Top Autumn Festivals in the South East
The nights might be starting to draw in but there is still plenty to celebrate this autumn across the South East with food, beer and wine festivals offering visitors the chance to try new foods and flavours, or simply enjoy familiar ones in unique settings. It is also the perfect excuse to indulge in a late season short break in the glorious British autumn, or maybe a late Indian summer.
The 8th CAMRA Real Ale & Cider Festival at the Spa Valley Railway takes place in the railway’s Victorian Engine Shed at Tunbridge Wells West where everyone can enjoy a pint or two throughout the day. There will be more than 160 Real Ales, over 25 Green Hop Beers, Key-Keg/Cask Beers, Belgian Beers and 30 Ciders and plenty of live entertainment. (19, 20 and 21 October) FREE entry to the festival and station.
Bembridge Harbour Food Festival, Isle of Wight offers the opportunity to taste and purchase delicious local food and drink from sea and land. Visitors will be able to sample the freshest shellfish landed straight from the boat and home cooked dishes using the finest seasonal produce. (22 and 23 September).
This year the 12th Annual Sweetcorn Fayre on the Isle of Wight will be celebrating Nora Niblet’s first birthday will be lots of fun family-themed entertainment, great live music and of course sweetcorn. BBC Radio Solent will be broadcasting live on the Saturday along with a live gardening questions section with renowned gardener Pip Bensley (triple gold Chelsea Flower Show winner). Popular characters Bob the Cob, Connie Corn and Nora Niblet all look forward to welcoming you. (29 and 30 September)
Country and Food Festival at Chiddingstone Castle in Kent. In addition to browsing the delicious food and drink stalls. Visitors will be able to enjoy children’s cookery workshops, the annual dog show, terrier racing, astronomers, fishing, music and birds of prey. The Castle’s Tea Tent will be open for cream teas, ice creams and homemade cakes. (Sunday 9 September 11am to 5pm). Prices adult £6, child (5 – 13 years) £2 (under 5s free).
Apple and Cider Fayre at Kent Life in Maidstone to celebrate the annual apple harvest when many varieties of apple are hand-picked from the historic orchards just days before the festival. Visitors can try and buy from around 35 varieties of apple on sale, with some of varieties dating back as far as the 1500’s. Visitors can also enjoy visiting the Cider Tent, tours, demonstrations, and live music, as well as watching the traditional process of apple pressing in a giant Victorian press. Children’s activities include apple crafts and NEW this year will be performances by cheeky and quick-witted Basil Brush in the Big Top. (6 and 7 October). Prices £9.95 adult, £8.25 child (3 to 15 years).
G Live at Guildford is tagging two events in September. G Live Beer Festival will feature some of the country’s top independent brewers as well as live music, a hog roast and a BBQ. Tickets £12 per session (7 and 8 September). G Live Food and Drink Festival will feature NEW producers, workshops and taster sessions, this is a fun way to discover fantastic produce from around the region. FREE entry. (15 September).
Surrey Hills Food Festival celebrates the splendid array of wonderful food and drink from the Surrey Hills and beyond. The Talks and Tastings Hub offers a programme of national and regional chefs and food experts on hand to demonstrate and share cooking tips including: Steve Drake, award-winning chef at local restaurant Sorells; African cookery by Patti Sloley; and the art of artisan breadmaking and a butchery course. Children can visit the pop-up rare breeds petting farm or enjoy face painting, games, story-telling and music in the Kids Zone. Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking (15 and 16 September). Tickets, adults £6, child £3, under 5’s free.
The Winchester Wine Festival features BBC One’s wine experts, Masters of Wine, Susie and Peter in the stunning surroundings of the historic Winchester Guildhall. Visitors will be able to enjoy music, merchandise, food and a prize draw, and book a masterclass. Early Bird entry ticket £30, £35 on the door (over 18s only) includes unlimited tasting samples from over 300 wines, a free wine glass and festival wine bag (23 – 24 November).
Lovers of coffee and café culture are in for a treat at the first ever Winchester Coffee Festival where they will be able to learn the secrets of creating the perfect cup of coffee from experts, including the Winchester Coffee School. Further activities include masterclasses, workshops, the barrista experience and the chance to try roasting coffee. The evening session will also feature festival signature coffee cocktails. Tea drinkers will also be served well by exhibitors and there will be plenty for foodies to indulge in too. (29 September, two sessions, 11am and 7pm). From £15.
10th Broadstairs Food Festival celebrates Kent’s flourishing food & drink scene and takes place along the clifftop and gardens on the seafront overlooking Viking Bay. Demonstrations in the Chef’s Theatre will include: Rachel Green, chef, author, TV presenter, food campaigner and ambassador of British produce; and Stephen Harris, chef patron of The Sportsman, Michelin National Restaurant of the Year 2017, in conversation with Jane Wenham-Jones, author, journalist and presenter. Visitors will be able to shop over 100 stalls of regional produce, sample local brews in the Cider House, relax in the Vintage Tea Parlour. (28 to 30 September) FREE entry.
The seventh Worthing Food & Drink Festival, which attracts around 20,000 visitors to Steyne Gardens where they will be able to experience over 40 food stalls, as well as cookery demonstrations, competitions and entertainment. Worthing’s own BBC One’s Masterchef Champion 2018, Kenny Tutt, will headline. (15 and 16 September). Free entry to event.
Hastings Seafood and Wine Festival on The Stade close by the historic Net Huts features a range of food, wine and themed activities to tempt everyone from wine connoisseurs and seafood sophisticates, as well as live music and street entertainment for a lively festival atmosphere Adult wristbands are £2 in advance from Hastings Information Centre (£3 on the gate). (15 and 16 September).
Mark Bibby Jackson
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