As soon as the summer social season starts, the vast array of festivals, fairs, events and occasions that we’ve come to expect start popping up all around us. Here’s a flavour of the variety on offer locally
How you enjoy your summer fun and make the most of the better weather and those later, lighter nights is a personal choice. Whether you want to while away your days at a three-day festival of music or pick and choose a few select evening events over the season… Luckily, no matter your preference, there is something for everyone going on across the Shire patch. Over the next few pages we’ve rounded up the very best of the events on offer, celebrating music, food and fun in general – all in the midst of the Great British summertime.
Be a sport
If the World Cup has inspired a celebration of sports in your family – then why not let it continue through the summer? And where better to start than with a day out at the polo? It’s an ancient sport that was brought to this country in the 1860s, and offers spectators an exhilarating mix of equine and human action. Check out Cheshire Polo Club, which has origins of many hundreds of years and still meets throughout the summer in Tarporley. Or, if you are a big fan of the horses themselves, consider a day at Chester Races. The summer season there includes Ladies’ Nights, packed race fixtures, family fun days and serious competitions – all with the chance to place your bets, play the odds and win big… Or at least enjoy yourself in the sunshine! And if you prefer your entertainment on the water rather than on land, there are summer season events for you, too. What about joining the crowds, or even participating teams, for the Shrewsbury Dragon Boat Festival on 7th and 8th July? This popular event is a great day out and raises vital funds for Severn Hospice. Alternatively, watch the classic racing boats in action around the waters of North Wales at the Menai Strait Regattas, raced over the fortnight from 30th July.
If a calmer, more sedate day out appeals, what could be more bloomin’ beautiful than taking in one of the amazing flower shows we have locally? The ultimate day out, and garden shopping opportunity, has to be the RHS Show at Tatton Park from 18th July – covering acres of parkland with stalls, exhibitions and gardens. This year’s show is set to be better than ever as it marks 20 years of Tatton events and will be celebrating that proud legacy with extra special parades and presentations.
Further south, the horticultural heritage will also be celebrated at the annual Shrewsbury Flower Show over 10th and 11th August. This epic event includes plants, stands, exhibitions and all things floral, as well as a combination of music and performances all finished off with a jaw-dropping firework display.
Whatever you decide, there’s so much going on your best bet is to keep our What’s On guide handy, and check the following pages for music, food and fun round-ups!
One highlight of the summer is the sudden arrival of outdoor music events – either one-off concerts or those that turn into festivals and last several days. Across the patch there are celebrations of all different types of music lined up for all different types of audiences…
The Shrewsbury Folk Festival is definitely one not to be missed for 2018 – running from August 24th to 27th at the county showground. Not only is it one of the country’s biggest and best celebrations of folk music, this amazing event is about so much more besides. Promising a relaxed atmosphere with time for you to explore the four sound stages, dance tent and specialist venues, the festival is set to be a welcoming, happy and inspiring event for all ages. There are shops, caterers, bars, a craft fair, free buses into Shrewsbury town centre and a great campsite available, with a huge list of events and attractions laid on for younger visitors too.
Another great family event nearby is the Farmer Phil’s Festival – celebrating its 20th year in 2018 with a packed week of entertainment from August 6th to 13th. This famous family music event takes place in the Shropshire hills and promises a boutique gathering for music lovers of all styles and genres. The eclectic mix of acts ranges from ska to classic rock, from dance to acoustic folk and everything in between! The cost of tickets includes the full week of camping, and with everything from animal experiences to circus entertainment and loads of arts and crafts, there will be plenty to keep children busy. Farmer Phil’s bespoke revolving stage – created from an old rotary milking parlour in order to cut down the changeover times between bands – will be back in action once again as over 50 live acts perform.
There can be no greater celebration of all things musical on the Welsh summer calendar than the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. The festival offers six days of the very best in music and folk dance, in a unique combination of competition, performance and international peace and friendship that has gained it a well-deserved and admirable reputation. It has drawn international stars and crowds of thousands to the town for over 70 years now. And this year is certainly no exception to the rule, with global legend Alfie Boe headlining the main event alongside prolific recording artist, Van Morrison, renowned baroque instrumental group, Red Priest, and award-winning Welsh folk band, Calan. Music director of the festival, Vicky Yannoula, said: ‘We are proud that this year’s festival line-up spans genres and generations, crossing the boundaries of age, culture and creed. There really is something for everyone.’
The festival will run from 3rd July to
8th July, when it will close with the one-day, fun-packed family friendly Llanfest celebration. This year’s star-studded line-up includes multi-platinum English indie pop-legends, Kaiser Chiefs, headlining on the main stage, supported by renowned pop
rock band Hoosiers and 1990s icons Toploader, as well as a host of emerging
If those musical marathons sound a bit too full-on for your tastes, why not take a look at a couple of other more low-key festivals? The Sesiwn Fawr Folk Festival from 20th to 22nd July is set to entertain a smaller crowd at Dolgellau, while the Machynlleth Festival of classical and jazz music, from 19th to 26th August, is another worth checking out.
When it comes to music festivals that are out of this world – it’s hard to compete with one that sets itself up surrounding an interstellar telescope that really can take you, well, out of this world. The Blue Dot Festival is held at Jodrell Bank from 19th to 22nd July. This year’s incredible and always funky line-up includes The Chemical Brothers, Gary Numan and Flaming Lips, amongst others. Meanwhile, the ever-present scientific focus is brought in for a special Blue Planet homage performed by The Hallé Orchestra to the backdrop of spectacular footage from the
BBC archives. This family-friendly camping festival is packed with information and inspiration alongside a pretty impressive entertainment offering.
