New Forest District Council prepares to stage its first ever food and drink festival week, 31 October to 6 November.

Cllr Barry Rickman, Leader of NFDC, said. "The festival will showcase the unique food and drink offer and attract visitors to stay in what is usually the first quiet week of our tourism and visitor season.

"The area's impressive array of food and drink businesses makes up part of our strong local business community, and I am very proud to be supporting the industry with what is sure to be an enjoyable event."

Fifteen themes, including Glorious Game and Roaring Fires, Cheese and the Forest Larder and The Vegetarian Forest Feast will be headlined by a range of events including a six-course ‘Tastes of the Forest’ menu at Chewton Glen and the ‘Six Sausages Dishes’ and chef’s challenge at the New Forest Inn.

There’ll be a Mad Hatters’ tea party for young foodies, as well as a talk on The Very English Afternoon Tea at the Montagu Arms Hotel and events connected to Pannage pig, forest drinks including our wines, beers and ciders, sweets and chocolates, foraging, pies, the great New Forest Breakfast, charcuterie, plus fish and seafood from our 40-mile coast.

Free events include a Living and Learning Event at Beaulieu Road Pony Sales yard on Wednesday November 2 where locals and visitors can learn all about the forest’s rich history and cultural heritage – followed by some scrumptious outdoor food cooked by top chefs. There’ll also be a producer’s market and chef demonstrations at Brockenhurst College on Sunday November 6.

Anthony Climpson, Destination Manager and Chairman of the New Forest Food & Drink Festival Week said: “Local menus have long included venison, and the New Forest’s unique Pannage pork – and this made us realise that we needed to celebrate our food and drink heritage a little more formally.

“The festival week will not only be a showcase of the epicurean delights of our magical destination, but also a celebration of the distinctive personalities and characters who grow, cook and serve our fabulous forest food and drink.”

As research shows that more people are holidaying and travelling in the UK, a trip across the country to discover an interesting new area, try some locally-sourced dishes or learn from a Michelin-starred chef has become increasingly attractive to the British public.

For more information or to book tickets, visit www.thenewforest.co.uk/newforestfoodfest