The last time I attended a cider festival I tried a brew called 'Farting Dog'. Though it may not sound particularly alluring... Surprisingly, it tasted great.
That's the beauty of cider festivals – craft cider connoisseurs, fans and those who just enjoy a tipple get to sample a variety of unique and delicious beverages.
We're lucky as there are a number of events across the UK in 2018 catering specifically to cider drinkers.
In this guide you will find the biggest and best cider festivals the UK has to offer, as well as some great hidden gems you may never have heard of until now.
Here are the events true cider fans will want to pencil into their calendars this year:
1. Falmouth Folk & Cider Fayre
The first event in our calendar promises to be “bigger, better and wetter than ever”. For just a fiver a day you'll be treated to a line-up of some of the UK's top folk and acoustic artists at Falmouth Folk & Cider Fayre. But what we're more interested in is, of course, the 80 classic ciders available this year. So get ready to sample a bunch of scrumptious ciders while swaying along to the musical stylings of some fine folk singers.
Events Square, Falmouth, 23–25 March 2018
2. Chester Food, Drink & Lifestyle Festival
With cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs Paul Rankin, Chris Bavin and Jun Tanaka, the Chester Food, Drink & Lifestyle Festival is going to be a memorable one. You better make sure you're at the front of the line for one of the 150 food and drink exhibitors though, because 30,000 people are set to descend upon the event over three days. You'll no doubt want to get your festival tipples from the likes of Gillow Cider, Gwatkin Cider Co and Gwynt Y Draig Cider and Perry.
Chester Racecourse, 31 March–2 April 2018
3. Gower Cheese & Cider Festival
If you're looking for more of a quaint, community vibe then you'll want to visit the Cheese & Cider Festival at Gower Heritage Centre, near Swansea. It may be one of the smaller festivals on this list but it's certainly a special one. Over the two-day event you'll be able to sample a variety of local cheeses and ciders including Gower's own Mill House cider. If you're a history buff, you'll be really excited as there will be a demonstration of a traditional 1890s travelling cider press. Now you don't get to see that every day!
Gower Heritage Centre, South Wales, 5-6 May 2018
4. Reading Beer & Cider Festival
We've all come to accept by now that some of the major craft beer and cider festivals will have more beers than ciders. This might be true of Reading Beer & Cider Festival, but they still have well over 100 ciders and perries on offer. That's pretty impressive! Now in its 24th year, the festival also offers all of the frivolities and fun you could imagine, including live music, festival games and a range of food stalls.
Christchurch Meadows, Reading, 3-6 May 2018
5. Ludlow Spring Festival
Live music, classic cars, talks n' tipples – what more could you want? All of it takes place in the stunning setting of Ludlow Castle at the Ludlow Spring Festival. We like this one because there's a big emphasis on cider. All in all, there will be over 200 beers and ciders available from brewers based locally and throughout the UK. If you commit the cardinal sin of missing this festival then Ludlow has three main events throughout the year, so keep your eyes peeled.
Ludlow Castle, Shropshire,12-13 May 2018
6. Welsh Perry & Cider Festival
Here we are, heading to the rolling hills of Wales again. It's not our fault – the Welsh make some excellent cider! The setting for the Welsh Perry & Cider Festival is the atmospheric Caldicot Castle. While the ciders and perries always steal the show, you will also be treated to a weekend line-up of live bands. In previous years, guests have enjoyed music, that's more on the nostalgic side, from the 60s to the 80s. You'll surely wind up having a good old boogie in the spring sunshine at this festival.
Caldicot Castle, Montmouthshire, 25-28 May 2018
7. Beer & Cider by the Sea
May is a popular month for craft cider festivals! Hey, we're not complaining. Though it may be a busy month, you should know that Beer & Cider by the Sea in Eastbourne really is one of the best. There will be cask ciders aplenty at this fest with over 20+ ciders and perries in total, some traditional and some a little more unique. Take Glebe Farm's ginger and lime varieties for instance. Or Merry Moon's tropical and fruity flavours.
Western Lawns, Eastbourne, 25-27 May 2018
8. Royal Bath and West Show
This event is a little different to the other festivals on this list. The Royal Bath and West Show is a renowned agricultural event. So what's in it for us, you ask? Well, it also plays host to the British Cider Championships. In fact, The Royal Bath & West Society set up the competition in 1895. It is thought that theirs is the oldest cider competition in the world. This year, a selection of ciders will be available each day to show-goers so you can make your contribution to “The People's Choice” cider of the show. Another interesting element of the show are the tutor-led cider tasting sessions. If you want to brush up on your tasting skills then don't miss this festival.
The Showground, Shepton Mallet, 30 May–02 June 2018
Camp out in Argyll at one of Scotland's fynest festivals (see what we did there). FyneFest is all about the music, beer and food. Lucky for us there's also a bar with 25 ciders on draft. Special events go on throughout the weekend such as one of the biggest pub quizzes you will have ever seen and a 'meet the brewers' panel which is sure to be fascinating. One of the more unusual activities sees street writer Petit Prance offer custom stories on his typewriter while you wait for your pints.
