The Goodwood Revival never disappoints and there are always lots of reasons why I return each year but to make the most of it does take some planning. Whether your main interest is motor sport, classic cars or bikes, vintage fashion, or historic aircraft then there’s plenty to see.
Here are my essential tips for enjoying the Goodwood Revival and taking away happy memories that will linger right through winter until the following year.
What is the Goodwood Revival?
It’s a revival of the motor racing that used to take place on the circuit around the airfield but it’s so much more than that too. It’s a celebration of many of the best in motor cars, aircraft, motor bikes, fashion, design, music, and dance of the 1940s, 1950s, and the 1960s.
The airfield was called RAF Westhampnett during World War II and it was the home of several squadrons. From here Douglas Bader took off and made his last flight before being shot down and going into captivity. Near the Goodwood Aero Club you will see a bronze statue of Sir Douglas Bader in a likeness contemporary with the months he spent there.
After the War the perimeter track was converted into a motor racing circuit and racing continued there until 1966 when the track was closed. Racing returned in 1998 when the first Goodwood Revival was held and it’s been repeated every year since.
When and where is the Goodwood Revival?
The Revival is held on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on the first or second weekend in September every year. It takes place at the Goodwood motor racing circuit and aerodrome just north of Chichester, West Sussex, England. You can arrive by road (A27) or rail (Chichester Station), or you can simply fly into the airfield (with prior permission from the organisers).
Essential Tips For Enjoying the Goodwood Revival
Due to a wide range of things to see and do at the event there will inevitably be some suggestions that are of no relevance to some visitors. These tips are offered for the newcomers, the first-timers who may be a little bewildered by the spectacle.
As Fred Pontin used to say, “Book Early!”
The Revival is very popular and tends to sell out each year. You’ll need at least an entrance ticket and there are all kinds of supplements; grandstand seats, weekend tickets, camping, hospitality packages etc, so plan ahead.
Decide whether you’re going to be staying anywhere nearby or going home at the end of the day and make arrangements accordingly months in advance.
Watch the weather and keep watching
You’re about to attend an outdoor event on an airfield near the south coast of England in September. When the sun shines and winds are light it can be glorious but if a weather front passes through you can get drenched and cold.
The 2016 Revival was a reminder of how different things can be from one day to the next. On the Saturday the rain blew in from the west and it drizzled for most of the day. The cloud base was so low that all flying (displays and pleasure flights) had to be cancelled. That meant that the afternoon motor races were brought forward and the main events finished early.
The next day, on the Sunday, the weather could not have been better. Warm sun, light winds and very little cloud. A dry track and picnics aplenty. I expect the people who bought Saturday only tickets were cursing their luck.
Knock-on effects of wet weather
Most people will have to park in a grass field a good walk away from the site. If there’s been a lot of rain the combined effects of long grass and vehicles will have the inevitable consequences. Suddenly those 1950s high-heels you bought on eBay don’t seem such a good idea as you gingerly make your way through the mud.
The airfield itself is an exposed place but the grandstands are even more so because they are elevated and you feel the full force of any wind and rain. If you bought your seat months previously and you’re only there for the day then it can be a big disappointment to find yourself getting wet and cold in your grandstand seat.
So put some umbrellas, macs, and wellies in the boot of your vehicle, just in case.
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