Community Events

We run around 30 community events every year.  From botany surveying to The Big Picnic, there’s something for every age group and natural history interest. All our events are run by volunteers with a huge amount of local knowledge – and enthusiasm! You can find out more about a small selection of our events below.

For a full list of events and to book tickets, please go to our Happening Now section.

We’re always looking for new ideas for events. Please do contact the Project Manager if you’re interested in running an event for us.

Songs of the Dawn

Led by experienced birder, Andrew Armitage, this is an opportunity to experience the dawn chorus in full flow! In previous years we’ve heard Nightingale and Song Thrush and had good views of Yellowhammer and Whitethroat. Afterwards, walkers are treated to a beautifully cooked, alfresco breakfast on the Big Picnic field!

Songs of the Dawn - catering team

Botany Surveys

The botany surveys are open to anyone who is interested in finding out more about the wild flowers found on our chalk grassland. Led by expert local ecologist, Petra Billings, the surveys are repeated three times each year over the spring and summer to build up a picture of how the ecology of our grasslands is changing with conservation management. Beginners as well as experienced botanists are very welcome.

people identifying and documenting plants

SDS Acoustic

Run in partnership with Horsham Matters youth team, SDS Acoustic is held in the natural amphitheatre of woodland and chalk slopes behind the old flint barn. Showcasing you musical talent and featuring a free barbecue, it’s a wonderful way to enjoy a warm summer’s evening on the Downs.

2014-06-06 19.53.34

Glow-worm Hunt

Led by SDS volunteer Simon Jackson, this is a great opportunity to find out all there is to know about this once  common beetle and to see them glowing first-hand. Always a fun evening but please do bring a torch and sensible footwear – the event takes place in the pitch dark!

Glow worm in the hand


Discovery Days

Working with Steyning Grammar School, we run a Discovery Day for around 150 Year 7 students each year. Volunteer experts covering  interests as diverse as bee keeping, wood whittling, mountain biking and botany teach groups of students all day about different aspects of the Scheme. The students then return to school and prepare projects in teams. The experts then award prizes to the teams with the best outcomes – it’s always a very rewarding day!

children learning about conservation in a field

The Big Picnic

Our biggest event of the year – an eclectic mix of music, fun children’s games, cattle, horses, apples, lots of cake and more. If the weather is good we normally attract over 500 people to the Big Picnic Field on the first Sunday in September – it’s always a great family atmosphere!

Children games playing under a parachute at the Steyning Downland Scheme Big Picnic on the Rifle Range