Review: Cheese Fest UK
- Northern Quota reporter reviews the Cheese Festival at Bowlers Exhibition Centre, Manchester
When you think of a UK festival you probably associate the whole experience with muddy fields, loud, euphoric moments in music and enough booze on tap to enjoy even the worst of weathers. However, “Cheese Fest UK” might just be the wildest festival you’ve never been to.
Held in Bowlers Exhibition centre in Trafford Industrial estate, “Cheese Fest” is a nationwide tour of different cheese stalls which visit cities all across the UK.
The stalls themselves provided a wide range of cheesy products from Lancashire bombs to cheesy waffles, as well as designer cheese boards and cutlery which appealed to each individuals’ cheesy needs.
Buying tickets for this event suggested the organisers expectations of a sell-out, busy event, as tickets were allocated into 2-hour time slots over the two days. As we arrived in our allocated 4-6 slot, we walked straight into the venue without queuing which is always a bonus.
However, as we walked into the main arena, the place was heaving. We were met by a queue of around 15-20 people all waiting patiently in line to try something called Raclette, a melted cheese scraped onto garlic potatoes, pickles and red cabbage with the option to add a honey-cured ham. The stalls position in the arena meant that we had to move through the queue to access the rest of the festival.
All around the arena all we could see were countless stalls all offering all sorts of cheese related dishes; gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, stringy mozzarella fries and countless fondue fountains gushing melting hot cheese onto corn dogs freshly baked for your enjoyment. There was also a large dining hall for revellers to sit and enjoy their food whilst listening to a live band perform renditions of classic anthems such as ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ and ‘Mr Brightside’. There was also a live cooking show where a professional chef showcased his special soufflé recipe for the older, more hands on cheese fanatics.
Amid the busy stalls and the occasional queue to be served, the atmosphere was great, everybody was polite and respectful moving around the venue in a cheese fuelled shuffle, so you did get to where you wanted to be eventually. It was also great to see a separate play area for kids supervised by a hands-on and friendly team, spearheaded by a fluffy cheese mascot, who gladly posed for all pictures with the children, a really great addition to facilitate a great family day out.
If ‘Cheese Fest’ was to come again, I personally would not go again. It was nice to go as a one-off occasion, but the organisers who ran the event didn’t anticipate the sheer volume of attendees nor did they have any steward system to help move things along. This made queuing a necessity, therefore having less time to look around all the different stalls. The £6 ticket fee was a fair price in my opinion, however, the average price per plate was around the same price of £5-6. Added up all together meant that the festival as a whole was not the best value for money by any means. However, a good experience which I am glad that I went, and can cross another festival off my list.