We enjoyed a great night out on Friday at the first North Hop festival at Eden Court Theatre.
(Apologies for the lack of decent photos, I obviously was enjoying myself too much!)
Regular readers of the blog may remember that I have been to a couple of pre-festival events before: the opportunities to get nicely acquainted with gin at a tasting at the Heathmount Hotel, and a Windswept beer and Cromarty Cheese House cheese tasting at Velocity. Both of these events were a great introduction to the two day festival – unfortunately we couldn’t make it along on Saturday but the two day passes that I won a few weeks ago were greatly enjoyed by our friends James and Kate!
Our evening didn’t get off to a great start prior to our arrival, as halfway down to Eden Court I realised I had forgotten the tickets – and it was all uphill back to our house in the bright sunshine. Whoops!
Our 1 day tickets cost £15 and with the admission we got a festival glass (which was a genius idea on many fronts, saving the environment – and using these glasses meant festival goers had a momento and also it felt a much more classy affair than a usual festival when plastic cups are necessary), a festival programme , and a taster of the special Festival brew from Windswept Brewery, as well as a great musical line up! The One Touch theatre was completely unrecognisable as a brilliantly styled beer hall/gig venue with hay bales for seats around long tressle tables , beer barrels to rest your glasses on and all of the breweries handily located around the sides.
Upstairs were the food producers, cocktail lounge, Botanical stage and other bits of festival fun. What I really liked is that it felt very spacious being held over two floors, there was always somewhere to sit and chat with music spilling out into the background.
Betty Booth was fab – we had great fun with our props in the booth (we sneaked in twice with our different props!) cue much amusement and hilarity!
Foodwise – there had been problems recruiting festival food stalls, so there wasn’t tons of choice (BUT it was the first year of the festival so there’s always going to be teething problems, and the cafe at Eden Court was open too with other options) but we were more than happy with our pork and haggis scotch egg, washed down with a scoop (or two) of ice cream from Stew n Drews from Hopeman. Delicious! And we had a couple of tasters of their own special cider sorbet and whisky ice cream.
Onto the drinks! Thistly Cross Cider definitely went down the best with our group, the favourite flavours were Elderflower and Strawberry. We had to keep reminding ourselves not to down our glasses as it didn’t taste alcoholic at all – more just like really nice juice! I had my first taste of Rock Rose Gin – which is from a new distillery in Caithness, the most northerly in the UK! Paired with Fevertree (my favourite) tonic and a slice of grapefruit, this slid down nicely!
Mr B enjoyed Tornado from Windswept, as well as Kowabunga from Cromarty Brewing Company, and an IPA from Eden Brewery. There were over 50 beers on offer, so enough choice to keep the keenest ale enthusiast happy- and all at decent prices for a 1/3 or 2/3 glass.
We were really sad that we couldn’t get along to the following day to enjoy more music and ales, but we would recommend it again and will be booking our tickets for next year!