Thousands flock to 10th annual real ale festival

People raise a glass to the Welland Valley Beer Festival
People raise a glass to the Welland Valley Beer Festival

Pubs taking part this year

Real ale enthusiasts from across the world flocked to the county in their thousands for the 10th annual Welland Valley Beer Festival.

Vintage buses took revellers between 14 pubs across the north of the county and into Leicestershire to sample the distinct ale and entertainment each one had to offer from Friday, June 15, to Sunday, June 17.

Veteran of six festivals John Williams, 64, of Corby, relaxing at the Sondes Arms, Rockingham, on Sunday, after visitng six pubs on Saturday, said: “It was a great year. There was more variety of pubs.”

Between 7,000 and 8,000 people sampled 266 diffent real ales and 27 real ciders across the largest spread of pubs of any beer festival in Europe.

Proud owners of 20 vintage buses from the 1930s to 1980s drove them out of storage to ferry people between the pubs along four routes on the Saturday. All the pubs had tents or marquees with live entertainment and food to go with the beer.

Connoisseurs could be seen making notes on different tipples or stashing samples of favourites in bottles for later.

John Ellis, 45, landlord of the Sondes Arms, which rejoined the festival ater a five year haitus, said about 2,000 drinkers had got through about 4,500 pints by Sunday afternoon.

He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can’t wait for next year.”

Barmaid Madison Godfrey, 18, of Geddington, said: “It was manic. There were so many people.”

Pat Coy, 46, of Utterly Brilliant Music, which supplied the bands Adrenaline, Atlantic House and Rocky Road for the pub, said: “I was astonished that the first bus rolled up at 11am then all of a sudden the tent was full.”