 Film Festival programme will be released on 24 July. To find out more about the Chichester International Film Festival, visit - chichesterfilmfestival.co.uk


Live entertainment at Chichester Festival Theatre

When: All summer long

We couldn’t do a round-up of the best live entertainment taking place in Chichester and the surrounding area this summer without including Chichester Festival Theatre.

One of England's most striking playhouses, Chichester Festival Theatre is equally suited to epic drama as it is musicals, while its studio theatre - the Minerva - is particularly noted for premieres of new work alongside intimate revivals. The annual Festival Season runs from April to October, and if live entertainment’s your thing (we’re guessing it is by now if you’ve read this far…) you’ll be spoilt for choice. Choose from a range of shows, talks and tours and a range of family-friendly events.  

Our pick for the must-see summer show: Follow the darkly comic The Caretaker at Chichester Festival Theatre’s Minerva Theatre this summer, showing from 8 June - 13 July. Set in London at the tail end of the 50s, the plot follows three characters: Aston, Davies and Mick as they vile for territory, opportunity and control. The Caretaker was Harold Pinter’s first major success and is now regarded as a landmark of 20th century drama, laced with astringent wit and unsentimental compassion. In contrast, this summer's musical is this uplifting Oliver! This new production is not to be missed, coming courtesy of Matthew Bourne and Cameron Mackintosh it promises to be one of the most unforgettable shows ever at the Festival Theatre.

Our pick for the must-see summer talk: Be part of the conversation at Chichester Festival Theatre’s hit discussion series. On Thursday 6 June join Dr Tara Bergara (Secretary of Chichester Pride) and Melissa Hamilton (Co-Founder of Chichester Pride) at Fizz and Feminism where they’ll be delving into the heart of Chichester Pride and discussing why feminism is deeply intertwined with the transgender community.

More things to do in Chichester this Summer

Inspired to find other great events in West Sussex this summer? Explore the full range of things to do in Chichester, including a huge range of family friendly options for the summer, here.