Rhubarb Festival, 17–23 February 2020, free entry - Visit now
The city of Wakefield is in the heart of Yorkshire’s Rhubarb Triangle, a nine-square-mile area of the country between Wakefield, Rothwell and Morley that’s been in the business of growing rhubarb for hundreds of years. This incredible agricultural tradition is what Wakefield’s Rhubarb Festival commemorates, a week-long celebration of the cultural heritage that surrounds this unusual vegetable (often used for desserts, rhubarb is nonetheless a vegetable). A strange subject for a festival, you might argue – but Yorkshire forced rhubarb is nothing if not a prestigious foodstuff, having been awarded Protected Designation of Origin status in 2010, joining the likes of Champagne and Parma ham. Heady culinary company, indeed, and justification, if any was needed, for one of the highlights of Wakefield’s festival calendar.
Previous iterations of the Rhubarb Festival have seen an exhibition by acclaimed photographer Martin Parr displayed in Wakefield’s former market hall, and the recreation of an actual forced rhubarb shed. Complete with 200 shoots of real rhubarb growing under candlelight, this was a special introduction to the smells and distinctive crackle that forced rhubarb makes as it grows. Lantern walks, storytelling, tractor rides, folk music performances and morris dancers have also featured, as well as food demonstrations in keeping with the theme of the festival and comedy at the temporary ‘Rhu-bar’.
As you might expect for a food-themed event, visitors haven’t been left hungry: not only has a food and drink market been a central feature, with artisan breads, preserves, cheeses, cakes, wines and more for sale, it’s also been accompanied by a street food and vegan market selling delicious offerings to hungry punters. If you’re visiting Wakefield to attend this special festival, our top picks for places to stay include the fully-furnished, serviced apartments at Courtyard Mews, Luxury Suites and Studios by BOOTique and, a little further out of the city centre, Holmfield Arms, which is surrounded by beautiful parkland.