With motor racing, music and fashion from the 40s, 50s and 60s, the Goodwood Revival is a weekend to remember, in a beautiful part of the British countryside
With Dad's Army marching past, spivs selling cheap nylons from a suitcase and land girls driving a WWII jeep, you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd travelled back in time rather than just to Sussex. But for a weekend in September each year, thousands of people are transported back 50 years at the Goodwood Revival. Whether you remember the era first time round or not, it's a fantastic experience for both motor racing fans and vintage lovers alike.
Goodwood is one of the classic motor racing circuits from the golden era of motorsport, and almost nothing on the site has changed since the 1960s. From the tractor trailers which get you onto the site to the 1950s newspapers wrapping your fish and chips, the attention to detail is incredible. No modern vehicles are allowed on the site during the weekend and, although it's not compulsory, most of the visitors get dressed up and join in.
There's a whole range of vintage fashion on show with some really amazing outfits – from vintage military uniforms and Grease-style twin sets and capri pants, to Grace Kelly-inspired belted dresses and red lipstick. If you want to get into the spirit, you can pick up vintage clothing from charity shops or eBay (try Vivian of Holloway for some great 50s-style dresses) and there's also plenty of stalls at the Revival Market on the Goodwood site if you want to stock up on seamed stockings or long gloves.
There's plenty of motor racing taking place over the whole weekend, with the kind of cars and motorbikes that you would have seen in action on the circuit between 1948-1966. The cars include Formula 1, sports and saloon cars, and you might recognise a few of the drivers, with famous faces from all eras in the world of motorsport taking part - Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham to Damon Hill and David Coulthard.
The main racing takes place on the Saturday and Sunday, but you can see the practice and qualifying sessions on the Friday. Saturday is usually the single-seater cars, Formula Juniors, motorbikes and the first of the saloons, with the rest on Sunday, along with the Grand Prix cars, sports and TT cars. And it all ends with prize giving on the start line on Sunday afternoon. A general admission ticket gives you access around the circuit, but for the best view of the racing you can get a ticket for one of the grandstands.
And if you have a vintage car of your own then you can bring it along and park in the Revival Car Show area. This huge car park is full of an amazing selection of pre-1966 vehicles and enthusiasts could spend a whole day just wandering around here!
There are also air displays from some WWII aircraft, appropriately enough with Goodwood being a Battle of Britain airfield. Spitfires and Hurricanes are among the planes you can see in action, as well as plenty more rare pre-1966 aircraft on display as part of the Freddie March 'Spirit of Aviation'.
The food and drink on the site also gets in on the vintage theme. Lots of people bring picnics and sit on the banks overlooking the circuit; perfect on a sunny day. You can either bring your own picnic or order one from Goodwood. You can also stop by the 'Oily Rag' pub for a pint, get a tin mug of tea from one of the tea wagons, grab a sandwich at the NAAFI or taste some authentic 1950s recipes at the Spitfire Restaurant.
You can also dance the afternoon away with plenty of bands playing 1950s music, and dance lessons and demonstrations if you want to try out your jitterbug or jive. And younger visitors can try out the rides in the vintage fairground. So even if you're not a motor racing fan, there's plenty to see and do at the Goodwood Revival.
The next Goodwood Revival will be held on Friday 12-Sunday 14 Sepember 2014. A general admission ticket for the whole weekend costs £113 (or £54 for just Saturday or Sunday), plus an extra cost of £30-£69 if you want a grandstand seat. Children under 12 get free entry and prices are reduced for 13-18 year olds. Tickets are available on 01243 755055 or at www.goodwood.co.uk and you must book in advance.
There is plenty of parking available on the site but the roads around Goodwood can get pretty busy. If you’re coming by public transport the nearest train station is Chichester, and a special bus service runs from Chichester bus station to Goodwood.
Where to stay
If you want to be right in the heart of the action, then you can camp for the weekend on the Goodwood site. The campsite charges £155 for a pitch (or £200 for one with electricity) for four nights for up to four people, not including entry to the event.
Almost as close by but a lot more luxurious is The Goodwood Park Hotel (Goodwood, Chichester PO18 0QB). This country house hotel is right on the Goodwood Estate and has a couple of good restaurants as well as a health club and spa. Its 94 rooms (from around £140 double) get booked up for Revival weekend though so you need to get in early.
In nearby Chichester and Arundel there are a few more accommodation options, though again it's recommended to book early. The Ship Hotel (57 North Street, Chichester PO19 1NQ) is an elegant hotel with a great location, in an old townhouse within Chichester’s Roman city walls. It has friendly staff and great comfy beds, with double rooms starting from £120. Another good choice is Arundel House Rooms (11 High Street, Arundel BN18 9AD), with five comfortable rooms set above a lovely restaurant in the centre of Arundel. Double rooms cost £99 at weekends or £85 on weekdays.
Where to eat and drink
As well as all the facilities on the Goodwood site, there are also some great pubs and restaurants in the area. Just outside Goodwod is The Fox Goes Free (Charlton, Nr Goodwood, Chichester PO18 0HU), set among the peaceful South Downs. This 17th-century building has inglenook fireplaces and beamed ceilings, as well as lots of outside space. They do a range of real ales and good pub food like steak and kidney pie and brie and tomato tart, with main courses £10-£17. They also have en suite B&B rooms from £90 for a double.
In the pretty village of Burpham is The George at Burpham (The Main Street, Burpham, Arundel BN18 9RR; 01903 883131; www.georgeatburpham.co.uk). Its gastropub-style food includes dishes like a game plate and poached fillet of sole, with main courses £12-£19. The pub also serve Arundel Breweries’ local real ales. It’s a lovely walk along the river from Arundel but can get very busy, especially for Sunday lunch, so it’s a good idea to book ahead.
The Bay Tree Restaurant (21 Tarrant Street, Arundel BN18 9DG; 01903 883679; www.thebaytreearundel.com) is great for a special meal, either in the cosy restaurant or outside on the terrace. The award-winning menu changes regularly and they specialise in modern European food like slow-roasted pork belly and pan-fried duck, and save some room for their delicious desserts. Main courses £14-£20.
Other Goodwood events
If you can't make it to the Revival, there are also plenty of other events held at Goodwood through the year – see www.goodwood.co.uk for full details of these and others:
- Festival of Speed (26–29 June 2014): celebrating the history of motor racing, this weekend features cars from the 19th-century to modern Formula 1 cars racing on the main circuit, as well a hill climb, motorbike racing and special appearances from famous drivers from all eras.
- Glorious Goodwood (30 July–3 August 2014): the most famous of the horseracing events, this is like a summer garden party, with guests dressed in their finery drinking Champagne on the lawns and watching the racing.