THE popular Lymington Seafood Festival is going ahead over the bank holiday weekend thanks to the easing of the lockdown restrictions.
The seafood festival, which is usually a two-day event, has been rescheduled and will now take place over three days from Saturday August 29th and feature food, drink, live music – and social distancing.
It is one of only a handful of public events in the area to have been given the green light this year amid the Covid-19 restrictions, and follows earlier fears it would be cancelled.
But organisers Richard and Domine Nowell have put safety measures in place to ensure Lymington and Pennington Town Council could give permission at the Bath Road recreation ground.
Mr Nowell, from Lighthouse Marketing, said: “We are obviously delighted to be staging our annual seafood festival and look forward to working with Hampshire police and New Forest District Council with our preparations.
“We will be investing in the wide range of health and safety measures that we see in pubs or at other attractions. However, the weekend will still have a festival feel with great live music and almost every type of seafood imaginable.”
He said that judging by the reaction on social media it looked like many, especially locally, were “excited” the festival was going ahead.
Mr Nowell said: “It is a much-needed boost to the local economy given the tough times businesses have had.”
He wanted to thank tourism group Go New Forest, led by chief executive Anthony Climpson for “providing his experience and weight to discussions that have led to our event being given the green light”.
The festival usually attracts crowds of around 15,000 and has in the past generated more than £600,000 for the local economy.
The Nowells have spent months planning to ensure public safety. Social distancing will be maintained, entry tickets for the event must be booked, and there will be a track-and-trace system. Attendance will be divided into sessions to allow for cleaning.
There will be lots of additional seating and smaller bars this year to allow families or those in ‘social bubbles’ to enjoy the day.
There will be around 70 stands offering all kinds of seafood, with other cuisines also well represented while vegetarians will also find much to choose from.
It is hoped the festival will resemble its predecessors as much as possible with live stage performances, pop-up restaurants and bars.
New for 2020 is a fine dining pop-up restaurant led by acclaimed local chef Ian Gibbs, who is Rioja Chef of the Year, and more recently Dorset and Hampshire Chef of the Year.
Mr Gibbs has even cooked for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the annual Maundy Thursday tradition at Gloucester Cathedral.
He is creating a special menu using fresh seafood caught from the Solent along with produce from the New Forest, featuring in the pop-up restaurant, Bream on the Green.
Mr Gibbs’ seafood tapas-style menu will include Persian roasted bream, Pothecary Gin-cured salmon ‘pastrami’ with mango and radish relish, and baked dressed crab, plus the classic prawn cocktail – with a twist.
Diners will be treated to table service, bar and wine list with award-winning English sparkling wine from Cottonworth Vineyard.
Providing the festival’s entertainment will be bands and artists from across the south coast playing blues, soul, ska and more modern classics.
Tickets for the festival will be split into two sessions on the Saturday and Sunday. The first will be 11.30am-3.30pm, with the second 4pm-8pm.
On Monday there will be one session at 11.30am-5pm. In between sessions the whole site, including toilets and hard surfaces, will be thoroughly cleaned.
Tickets are priced at £5 per adult with children under 16 free. Visit www.lymingtonseafoodfestival.co.uk