Christchurch Cheese & Chilli Festival takes place annually (unless there’s a pandemic or something equally disastrous) in Hurn, in a field next to Bournemouth Airport. It is around 5 miles north of Bournemouth Town Centre, just off the A338. It is easily accessible by car, with ample free parking in a field adjoining the site.
In 2022, the event is taking place on 28th-29th May. Tickets cost £7 in advance or £9 on the door.
There is a variety of attractions; mainly cheese and chilli themed (obviously) but also other food and drink stalls, catering and entertainment.
We tackled the arena methodically, walking the length of the site along the right hand site, stopping for lunch and to watch a band. Then back to the car along the other side, which was also the right hand site, as we were facing the other direction.
There were plenty of stalls selling cheese and chilli, as well as other food and drink. Pretty much all of them give you the opportunity to try samples before you make a purchase. We ate a lot of cheese! And came away with a lot of cheese (surprise, surprise), chutneys, a chilli plant and bottles of Limongino (I’d never even heard of Limongino brfore, but trust me, it tastes amazing – or go to the Festival and try some for yourself).
There is also a large choice of food and drink vendors. We stopped for a drink at one of the bar tents, while deciding what to have for lunch. It took us ages to make up our mind up between cheesy fries, naan wraps and, and, and. But in the end we went for burgers. Helen had a BBQ Brisket Burger, while I opted for the Jammin’ Burger; halloumi with chilli jam, garlic mayo, grilled peppers and salad. They were very tasty.
We ate our burgers sitting on hay bales in front of the Music Stage. There was a full programme of live music throughout the day, from midday until close (19.30 on Saturday and 17.00 on Sunday).
After lunch, we headed for the Demonstration Tent to watch the Chilli eating Competition, where members of the public volunteered/got coerced by friends and family to race to eat a cup of popcorn coated in a potent chilli ‘Suicide Sauce’. Carefully watched over by a paramedic!
We stopped in the Family Zone to watch a performance by The Rock Choir. There was a range of activities on offer throughout the day in the Family Zone, like Punch & Judy, Storytelling and a Giant Bubble Party. We didn’t stick around for any of these, but there was certainly lots to keep kids entertained. Although they seemed more interested in trying to stamp on the Air Dancers!
We considered entering the Taste Test Tent, where you can test the various chilli sauces available at the Festival and vote for your favourite. But we decided that the queue was too long, so instead headed for home clutching our goodies.
I went with another grown up and we had a lovely day. But there is also plenty for families too; for example, crazy golf, a bouncy castle and circus skills workshops. I will definitely be going back again next year…