The Festival of Speed is a glorious celebration of racing that is a must-go for any petrolhead and racing fan. If you are planning on attending, we have here a handy Goodwood Festival of Speed guide to help you through the weekend.

Spawned from one man’s want to bring racing back to his estate, the Goodwood Festival of Speed (FoS) has grown into a wonderful celebration of racing in Britain.

The main event of the Hillclimb Shootout on the Sunday is the pinnacle of the weekend, but it is not the only show.

Formula 1, Rally, Endurance, Touring, Sports. All types of cars that feature throughout that will either be paraded around the circuit or will attempt an official run.

There are many reasons why you should want to attend the festival, but if you are planning on it, you will need to be ready for the day.

Here, we bring you the ultimate Goodwood Festival of Speed guide, providing you with important information about the festival and tips on how to get the most out of the weekend.

Goodwood Festival of Speed Overview

The Goodwood Festival of Speed was founded in 1993 by Lord March, Charles Gordon-Lennox, 11th Duke of Richmond.

He wanted to bring racing back to the Goodwood estate, which had a rich history of racing in years gone. He had taken over the estate in the early 1990s and wanted to go racing again at the Goodwood Circuit.

Unfortunately, he was not in possession of the necessary permit to be able to host a race there, and therefore his dream of racing at the circuit was over.

So he decided to host the racing on his own grounds.

The first event, in 1993, was made up of entrants who were invited to compete and featured historic vehicles.

Notably, the event was held on the same weekend as the Le Mans 24 Hours that year, and yet still there was a 25,000-strong crowd witnessing the history being made.

It started with just the Sunday in 1993, then expanded to Saturday the following year. Friday was added in 1996, and in 2010 the Moving Motor Show was added, although it is not strictly part of the Festival of Speed, it is part of the weekend.

Sunday’s Hillclimb Shootout

The main feature of the weekend is the Hillclimb event. This is what started the Festival of Speed in 1993, and it ends the weekend of festivities on the Sunday each year.

The Hillclimb sees road and race cars and bikes racing up the 1.16-mile course to set the fastest time on the day. There is a qualifying all day on Saturday to see who goes through to the Sunday Shootout.

It’s also the perfect way to show off the various automobiles that are on show, such as the various old Formula 1 cars that often make an appearance.

They aren’t raced up to set the quickest time anymore due to safety, but rest assured that each year, David Coulthard will be on hand with his former employers Red Bull Racing to take one of the old cars out for a parade and a few doughnuts.

In 2022, a new record was set for the fastest time. Max Chilton, a former F1 driver, wrangled a rather remarkable-looking contraption to a sub-40 second time.

Chilton raced the McMurtry Speirling, an electric single-seat concept car that was first shown off at the festival the year prior. 2022 saw it realised and go racing, in which it showed off its capability by posting a 39.09 second run on the Hillclimb to win on Sunday.

This beat the previous fastest time on a Sunday, which was a 41.60 set by another former F1 driver, Nick Heidfeld, in 1999, who was driving a McLaren-Mercedes MP4/13 - the car that Mika Hakkinen drove to his first F1 championship in 1998.

Goodwood Festival of Speed Hospitality over Standard Tickets

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is like the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, or really most F1 races, where standard tickets will allow you access to all the general areas of the festival.

However, there are luxury areas that are reserved for those with premium hospitality tickets.

Goodwood Festival of Speed hospitality offers a unique experience, combining a peaceful British summer’s day with the noise and drama of the Hillclimb action.

There are various lounges around the festival that provide you with access to a place to sit at a table to enjoy the action, as well as complimentary food and drink.

If you’re interested in a premium hospitality package during one or more days of the festival, check out all of what Seat Unique has available for Goodwood Festival of Speed, or discover the top three hospitality packages here.

Buy Goodwood Festival of Speed hospitality

When & where is the Goodwood Festival of Speed?

The 2023 Goodwood Festival of Speed will start on Thursday 16th July and run until Sunday 16th July.

The Festival of Speed is held at Goodwood House in West Sussex. It is in the southeast of England, with the nearest city of Chichester only three miles away.

Getting to the festival

Where the festival is located is a bit like where Silverstone is located. It's not situated in a major town or city, instead a small village with many tight roads leading to it.

Getting there on your own can be a bit of a pain. There will be a lot of traffic, and you will be sitting in your car for some time, crawling slowly to one of the car parks.

Cars stuck in a traffic jam
Image: Photo by Kathy / Unsplash

Your best bet, as recommended by Goodwood themselves, is to turn off the satnav when you get near and follow the signs.

Public transport is an option. With Chichester just three miles away, getting a train from wherever you are coming from might just be your best bet. From the Chichester train station, there are shuttle buses that run to and from the festival all day. Taxis would also be available from the station.

