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Alresford Watercress Eating Championship


The 2018 Alresford Watercress Festival will take place on Sunday, 20 May. A nationally acclaimed annual food festival, it brings together thousands of visitors to celebrate watercress – something which has not only been grown commercially in Hampshire since the 19th century, but more recently has been named a “superfood”.

Historically, Alresford became the capital of watercress with large quantities being sent by stage coach to London and later by train on what became known as The Watercress Line.

The Watercress Festival is when the entire centre of New Alresford becomes one huge street festival as Hampshire Farmers’ Markets members, along with other stallholders create a large food market showcasing the very best local producers. A number of celebrity chefs will also be on hand to demonstrate some delicious dishes. Many of the town’s shops will also be open.

One of the main highlights of the festival is the street cavalcade at 10.30am when jazz musicians, Morris dancers and local school children accompany the Watercress King and Queen who sit atop a horse and cart. The children will distribute the first of the season’s watercress harvest to festival-goers.

Throughout the day, entertainment is provided by the many musicians and performers and there are activities for children of all ages, including circus skills workshops, face painting and a petting farm.

Visitors to the Festival this year will be challenged to munch their way through one 85g bag of fresh watercress and wash it down with a small bottle of water in the fastest time. The Guinness World Record is currently 32 seconds. The championships will get started at 3pm with the redoubtable Paul Rees keeping the participants in order and the crowd in stitches.

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All tourist information for Hampshire can be found at

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Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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