Fyne Ales, Cairndow, Argyll,1-3 June 2018
10. Nailsea & Backwell Beer & Cider Festival
What's nice about this Bristolian beer and cider festival is that there's a big focus on charity fundraising. This year's donations will go to Children's Hospice South West. So you can drink cider to your heart's content, knowing that it's all for a good cause. At Nailsea & Backwell Beer & Cider Festival, you can expect around 80 beers and 90 ciders to sip on while you take in the musical entertainment.
West End Park, Bristol, 13-15 July 2018
11. Craft Drink Festival
Birmingham's Craft Drink Festival is a newbie but it looks like it's going to be a goodie. All kinds of craft specialties will be on offer including beer, cider, gin, and whiskey. There's also a little more to the entertainment than you would see at your average event as the recreation will include cinema and comedy (as well as live music). You won't want to miss out on the tasting master classes at this summertime event either.
NEC, Birmingham, 28-29 July 2018
12. OutCider Festival
Outcider is truly one-of-a-kind. If you're into more of an alternative scene then this festival is for you. On the event's homepage, they proudly boast, “No tribute bands. No X-Factor. No Carling lager. No hipsters. No [bleep].” It's all about non-conformity you see. On the menu, there's a great range of ciders from Somerset and Dorset such as, West Milton Cider, Ham Hill Cider, Crossmans, Dorset Nectar, Tricky Cider and many more.
Fernhill Farm, Compton Martin, 3-5 August 2018
13. Great British Beer Festival
You know we couldn't leave out Britain's biggest beer festival, the Great British Beer Festival at Olympia London. What's really amazing about this festival is that it hosts 30 bars under one roof. That's why they call it, “a cornucopia of fantastic brews, as diverse and wonderful as the people that create them”. Some very alluring events will take place to accompany all the ale, craft beer, cider and perry. These include a range of pub games (back by popular demand), as well as book signings by renowned UK authors – unexpected but cool.
Olympia London, 7-11 August 2018
14. Peterborough CAMRA Beer Festival
You might not immediately think of Peterborough when you consider the top destinations in the UK. But one thing that really adds to the appeal of the area is their massive beer and cider festival. If you live in the Midlands, you'll certainly want to be at Peterborough Beer Festival in the height of summer as altogether there will be a mahoosive selection of over 400 ales, beers, ciders and wine.
Embankment Road, Peterborough, 21-25 August 2018
15. Witcombe Cider Festival
This festival has had some pretty big headliners over the last few years, such as Judge Jules, Heather Smalls and Lethal Bizzle. We're not just talking local acts and cover bands here. Witcombe Cider Festival can expect around 5,000 music and cider fans in attendance. What better way to spend the August bank holiday weekend than with one of the Witcombe festival's 50 available ciders in hand?
Painswick Road, Gloucester, 24-26 August 2018
16. Brogdale Cider Festival
Festival-goers can have an authentic experience at Brogdale Cider Festival. Last year's activities included free orchard tours, talks and an introduction to making your own cider. There were cider bars from local brewers, an artisan cider bar and a cider trail. We assume there will be much of the same fun this year. Keep your eyes peeled as details are to be updated soon.
Brogdale Collections, Faversham, 25-26 August 2018
17. Ross Cider Festival
A small community of cider enthusiasts gather for the Ross Cider Festival each year. As summer comes to an end, you can join the friendly crew for a delicious craft cider. A highlight of the weekend is the opportunity to meet local cider makers on the Saturday. On Sunday, entry to the craft fair is free.
The Yew Tree Inn, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire, 31 August–2 September 2018
18. Little Orchard Cider & Music Festival
Fan of glamping? Then you'll be well catered to at Little Orchard - their luxury tents look stunning. Now in its sixth year, this cider festival hosts a tonne of fun activities such as secret cider walks, cider tasting and a silent disco! Music is provided by BBC Introducing, so you know that there will be a fantastic standard of artists on the bill.
Healey's Cyder Farm, Penhallow, Cornwall, 14-16 September 2018
19. York Beer & Cider Festival
This festival prides itself on having scoured the UK to find the finest ciders around. The results – over 100 of the best sweet, dry and medium ciders and perries in the land. York Beer & Cider Festival is currently taking feedback from last year's visitors to make sure the event is bigger and better. There's no doubt the programme will be as a mighty as a Viking!
Knavesmire Road, York, 19-22 September 2018
20. Craft Beer Calling
You can round the year off nicely with a visit to Newcastle Upon Tyne's Craft Beer Calling. Because the festival is an invitational, breweries are in charge of their own bars, meaning the festival has more taps on the go at once than most others. There will be a gin palace, wine cellar, street food market but the most interesting part for us will be the artisan cider cellar!
Palace of Arts, Newcastle Upon Tyne,18-20 October 2018
We bet you feel spoiled for choice by now! The next step for you is to take a look at your calendar and see how many of these cider festivals you can squeeze in.
Local festivals are always brilliant. But why not venture further afield and try something new this year? We'll see you there!
And if you're looking to re-live some of those sweet sweet memories after your trip, join our cider subscription club and have different artisan ciders delivered to your door each month. Cheers to that.