Let me tell you a story…

Let me tell you a story

Way back in 2015, over a cup of tea (Yorkshire, of course) at our kitchen table we came up with concept of the Yorkshire Dales Food & Drink Festival. We never imagined, back then, that it would grow to become the biggest of its kind in the UK and today nearly 10 years later we are one of the few remaining family owned independent festivals that the big corporate giants haven’t gobbled up.

We planned our first festival on a single piece of A4 paper and simply made it up as we went along. We somehow managed to convince James Martin & The Hairy Bikers to attend and welcomed over 200 different Exhibitors!

We will never forget the day that we sold our first ever ticket, within minutes of the website going live, we kept refreshing the page, as we simply couldn’t believe it!

The inaugural event was held at Skipton Auction Mart in 2016, where our fabulous exhibitors transformed cattle pens into little mini shops and James & The Bikers hosted cookery demo’s cooked in a cattle trade ring! Unbelievably we sold out of tickets and welcomed over 10,000 guests!

In 2017 we opened our first office in Skipton, with Louise our first ever team member joining us. Having outgrown our initial venue we moved the festival to our current home at Funkirk Farm, where the Howard Family have farmed for over 75 years. 

It was a huge undertaking moving the festival to the farm. Having not been involved in the event industry prior to launching the festival there were so many things that we had to learn to deal with. Such as working out how to get electric power to all of our traders when there was no mains electric in any of the fields that we use!

Gino D’Acampo and James Martin headlined in 2018. Gino was hilarious and we were never quite sure what he would say next!

This was the first year we welcomed tribute acts to the festival, with Take That Live taking to the stage on Saturday night. We actually built the ‘stage’ Take That Live performed on in out back garden from some old decking that we had!

This year we also started to develop lots of foodie experiences for our guests, including cookery schools and tasting sessions. One of the most popular activities was actually our Big Foodie Quiz which we held in the Timothy Taylors Bar.

2019 was a crazy year, as we had four Celebrity Chefs! The Hairy Bikers, Brian Turner, Lisa Faulkner and the legendary Mary Berry all performed in our Big Top Theatre Kitchen. We also extended the festival this year to include the Village Green field.

One of the funniest moments of 2019 was when Freddy Mercury from our Queen Tribute act fell off the stage (it was only a foot high so he was fine) and not only managed to carry on singing but kept his stick on tash on too!

2019 was the first year that we installed our very own demonstration kitchens at the festival! This led us to starting our sister business The Demo Kitchen Company! 

We were gutted not be able to go ahead with our 5th Birthday Festival in 2020 due to the pandemic. We continued to support our chefs, exhibitors and musicians by hosting a virtual festival.

We couldn’t let the year pass without having a festival, so we had a mini Yorkshire Dales Food & Drink Festival at home with our family, complete with flags, camping, fancy dress and music!

Our 2021 festival took place the first weekend after the pandemic restrictions were lifted. The atmosphere was electric and 30,000 guests joined us for a party! After the pandemic our festival was the first event that the Hairy Bikers appeared at together.

2021 was the first time that we had a ‘proper’ stage where our guests danced the night away each evening.

This year we changed to our current main festival fields layout, moving the main entrance to the Yorkshire Meadow field. We also opened more campsite fields to welcome more guests than we had prior to the pandemic. 

Once again we welcomed back James Martin and Si King from the Hairy Bikers, unfortunately Dave Myers was unwell so Si had to perform on his own. He was fab and his steak dish was delicious!

Every year we strive to bring our guest new and exciting experiences & activations. We design, build & install these sets ourselves, it is so exciting to see something that we have designed with a brand come to life in the field. This year one of our new sets was the James Martin Gin masterclass.

It was always going to happen one year & 2023 turned out to be the one! Like the rest of the UK that summer it was a wet one, but that didn’t stop our guests having the best time. The ground over the weekend wasn’t too bad but the mud on de-rigg was horrendous & hilarious. We kept getting our vans stuck in the mud and Farmer John had to keep pulling us out!

2023 was a blast and we upped our game in the music stakes, when we welcomed UK renowned DJ’s Gok Wan & Pat Sharp. Our guests partied the nights away singing in the rain!

We built some amazing sets & decorations this year which really gave the festival a new vibe. This is one of the most exciting parts of the job and we can’t wait to start designing this years decorations!


Join us in 2024 for another fabulous weekend in the Yorkshire Dales.

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