A hop festival has been held in Faversham every year since 1990 (apart from 2021) usually at the beginning of September; this year (2023) it will be held on September 2 and 3, so I hope this review is posted before then. It celebrates the history of the town in hop farming and brewing. Local hop farmers bring into town trailers loaded with hop bines from their hop gardens and people queue up to either buy a hop bine or a hop garland or crown to wear; we bought ours in aid of a charity shop in Market Square.
It’s a much loved event and people travel from miles around to enjoy the music on four stages set up around the town and to drink their favourite beers or try some new ones; the town centre becomes very busy – so best avoided by people who don’t like crowds. There might be marching bands, morris dancing and stalls selling street food, crafts etc. Shepherd Neame, the local brewer, sets up a large bar near their visitor centre and last year my husband and my son bought one of their special plastic tankards to be filled with a Sheps beer which they then carried around for refills of beer from other, mainly Kentish, brewers. I bought one for a souvenir but only managed a half of Whitstable Bay. Various bands, some of which come from the continent, play sets on the stages and there’s a printed programme of events to help people plan their days. There was something for everyone in 2022 – from an Elvis tribute to acoustic and folk. The atmosphere is fun and easy-going, there are special activities for children, but I don’t know what it’s like later in the day – it might get a bit lively but being ‘oldies’, we go home at teatime! The festival is free but people are encouraged to drop a minimum of £1 each into the collection buckets carried by one of the many volunteers who help the organisers run the event.
What started off as a simple camp site at The Abbey School on London Road (the A2) has grown to become a really popular and successful Festival Village. There are toilets, showers, rubbish disposal and a free shuttle bus into town (although it’s a short and easy walk). Food and drink are available including cooked breakfasts. There’s also live entertainment there, possibly because it’s where some of the musicians stay. The Festival Village is also the main parking area for cars and mini-buses. Information can be found on the Festival website about booking a pitch and more details about the bands and other entertainment is currently still being posted. A few roads in the town are closed for the event but a good way to travel there is by train (barring a strike or engineering works!) as the railway station is a 5 minute walk from the centre and there is at least one stage and stalls along the route. I can thoroughly recommend a visit to this family friendly day out, or weekend away.