Above: Heaven 17 will top the bill tomorrow night
The North East Chilli Fest opens its doors tomorrow and is set to be one of the hottest events in the food and music calendar.
As well as a producers’ market featuring some of the UK’s top chilli producers – selling chilli inspired food and drink – there’ll be tasty delights from artisans, and dozens of musical, comedy and entertainment acts.
The event, held in Seaton Sluice, Northumberland – opposite Gloucester Lodge Farm – kicks off at 5pm tomorrow (until 11pm) with 80s icons Heaven 17 topping the bill.
North East favourites Smoove and Turrell are one of eight acts appearing on the main stage throughout Saturday, and the Baghdaddies bring down the curtain on Sunday.
At the festival’s new home – a 27-acre site between Seaton Sluice and Blyth’s South Beach – there are tents devoted to comedy, dance, cabaret acts and children’s entertainment.
There is also an alternative tent, hosted by Pam Marshall from the Arch 16 café in Gateshead. “I can’t wait,” she said. “I’ve been to previous Chilli Fests and thought the atmosphere was fantastic.”
Pam opened Arch 16 – located under the railway arches at the end of The High Level Bridge – in 2013. After nearly a quarter of a century serving in the RAF and travelling the world, often on her own, she wanted to create a venue which really welcomed and entertained its visitors. The result is a café, venue and exhibition space which highlights and promotes cultural diversity through art, music and food. It will bring that ethos to the North East Chilli Fest.
The Arch 16 alternative tent will feature everything from 1970s disco funk, New York soul, hip hop and poetry. “Arch 16’s capacity is about 40,” said Pam, “So it will be great to see all these fantastic performers in front of a crowds of 500 people.”
A Street Food Zone and numerous bars will help keep people going over the three days.
The North East Chilli Fest, now in its sixth year, is run by Mark and Shelley Deakin. “We had five fantastic years in the grounds of Seaton Delaval Hall, but we needed more space for the stages, marquees, stalls and our camping area,” said Shelley.
“We’ve tried to provide something for everybody,” said Mark. “This began life as a chilli festival, but it’s become so much more than that as the music and entertainment aspect has grown and grown.”
The event, of course, will still host a chilli eating competition on both Friday and Saturday for those brave enough to enter.
“It’s not for the feint-hearted,” said Mark. “This is the North East Chilli Fest after all.”
A range of flexible tickets are still available, with options ranging from as little as £5 to £30. Tickets for children cost £3. Visit www.chillifest-ne.co.uk