Shows and Festivals! August and September is festival season along the English/Welsh border. In Shrewsbury , Ludlow and Abergavenny, annual events attract exhibitors and visitors from across the country (and further afield). Flowers or food? The choice is yours.
Shrewsbury Flower Show
14th and 15th August 2015
The Shrewsbury Flower Show is in The Guinness Book of World Records, as the longest running horticultural event held in the same location.
The show has been held for 127
years at Quarry Park,on the banks of the River Severn. The park is centrally located and is in easy reach of the town centre and the railway station.
The show, one of the country’s Premier Flower Show events, attracts top exhibitors from all over the country.
As well as the flower displays, T.V. personalities, celebrity Chefs, singers and spectacular arena acts entertain the crowds for 12 hours on each day of the show, ending with a magnificent firework display.
Ludlow Food Festival
11th to 13th September 2015
The medieval town of Ludlow is worth visiting any time of year for its Tudor streets and stunning castle, but for one weekend in September there is an added attraction.The 2015 Ludlow Marches Food and Drink Festival takes place on 11th, 12th and 13th September.
From humble beginnings in 1995, Britain’s first successful food and drink festival now attracts large numbers of visitors from across the UK an overseas.
From Friday to Sunday, over 180 top quality small independent food and drink producers will be inside Ludlow Castle.
As well as the food producers, across Ludlow’s historic town centre there are a number of other of food-related events. Follow the famous Ludlow Sausage trail, Ale trail or the Festival Loaf trail, watch cooking demonstrations, sample pudding tastings, explore markets and much more.
Abergavenny Food Festival
18th to 20th September 2015
The Guardian said “Abergavenny is to food as Cannes is to film – an annual festival for spotting rising stars in Britain’s artisan food firmament”
The festival was founded in 1999, has attracted too many celebrity chefs and critics to name here.
The weekend-long festival of food and drink and has an excellent reputation, with beautifully stocked stalls, demos, talks and fascinating activities such as guided wild food walks.
This year’s programme is full and varied including talks by celebrity chefs Raymond Blanc and Tom Kerridge (though the latter is sold out). On the Friday, limited numbers can tour the Abergavenny Creamery or Chase Distillery, near Hereford. Advance booking for both tours is essential.
Like most shows and festivals, all three events are very popular and attract large crowds. So why not take the train to avoid the traffic?
The Arriva Trains of Wales service from Manchester to Cardiff runs hourly and stops at Shrewsbury, Ludlow and Abergavenny. Shrewsbury is also a major railway junction with direct services to Chester, Aberystwyth, Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
National Rail provides up to date details of train times and fares.
A train trip on the Cambrian Coast offers an ideal opportunity to explore Mid Wales without a car. There are stops along the line providing access to some of the best known tourist attractions in Wales.
Trains leave Shrewsbury regularly, running through gentle lowlands around Welshpool and Newtown before cutting through the spectacular Cambrian Mountains. It is a leisurely stroll from Welshpool station to Powis Castle and Gardens, just over a mile away.
The journey to Machynlleth takes less than 90 minutes; alight at Machynlleth to visit The Centre for Alternative Technology or King Arthur’s Labyrinth. After Machynlleth, the line splits with alternate trains heading for Aberystwyth and Pwllheli.
Seaside Resort and Castle at Aberystwyth
Aberystwyth, the largest town on the Cambrian Coast, set in a bay in the shade of three hills. Visit the ruins of Aberystwyth Castle, take a ride on Britain’s longest electric cliff tramway or change trains and take the steam hauled Vale of Rheidol Railway to Devil’s Bridge from Aberystwyth station.
The line to Pwllheli runs along a coastline renowned for castles, narrow gauge railways and Welsh tradition, offering a great selection of Welsh days out . Connections with steam trains can be made with the Talyllyn at Tywyn and the Fairbourne Steam Railway at Fairbourne. Leaving Fairbourne, the line crosses the sandy Mawddach Estuary as it enters Barmouth. Porthmadog is the terminus for the famous Ffestiniog Railway, though easier connections with the Cambrian Coast Line are made by changing at Minfordd. Portmerion the Italianate resort village, made famous by the TV series The Prisoner, is less than a mile’s walk from Minfordd station.
Pwllheli has one of Britain’s Busiest Markets
In the 13th century, the area was the heart of local resistance to attempts by Edward I to conquer Wales. Two major castles remain from this period. Harlech Castle was built by Edward as part of his ring of castles in North West Wales and Criccieth was built by the Welsh but was later captured by the English.
Every Wednesday, Pwllheli hosts one of Britain’s busiest markets. Situated at the head of the Llyn Peninsula and edge of the Snowdonia National Park, Pwllheli is an ideal base for touring.
The service is operated by Arriva Trains Wales, who offer a range of discounted fares. There are regular direct services to Shrewsbury from Manchester, Cardiff and Birmingham. The journey time from London Euston is less than three hours, changing at either Birmingham or Crewe.