It is exactly 68 days until the Litfest 2016. I assure you, I would probably know that anyway but it just happens to be the same length of time to my Wedding Day. 2 months, 6 days, 13 hours and 28 minutes – I can tell you that because I just received the below picture of the countdown from chief in command, aka, the very tech savvy ‘M.O.B’ (Mother of the Bride) reminding me, incase I had forgotten, that said day is looming. ‘Very close Catherine’. Very close indeed!
When I was booking the date for our Wedding, I was concerned it didn’t clash with any championship fixtures, Six Nations matches or any other gaming activity. I wanted to ensure people wouldn’t be glued to their phones waiting for updates on scores, as canapés and jazz floated through the reception – admittedly, perhaps a bit of bridezilla-esque behaviour on my part. Little did I think, however, that I myself, had scheduled the Wedding during the 3 best foodie days of the year! Rookie mistake. But not to worry.
What is the ‘Litfest’, anyway? A literary festival to be exact. A relaxing, fun, inspiring and happy place that comes to life in, what many fondly refer to as the, ‘Ballymaloe bubble’, in East Cork, Ireland. A little haven, where a passion for food, wine and books collide, with chilled vibes and where everybody knows your name…… (cue to singalong now). The Litfest is like going on holiday and the biggest dilemma you are faced with is deciding which food stall you will try next or figuring out whether it is possible to squeeze the foraging session, the writing workshop and the cookery demonstration into the one morning.
For me, the Litfest was probably the inspiration and final gentle push I needed to pack my bags, check out of office life and sign up to be a student at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Not just your average festival so! But it can be whatever you want it to be. Foodie celeb spotting anyone? This year is another goodie with Yotam Ottolenghi, Claire Ptak, Skye Gyngell and Jancis Robinson included in the line-up and definitely worth keeping your eyes peeled for. I remember feeling invigorated listening to the gentle voice of Alice Waters tell her enchanting story and being captivated by every word of Joanna Blythman in interview with John Mckenna, as she spoke about her latest book, ‘Swallow This’. No doubt this year I would be sitting in awe of Nicolaus Balla & Courtney Burns of Bar Tartine in San Francisco. I loved chatting to the inspirational artisan food producers and trying their wonderful falafels, cakes, cordials, coffees, beers, cheeses and more. Not to mention, partying hard in ‘The Big Shed’ til the early hours, before starting all over again the next day.
Although I was disappointed to learn I would miss the festival this year, as I walk down the aisle in 68 days, I know I will be filled with the same emotions as you – all warm and fuzzy inside. The added bonus, mine is not just a 3 day party, but a party that lasts a lifetime! And what more, the Litfest will make an epic place to celebrate our anniversary in the years to come.
Must go now to tend to some invite envelope licking, but before I do, I would like to share these tips with you, to help you get Litfest ready, so you can have as good a time as I did;
Festival Top Tips
- Go for the three days, if you can – I initially booked for one and ended up staying for 3
- Volunteer if they are still looking for helpers (particularly if you are going alone, as it is a great way to meet people)
- Take a look at the Litfest programme guide in advance and circle the different events you want to attend. There is so much on offer it will be impossible to do it all but at least you will have earmarked a few ‘must-sees’
- Do some research on the names less familiar to you in the participants line-up before deciding on what to go to
- Book your tickets and accommodation in advance – now really – I was very last minute and wound up travelling in and out from Cork city which isn’t ideal if you are partial to a few drinks
- As well as the website, keep an eye on the Facebook Litfest Forum and Twitter notifications for festival information and rental accommodation updates
- Bring cash with you – there are no ATMs in the vicinity and only one place where you can get cash back so it will be handy to have a few notes on you
- Bring warm gear for the the Big Shed Parties. Although it will be late May, it is Ireland after all. I will have my Child of Prague out for us all!
- Have fun you guys!