Christchurch Food & Wine Festival

2467 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel


Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with

Adult family

Reasons for trip

The heady aroma of roasting Peruvian coffee mingles with a strong tang of garlic, fragrant saffron rising from huge vats of paella and lemony scents emanating from the bruised leaves of herbs. Small groups of people lean against walls or sit along the kerb in the sunshine, chewing from fishy skewers of bacon and scallops, or slurping up gravy-soaked roast beef from overflowing cups made from Yorkshire pudding batter.

On one side of the crowded walkway, tiers of iced cupcakes in a glowing pastel rainbow of yellows, purples and pinks draw the eye and the purse, whilst across the way we sample exotic vodkas, ciders and novelty beers. There are oysters and prosecco; wild mushroom risottos; salted caramel chocolates; game pies; trays of Turkish delight and a whole stall of Italian calzone – small, folded-over pizzas so convenient to eat on the move.

Not only are children catered for, with bright lollipops, fudge, candy floss and ice cream, but even a dog can find a treat. Tucked away behind the Spanish stall swathed in black is another devoted to doggy muffins topped with small bones; chewy biscuits and slices of savoury cake.

As we select chilli flavoured olives and salted nuts to take home we are serenaded by a seated banjo player. Walking a few yards, we reach a pub where someone energetically fiddles as a tall couple dance sedately in front of the beer drinkers. Competing for attention a little further up the street is a group of wannabe young singers and, just in front of the cathedral, we pause amongst the headstones to listen to a 50s classic played by an elderly duo on electric keyboard and saxophone.

If you are trying to work out which souk or casbah I have wandered into on my travels, it may surprise you to learn that all this is happening in the sedate English town of Christchurch, Dorset. As street food in general has become the norm, so international food festivals are springing up all over the UK. This one in Dorset has been going some time and is now in its 13th year.

The festival spans a period of two weeks, although the street market is only run across the first weekend. As well as stalls to visit, we could have watched cookery demonstrations, learnt to draw herbs, absorbed extra gardening tips, listened to jazz or sampled special menus put on by various restaurants and hotels around the area. But for us the great pleasure is just to mingle with the crowds, sample the food and drink and take a few bags of goodies home to eat at our leisure. We buy too much, of course, but that is only to be expected. As the Spanish stallholder puts it as he rubs his stomach and waives us towards his paella: "the more you eat, the more you fancy."

Christchurch Food & Wine Festival will not be round again until May 2013, but there are hundreds of others across the country and it is well worth trying to catch one or two if you like eating and want to have a great day out.

Silver Travel Advisor

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.