Think Abergavenny and there’s a chance you’ll also think of amazing food. Great places to eat, a thriving market and regular street food events and of course, biggest of all, the ABERGAVENNY FOOD FESTIVAL. Now celebrating 20+ years, its reputation has grown along with the event itself. Not only with the thousands who attend each year but as a place for chefs, food businesses, journalists, farmers and food producers to come together.

The stage is now set for this year’s event. The traders have moved in, food and drink companies are ready to tempt us with their goodies, and the stage is literally being set for a weekend of live music.

South Wales Life went along yesterday to see how last minute preparations are going.

Abergavenny Food Festival

Such is our appetite (sorry) for this event, that the Saturday is now completely sold out, with only Sunday Stroller tickets left. And if you want our advice, we’d get in quick for those too.

The organisers have just announced the music line up for Party At The Castle, scroll to the bottom of this page for more.

It’s seems after going virtual last year, it’s virtually impossible to stop the festival going ahead this September. All they need is similar weather to 2019 and the event will be beyond perfect.

We went out first thing in the morning two years ago to talk to some of the traders as they were setting up for what proved to be a hectic weekend. Take a look at what they had to say on our YouTube channel FESTIVAL

Kim Waters, Festival Chief Executive said…..

“We are so thrilled to be up and running again after a very difficult time. We know how valuable it is to connect socially. And, of course, we also realise how badly the whole hospitality sector has been hit. Come join us and show your appreciation. Support our growers, producers, chefs, writers and caterers.

Shop from over a hundred stalls, take time out to eat great food with friends, learn something new and get inspired. It may be a slightly different event this year, but our reason to be remains the same. On behalf of the Festival I would like to personally thank our headline sponsors: Schroders Personal Wealth, Naked Wines, and Griffiths Civil Engineering and Construction whose support has been crucial.”

Abergavenny Food Festival enjoys an exceptional reputation as a place for chefs, food businesses, journalists, farmers and food producers to come together. They are known for being an inclusive and welcoming event, delivering a delicious opportunity for people from all walks of life to explore and learn about food

The Festival is a place to explore and learn about food, and eat a little mre than you think you can. There’s a huge programme of activities, including tastings, masterclasses, hands-on cookery lessons and debates and there is so much for the kids’ to see and do. If it’s food related you can bet Abergavenny has it all.

As the festival weekend finally begins, thousands of us will wander through town over the two days. There is so much more than you could ever imagine at the festival. When people arrive, they inevitably stay for the day, and sometimes well into the evening. With cookery demonstrations, the fringe festival and events at the Castle, why wouldn’t you?

After Hours the Festival party continues. In fact you’ll love the buzz around town in the evening with the night market, a little tipple or two, so much live entertainment, Saturday Night Party at the Castle and of course the legendary firework display.

What we particularly love about the festival is the emphasis it pays on our children. The festival is all about getting them growing, cooking and tasting new things. With that in mind, they run a kids’ cookery school, with lots of free cookery classes for the little ones throughout the weekend. Beyond cooking there is plenty to keep them busy and entertained too.

If you’ve never been to this festival before, don’t for one minute think it’s a load of stalls selling delicious food – well, it is that, but so much more. Through their outstanding programme of activities, including product tastings, kids’ activities, masterclasses, hands-on cookery lessons and topical debates, the ABERGAVENNY FOOD FESTIVAL provides the inside track on food issues, offer new ideas about the future of our food and showcase rising stars emerging from the industry.

The Festival prides itself on transforming the way we all think about our food; challenging and promoting new ideas, pushing the boundaries of current thinking and encouraging us to look differently at where our food comes from.

(Neil White)

The SOUTH WALES LIFE team have worked on some of the biggest food & drink shows around the country for a long time. We worked out it must be in excess of 20 years. We’ve done everything from Taste in London to BBC Good Food alongside some of our biggest named chef’s (Ramsey, Oliver, Martin, Stein etc). In fact one day we’ll tell you the about the time Mary Berry made us breakfast.

We mention that because we can honestly say that Abergavenny has something very special where food is concerned. It’s about community too. It’s a place where people come together not only to try and watch great food being made, but talk and listen to what experts have to say.

We spoke to Jack Stein (Ricks’ Son) in 2019, he was parked next to us and was running a little behind schedule. As one of the guest chefs he was thrilled to be taking part in such a prestigious event. He said…

‘Abergavennys’ food reputation is well known and respected everywhere.’

Jack Stein

Over the years, the festival has presented some of our best known names in food: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver, Monica Galetti, Jane Baxter, Jose Pizarro and Valentine Warner, to name but a few. This year we’re sure you’ll get the chance to see some star chefs in action, to taste incredible food but more importantly, have fun with the whole family.

