Ely is preparing itself once again for its four day extravaganza to celebrate the origins of the humble eel.
Organised by the Visit Ely team, Ely’s Eel Festival Weekend runs from 3rd to 6th May. This year, as always, we see the return of the Eel Food Safari which runs all weekend where a selection of local food outlets provides special dishes inspired by the eel theme. So, pick up a trail leaflet and visit as many of the venues as possible across the weekend and sample such delights as Spicy Eel Dish, Jelly Eel Fudge and Eel Festival cocktails (not all dishes contain eel!).
The Eel Parade kicks off Saturday’s Eel Day when we celebrate 16 years, with a colourful array of eels processing through Ely’s High Street including our mascot eel, Ellie, who has been lovingly repaired by Babylon Arts. Ellie will be followed by the newly formed, Cambridgeshire Music SambaFest, which will see over 150 students participate in their first ever parade. Follow them down to the river and into Jubilee Gardens where a whole host of eel related activities take place.
Special highlights include the Town Criers’ Championships and the World Eel Throwing Competition (no eels will be harmed in this competition, just stuffed toys!). Can you beat the World Record of over 17 metres? The full programme of arena events includes music, dancing, a living history encampment and a street food scene (including eels of course!).
Rounding up the weekend is the ever popular two day Food and Drink Festival now in its sixth year. Over 75 artisan and specialist food and drink traders will be showcasing their wares. We have an amazing Street Food Scene, comprising of a range of culinary delights which will tantalise your taste buds with the unusual, yet exquisitely crafted combinations. We also have a beer tent and cocktail bar with some easy listening, live music to enjoy.
Back on St Mary’s Green is our Kitchen Pantry with a selection of goodies to help stock your pantry, some handy gadgets and beautiful kitchenware along with a seating area and some scrumptious light bites.
This year, the festival has a healthy twist as we welcome into our fabulous Cookery Theatre the nutritionist from TV series such as “How to Lose Weight Well, “Eat Well for Less” and “Sugar Free Farm”. But don’t worry, whilst there is a nod to the health conscious there is also plenty of naughty but nice combinations as well. Our second celebrity is award-winning Italian chef Aldo Zilli who will be providing us with a masterclass in pasta making, a demo not to be missed. We also have a fantastic line-up of local chefs and artisan producers ensuring that there is something for everyone in our programme including wine tasting, a fresh take on British herbs and several fish dishes – well it is Eel Festival!
Also, there will be the chance to personally meet and greet our celebrity chefs for a Q&A hour at our “Conversation With” sessions which will be held at Oliver Cromwell’s House. This is a great opportunity to hear more about the fascinating careers and lives of our chefs and is a must for all foodies. Prices are just £10 and can be booked via our website at www.olivercromwellshouse.co.uk
The Festival also has its very own ice cream! Four-year-old, Rose, won a competition run by our main sponsor Cambridge Commodities, to develop a flavour with festival favourite Jack’s Gelato, based in Cambridge. She came up with a rose fondant and dark chocolate combination, aptly named Rose’s ice cream. This speciality flavour will be on sale at the Food and Drink Festival so pop by and try it.
Tracey Harding, Manager of Visit Ely said: “We are once again bowled over by the number of organisations, sponsors, partners and businesses who come on board and support this festival. We simply love this weekend and always feel that it kicks off our tourist season for Ely”.
All in all, Ely is the place to be this Spring Bank Holiday. For the full Ely Eel Festival programme check out www.elyeelfestival.co.uk
Press release from Visit Ely