The UK consumes more cider than any other nation on the planet, so it’s no wonder our 500 or so cider producers have something to celebrate. Now that the Beast from the East has turned tail and Spring is well and truly upon us, it’s time to look forward to some of the UK’s best cider festivals. It comes as a shock to no one that many of these take place in the South West, but here’s our round-up of some to check out further afield as well.
Falmouth Folk & Cider Fayre
Friday 23 to Sunday 25 March 2018
As Falmouth’s Spring Festival kicks off, toe tap your way to Events Square and you’ll experience the best of West Country folk and cider at the Annual Folk & Cider Fayre. With over 80 classic ciders to try before you buy, there’s a tipple to suit every taste.
Festivities begin from 7pm on Friday night with cider sampling, plus a high energy Ceilidh Barn Dance to the sounds of traditional and acoustic folk musicians from across the UK. If all of that helps you work up an appetite there is also a marquee full of delicious food stalls so you can grab a bite to eat, and you can feed your creative side in the arts, crafts and local produce marquee.
Reading Beer & Cider Festival
Thursday 3 to Sunday 6 May 2018
Real ale and cider lovers everywhere will delight in the offerings of the 22nd Reading Beer and Cider Festival, this time at the new location of Christchurch Meadow.
This year’s event sees over 500 real ales and 150 real ciders from across the UK take centre stage alongside a carefully curated selection of local products. If cider is not quite your thing, then you can also sample an impressive selection of European beers as well as a fantastic range of British wines from vineyards across the country.
The four days of festivities start with a pub quiz on Thursday night, followed by local live music and entertainment including traditional Morris dancing on Friday and Saturday, as well as the all-important cider judging and CAMRA’s National Cider and Perry Championships. Sunday is the day to bring the children along for a whole host of fun activities including competitions and games with the Half-pints Club, winding up a festival that is sure to keep visitors of all ages entertained.
Welsh Cheese & Cider Weekend
Saturday 5 to Sunday 6 May 2018
Love cheese? Love cider? Then this is the cider festival for you. Back for the seventh year, the Welsh Cheese and Cider Festival takes over the Gower Heritage Centre, offering visitors a wide selection of locally produced, award-winning cheeses, ciders and perries from Wales.
There will be a variety of ciders available to sample, including Gower’s own Mill House cider, and you can get to see the inner workings of a traditional 1890s travelling cider press. The Mill Tearooms will be serving a wide range of Welsh classics such as the ever-popular Welsh cream tea, and a bar and barbecue will also be on hand to keep health appetites satisfied.
As if that’s not enough, there’ll be live music and open mic sessions over the weekend, as well as plenty of traditional craft demonstrations including those from blacksmiths and artisan glass blowers.
Visitors old and young are sure to enjoy the Punch & Judy puppet shows and animal feeding sessions. If you’re feeling really creative, why not take part in a craft workshop: throw a pot on a pottery wheel or make a hand puppet to take home with you.
Stratford-Upon-Avon Beer & Cider Festival
Friday 6 to Saturday 7 July 2018
Grab your glass and quench your thirst with a choice of over 70 beers and 30 ciders at CAMRA’s annual Stratford Beer & Cider Festival at the Stratford-on-Avon Racecourse.
If you like a touch of nostalgia with your pint, two working Shire horses will be pulling the Hook Norton Dray around the grounds on Saturday – just as they still deliver beer around the area of Hook Norton on Thursdays and Fridays, weather permitting.
For those with some rhythm in their bones, the Worcester ukulele club will be strumming everything from WW1 ditties to this year’s hits. Take some time out to simmer down in the afternoon with the sound of some smooth jazz and a Parisian theme, before the evening turns up the heat with 70s tune from cover band 4More.
If you want to make the most of the weekend then camping and caravanning facilities are available at the racecourse, but a word of warning: the organisers say the festival will only be open until the real ale, cider and perries run out so get your skates on and book your tickets now.
Robin Hood Beer & Cider Festival
Wednesday 17 to Saturday 20 October 2018
Due to major redevelopments at Nottingham Castle for the next three years, the annual Robin Hood Beer & Cider Festival has temporarily relocated to the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham. The festival takes over the arena itself as well as substantial backstage areas, an outside space and Bolero Square at the front of the building.
Boldly boasting the world’s largest selection of cask conditioned real ales, there will also be over 250 ciders and perries covering every imaginable style, including vegan and gluten-free options. All kinds of foods are available at the catering stalls to keep hunger at bay, and live blues, country, folk and rock music completes the drinking, dining and dancing requirements of any self-respecting cider festival goer.
As you would expect, all of these beer and cider festivals are hugely popular so it pays to sort your tickets out in advance. Check out the organisers’ websites for prices, as well as special deals for students and groups, and advice on travel and local accommodation.