Where to stay during the festival

If you have bought tickets for more than one day of the festival, you will obviously be looking for places to stay.

There are two options for where you can stay during the festival; camping or a hotel.

Goodwood Festival of Speed Camping

Again, like at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix, camping is an option for anyone staying for multiple days of the festival.

There are three dedicated camping pitches provided by the organisers that are suitable for tents, caravans and motorhomes.

A campsite during a festival.
Image: Photo by Edward Paterson / Unsplash

One of the campsites is the Family campsite, which offers shuttles to and from the event and a child-friendly setting away from the crowds, bringing a calmer atmosphere to relax at.

For all the information on camping, check out Goodwoods Guide to Camping.

Hotels near Goodwood Festival of Speed

As mentioned earlier, Chichester is the nearest city at just three miles away, so there are multiple options for hotels nearby.

The hotels in the immediate vicinity of the event are your typical British countryside hotels, with a comforting and homely cottage feel that is sure to provide excellent and elegant service.

In the city of Chichester, you can take your pick for what sort of hotel you would like to stay at. There is a range of hotels in the city, going from the budget Travelodge to the four-star Chichester Harbour Hotel & Spa.

A quick Google search for ‘Hotels in Chichester’ will provide you with numerous results, but you’ll want to get in quickly, as you won’t be the only one looking for hotels around Goodwood for the dates of the festival.

How to make the most of your Goodwood Festival of Speed experience

The Festival of Speed is a magnificent celebration of British motor racing. We encourage anyone and everyone to go at least once, regardless of if you enjoy racing or cars.

Motorsport is incredibly popular in Britain, and the festival is used as the perfect way to celebrate its heritage. Many former and current racing drivers appear during the weekend; Mercedes driver George Russell was there last year with the Mercedes W10, the team's 2019 challenger.

Rallying royalty Sebastien Loeb won the 2014 Hillclimb shootout in a Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak, a modified version of the production 208, that not only won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 2013, but smashed the previous record by over a minute and a half.

So it’s not only the cars to see, but the very best drivers in racing are also walking about the festival, ready to show what they have and try their hand at the Hillclimb.

Get there early, stay till late

The festival is an all-day affair. There are things happening constantly throughout the day on all four days.

Full Throttle Thursday kicks off the weekend and provides the opportunity for car manufacturers to show off their new cars by driving the Hillclimb in a non-competitive capacity.

This is also the main day of Formula 1, with the cars and drivers providing the action on the opening day, along with an opening firework display.

Friday sees more of the same, with new cars and F1 being shown off. But this is also the start of the competitive nature of the weekend, with the first timed runs of the weekend taking place.

Saturday is for the stars, as this is the day when motorsport legends and upcoming hotshots descend upon the festival. Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, George Russell, Lando Norris, Jamie Chadwick, and many, many more have been in attendance in the past.

There is also off-road racing action at the rally stage and off-road arena.

And Sunday sees the main event, the Hillclimb Shootout, where those who qualify compete to set the fastest time on the day and be the 2023 Hillclimb champion.

It is also the last opportunity to explore the exhibits around the festival and see the cars on show at the paddock.

So there is plenty to do and see all day on all four days of the festival. Whether you’re there for one day or for multiple, there is no shortage of things to do or see.

Pack for rain and shine

Of course, there is one thing to consider, and that’s that it is an outdoor festival held in Britain.

Yes, it is during the summer, but that does not guarantee that the weather will be kind for the whole duration. It is England after all.

So be prepared for whatever the weather could bring. Watch the weather reports, all of them, and then take what they say with a pinch of salt because the weather is fickle and can change very quickly.

Even if it’s meant to be sunny all day every day, pack a raincoat or poncho, just in case. Or take a page out of Lewis Hamilton’s book - an umbrella can keep you dry in the rain, or provide you with your own personal mobile shade.

Goodwood Festival of Speed Guide Summary

The festival is the ultimate celebration of the racing heritage in Britain, and a brilliant chance to get a first glimpse at new cars coming soon. There is so much to do and experience.

In short, here are some handy tips so that you can make the most of your Goodwood Festival of Speed weekend:

  • Opt for a premium hospitality package and experience everything the festival has to offer in luxury. The added price you pay is worth it for the benefits you will receive.
  • Decide where you want to stay if you’re planning on going for multiple days. The hotels will get snapped up quickly, and there will be many going for the camping option.
  • Decide how you want to get there. If you’re planning on driving, check you have got a parking label with your ticket. Otherwise, go for the public transport option.
  • Get there early and stay all day to get the full Goodwood Festival of Speed experience, especially if you’re there for just one day.
  • Make sure you have alternate clothing, just in case the worst does happen and the weather changes drastically.

Formula 1 is beloved by many in Britain. Be sure to check out our packages for the 2023 British Grand Prix, or any races on the 2023 calendar.