It’s Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival this weekend. In it’s 8th year it is certainly going to be much bigger this year than it has in the previous seven. Increasing visitor numbers mean that the festival has undergone a reorganisation according to reports in the local media – exciting stuff!
I’ve attended the festival for the last three years, and I love it. The atmosphere is captivating; it’s fantastic to mingle with people who care about producing one of Britain’s favourite treats, chocolate. The main street is blocked off for the weekend as traders from across the country set up stall for two bustling days of trading. Being so close to Easter it’s also the perfect time to stockpile chocolate for the Easter season as many traders provide a number of interesting and often unique Easter Egg choices. The chocolate on offer varies, with offerings of milk chocolate, dark chocolate, single origin chocolate and the more weird and wonderful flavours such as Chicken Tikka Masala flavoured chocolate which featured in the 2012 festival.
If you’re not sure which flavour to select, you can try before you buy to ensure that you choose your favourite. It’s well worth it.
It’s not all about the chocolate, though. The Chilli Jam Man delights in serving up delicious and often very hot jams, sauces and pickles which tantalise the taste buds.
Last year I spent an hour or so warming up in The Cultured Bean, an excellent coffee shop which is well worth a visit if you enjoy cafetiere coffees and homemade cooking. At the top of the street there is the impeccable The Chocolate Cafe who serve the most indulgent hot chocolates and mochas* that I have ever sampled, this is as well as their stall on the main street itself selling a range of their chocolate bars and slabs.
For lunch you have a number of street vendors to choose from selling gourmet burgers, curry, paella and more. If you fancy a mid-afternoon beer there are a number of good quality pubs in the near vicinity with fantastic quality beers to choose from.
Now you see why I choose to abstain from chocolate for at least a week before each festival. It’s not hard to see why as Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival is a chocoholic’s idea of heaven, it certainly is mine. I like to be free of chocolate for a while so that I can fully appreciate its taste when the festival arrives and more importantly, so I can physically fit more in! The idea might sound silly but it really works. This year I’ve also abstained from coffee for a week, mainly because I’ve drank way too much during term time and need to cut back but also because that first cup on Sunday will taste all the better for it.
With the indulgent treats, coffees, beers and hot foods on offer, this weekend certainly promises to be a good one.
One thing is for sure, I’ll need to do a lot of running to burn off all the chocolate that I’m about to eat!
Are you going to the Chocolate Festival this weekend? What are you looking forward to the most? Share your best bits in the comments section!
All photographs are my own.