The 17thLudlow Food Festival was held last weekend from 9th– 11thSeptember 2011 and no less than 180 stall holders took part. It is one of the great British foodie highlights of the year and if you decide to go in 2012 we have some very useful hints and tips for you to consider to make the most of your visit.
Firstly, remember that there is very little parking within the walls of this mediaeval town, and there is therefore a park and ride system. You will need to drive a few miles outside of town, park in a grass field and walk to a nearby coach which will then drive you to the centre of town. Make sure you wear waterproof shoes and clothes and, possibly, bring an umbrella if the weather is looking inclement. You may have to wait a long time for the coach to take you back to the car park at the end of the day as there are limited numbers of coaches and a very huge number of visitors.
Secondly, take it all in your stride. The site of the Ludlow Festival is huge, spread over many acres, so do not try to rush your way. You will see the Outer Bailey area first and foremost. This is the home of the Graeme Kidd Stage, where top chefs such as Chris Bradley, the Michelin starred owner of Mr. Underhill’s Restaurant, and Will Holland of La Becasse Restaurant in the centre of Ludlow, show the audience some of their favourite recipes. As well as cooking demonstrations, music, food and drink tastings, this is also an area where you can sit and relax.
In the Inner Bailey there is the Olive Stage, where there are talks and demonstrations as well as food stalls. There is a brochure which delineates where all the different traders have their tent and you can decide whether to start outside or work your way through the Producers’ Tent.
Thirdly, remember that, like all food festivals, this is a commercial enterprise so traders are trying to sell their wares. Come armed with shopping bags, plenty of cash and patience. From honey, to ciders, breads, cheeses, hams, fish, eggs, cakes, cookery books and preserves, there is quite literally something for everyone. Producers are local, mainly from The Marches area, and there is a deep sense of “terroir” and pride to the whole event. Take time to talk to the traders: the buyers may be plenty and the queues long but there are opportunities to talk to producers if you ask politely and bide your time.
Fourthly, the organisers create food trails, fringe activities, hands-on demonstrations, childrens’ cookery, talks, master classes and tastings. Tick what you are interested in doing on the schedule and then make sure you turn up on time to get a good seat at the front.
Lastly, remember that Ludlow is one of Britain’s most beautiful mediaeval walled towns, home to 500 listed buildings, and as a result there are plenty of wonderful architectural attractions for you to look at once the festival starts getting too busy. You can walk away from the castle area and take a more relaxed walk through the little lanes where you will find so many tempting cheesemongers, bakers, cafes, butchers, restaurants and antiques shops. If you are able to stay nearby for the duration of the festival, then so much the better. There is an Information Point in the Event Square if you do not know where to go.
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