Some foodie highlights for the festive season

Harpenden Christmas lights switch-on 2017. Picture: Harpenden Photographic Society

Harpenden Christmas lights switch-on 2017. Picture: Harpenden Photographic Society - Credit: Archant

It’s time for my annual look at all that’s delicious and Christmassy! We are very lucky to have so many events and thriving indie retailers, so let’s aim to support them and shop local this year.

There are two big Christmas events this weekend, in Harpenden and nearby Childwickbury. The farmers’ market will be on Sunday as usual (12 noon to 6pm) as part of the Christmas lights switch-on, but with plenty of preserves, festive bakes and gift ideas for you to buy too. There will also be food and drink stalls to keep you going through the procession and lights switch on.

Just down the road, the 10th Childwickbury Christmas market is also this weekend (Saturday 24 and Sunday 25), and is always a lovely event. It is free to enter the courtyard and stables, and there are food and drink stalls to enjoy while you browse the arty gift stalls; this could be my first mulled wine of the year. Redbournbury Mill will be there, selling their excellent hand-made mince pies, as will Farr Brew and Chiltern Oils.

On a smaller scale, the lovely Earthworks Christmas fair is also this Saturday (12 noon–3pm) and there will be mulled wine, mince pies and crafts for sale.

The Meraki Christmas festival is the ‘big event’ and will take place in the Vintry garden, the meadow in Verulamium park and the Herts Showground, with food, shopping, rides, skating and comedy. I love the sound of the fire pit tipi which will be selling mulled wine and hosting live music. The igloo bar sounds like the place to be this winter; they are selling christmas ‘smoke and ice’ drinks in the LED fog-lit igloo. Entry to the bar is £6 plus booking fee for an ice drink and a 30 minutes stay. If you are at the bar during quieter times, you’ll be able to stay and drink for longer, but they expect weekends to be busy and recommend pre-booking which you can do via their website. The food stalls sound good, with hog roast, German sausages, pizzas from Mozzarella Nation, fish and chips, local favourite Tara’s Vegan Treats and La Flamenca Churros, which always draws a crowd. There will also be waffle wands...

The Harpenden Collective are hosting a boutique shopping event at The Coach House on Pipers Lane on Wednesday December 5 (6-9pm), and Farr Brew and Emilio’s will be there. Book a free place on eventbrite, and a welcome drink will be waiting for you.

Over in Napsbury, the Christmas market is on December 9 (4–6pm) in the sports pavilion and there will be festive gifts and food and drink to buy. The Kimpton Christmas market is on Saturday December 8 12.30–6pm on The Green. You will be able to buy hot Kimpton apple juice or mulled wine, which will be sold in commemorative 2018 Kimpton Christmas Market mugs (I love that they are aiming to avoid single-use cups). Farr Brewery will be selling their craft ales. You will be also be able to buy German bratwurst rolls, BBQ local lamb in wraps and savoury and sweet crepes.

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For food presents, head to our brilliant indie farm shops, delis and food shops. Parker & Vine, Carpenters, The Fleetville Larder and The Saddlery sell delicious things produced in Hertfordshire such as Campfire gin, Twist teas, Campbell & Syme coffee and Farr Brew. The Silver Palate shop and Buongiorno Italia are great for panettone in gift boxes, oils, wine and interesting chocolates too. I must just also mention Cellar Door in St Albans who sell a fantastic range of sparkling wines too – always worth visiting their smart shop. I will see you out and about!