HAMPSHIRE Fare, the county food group, is delighted to announce that the award-winning Hampshire Food Festival is returning this summer with a programme of events for food lovers running across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight from July 1-31. 

Tracy Nash, commercial manager at Hampshire Fare, said: “We are looking forward not only to celebrating the return of the Hampshire Food Festival, but celebrating, after a break of two years, the Festival’s postponed 20th anniversary.”  

Hampshire Fare established the very first Hampshire Food Festival back in 2000. Back then, as one of the first tranche of food festivals being held countrywide, it helped to make a significant contribution to the renaissance of interest in local food and drink.

Hampshire Food Festival also quickly achieved an ambition and scale not seen elsewhere.

At a time when most food festivals were based around a market format and held for one day, Hampshire’s ran for a fortnight during the summer and included walks, talks, farm tours, tastings and cookery demonstrations.

This ignited interest and by 2008 it had evolved into a month of activities during July, encouraging locals and visitors to explore Hampshire’s countryside, villages and market towns and discover its abundance of food and drink. Some of our greatest chefs and cooks contributed to the festival over the years, holding demonstrations, giving talks or writing the foreword to the Festival programme.

The impressive roll-call includes Raymond Blanc, Gino D’Acampo, Rose Elliott, Sophie Grigson, Ainsley Harriott, Shaun Hill, Mark Hix, Prue Leith, James Martin and Gordon Ramsay. 

This year this popular festival continues to feature a wide variety of tasty events, such as tours of breweries, distilleries, farms and vineyards, masterclasses and workshops, festivals, fetes and markets, pop-up dining experiences, cookery demonstrations, and more. 

A few highlights from this year’s programme include old favourites, among them tours and cheese suppers at Lyburn Farm in the New Forest, Fizz Fest, to be held at Black Chalk in the Test Valley this year, and the local produce market and chefs’ kitchen at the New Forest Show.  

Exciting new experiences are also lined up. Spirited events include a Gin and Beer Fest at the Gin Palace in Andover, Cocktails and Canapés with MasterChef winner Jane Devonshire at Gorilla Spirts in Upton Grey, gin tasting at Kimbridge Barn in the Test Valley, and Pothecary Gin pop-up at Montagu Arms in Beaulieu.

There are also barbecue masterclasses with SoCal in Southampton, workshops with South Downs Sourdough in Cheriton, and a food fair at Westlands Farm Shop near Wickham. Special dining experiences include Hampshire Deli in Wolverton, Balmer Lawn in Brockenhurst, and The Lighthouse in Milford, plus a Coates & Seely special event at the White Horse near Winchester. 

Tracy Nash said: “Hampshire Food Festival celebrates one of the great pleasures in life: food and drink with a relaxed carnival atmosphere and opportunities to discover new tastes and experiences.

"The festival continues to provide what it set out to achieve when it was set up in 2000: a great opportunity for independents to raise their profile and a unique way for everyone to enjoy and appreciate Hampshire’s heritage, culture, and sense of place. 

“Producers, retailers and venues who are not members of Hampshire Fare are welcome to get involved. The Hampshire Food Festival is a very inclusive platform to celebrate local food and drink. 

“We are currently putting together the Festival’s programme of events. This will be updated regularly on our website, hampshirefare.co.uk, with free copies of the print programme available to pick up from farm shops, village stores, pubs, restaurants and hotels in June. We are inviting everyone to join the celebration, and how welcome that will be after the past two years.”