We visited the Food Festival at the Weald and Downland Living Museum on a gloriously sunny Bank Holiday Sunday. Before we went, I was concerned whether it would be too grown-up for my two children, who are five and nearly three, and that they would get bored (which is my son’s current favourite word) However, the organisers had put a lot of thought into activities for the whole family, so we all had a really fantastic time.
Here’s what we enjoyed:
There was a programme of entertainment throughout the day, including a singer, puppet show and a magician / juggler. This was located in the market square, right next to an open grassy area with plenty of food stalls nearby for snacks and lunch options. It was a big draw to both of my children that they were not the standard entertainers they were familiar with. The puppet show was a kind of folk version of Punch and Judy, but with none of the violence and plenty of charm!
The magician / juggler was a big hit, in fact I’ve never known my son and daughter to sit so still and for so long! Despite the heat and noise of a busy lunchtime slot, the entertainer was not deterred and actually managed to entertain both adults and children without being cheesy or smutty.
Children’s Cookery School
This was our first stop when we arrived, and was an immediate hit. Both children got to make their own cheese scone, which was then baked there and then, and they got to have their faces painted whilst we waited. The best part of it was that all of that was free, which was a welcome change to other big attractions where you end up having to pay for all of the extras. There was also a pizza making class at lunchtime with the same concept.
The premise of the Living Museum is that there are various houses and other buildings from different time periods set amongst the grounds, and visitors can explore inside them. There’s a working water mill and a stables with shire horses, plus plenty of staff on hand to give you a history lesson, including some in full costume. The buildings are nicely spaced apart, and there is plenty of grass and woodlands to explore, so it was brilliant for my two, who are a bit young for the history.
There’s also a nice wooden play area tucked away, with a carved wooden dragon to climb on and wicker dens for hide and seek. Plus a grassy hill to run down, in fact I have memories of rolling down that same hill on a school trip as a girl!
There was a great variety of stalls selling food, drinks, plants and ‘woodland wares’ but they were all a notch above your standard burger van. All diets were catered for, with plenty of meat, vegetarian and vegan options available, plus beer tents and a prosecco van! Luckily for us in the hot weather, there were lots of ice cream stands.
The only issue we found was that with all the excitement, my daughter got really tired so we missed out on seeing Gill Meller cooking live. Oh well, we’ll have to come back next year!
We would definitely come back again to this event, and try out the other events held at the Living Museum, including Live History Weekend (2-3 June), and the Working Animals show (21-22 July)