The pretty market town of Alcester (pronounced by locals as ‘All-ster’) is just a 10-minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon and well worth a visit if you haven’t already been. Famous for its Roman history, and a fine selection of pubs and tearooms, Alcester is also infamous for its love of a good community gathering!
Throughout the year Alcester plays host to a number of different events – the biannual charity street markets, the annual St Nicholas’ night celebration, folk festivals, beer and cider festivals, pancake races, duck races, fun runs, fireworks, parties in the park – and so much more! During the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, little old Alcester – which has an entire population of just over 6000 people – was even credited with holding the biggest street party in the country!
But perhaps Alcester’s most popular event is the Alcester Food Festival. Held twice a year, in May and in October, this year’s autumn event takes place tomorrow (18th October 2014) from 9am until 5pm.
During the event, Alcester’s quaint and historic High Street will be closed to traffic to make way for over 100 stalls selling an amazing array of local and homemade produce. Meats, cheeses, fruit and vegetables, homemade breads and cakes, jams, sauces, honey, real ales…you name it – the Alcester Food Festival will have something to tempt every tastebud!
Come to the Alcester Food Festival hungry, as there are plenty of samples to whet your appetite and a wide selection of hot food to keep you satisfied. Some of my personal favourites include The Parson’s Nose for their enormous onion-topped sausage baps, the Stone House Smoke & Grill’s epic pulled pork sandwiches, and to take home, how about a Brockleby’s penguin pie, fresh local meats from the Ragley Estate, or some organic Simon Weaver Cotswold cheese?
Thirsty? Though we’re still weeping over the recent closure of one of Alcester’s best-loved pubs, The Holly Bush, there are no fewer than nine other drinking holes at which to quench your thirst with an alcoholic beverage or two. We recommend The Turk’s Head on the High Street, and the Lord Nelson on Priory Road. Exhibitors at the Food Festival will also include local brewery Purity, Hogan’s Cider and several other wine and spirit merchants. For a great cup of good old English tea, our pick is the Orangemabel vintage tearoom on the High Street.
As a resident I’m perhaps a little biased, but there’s something really special about Alcester. It has a wonderful community feel that can often be lacking in tourist-driven Stratford; a real sense of fun and community spirit that you will best experience at the Alcester Food Festival when the whole town comes out to celebrate food, drink, family and friends.
On a normal weekend in Alcester there is plenty of free parking, but during the Food Festival this will be very busy as coach-loads of visitors arrive from Stratford, Redditch, Birmingham and even further afield. If you’re arriving by car, we’d recommend the free park and ride located on the Arden Industrial Estate, just on the edge of town. Find out more at http://www.alcesterfoodfestival.org.uk/.