I will admit, I have never been a big watcher of Country file, so when my dad told me he’d got the family some free tickets to their live event I was a little sceptical. However, the day turned out to be fantastic with so much to explore and not enough time to see everything they had there!
The event took place at the beautiful Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, from the 3rd to 6th August. We went on the Thursday and were there from 9:30am until 5pm. This is the first year that Country file have put on a live event and it was therefore very busy with a slow initial car park line. We had to drive through the palace grounds from one end to the other in order to reach the car park which took about 30 mins. I would advise if you’re going next year to get there a bit earlier than 9:30am and use one of their different side entrances to avoid the morning queues.
Once we got out of the car, into the palace grounds and given an event map, we realised quite how much there was to do. I would also advise taking a load of spending money as there are many attractions such as arts and crafts, clothes, food and alcohol to be indulged in. We started off looking around the arts and crafts marquees and I was immediately shocked by the sheer amount of goods there were for sale. From pottery to paintings, and sheepskin footstools to woodland themed jewellery, it was simply impossible to take in everything and this was only the first area we had arrived in.
Next, we hit the all important food market which was full of indulgent samples of cheeses, crackers, meats, jams, marsh mellows, scotch eggs and so much more. Everyone was happy to talk to us about their products and the fact that everything was homemade gave a very authentic feel to the day.
If you didn’t want to trawl around the retail outlets all day there was also the “Craven Arms,” the much needed beer garden for those needing a rest from walking. It was great to sit in the (semi) sun and enjoy a pint of cider with a local country band playing live in the background. “Adam’s Farm” was a great one for the kids, featuring livestock they could interact with, which included holding a chick and learning about how to milk a cow! I will admit that this was also fun for the adults too…
Various shows and talks took place throughout the day and we managed to attend two of these after dragging ourselves away from the tempting food and alcohol. There is a main Country file talk which we unfortunately didn’t get time to watch but I know it featured some of the well known presenters. We saw the falconry display and a dog and duck show which was a little scary at times for the ducks as some dogs were untrained (purposefully) but it was all good fun. Our day also included seeing Rick Stein cook live which was great! Some of the other shows taking place included equestrian acrobatics, a Gun Dogs display and a Shire horse show. There were specific areas for different things such as a National Trust theatre, an Equine Area and an Explore Britain stage. I felt like I almost needed another day to experience all of the fantastic things happening just in the palace grounds!
From what started out as a begrudging acceptance of travelling for an hour and back to get there, my lovely experience of the Country file Live Event is one that certainly surprised me and I would 100% recommend it as a family or a couples event for next year! Remember to get there early and take some spending money, along with dressing for all weathers (as we found ourselves in a sudden downpour through the sunshine once or twice) and if you’re not a big fan of walking, I would re think this event as the grounds really are huge!