From the very best crisp autumn walks, wine harvests and instagrammable locations, to immersive experiences, art classes and spook-tacular Halloween events for all the family. Our round-up not only ensures that you will have the best autumn possible, but that you make the most of the great outdoors while you’re doing it.
Here’s to 2022, your best autumn yet:
Best Instagrammable location: Rogate Pumpkin Patch
There’s no better way to show you’re #autumnready than being snapped at a pumpkin patch, and we know just the one to be seen at.
As if by magic, every October in the village of Rogate, a mysterious world of pumpkins appears. The family-run and insta-ready Rogate Pumpkin Patch is so much more than its name portrays, drawing in crowds from afar.
After picking your own pumpkins, squash and gourd – while documenting it on the ‘gram of course – you can creep into Merlin’s Wood, brave a spooky sunflower trail, get snapped at Dracula’s Estate, take a selfie with a bubble witch and snap delicious #instafood provided by the on-site street food vendors.
Rogate Pumpkin Patch opens from 14 October and can be found on the border of Hampshire and West Sussex along the A272, just 10-minutes from Midhurst.
Best unique experiences for adults this autumn: Sussex’s Wine Harvest
You couldn’t pick a better time to visit a vineyard than during Harvest. Thanks to Tinwood Estate, just a 10-minute drive from Chichester, you can now be part of the action.
From calculating dates, preparing equipment and bringing the years cherished grapes into the winery at the perfect point of ripeness, you’ll learn what happens behind the scenes to make Sussex’s wine so special.
Start your day at the Tinwood Harvest Experience with coffee, cake and a lesson on the fine art of harvesting grapes before heading out to the vineyard for a couple of hours picking with the team. You’ll be rewarded for your hard work with a three-course harvest lunch served with complimentary Tinwood wines. What could be better than that?
Costing from £59 per person, the Tinwood Harvest Experince is available on select dates throughout September and October. Subject to availability.
Best Halloween events for kids: A spook-tacular half-term in Sussex
All thoughts of idyllic walks amongst the crunching leaves – as dreamy as they sound – may be cast aside if young children are in tow this autumn.
For children, autumn signals the start of one very important event. Halloween.
With a huge range of Halloween events on offer close to Chichester, Midhurst, Petworth and Selsey over the October half term, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Attend Monster School at Sky Park Farm, learn about horrible tasks of the past at the Weald & Downland Living Museum, ride a ghost train on a night of terrors at Amberley Museum’s Halloween Evening, spot the pumpkins across the pleasure gardens at Petworth House or enjoy cackle-tastic days throughout the half term Fishers Farm’s Happy Hauntings events.
Best for outdoors learning: West Dean College
What could be better than learning a new skill in the great outdoors this autumn? Budding and developing artists alike can learn or hone their painting skills on West Dean College’s two-day Expressive Landscape Painting course, running 8-9 October 2022.
You will be guided and supported through the process of making preparatory drawings to inform expressive landscape paintings, whilst using the expansive grounds of West Dean College, located within the South Downs National Park, as your inspiration. You’ll also be introduced to materials, techniques, and inspirational landscape painters along the way. The course costs from £280 per person.
Explore the many other courses which take the great outdoors as inspiration on West Dean College’s website. From Painting and Drawing the Sussex Downland to Painting Autumn Landscapes in Oils, there’s plenty to choose from.
Best for Sussex wildlife this autumn: Petworth Park
Crisp days, low sun and crunching leaves under foot… it must be autumn. What better way to admire the natural beauty of the season than on a visit to the 700-acre Petworth Park? Home to approximately 700 fallow deer and some of the best panoramic views of the South Downs National Park, this is not a sight to be missed.
The renowned Petworth Park is adorned with ancient trees that have stood proudly in the park, some for over 1,000 years. See them at their best during the autumn months as their colours change to russet and gold, and the leaves fall to the ground. Chances are, you may also witness a deer rut on your visit, as the male deer compete for a mate.
Between October and November, these natural spectacles can be seen during a guided walk at Petworth Park. On the two-hour deer rut guided walk you’ll learn more about the fallow deer, what the rut is all about and observe seasonal behaviour, with the chance of watching rutting stags. Of course, there’s an element of hiding and remaining silent on route!
Walks cost from £5 per person and children are free. The walks take place on selected dates throughout October, booking in advance in essential.
Best immersive experience: Autumn events at Arundel Castle
One of England’s largest inhabited and complete castles, Arundel Castle is situated in magnificent grounds overlooking the River Arun in West Sussex. With a selection of headline events taking place during September and October, there’s never been a better time to explore this medieval castle.
Many of Arundel Castle’s ancient features are still in place, from the Norman Keep, medieval Gatehouse, Baron’s Hall and 14th Century Catholic Fitzalan Chapel, to the Regency Library and Victorian bedrooms. It’s also home to award-winning tropical and English gardens, which display a feast for the eyes during the autumn months.
But why explore it by yourself when you can see it through the eyes of the Medieval Knights, Squires, Falconer and Ladies that would have once graced its corridors? On 17 and 18 September and 26 and 27 October 2022 you can do just that during Arundel Castle’s Characters Through History Weekends. Have a go at archery, see weapons and combat demonstrations, listen to medieval music and hear tall tales from a time gone by during this unforgettable immersive weekend.
Alternatively on 25 and 28 October you can join a Medieval Archer as they lead a guided tour of the Castle’s defences through the dry moat.
With both events making the most of the great outdoors this autumn, you couldn’t ask for much more.
Best for family traditions: Amberley Museum
Follow in the footsteps of families from a time gone by at Amberley Museum’s Autumn Gathering this October.
Since 1978, on every first Sunday of October, an autumn gathering has taken place at Amberley Museum to celebrate the Museum, its collections and volunteers.
With plenty to explore indoors and outdoors there’s no better way to kick start your autumn than in the traditional way. All the family – including the dog – can ride on vintage buses (including one that’s over 100 years old) and a steam train at this museum of industrial and rural heritage.
Formally known as the Amberley Chalk Pits, the museum site was once a working chalk quarry from the 1840s until the 1960s. With over 150 historic vehicles and engines from the pre-1950s, many original buildings, over 40 different exhibits including hand-on interactive displays and an on-site café, there’s plenty to entertain all ages.
Why not make a tradition of it! This year’s Autumn Gathering takes place on Sunday 2 October 2022.
Best overnight experiences in Sussex: Stonepillow’s Big Sleep Out, Chichester
Seeking an out-of-the-ordinary experience and helping a worthy cause? You can tick both boxes by attending Stonepillow’s Big Sleep Out 2022 at Chichester Cathedral this autumn.
Stonepillow, a homeless charity for the Chichester and Arun Districts, provide a recovery journey for homeless people, focusing on health, housing and work.
Taking place on Saturday 29 October, the Big Sleep Out gives you the chance to support Stonepillow and in doing so, help those in need.
After some fun and games in Chichester’s Cathedral grounds (starting 2pm) you’ll don your very own cardboard box as your shelter for the night. You’ll sleep out, surrounded by history in the cathedral grounds, then head home the following morning after surviving the night.
As the tagline for the events goes; you’ll sleep out, survive the night and support those in need. We’re sure you’ll have an unforgettable experience along the way too.
Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Other great things to do in Sussex this autumn
As if this isn’t enough inspiration, you can find more great things to do in Sussex here.
Main Image: National Trust Images/Petworth Park/Chris Lacey