Snails Converge on Ludlow, Shropshire, England This September

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Ludlow, England's gourmet capital, is ready to stage the eleventh annual food and drink festival in the 800-year-old castle around which the town was built. Slow Food and Cittaslow (Slow Cities) will both be playing a major part in the three-day event, September 9-11.

The snail logos of Slow Food and Cittaslow will be meeting in Ludlow’s castle this September at the eleventh annual Ludlow Marches Festival of Food and Drink.

The weekend festival that celebrates quality food and drink takes place between 9th-11th September, and guarantees a host of new taste experiences as well as a fun day out. Full details are at

For the second consecutive year we have local company Tyrrells potato chips as our lead sponsor – and they are launching a brand new flavor of hand-fried potato chip at this year’s festival: Ludlow Sausage flavor. They will be joined by around 150 small producers of quality food and drink showcasing their wares and offering free tastings to around 17,000 visitors, who are expected to the Food Festival this year.

Ludlow is the first Cittaslow or "slow town" in the UK, which means it is part of a growing international network of towns "where it is good to live." Ludlow has also built a major reputation for gourmet food, so no surprises that it has an active Slow Food Convivium that will be organizing Taste Workshops at the festival, essentially tutored tastings of a wide range of traditional English foodstuffs from perry to black pudding.

A full program of free talks and demonstrations will be running in Ludlow Castle throughout the Festival as well as "fringe" activities involving butchers, bakers and pubs in the town. The food festival is not all about high-end, gourmet food and drink, even though it is centered on the town that has won acclaim as the UK’s capital of food and drink.

Sure, Ludlow’s gourmet reputation has been on the up ever since Ken Adams and Shaun Hill set up shop in Ludlow years ago. Michelin Stars have fair cascaded into the town - last year Claude Bosi was awarded a second Michelin Star for his Corve Street restaurant Hibiscus, which was recently named Restaurant of the Year in the UK by Egon Ronay.

But Ludlow is not all about high-end, gourmet grub – as the founders of the Ludlow Marches Festival of Food and Drink (the original, and still the best) fully appreciate. They are a team of volunteers, with links to the Slow Food and Cittaslow movements, who make sure the food festival stays with its feet on the ground, anchored among small, quality food producers.

Take just one example. There are still four traditional butchers trading in Ludlow, all producing quality meat and meat products like home-cured bacon and hand-raised pork pies, made in much the same way they have always been. Locally-reared animals, slaughtered locally and processed locally using traditional, craft skills. That’s what leads to quality butchery, not factory farming and factory processing.

What leads to quality bread? Traditional, slow fermented dough, argues Peter Cook, which is how his firm, Price’s Bakers on our market square, still produces bread. That’s why Rick Stein made Prices one of his ‘Food Heroes’. Of course, we also have Walton’s, Swifts, and DeGreys using their hot ovens to create quality alternatives to steam-baked, factory-made, lorry-delivered supermarket bread.

Ludlow has remained unspoiled by progress – it has retained a natural, traditional way of life and its location, about an hour’s drive from the nearest motorway in any direction, has surely helped. But Ludlow is still very much a working market town – not a museum. We haven’t turned our back on technology either: for instance, these days, there is to help take our butchers’ Ludlow Sausages to new places.

The Food Festival is as much a celebration of local beers and local sausages as it is a celebration of gourmet fare. 1,600 people take the Sausage Trail, sampling four new festival sausages on the first day of the Food Festival, and not a celebrity chef in sight.

Instead of TV ‘faces’, you’re much more likely to find exhausted, small-scale producers of delightful foodstuffs at the Food Festival. Producers who have been taken by surprise by the demand for their products on the first day, and who have stayed up all night to make more in time for the even busier Saturday. Only to repeat the process for Sunday.

Which goes a long way to explaining the popularity of the Food Festival – visitors always find new surprises, new producers and new flavors as well as their old favorites.

Quality food and drink produced by local companies that care about their crops and tend their animals with heart rather than with a permanent eye on the balance sheet that is what is at the heart of the Ludlow experience.


Graeme Kidd, food festival press officer


Graeme can email high resolution copyright free versions of images in the gallery at


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Graeme Kidd