After a very successful first year, the Chilli Festival at Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury, is back on Sunday 5th and Bank Holiday Monday 6th May.  This year, there will be even more stalls and entertainment, showcasing all things Hot!

Over 40 exhibitors will be exhibiting and demonstrating their products in the Castle Courtyard Chilli Market and visitors will be able to try and buy delicious products such as curry sauces and pastes, pickles and jams, chilli-flavoured chocolate, cheese and vodka, as well as grow-your-own chilli plants. There will also be a number of specialist hot food suppliers selling authentic Asian curries and other spicy foods.

David Littlewood, General Manager at Eastnor Castle said “We are really excited about our second Eastnor Chilli Festival. This year we have a new Chilli eating competition, organised by the Clifton Chilli Club, for those who are brave enough! Younger visitors are also well catered for with the new Easy Peasy Children’s Cookery Theatre, our specially designed Chilli Trail and the much-loved Eastnor Stilt Walker and Fire Juggler.

We are also delighted to welcome a number of new local exhibitors, including Fat Man Chilli from Preston-on-Wye and his curry sauces, plants, jellies and chocolates, Chilli Pepper Plantation from Bromyard and their grow-your-own chilli plants and Becky’s Bhajis and Dips from Rushwick in Worcestershire”.

In our cookery theatre, Rayeesa from Mordiford, will be demonstrating Indian cookery skills; vegetarian cookery will be the focus of Our Lizzy from Malvern and Marina Ibrahim will be showing visitors how to make delicious Egyptian mezze.

To create a real carnival atmosphere, there will be live musical entertainment from local Mexican band – Los Squideros from Hereford and the Pantasy Steel Band will be entertaining crowds with their traditional Caribbean music.

The second Eastnor Chilli Festival will be open from 11am to 5pm on both days and admission prices are Adults: £9.50, Seniors: £8.50, Children: £6 and a Family Ticket (2+3) is priced at £25.  Discounted tickets are available on-line.

Further details visit  Eastnor Castle or call 01531 633160.

“Chilly” is an adjective that was long associated with Eastnor Castle before we restored the central heating system.  We kept the word association going with the “Big Chill”, which last year celebrated its tenth anniversary at Eastnor.  We will miss the festival this year as it is having a rest while many of its faithful customers will be watching the Olympics or going abroad to avoid them, but we look forward keenly to its return in 2013.  In the meantime, we are organising our own Chilli Festival, not as much to keep the theme going, but because we think it will be an excellent new event for our visitors to the Castle. 

We have seen the success of the chilli festivals at Levens Hall through our membership of the Historic Houses Association and felt the distance between Cumbria and Herefordshire was enough to allow us to follow their example without competing, so now we look forward to having 40 exhibitors set up their stalls in the Courtyard.  Visitors will be able taste and buy curry sauces and pastes, pickles and jams, chilli chocolate, cheese and vodka.  There will be specialist hot food suppliers selling curries and other spicy food.

Local suppliers will include Monkhide WinesThe Velvet Bean and Ambalama Spices, Rayeesa, a curry expert will lead cookery demonstrations in a covered area, Los Squideros, a Hereford-based Mexican band, will provide live entertainment, and for children there will be a Chilli Trail, stilt walker and fire juggler.

We have had a lot of interest so far, I hope it will be a great success… and also that someone will be selling bananas to absorb the heat!!

JH-B     22nd April 2012