Make the Most of Your Money at Food Festivals

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Visiting this summer’s food festivals, such as the Crabstock Shellfish Festival in Northampton or the Essex Festival of Food and Drink in Braintree, can be an expensive business – if you allow it to be. Some of the events are free to enter but others, such as the Nantwich and South Cheshire Show, will charge you around £15 for an adult to get in. But that’s not where the real financial danger actually lies. You can budget ahead to cover your entry fees, but what about all that yummy temptation on show? How do you not end up with bulging bags of goodies while your pockets are empty of cash?

Eat Before You Go | Don’t head to the Cannon Hall Farm Food Festival in Yorkshire, the Bristol Thai Festival or the Great British Food Festival in Yorkshire without filling up first if you don’t want to be tempted by the wares of literally hundreds of traders. If you don’t have time to eat before you leave home, stop off on the way or grab something substantial as soon as you get there. That way you won’t spend all of your time snacking on tasty but pricey treats, and you should end up with cash to buy something nice to take home at the end.

Research the Festival | Avoid wandering aimlessly and spending all of your money in the first half an hour. Check out the website of the festival, one of the food festival round-up sites or the local press to make sure you don’t come across the stall of your dreams just minutes after spending your last few pounds on something you didn’t really need or want. Almost all of the bigger festivals have information-packed websites to ensure you can make the most out of your experience, ranging from the Spalding and South Holland Food and Drink Festival in Lincolnshire to the BBC Good Food Festival at Hampton Court Palace.

Time It Right | If you really want to bag the bargains, try to visit the festival near to the end of the last day. This is when traders are likely to have reduced prices to get rid of stock, but just remember that this is also the time when many of the most popular items are likely to already have been sold. If you go with an open mind, however, you can not only get some great deals, but you may also be tempted to try something completely new. Don’t head out without a budget in mind, though, or you could end up spending more than you wanted to – even if you get lots of bargains for your bucks. Another good way to save money is to haggle. Essentially, most food festivals are like any markets, and stallholders expect you to try to get the best deal. Just make sure you do it in the right way. Always be friendly and smile and don’t offer something so low that the stallholder is more likely to be insulted rather than accommodating. If you can’t get money off a single item, try to strike a deal for two or more purchases. Sellers are more likely to knock money off if they’re still going to make a decent profit from the deal.