Southsea is located right, kind of obviously, in the south of England just beyond Portsmouth. It’s a small town with a cute castle but it’s so much more than you’re average stick of rock, bucket and spade beach location. I’ve made sure to put together a list of some of the best festivals in Southsea for you.
It’s a real hub for culture with an alternative vibe and although it’s not a major UK city, it brings in the crowds to celebrate a day, date or type of food with its year round calendar of festivals.
It’s also my new home.
Seeing as I’m planning on sticking around a bit more in England this year I thought I’d take a look to see what my festival future holds over the summer in Southsea. It’s looking pretty bright!
Country on the Coast
April 13th – 14th 2024
One of the newer festivals in Southsea, this annual music festival celebrating all things country music is held in Portsmouth and showcases many talented country artists from across the world. Alongside the live music there lots of country cuisine available, dancing to be done and a wonderful atmosphere.
Next year will be the fourth edition of Country on the Coast, taking place at The Gaiety on South Parade Pier in Southsea. Not only do they put on established Country music acts they support upcoming artists too so apply to play if you are a country singer/songwriter!
SWEAT Fitness Festival
TBC 2024 (In 2023: April 29th-30th)
Created back in 2015 and originally known as ‘Southsea Fitness Festival’ the event was started to inspire and celebrate active lifestyles in the community. They’ve welcomed tens of thousands of guests and the Festival remains free to attend!
The Festival’s A-Z is pretty impressive… Cold Water Immersion, Floating Mindfulness, Live DJs, Mindset workshops, Street Dance, Tai Chi, Yoga, and Zumba to name but a few activities.
With all those food fests this one is much needed. Try battle roping, tyre flipping and stone throwing.
Southsea Food Festival
TBC 2024 (July 15th – 16th 2023)
– Photo from southsea.co.uk
Get ready for a tasty time at the Southsea Food Festival, Portsmouth’s ultimate family foodie bash! Rain or shine, this event is back with a bang, bringing you delicious treats from the best local food and drink folks.
Like all good food festivals in Southsea, this packs in over 1000 stalls serving all kinds of tasty dishes. Over the second weekend in July locals and tourists stroll Palmerston Road trying everything from Thai to Greek cuisine at the Southsea Food Festival.
Whether you’re a meat lover, vegetarian, vegan, or steering clear of gluten and dairy, there’s something for everyone. Savour sausages, cakes, chocolates, cheeses, and even some aged rum from Portsmouth. The event is ever growing and now sprawls across Palmerston, Clarendon, and Osborne roads, plus the whole stretch of Avenue De Caen.
But it’s not just about eating – there’s an acoustic live stage with awesome local musicians, family fun, and tips from chefs and experts. It’s a fantastic day out, so mark your calendar!
Take a look at where to go on Albert Road in Southsea, here.
Portsmouth International Kite Festival
TBC 2024 (July 29th – 30th 2023)
Right on the Southsea Common people fly in from across the world to showcase their kite flying skills at the Portsmouth International Kite Festival. The creative kites come in a whole range of colours and sizes so even if you’ve not mastered the winds yourself you can still enjoy the amazing collection of kites in the sky.
Each year there’s a set theme and a list of displays to watch including cartoon kites, Japanese flying kites and those flown to music. I’ve heard the best place to see it all is from the 110-metre Spinnaker Tower.
Portsmouth International Kite Festival is actually one of the most important kite festivals in the world which surely makes it one of the best festivals in Southsea.
Southsea Thai Food and Craft Festival
TBC 2024 (September 9th – 10th 2023)
If you’re a fan of a pad thai and khao pad then you’ll love Southsea’s annual Thai Food and Craft Festival. Late summer each year people gather on Southsea Common where the Thai Solent Society cook up traditional treats and hold workshops on how to create authentic crafts.
You’ll also find demos on Thai boxing, traditional massage booths and even a Miss Thai Southsea Lady Boy Show. You won’t find many festivals in Southsea which start with a traditional food offering to Buddhist monks but this one does! It then continues with entertainment throughout the day including traditional music and dancing, Thai beer garden, Thai food and produce stalls and children’s play area.
August 23rd – 25th 2024
Showing how much Southsea really does live its music is yet another big music event returning to Southsea Common. Victorious Festival brings in some big name mainstream acts over three days of the late bank holiday in August and is probably the most famous of the festivals in Southsea.
Festival goers are on site from 10am on Friday for a full itinerary of music, comedy and family activities. Parents can even bring their kids to the family friendly festival and camp in the nearby site.
Previous performers have included Stereophonics, Elbow, Craig David, Madness, Franz Ferdinand, Ellie Goulding and Madness. So there is something for everyone! Prices are cheaper with early bird tickets so buy asap!
Making Waves Film Festival
Making Waves Film Festival, which celebrated its 11th edition in 2023, is Portsmouth’s annual celebration of innovative and inspiring cinema. Dedicated to nurturing local creative talent and emerging filmmakers, they strive to go beyond the usual cinematic experience and add some unique artistry to the plethora of festivals in Southsea.
They bring you feature film screenings in association with No6 CINEMA, Portsmouth’s sole independent cinema at the Historic Dockyard, supported by BFI FAN, BFI NETWORK, Camera Crate, and in partnership with the University of Portsmouth. They even have a short film competition so get your entries in if you’re an aspiring film maker!
Portsmouth Chilli and Gin Festival
May 4th – 5th 2024
Across the two day festival expect a lot of incredible activities! There is live music on both days from 12noon until the early evening. Both days, you may not be surprised to learn, are punctuated with a Chilli eating competition! If you think you can handle the heat the have a go. Just watching a friend or family member attempt that may make it one of the best festivals in Southsea!
Apart from chilli and gin (though who needs more?) there’s fully stocked bars of all sorts (including chilli shots and craft gins of course). Also, there’s axe-throwing, giant jenga and kids entertainment too – bouncy castles, face painting and more.
28th October 2023
It’s not only the Germans who love the month of October, Southsea-ers are right there along side them embracing the tradition of beer gulping and sausage chewing. Southsea hosts their own version Oktoberfest at the Portsmouth Guildhall Square with a 50 metre bier tent and 30,000 litres of the authentic Bavarian booze.
There’s oompah bands, live music, two pint steins, loads of seating and gallons of fun and frolics to be had! It is a brilliantly themed event one of the best festivals in Southsea if you like to dress up in fancy dress!
A Christmas Ship
December 2nd – December 3rd 2023
On board the HMS Warrior you can feel the 19th century Christmas cheer and be transported back in time to the 1860s. Let the crew immerse you in a festive experience like no other as they get ready for Christmas onboard Queen Victoria’s favourite ship.
Revel in traditional Victorian entertainment and meet the various members of the crew. Be wowed by the Magic Lantern Show with Professor Alan Brindle, meet the ship’s cook, and help the crew of Victorian sailors and Royal Marines decorate the gun deck. This is definitely one of the most unique festivals in Southsea.
The Christmas Ship event will be running on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 October between 11am to 4pm. Entry to the event is included with a valid ticket to HMS Warrior.
So many festivals in Southsea!
They’re all in my diary, I’m going to go to as many as possible, and you’ll be able to read all about them here. Let me know if I’ve missed any out…
READ MORE: The Best Southsea Restaurants for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner