In September I will be celebrating 5 years since I started the Roundabout pop-up roadshow. I have enjoyed travelling to some stunning destinations from the New Forest to the Peak District and meeting people from all over the UK, enjoying a day out with family and friends. I’m currently choosing which events to visit this year and wanted to share my five favourite shows with you as well as some tips to make sure you have the best day out.
1. Living Crafts, Hatfield House, Hertfordshire
This is my number one because it brings together a wealth of artistic talent: skilled designers and makers from every discipline. You can experience craft in action - watch demonstrations or have-a-go. Every year I see something different and wish I didn’t have to spend all day on my stand. I’d really like to try throwing a pot and to stop and watch the glass blowing. When I walk round at the beginning or end of the day, most of the stands are closed, but there over 150. You can shop til you drop for novel, original products all designed and made in Britain; no imports.
You can even commission bespoke work. So, at this year’s Living Crafts show in May, I’ve decided to offer my customers the option to design their own dresses or shorts, choose your own fabrics, style and finishing touches.
TOP TIP - tickets are slightly cheaper if you buy them online in advance; you can also book workshops in advance. Or you can enter the Roundabout competition to win tickets. The details will be on my Events Page.
2. Chilli Fiesta, West Dean, West Sussex
The first time I visited West Dean college, I expected a 1960s style building so was very surprised to find a beautiful estate house that dates back to the 11th century. It is a stunning back drop to the annual Chilli Fiesta in August each year which brings the grounds to colourful life; its a vibrant, energetic festival of cooking theatre with live music and dance. The choice of snacks and meals always defeats my usual resolve to self-cater and take a packed lunch.
It’s a fun, family occasion focused around chilli but encompassing so much more, including, of course, a well curated selection of local small businesses offering quality products to browse and shop.
TOP TIP - Take home a West Dean chilli plant, for sale on their stand - they are hot and tasty.
3. Alresford Watercress Festival, Hampshire
Apparently, Terry Wogan recommended this event on his breakfast show and he was right. It’s a one day event and it’s all about watercress - you can meet the Watercress King and Queen, enter the World watercress eating championships and taste different recipes made using watercress. The centre of Old Alresford is closed to traffic and taken over by a hive of activities, entertainments, a procession and a variety of shopping stalls offering lots of food, fashion and lifestyle goodies. There’s a real buzz.
TOP TIP - park up at Roley and travel by steam train to Alresford on the Watercress Line, Mid-Hants railway.
4. Stansted Garden Show, Stansted Park, Hampshire
If you can’t find it here it doesn’t exist - I’m sure you can buy anything and everything you might need for your garden at this event. Plus a good selection of non-gardening products and a strong craft pavilion. Without exception, customers seem to enjoy a happy day out in the grounds of Stansted Park. For me, it’s the most local show I attend, so I enjoy seeing friends and travelling home each evening.
TOP TIP - If the weather is good, I imagine it would be nice to get there early to beat the queues and enjoy a champagne breakfast in the car park whilst you wait for the show to open.
5. The New Forest Show, Brockenhurst, Hampshire
This is a very busy show so be prepared for crowds. However, it is really well organised and very authentic featuring lots of traditional elements of country life: hunting, shooting, and fishing. As well as rural crafts, a huge flower show, an excellent craft tent and every kind of farm animal.
TOP TIP - make sure you don’t miss out. It’s worth planning your day so nearer the date look out for what’s on around the showground for families especially In the main arena and the Discovery Zone.
I look forward to seeing you at one of the pop-ups, you can keep up to date with which shows I’m booking on the Events page. There are a couple of new ones which I’m looking forward to. There will also be some ticket giveaways.