Leamington Food Festival expected to attract 25,000 visitors in its tenth year

Pictured getting ready for the tenth Leamington Food and Drink Festival are, from left to right, Alison Shaw (BID Leamington project manager) with Simon Kelly (shop manager at Aubrey Allen) and Helen Beverley (customer service manager at Aubrey Allen).
Pictured getting ready for the tenth Leamington Food and Drink Festival are, from left to right, Alison Shaw (BID Leamington project manager) with Simon Kelly (shop manager at Aubrey Allen) and Helen Beverley (customer service manager at Aubrey Allen).

A feast of a festival is being cooked up in Leamington to mark the town’s tenth annual celebration of the best in town and regional food and drink.

The hugely popular Royal Leamington Spa Food and Drink Festival has grown from 39 to 157 exhibitors during its first decade, and is expected to attract around 25,000 visitors over the weekend of Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10.

The free-to-attend extravaganza, organised by BID Leamington with the support of local businesses and held in the Royal Pump Room Gardens, has become the biggest event in the town’s calendar and is regarded as one of the best autumn food festivals in the country.

Alison Shaw, BID project manager, said: “The festival is unrecognisable from its early days in terms of the number and variety of food and drink exhibitors, the packed programme of activities over the two days, and the volume of visitors it attracts from all over the country.

“In 2008, there were 39 exhibitors which included 14 town centre businesses and a farmers market. This year, there will be 157 exhibitors in all, with 59 from the town centre and 80 from the surrounding area. The others are from further afield and selected for their offer.

“It’s a sell-out again this year and its reputation keeps growing. We’re hoping for our biggest and best ever to celebrate its tenth anniversary.”

Award-winning Leamington butchers Aubrey Allen has exhibited at the festival every year and will be returning with the Home Cook of the Year competition for the fourth time as well as taking part in demonstrations in the Live Cookery Theatre.

Helen Beverley, customer service manager at Aubrey Allen, said: “When the festival first started, it wasn’t that large at all and we just had a small stand with myself on it handing out literature about our company and products.

“As the festival has grown, our stand has got larger and larger.

“It’s a fantastic event for our town and from talking to visitors year in and year out, I know that people come to it from all over the country.”

This year’s festival, sponsored by Brooks Macdonald, will feature a mouth-watering range of cuisine including local produce, tapas, Italian, French, Caribbean, German, Tex-Mex, Thai, and South African.

The programme features new attractions, including first-time local exhibitors Rosie’s Tea Shop and Millenium Sweet House, and a Love Leam section of town centre businesses.

Among the regular favourites will be the Live Cookery Theatre featuring demonstrations from local chefs including Restaurant 23, Tame Hare and the Whittle’s Restaurant at Audley Binswood, the Kids Cookery School, sponsored by town centre businesses including Nando’s, Pizza Express and Yo! Sushi, and the Great Leamington Bake-Off, in association with Sweet As, Queans and Restaurant 23, plus live local music.

Full details for the event, which runs from 10am to 6pm on both days, can be found at www.leamingtonfoodfestival.co.uk