Matt Tebbutt & Freddy Bird (Neil White)

So what about this year? It’s impossible to list every guest, talk and demonstration goping on during the festiva, what we can tell you, is that you are in for a real treat.

The Robert Price Kitchens Stage in the Market Hall will showcase: Raymond Blanc’s protégé, Chris Harrod (awarded a Michelin Star for The Whitebrook, Monmouthshire) cooking with wild and foraged produce; top food writer Tim Hayward sharing delicious and decadent things you can do with a slice or two of bread; Chetna Makan (Great British Bakeoff) nailing flavours with her ‘Thirty Minute Indian’; and millennials’ answer to Delia Smith and TikTok sensation, Poppy O’Toole, whipping up ‘The Food you Need’.

Jane Baxter (Wild Artichoke, Kingsbridge) and Christine Smallwood, expert on Italian cuisine, present dishes from Christine’s book ‘Italy’ (the latest from the World Vegetarian series); Hywel Griffith (Michelin-starred, The Beachhouse, Oxwich Bay) highlights harvests of the sea; Vanessa Kimbell, aka ‘Queen of Sourdough’, shares tips from her latest book, and Jenny Chandler, author of ‘Green Kids Cook’, has easy recipes to get youngsters up and running.

Hywel Griffith – The Beach House, Oxwich Bay, Gower Peninsula

If a top-notch pie is the way to your heart, check out pastry obsessives Calum Franklin and Nokx Majozi (founders of The Pie Room, Holborn). And there’s a surprise dem from Matt Tebbutt and Olly Smith, hotfooting it from BBC Saturday Kitchen Studio – maybe something from Matt’s new book, ‘Weekend: Eating at Home’ and paired with a delicious concoction from Olly’s ‘Home Cocktail Bible’.

Italophiles Jane Baxter (Wild Artichoke, Kingsbridge) and Christine Smallwood, expert on Italian cuisine, present dishes from Christine’s book ‘Italy’ (the latest from the World Vegetarian series); Hywel Griffith (Michelin-starred, The Beachhouse, Oxwich Bay) highlights harvests of the sea; Vanessa Kimbell, aka ‘Queen of Sourdough’, shares tips from her latest book, and Jenny Chandler, author of ‘Green Kids Cook’, has easy recipes to get youngsters up and running.

Matt & Olly bring the Saturday Kitchen vibe to the festival

If you’d like to see the full line up, just go HERE.

You’ll need to buy an entry wristband in advance (no walk-up). They’re restricting visitors to just five thousand a day so you can safely join stallholders, performers, and all manner of culinary movers and shakers for a much anticipated return to proper fun and feasting on the Welsh Borders.

Wristbands are available to purchase online now – the box office is live.

Party at the Castle (Neil White)

As for the music, the Saturday night PARTY AT THE CASTLE sold out in record time. If you’ve been before, then you know it’s a special and magical event set amidst the romantic castle ruins with high-octane entertainment, and fabulous food and drink to buy.

The festival have just announced the two bands who’ll be performing. A fantastic contrast of styles to get you on the dance floor.

YAABA FUNK

Yaaba Funk have been an important part of the contemporary Afro scene in the UK since their formation in Brixton in 2006. The irresistible appeal of this energetic collective is the mix of 21st Century Hi-Life, Afrobeat and Funk – with the bass-heavy sounds that exemplify much of London music. Fronted by vocalists Richmond Kessie and Helen McDonald, Yaaba Funk bring hard-hitting Afro drums and percussion, tight horns and psychedelic guitars into the mix.

Yabba Funk

CARDINAL BLACK

Welsh alt-rock quartet Cardinal Black aren’t your typical new band. Their debut single Tell Me How It Feels toppled Noel Gallagher from the #1 spot in the UK Rock Charts. It was a dramatic debut by any definition. Frenzied press coverage followed on both sides of the Atlantic with half a million plays across their first two singles. 

Tom Hollister(vocals) Chris Buck (guitar) Adam Roberts (drums) and Sam Williams (bass). Smoky vocals, cultured song writing and outstanding musicianship. Smart, sultry, effortlessly smooth. And not many bands can boast having ‘The Best New Guitarist in the World’ (Music Radar 2020) as a member.

ABERGAVENNY FOOD FESTIVAL is over this weekend, the 18th and 19th of September. As you can imagine it will be busy, as the festival is spread all across town and up to the Castle. It’s really worth a visit anytime (as long as you pre-buy your wristband). For more details CLICK HERE and if you want to check out the 2019 full guide and programme, to get a flavour (sorry) of what went on, just do the same HERE.

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