Another top feature of our local summer season is the arrival of the food festivals that celebrate all the amazing growers, producers and preparers across the patch
There has been a market in Nantwich since 1720, so it is no surprise that the Nantwich Food Festival, held on 31st August to 2nd September, is a highlight of the local culinary calendar. Nantwich is a small town with a big tradition of organising amazing festivals, including the Jazz and Blues Festival each Easter weekend, the Words and Music Festival each October, Holly Holy Day each January, and the famous Nantwich Show and International Cheese Awards. The Cheshire town knows how to throw a party and for 2018 the food festival is set to continue this tradition with exhibitors from all over the world, food and drink from Mexico, America, Germany, Iran, India and Thailand, as well as artisan producers from all over the UK.
One highlight of the local food scene is the Newtown Food Festival on 1st and 2nd September, in the town hall grounds of this pleasant Powys town. There is plenty to do over the weekend for all ages. Visitors can sample Welsh delicacies, including award-winning sparkling wine, and mouth-watering chocolates made in Newtown and sold all over the world. There are live music performances to enjoy all weekend and into Saturday night, and a jam-packed menu of activities for children, including pizza-making, campfire building and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. There will be inspirational dishes and demonstrations in the Festival Kitchen, including renowned local chef and hotelier Roger Stevens who is bringing back his popular masterclass – The Perfect Sunday Lunch. With performers and activities from the local community, and craft stalls and a varied programme of fringe events leading up to the weekend, it’s not to be missed.
Mold Food and Drink Festival will return for the 13th year in 2018, bringing with it the very best exhibitors, cookery theatres, produce and leading names in the culinary world. Attracting more than 13,000 visitors, the festival is held on Mold’s New Street car park on 15th and 16th September. Festival chairman John Les Tomos said: ‘It’s is the perfect recipe of exhibitors, activities, music and cookery demonstrations – something for everyone with a little dusting of Mold magic.’
The festival draws visitors from across the country with a packed programme of activities, including masterclasses with well-known chefs. And this year will be no exception, with Celebrity Masterchef winner, author and actress Lisa Faulkner to headline the festival. Now a successful author with five books to her name, Lisa will make her first visit to North Wales on September 16th, when she will cook for festival-goers and share her tips of the trade.
New to the scene
Following the spectacular success of the nearby Beaumaris Food Festival, the organisers of that event have been tasked with starting a new one – Menai Food Festival. The festival will be held from 9.30am to 5pm on 4th August in the centre of the town, on the recreation field. This is sure to be an action-packed and food-filled culinary treat if Beaumaris is anything to go by, and a percentage of the profits will go to local charities and organisations.
Beaumaris Food Festival has improved year upon year, with this year promising to be the best yet, as organisers embrace the unique stunning seafront location with the picturesque Snowdonia range as a backdrop. This year the focus is on ‘The Year of The Sea’. Both festivals definitely deserve a note in the diary for 2018.
Best of the Rest
Another great day out for all the family this summer is the Telford 50 celebrations in the Shropshire town. Marking 50 years of Telford and looking back at some of the things which have made Telford terrific over those decades, the Telford Carnival 2018 will be a feast for the senses with a parade of colourful large-scale extravagant hand-made structures which will all be walked, pushed, pulled or wheeled on local roads around the town centre.
The parade will be brought to life with music, dance and carnival costumes. The procession includes many sections made up of volunteers, community groups and organisations from around the borough. Each group is being supported by a team of professional carnival makers, choreographers and a mass-movement director to create the structures, costumes, music and dances to bring the procession together. Not to be missed on Sunday July 15th.
Now in its 18th year, WoodFest Country Show is a celebration of all things wood, located in the heart of the North Wales countryside, on 28th and 29th July. Spread over 30 acres, the festival showcases a variety of wood-related activities, crafts and forest industries. Timber professionals and competitors from around the world come together for a range of skilled competitions.
Younger kids will be busy on fairground rides and activities such as a climbing tower, quad bikes, jeeps, karts, edible art, fun dog show, craft and felt workshops, pyrography, owl experience and ferret handling. It’s billed as the best family fun this summer.
The Llangollen Motorbike Festival, better known as LlanBikeFest, is back this summer, and will take place at the Royal International Pavilion on August 4th and 5th. Back by popular demand – John McGuinness will be appearing and he will be joined by BSB champion John Reynolds, plus British Supersport winner Steve Plater. John McGuinness said: ‘I had such a good time at LlanBikeFest in 2017 – and I will definitely be there again in August. It’s a weekend of fun and a great family affair. Hopefully I will be in better shape this year so I can get out and meet people and look at all the great bikes. I will be bringing more of my bike collection with me and will just enjoy it.’
And if you have time for one more event, then be sure to include the Royal Welsh Show. The pinnacle event in the agricultural calendar, the Royal Welsh Show, will be held on 23rd to 26th July at the showground in Llanelwedd. Along with an exciting four days of livestock competitions, with entries from far and wide, the show has something to interest everyone through its wide range of activities, including forestry, horticulture, crafts, countryside sports, shopping, food and drink, and a 12-hour programme each day of exciting entertainment and displays.