Locally produced food, regionally distilled gin, handmade crafts, and a great vibe: the Nourish Festival takes place annually in September in the heart of Bovey Tracey, an ancient market town on the fringes of Dartmoor National Park in Devon, England. Here’s a quick guide to the free festival, as well as how to visit and what you can expect to see once there.
What is Nourish Festival? (And a quick history!)
The food, gin, and crafts festival first launched in 2014 and has grown year on year ever since. The festival is the brainchild of three organisations; the Contemporary Craft Festival (which is held in Bovey Tracey each June), the Devon Guild of Craftsmen (an exhibition space in the heart of the town), and the Cheese Shed (a mail order cheese shop based in Bovey).
While the crafts fair and festival stalls are housed within the Methodist Chapel, much of the food-focused part of Nourish Festival can be found in the form of stalls running up and down the high street. Steep in places, the very heart of Bovey Tracey is closed off to traffic for the duration of the festival.
Towards the top of town, near the Garage, the gin festival is to be found in a small cluster. If I’m honest, there was a surprising number of liqueur stands (most of which offer free tasters so you can try before you buy)!
Highlights of the food, gin, and crafts festival
Throughout the weekend, there are also music events and plenty of demonstrations (crafts, floral arranging etc.) Many of the demonstrations are free, while the concerts are generally ticketed. In total, there were over forty food and drink producers: here are some of my top picks!
Papillon Gin: One of the best newcomers to the scene when it comes to gin from the South West is Papillon Gin, a distillery based in Moretonhampstead. Infused with a mix of botanicals, and complete with partiulcarly ginger notes, this smooth gin pairs perfectly with tonic and makes for a great gift.
Forst Fungi: For fans of mushrooms, it’s worth noting that this family business specialises in gourmet mushrooms, including rare and exotic species. While the idea for the business first took root as early as 2008, trading to the general public actually began in 2013.
Dartmoor Chilli Farm: Located in the charming village of Buckfast-in-the-Moor, the Dartmoor chilli farm has been going for well over two decades and produces a variety of products. From chocolate to sauces, to plants, the farm sells all kinds of products.
Ebbtides Seaweed: Though I didn’t sample any for myself (my boyfriend said he wasn’t the greatest fan of the stuff though I personally enjoy it!), there was an entire stall dedicated to all things seaweed; i.e. salts, dried seaweed, etc. Often touted for its supposed health benefits, all of the seaweed for sale from Ebbtides is harvested locally by hand along the Devon coastline.
How to visit Nourish Festival
For those who wish to visit this annual event, Nourish Festival is generally held during the first weekend of September each year, usually on the Saturday. While in town, be sure to experience as much of the history of the town as possible; including the rather uniquely named ‘Cromwell’s Arch‘.
Other highlights of Bovey Tracey include the town’s many independent cafés, various food stores, as well as its iconic status as the ‘gateway to the moors’ (i.e. it’s the perfect place from which to base yourself for exploring Dartmoor National Park).
If you want to enjoy the best of the festival, see as much as possible, and avoid the crowds which inevitably flock to Bovey later on in the day, then I highly recommend visiting earlier on in the day. The festival opens around 10 AM and ideally, this is when you want to visit! By the time we’d left at around noon, walking through the town was much harder to navigate than it had been when we’d arrived.