Set in the heart of Clapham Common, Jamie Oliver’s ‘Feastival 2011’ provides an easily accessible festival that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Arriving at most music festivals on a Sunday morning you would expect to be surrounded by bleary-eyed teenage campers or a few keen drinkers in the lager tent. Not at Feastival – beat the post-lunch rush and you will be treated to first pickings at the tasting stalls. Whether a taste of fine champagne, a nibble of cheese or an informative conversation with the organic food experts is what you are after, the ‘Big Kitchen’ certainly offered something for all ranges of tastes and interests. We particularly enjoyed being quizzed on which cheese we most resembled (see:

Outside the ‘Big Kitchen’ a selection of a small market stalls offered further delights, where the weird and wonderful gems that comprise Jamie’s own range were available for tasting (the basil olive oil was our favourite – it’s like a salad in a bottle!) If you think you’ve got dinner parties down to a t prepare to treat your guests to shavings of after-dinner chocolate to accompany the port…it’s the new cheese apparently! Either way the finest of foods were on offer for both tasting and purchase from some of the friendliest staff you will find at a festival – but be quick as some of the most popular bottles and jars were sold out by the afternoon.

If you’d rather grow your own ingredients then the herb and vegetable area ‘the Kitchen Garden’ will meet your needs perfectly – helpful experts are on hand to answer those nagging questions on how to get the most out of your home-grown ingredients. And whilst the grown-ups were busy getting their hands dirty rooting through the best veg and herbs, the kids had plenty to keep them entertained next door at the ‘Little Dudes Den’. A packed itinerary throughout the day included storytelling, a visit from Pepper Pig, face painting, arts and crafts and music and drama workshops, if we could have joined in we most certainly would have! 

Undoubtedly one of the main draws of the weekend was the ‘Big Kitchen’ where a selection of the top celebrity chefs provided demonstrations on how to prepare their favourite summer dishes. If you’re hoping to catch Jamie, get there early – as the tent was packed for the ‘headline act’ who together with Gennaro Contaldo rustled up some fine Italian treats with characteristic ease.

Don’t think for a second that whilst we are treated to demonstrations of some top food that outside the tent there are just lines of burger and hot dog vans; for 5 pounds per dish, you can dine on some fantastic food from a huge range of pop-up restaurants including some of London’s best establishments. The queues were long for the popular stalls but the chefs and staff work tirelessly to keep waiting to a minimum; whether it is haggis, Thai curry, fresh pasta or exquisite chicken tikka pie that you are looking for you’ll see that all tastes are catered for. There is plenty of grass to sit on whilst enjoying the most of the summer sun and this excellent dining experience.

For a change of scene from the frantic backdrop of celebrity chefs and organic produce the Women’s Institute tent provided an itinerary boasting a fashion show from ‘Lucy In Disguise’, truffle tasting with Willie Harcourt-Cooze, arts and crafts for the kids (and adults!) and some fine homemade brownies from the Beehive Bakery. With the number of UK festivals now taking place every week it’s hard to stand out from the crowd, but the Women’s Institute tent provided an exceptionally unique and chilled out festival atmosphere.

In addition to the tasty treats, food demonstrations, BBQ-offs, and cram-packed line-ups in the ‘Little Dudes Den’ and ‘WI Tent’, it cannot be forgotten that ‘The Big Feastival’ had an additionally appealing musical line up. Highlights included a set by the Soul II Soul, New York Pony Club and the Bees, karaoke on the main stage, the huge audience drawn by the Cuban Brothers to the bandstand, and to round off the weekend, a great set from Athlete – one of the most popular bands from the last 10 years – not before a thank you from Jamie himself much to the appreciation of a very satisfied crowd.

Not only was the ‘The Big Feastival’ a huge success; drawing in crowds of all ages, whilst providing a thoughtful line up of musical and culinary entertainment, it additionally donated 100% of the profits to charity. A thoroughly enjoyable weekend and one we hope to attend for many years to come.