“Blenheim Palace’s new Autumn Festival is all about food, drink, entertainment, games and silliness with a local, environmental and sustainable slant,” organiser Charlotte Lloyd-Webber explains.
“And after the year we’ve had, we need this, so it’s about bringing people together again in an engaging, fun and relaxed environment.”
Follow the sculpture trail, try some local cider, eat street food, venture into the dragon maze, go pumpkin bowling, enter the Best Dressed Scarecrow competition and so much more
Which means the Walled Garden and Pleasure Garden at Blenheim Palace are being transformed into a community based harvest wonderland as the new Autumn Festival is launched there on 24-26 September and 1-3 October.
Free to anyone with an annual pass, or accessible with a Blenheim Palace ticket, it will feature delicious, seasonally inspired food and drink, activities, experiences, workshops, performance, music and games for all ages.
From building a giant haystack pyramid to drinking local cider, eating street food, foraging, listening to live bands, taking part in art workshops to watching kids shows, learning how to compost, trying a yoga workshop, shopping at the 80 stalls at the Michaelmas market.
Try entering the wheelbarrow race or the home grown weird fruit and veg competition or meeting Hook Norton Brewery’s beautiful Shire Horse, the new Autumn Festival is wonderfully ambitious.
“it’s symbolic in many ways to be hosting the inaugural event this year as a really explorative harvest adventure”
Follow the sculpture trail, decamp to the Blenheim Orange Bar, venture into the dragon maze, go pumpkin bowling, try for the Best Dressed Scarecrow competition and so much more, it’s all going on.
Thanks to creative designer Charlotte Lloyd-Webber‘s theatrical background, as you can tell the emphasis of the Autumn Festival is about dusting off our rather staid Harvest Festival traditions and giving them a decidedly modern green twist.
And with plans already being made for next year’s Autumn Festival which include a Dragon Pageant, feasting tents and an evening extension, Charlotte said: “Yes we want to have fun and explore harvest and celebrate the change in seasons, but that also involves looking at what we eat, using our local produce and how we dispose of it in an interesting, accessible and entertaining way.
“It certainly feels like the right time to be doing something like this by bringing people together”
“So it’s quite symbolic in many ways to be hosting the inaugural event this year as a really explorative harvest adventure. So we really hope it catches people’s imagination!”
“It certainly feels like the right time to be doing something like this by bringing people together in this context.”
There will be artisanal and food markets, workshops from Sunningwell School of Art, Life@ No 27, Jericho Kitchen, Nourish Yoga, Mum’s the Word, Start to Thrive, free demonstrations from Animal Tea, CAG Oxford, Good Food Oxford, FarmAbility and more, with free talks as well as live entertainments and Apple Day.
Market traders from across Oxfordshire, and border counties and members of Independent Oxford will meander across the site to form the Michaelmas Market, selling locally produced food and drink, crafts, eco homewares and gifts.
“This is for everyone and about everyone. We just want people to come along, have fun and get involved”
On Saturday, 3rd October they will be joined by a dedicated vegan and eco products market alongside special tasting and demonstrations to celebrate Apple Day, next to the estate’s own orchard of Blenheim orange apple trees.
Younger visitors can join in a series of fun harvest games, the giant haybale pyramid as well as Michaelmas-inspired wacky races and venture into Blenheim’s famous Marlborough Maze, which will become the home of dragons! Enter if you dare…
Other games include coconut boules, pumpkin bowling and potato take-down. There will also be a line-up of Oxford folk acts, family yoga, a best dressed scarecrow competition, home-grown Vegetable competition judged by resident charity FarmAbility in their pumpkin patch, Madame Zucchini the vegetable entertainer, Emma Boor and her Puppet Pedlar from Pegasus Theatre, promenade theatre from WhatNot Theatre Company featuring the pirates Flotsam and Jetsam recycling plastic on the high seas, and the Legendary Madame Wanda Round – children’s fortune and story teller.
The Big One, a four-mile walk across the estate, will be conducted by BreathingSpace Iconic Walking Events – perfect for working up a feasting appetite!
The new festival has been created by Charlotte’s CLW Design Studio, which theatrically reimagines live events in heritage properties such as Blenheim, most recently at Castle Howard Christmas, and Blenheim’s Autumn Festival has already been eight months in the making.
“This is for everyone and about everyone. We just want people to come along, have fun and get involved.”
- For more details and to pre-book online visit https://www.blenheimpalace.com/whats-on/events/autumn-festival.html