The Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival is held yearly, usually taking place in mid-June for three days. It is a large celebration of local and national food and drink with Gloucestershire fare being the main focal point. Attracting over 15,000 visitors every year, the festival has grown significantly since its inception in 2008. Each year celebrity and award-winning chefs attend to demonstrate their work and a large market sells a delightful range of food and drinks.
The festival is held in the Montpellier Gardens in Cheltenham. This large park forms part of the Cheltenham Central Conservation area and is surrounded by Grade I listed properties, providing a picturesque setting to the festival. The main entrance to the Gardens is on Montpellier Walk in the centre of Cheltenham.
There is no parking at the site, and whilst there is on-street parking throughout the surrounding roads, due to the popularity of the festival, finding a space here is likely to be very difficult. There are a number of car parks in the centre of Cheltenham, however, within walking distance of the Gardens. There are also two park and ride schemes that operate on the outskirts of the town with free buses directly into the centre.
A number of the main bus routes into Cheltenham operate along Montpellier Walk and Cheltenham Spa rail station is just a 20-minute walk away.
Tickets and Opening Times
The festival usually takes place during one weekend in mid-June from Friday to Sunday and is normally open most of the day. Visitors are advised, however, to check the festival’s website for the full details prior to their visit.
Tickets are available to purchase at the entrance to the festival for £8 or £12 for an adult (depending on which day you go) and free for children under 16 years who are accompanied by a paying adult.
The three-day Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival has a number of enticements to tickle the taste buds of the festival visitors. A Chef Cookery Theatre is the star attraction, which hosts celebrity and award-winning chefs who give live on-stage cookery demonstrations. Previous demonstrators include the Hairy Bikers, Jay Rayner and Antonio Carluccio. The Cookery Theatre also gives local chefs an opportunity to showcase their food and enables visitors to learn more about produce that is local to Gloucestershire.
A large food market offering extensive delights with free samples is open throughout the festival. Visitors can purchase a plethora of locally made produce, from chutneys to cheeses, crumpets to chocolate, sizzling sausages and charming cupcakes. Many of the local restaurants set up tents within the festival where visitors can purchase popular items from their menus along with festival specials.
The Real Ale and Cider section is host to a variety of local and regional brewers, celebrating the vast number of real ales that originate in the county of Gloucestershire. The International Wine Theatre has a number of talks on the subject of wine and wine tastings, as well.
Other Festival Highlights Include:
- Arts and Crafts – Here creators of various craft items including jewellery, pottery and sculptures display and sell their items
- Festival Stage – This is host to a number of musicians throughout the event, giving the festival a vibrant and upbeat atmosphere
- Children’s Activities – Activities for the little festival goers include face-painting, puppet shows and a treasure hunt