Last night I went to my first Foodpark Night Market. I've heard quite a bit about these events and having bought my tickets weeks in advance I was eager to get to the venue. Gravel Hill Farm (quite gravely, not very hilly) reminded me of that advert for the ARTS cinema with the stalls, lights and middle class people sat around hay barrels. I imagine talks about where to go ski-ing and the perils of private education were had by many a punter whilst queueing for their alfresco supper and trying to stop ‘Imogen’ from touching anything dirty.
Live music was provided by Will Robert playing his twinkly sounding guitar and soothing us with his Ben Howard-esq. vocals. I actually felt quite badly for him when he finished as he didn't get anywhere near as rousing an applause as he deserved. Check him out, he's honestly rather good!
As my stomach began to grumble attention turned to the array of street food vans available under the corrugated iron roof. While offerings from The Wandering Yak, Fired up Pizzas and Guerilla Kitchen were included, there was little in the way of BBQ food and anything resembling pulled pork or chicken wings was missing completely. Luckily a firm favourite was on offer and once again Steak and Honour did not disappoint with their truly gourmet burgers. The wait was only half an hour as well, positively speedy in comparison to past experiences!
When it came to quenching our thirst, the prosecco and Pinkster gin bar were pleasantly easy to get to, obtaining a beer was less well orchestrated. One of the three servers seemed more concerned with writing the beer names on the taps than actually serving his customers - something that should have been addressed before the event started maybe? By 6.30pm, only an hour or so after the market had opened the queue was 40 mins long.
So there were aspects of the event that lacked organisation, however the vibe I got was one of a delightfully chilled night with relaxed friends and families mingling to live music and Christmas style lighting. While my beer drinking buddy was less than impressed, I would definitely give the night market another go. Here are my tips to make the most of it if you fancy going to the next one:
Keep up to date on Facebook: here you can check if it’s sold out – sometimes tickets are available on the door but its stonkingly popular so book early to avoid disappointment (sorry for the cliché saying but I have first-or rather second-hand knowledge of said disappointment as some of our friends left it too late to get their tickets)
Don’t drive: - there’s no parking so cycling, taxi or public transport is the best way to arrive (plus then you can have a few tipples!).
Arrive Early, Doors are 5pm and the first hour was by far the most civilised!
Bring cash- most vender's do not accept cards.
Go with the flow. As advised you will most likely have quite a wait for both food and beer. Even if you aren’t hungry I'd order your food before 6.30pm, the queues mount up quickly thereafter.
Bring the Layers! it’s a beautiful setting and while soft cosy blankets are provided they are quite small and there are far fewer wraps than people that need wrapping up!
Have you been to the Cambridge Food Market, what did you think?