Guide to Seaham Food Festival with star guests, timings and travel advice

The stage is set, preparations are hotting up and it’s fingers crossed for the weather as Seaham Food Festival gets set for its weekend launch. The eagerly-awaited event will bring a host of tasty treats to the town seafront from Saturday, including street food stalls and live cooking demonstrations by TV star chefs including Rosemary Shrager. The culinary favourite, haute cuisine expert and former I’m A Celebrity contestant will be in action at an outdoor kitchen on Saturday morning at 11.50am, then again at 2pm, while ahead of that the spotlight will be on a home-spun talent.

: County Durham’s Psycho Path announces terrifying first for Halloween Mike Bartley, recent Masterchef semi-finalist, from Bishop Auckland, will be showing off his own kitchen skills at 10.15am and 2.45pm, with a double date to follow on the festival’s second day too.

Mike Bartley, 2021 Masterchef semi-finalist from Bishop Auckland in County Durham, will be greeting visitors at Seaham Food Festival

Other attractions for families who are set to descend on Seaham include appearances by former Bake Off contestants; a showcase of food and drink from local producers; live music and a range of entertainment – all set to bring about a big boost to the local economy. The festival, organised by Durham County Council, is one of a number of upcoming events aimed at showcasing the county’s cultural side as it bids to become UK City of Culture 2025.

The weather forecast for the two-day food-fest currently predicts a possible thunderstorm around 4pm Saturday (which can change at the drop of a hat so keep an eye out for updates) but nothing is likely to dampen the spirits of families keen not to miss out again following the festival’s cancellation last year due to the pandemic. In light of its popularity, the council has issued some travel advice for families. Here’s everything that visitors will need to know to plan a visit to Seaham Food Festival this weekend.

Guide to Seaham Food Festival

When and where?

The free food festival will take place this Saturday, August 7 from 10am-5pm and Sunday, August 8, 10am-4pm, on Seaham sea front.

What’s it about?

Full-on food!

It will showcase the very best of what local food and drink producers have to offer. Expect around 100 traders’ stalls to whet the appetite. And there really will be something for all tastes, with traders including the likes of Northumberland Sausage Company; South Durham Honey; Vaux Brewery – whose name recently made a comeback to Sunderland; Bishop Auckland’s Hedgehog Bakery; Geordie Banger Co; Durham Distillery and Hexham-based Fire & Dough.

Also among the street food will be the Lebanese Street Food Truck, Hatch 76, Armenian Kitchen and Churros Barcelona. See here for the full list of who will be there.

What else is on offer?

Live cooking events, music, street theatre and children’s entertainment. about all that below.

Who are the star guests and what are they doing?

A host of familiar TV faces will be giving demonstrations in an outdoor Cookery Theatre on the green.

Here are the timings to note.

Saturday

Rosemary Shrager – 11.50am and 2pm The TV stars chef says she is delighted to be taking part in the event, adding: “It has been such a difficult year for everyone so I cannot wait to visit Seaham Food Festival and take part in some cookery demonstrations with the visitors. “It’s also really exciting to see what the local traders and producers have on offer and to be out and about enjoying fresh fare and fine flavours from all over.”

Guide to Seaham Food Festival with star guests, timings and travel advicePopular chef Rosemary Shrager will be giving cooking demonstrations and greeting visitors at Seaham Food Festival

Mike Bartley – 10.15am and 2.45pm

The local talent, who says he was inspired to take part in this year’s Masterchef after a visit to nearby Bishop Auckland Food Festival, says it’s “a real honour” to be involved with the festival and hopes it will inspire more future chefs. John Whaite – 11am and 1.15pm The TV chef, author and presenter won the third series of The Great British Bake Off, now runs his own cookery school and regularly appears on Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch.

Briony May Williams – 12.30pm and 3.30pm The 2018 Great British Bake Off favourite is well known for her TV appearances and has joined the presenting team on C4’s Food Unwrapped.

Sunday

Karen Wright – 10.15am and 1.15pm Another success from 2018’s Great British Bake Off, Karen now takes part in food festivals countrywide and holds classes as part of her Bake with a Legend line-up.

Maunika Gowardhan – 11am and 2.45pm The TV chef and food writer Maunika, who lives in Newcastle, writes regularly for magazines including BBC Good Food and has been a contributing editor for Vogue India. Chris Baber – 11.50am and 2pm

The self-taught TV chef, who in 2016 won BBC’s Yes Chef competition, will share his passion about improving everyone’s ability to cook from scratch. Mike Bartley – 12.30pm and 3.30pm The Bishop Auckland-born talent will be back at the festival for a second double-stint.

Chris Bavin – in addition, the familiar TV face from the likes of Eat Well for Less? – who is to join Mary Berry as co-judge on her new BBC series Britain’s Best Home Cook – will host the Cookery Theatre action on both days of the festival.

Weekend entertainment

Here’s what will be on offer in the Family Entertainment area over the weekend:

Saturday

Bands Spark! – 12noon and 2pm Easington Brass Band – 4pm

Outdoor theatre Do What Yah Mama Told Ya! – 11am and 3pm Billy Shakes Wonder Boy – 1pm

Walkabouts Bell & Bullock – 11am, 12.45pm and 2.45pm Les Oiseaux de Lux – 11.30am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm

Arts & Crafts Barn Arts: Wicker Sailing Boats – 10.30am-4.30pm Creative Pop: Origami Birds – 10.30am-4.30pm

Sunday

Bands

Easington Brass Band – 12noon Hannabiell & Midnight Blue – 2pm and 4pm Outdoor theatre

Billy Shakes Wonder Boy – 11am and 1pm Hero & Leander – 3pm Walkabouts

Bell & Bullock – 11am, 12.45pm and 2.45pm Les Oiseaux de Lux – 11.30am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm Arts & Crafts

Barn Arts: Wicker Sailing Boats – 10.30am-4.30pm Creative Pop: Origami Birds – 10.30am-4.30pm

How to get there

Visitors are asked to plan their trip in advance. There will be an accessible park-and-ride service in operation between Spectrum Business Park (SR7 7TT) in Seaham and the town centre, with additional buses helping to avoid overcrowding.

Buses will run from 9.30am on both days, using the same drop-off and pick-up points from the festival site. The last return bus will run at 5.30pm on Saturday and 4.30pm on Sunday. Return tickets will cost GBP2 for adults, 50p for children aged five to 15 and are free for those under five.

Town centre car parks will be open but may be busy and drivers are asked to note that North Terrace will be closed from 5pm on Friday, August 6 until to 9pm on Sunday, August 8 during which time diversions will be in place. Parking around the green on North Terrace also will be suspended from 1am on Friday until 9pm on Sunday. Coun Elizabeth Scott said: “We would encourage people to plan their journeys in advance and use public transport or our park-and-ride service where possible.

“This will help minimise any delays and allow you to enjoy even longer at the festival.”

Extra information

Covid safety is still high on the agenda despite the lifting of restrictions and the festival – which in 2019 attacted more than 15,000 visitors – has extended its site this year to help with social distancing. Lateral flow tests are recommended before attending and visitors are encouraged to use the voluntary QR code at the entrance. They also are asked to wear masks and hand sanitiser units will be at all entry points

There will be portable toilets throughout the festival site. Dogs on a lead are welcome. For more information about the festival see here.

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