There’s no avoiding it – summer’s over and it’s time to welcome autumn and its colourful leaves, shorter days and cooler temperatures. But there’s lots to do right on my doorstep in Sussex this autumn, so I thought I’d share a few things you can get up to if you’re planning a day out from London or a weekend break this October or November.
While Halloween grows in popularity every year, Sussex has its own spooky history to discover. Join one of the weekly ghost tours through the Lanes in Brighton, wander the back streets of Hastings or Rye and find out more about the spirits that may or may not haunt the Sussex streets.
If you’re looking for something quirky, take a trip out into the West Sussex countryside for a visit to the Slindon Pumpkins. An annual charity event, each year hundreds of pumpkins are used to create a new picture on the theme chosen for that year. This year’s theme is ‘An Octopuses’ Garden’ in support of the Marine Conservation Society who are trying to tackle plastic waste in our seas. It’s free to enter and you can buy pumpkins and squashes to take home. You really need a car (or use a taxi) to get to this one as it’s in a small rural village. For directions and opening times visit www.slindonpumpkins.co.uk
If there’s one thing Sussex has a rich tradition of, it’s Bonfire. While Bonfire Night (or Guy Fawkes night) is celebrated around the country – traditionally as close to the 5th of November as possible – Sussex bonfire societies take it to another level. Bonfire has its origins in marking the Guy Fawkes plot but this has also mingled with other pagan traditions and a desire to light up the night at the darkest time of the year.
King of them all is Lewes, a small town in the South Downs just outside Brighton. Lewes is home to seven bonfire societies which each take part in the main procession (always on the 5th of November) and also have their own ‘fire sites’ where you can warm yourself around a huge bonfire while waiting for the fireworks. Be aware that Lewes gets incredibly crowded (estimates say around 30,000 people attend) and in fact local police encourage people to attend other bonfire events around Sussex rather than travel to Lewes. Should you wish to brave it expect long queues, loud bangs and flaming torches. Each bonfire society also makes an effigy of a public figure which they burn on the bonfire at the end of the night (think dictators and politicians)
Bonfire is my favourite Sussex tradition and I took part in several processions when I used to play in a samba band. The season lasts from September through to the end of November with something happening most weekends somewhere in Sussex – take a look at this website for details.
Autumn is maybe the best season to get out for a walk – crunching through those fallen leaves, sunlight glinting through the trees. Sussex has miles and miles of countryside to discover from the South Downs to the Weald and our beautiful coastline.
A fellow travel blogger, who is also an experienced walking guide, Kathryn Burrington of Travel with Kat leads regular walks in the Sussex countryside.
Kathryn says: “I’ve been running guided walks in the South Downs for just over a year now and it’s been wonderful watching how the landscapes change from season to season. My favourite time though is on a sunny autumnal day when the trees look particularly beautiful in so many different shades of gold, rust and yellow. It’s a magical time of year to explore the ancient woods and admire the hilltop views.”