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Padstow Christmas Festival where chefs come out to play!

If you were wondering where all the celebrity chefs go in the period leading up to Christmas, look no further than the Padstow Christmas Festival.
If you haven’t been down to recently it may come as a surprise to see how trendy it has become. The Padstow Christmas Festival, which takes place on four days over the first weekend in December, is the perfect excuse to take a look at what is going on, and it’s all free to attend.

Often referred to as ‘Stein by the Sea’ due to the fact that the well-known chef and television presenter has various business interests in the area, this harbour town is always an idyllic place to visit.

Padstow Christmas Festival began in 2008 as a humble event in the Padstow Institute and has grown to fill two huge marquees, attracting top chefs from all over the UK, and a quayside full of festival stalls. The Festival packs in a host of entertainment from Thursday through Sunday. Such is the prestige of this event, it was recently voted one of the “Top 10 delightfully different Christmas markets in Europe” by Lonely Planet.

If you want to listen in on the days you’re not attending, the show is fully supported by BBC Radio Cornwall. You can listen to chefs telling their success stories, tips for Christmas cooking and a host of other interesting broadcasts.

Rick Stein heads the cookery demos

As you would expect form this seafood mecca, there is a great emphasis on food and cooking during the festival and it is not just Rick Stein who you will have seen on the television. In 2013, there will be inspirational Christmas cooking demonstrations by local chef , (from Murano in London), (Gidleigh Park, Devon), (Marlow) and from Nottingham. Between them, these top chefs have an impressive 7 Michelin stars!

and will be going head-to-head in a cooking challenge, and there will be plenty of cooking techniques, tips and sampling some wonderful food and drink. There will also be a Forum for debating questions and food issues.

Certainly the chefs’ demos alone would be reason enough to visit the Padstow Christmas Festival, never mind anything else that is going on.

Stalls and Santa at Padstow Christmas Festival

Once you’re fired up from the chef’s demonstrations, you can head out to the Christmas Market on the quayside to hunt for ingredients and foodie gifts. Padstow Christmas Festival usually attracts around 110 local food suppliers and crafters so you have a great choice of produce and tastings.

I’ve seen ales and ciders form Cornwall’s local breweries, jams and pickles, cheeses, dips and deli meats. There’s also a whole marquee dedicated to shellfish (well, this is Padstow!) where you can pick up the freshest crabs, lobsters, mussels and oysters.

If all this makes you hungry, there are plenty of pop-up food stalls outside the main marquee. Look for Blas Burgers, Dotty’s handmade Doughnuts and Wildbake Pizza if you fancy a snack. There are also many stalls of crafts and handmade gifts at the Christmas Market selling jewellery, pottery and paintings by local artists.

With the chefs demonstrations, the live music which takes place at various times throughout the day and the superb Christmas Market, the Padstow Christmas Festival will probably be more ‘full on’ than other Christmas Festivals that you may have attended in the past.

The children are not forgotten as Santa’s Sleigh arrives on Friday evening and is pulled by real reindeer – a delightful sight for sure. Young visitors can pop into Santa’s Grotto over the weekend and drop in their letters or whisper their wishlist into Santa’s ear.

Other events at Padstow Christmas Festival

Other highlights of the festival usually include a lantern parade of local school children, a fireworks display and live music entertainment with a distinctly seasonal flavour.

On the Saturday evening of the festival the place to be is without doubt the lovely St Petroc’s Church. This is the venue for the celebrity carol concert where various celebrities sing their hearts out for a good cause. Wine and mince pies are enjoyed afterwards, but if this is something that you would like to attend make sure that you book early because it is extremely popular.

On the Saturday and Sunday of the festival at around 11am there is a fascinating walk around Padstow which is led by a local historian. Completely free but donations are more than welcome, this walk is a real eye opener and will give anyone a real feel of how Padstow has changed over the years.

If one thing stands out about the Padstow Christmas Festival it is the sheer enthusiasm of the organisers and the people who are taking part. It is the ideal preparation for Christmas and when coupled with the wonderful setting that Padstow offers it is a festival which is well worth making the time to visit.

Are there any other Christmas Festivals that you know of that rival Padstow Christmas Festival or where you can attend chef demonstrations for free? We’d love your local input in our comments box below.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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