Gastro-Glasto for foodies set to be Chelmsford’s first major festival since COVID

A “Gastro-Glastonbury” in Chelmsford is set to be one of the first major festivals since COVID-19 forced the country into lockdown.

Foodies Festival is coming to Hylands Park between October 1 and October 3 -with Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown and Sophie Ellis-Bextor topping the bill.

The star-studded line-up also includes 2021 MasterChef champion Tom Rhodes, Essex-born MasterChef The Professionals champion Alex Webb, MasterChef champion Thomas Frake and Great British Bake Off finalist Laura Adlington.

Foodies will also have some music stars to listen to including pop legend Sophie Ellis-Bextor who is set to perform all of her best hits. Lady Gaga tribute act Maybe Gaga will also take to the stage, as well as high energy band Flash with their amazing Queen stage show. In total there will be more than 50 bands and artists entertaining the crowds over the long weekend.

The festival is touring 10 different locations and attendees will be able to enjoy the Chefs Theatre, Cake & Bake Theatre, Drinks Theatre with wine, champagne, beer and cocktail making masterclasses, Shopping Village with award-winning artisan producers, Street Food Avenue, Kids Cookery School and live music stage.

An application has now been lodged with Chelmsford City Council for a licence permitting the event to proceed at Hylands Park between 11am and 10pm.

On the announcement of the festival, Sophie Ellis-Bextor said: “I’ve been doing my live-streamed kitchen discos since the first lockdown, but what a joy it will be to finally get out of my kitchen to appear at the biggest food festival of the year. I’m really looking forward to performing live to an audience again, and sampling some of the lovely food on offer.”

Alex Webb, champion of MasterChef The Professionals, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be touring around the country with Foodies Festivals this summer, but it’s a pleasure to be taking part on my home turf too. I’ve been working on lots of delicious new recipes and I can’t wait to see you all in person and cook live on stage!”

Candice Brown, who won Great British Bake Off in 2016 and is the author of new best-selling cookbook Happy Cooking, said: “I love Foodies Festival and I am so excited to be back this summer. I’ve been working on lots of delicious recipes during lockdown and I can’t wait to share them with you all and to enjoy some good old festival fun again.”

Laura Adlington, Great British Bake Off finalist 2020, added: “I’m over the moon to be bringing my joy and passion for baking to Foodies Festival this summer and I’ll be showing you all how to create a delicious show stopper!”

Festival director Sue Hitchen said: “I am delighted to bring Foodies Festival to Hylands Estate, which has a popular food market and is such a beautiful venue. We will be celebrating local produce and giving top Essex chefs an opportunity to cook live in the Chefs Theatre.

“There is such a great foodie scene in Essex and I know that Foodies will be made very welcome.

“As we’re outdoors and in local parks we are able to plan COVID safe festivals, and our experienced Health and Safety team are working closely with local councils across the country to make sure we take all appropriate measures and follow government guidelines to keep everyone safe.

“There has never been a better time to support local restaurants and food producers and we are all ready to enjoy a fun day out with friends.”

Not only does Foodies provide a weekend of delicious entertainment, it also supports an amazing cause.

For the third year running, the festival will support Musicians Against Homelessness (MAH) with tickets raising money for UK-wide homelessness charity Crisis.

MAH founder Emma Rule said: “The last year has been incredibly difficult for charities, we are so pleased to be back at Foodies our music stage and brilliant artists, raising much needed funds.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter