Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside (in Horsham!)

Horsham’s second major town centre event of the year, the Great British Weekend presented a wonderful variety of British cultural experiences that showcased just about every area of the town.

Organised by the Broadwood Morris on Saturday and Samaritans of Horsham & Crawley & Horsham Folk Club, supported by Horsham District Council and Horsham District Year of Culture, on Sunday, there was truly something for everybody over the two days.

Saturday’s Day of Dance reflected the weather, moving from dark clouds and the thunder of drums to the jingle jangle of bells and glorious sunshine, as the many styles of Morris performers rotated between ‘stands’ (dance sites) across the town. Both Horsham Markets were buzzing with extra stalls for the day, the Bishopric Market also hosting a fine display of eight Morris Minor cars. A new giant deckchair attracted plenty of interest outside the Carfax’s Horsham Wine Cellar who had very popular sparkling wine tastings from Horsham’s nearest (and perhaps hitherto least known) vineyard, Coolhurst.

Sunday’s Concert for Samaritans kept visitors entertained at the bandstand amongst a plethora of Carfax stalls some selling traditional foods, such as pie & mash, tea & cake and even medieval fayre.

Elsewhere, Loxwood Joust’s sword fighting shows in Market Square proved popular alongside their new Mead launch and information about their forthcoming summer and winter events. Near Paninos and Chococo, have a go Circus skills provided by Richard Alan continually entertained throughout the day.

On the Forum, the heralded ‘Horsham-on-Sea’ was enjoyed by those following the sea inspired chalk pavement stencils, with a steady number of families seen to be soaking up the seaside vibe.

Dan the Hat, the Punch & Judy, The Last Resort and their Beach Hut entertainments, giant deckchair selfies and have-a-go chalk drawing all proving popular with younger visitors. The delightfully named ‘Dashing Donkeys’ offered rides in the shade of the weeping beech – ‘dubbed Horsham’s favourite tree’ with all of this played out to authentic steam organ sounds from a miniature carousel.

Unlike Piazza Italia, where vehicles are very much the focus for many, the Great British Weekend always includes a reminder of Britain’s automotive heritage. Sunday took this to the next level with a fine display of classic cars assembled by the members of Storrington’s SADCASE group, the Red steam bus from Horsham Traction Company and a well curated collection of Aston Martins that spanned the years from the early James Bond DB6 to the very latest DBS Superlegerra in matt finish.

The second of the Cote Restaurant’s Concours d’Elegance awards went to an immaculately restored 1967 Aston Martin DB6 Mk ll Vantage Volante owned by Dave Whiting. (This is the same open topped model made famous as the car Prince William borrowed from Prince Charles to drive away from his wedding reception in 2011. ) A special Manager’s choice award went to the impressive 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superlegerra.

All in all, and with the weather on-side, the weekend was a major success. The sum of the parts made for a unique town based weekend of experiences.

Next up, Sunday 19 of May is Horsham Caribbean Festival, which adds even more diversity to the town programme in this Horsham District Year of Culture. A holiday show organised by local business, The Sussex Travel Company with a £2700 Caribbean holiday to be won is at the heart of this event in the Carfax. Themed entertainers and bands, food & drink, pirates and mermaids fancy dress competitions (for adults and children) have been organised by Horsham District Council – a Bob Marley tribute band closing the show from 3pm.

With celebrations of the British Seaside, the Caribbean, Camper Van surf culture and a Spanish Spring fayre all occurring within a few weeks, ‘life’s a beach’ in Horsham this spring, so be sure you don’t miss a thing, every event is free to enter.

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