Events, Fairs and Festivals

Don’t Waste Your Money On This Gin and Rum Festival

Gin & Rum Festival

You know me, I love a food and drink festival. I like checking out new brands, trying new things, and chatting to people who make tasty things. Nothing makes me sadder than a bad festival, and unfortunately, this is exactly the experience I had with the Gin and Rum Festival recently.

What is the Gin and Rum Festival?

Pretty much what it says on the tin. The Gin and Rum Festival is a touring festival, that goes around the country with a selection of gin and rum brands, and new for 2022, tequila too.

According to the website, tickets are £15, but when you actually click through to Eventbrite, where all the tickets are sold, at the time of writing, there’s nothing under £16, and the London event is just over £19. Your ticket gets you into the building, the event guide (basically a big menu), a glass, and a metal straw, and a small canvas bag to carry it all in. You can access trader stands, which may have free samples, attend talks, and enjoy a DJ and some live music too.

Gin & Rum Festival

Can I drink for free?

No. You can get free samples from the traders, but understandably the traders don’t really want to hand out a million free samples to someone who has no intention of buying anything. It costs traders money to attend shows like this, and the point for them is to sell their products. Try samples, but be polite about it.

The festival advertises that they have 120 gins and rums on offer. What they don’t tell you is that only a very, very small handful of these will actually be in attendance, and all the rest are just what is being served behind the bars. To buy a drink at the bar you need to buy tokens. You get no tokens included in your ticket price. Each token will cost you £6, which gets you a single measure of gin or rum, and a mixer.

Gin & Rum Festival

Why I don’t think you should waste your money

I couldn’t really work out what my ticket price had got me, aside from a nice gin glass.

Most of those 120 gins and rums were only available from the bars, which I had to pay extra for. The advertised trader’s hall at the Birmingham festival I attended was hilariously small. In fact, there were only 9 stalls in there. One of those sold brownies and one was a cheese company, so for a gin and rum festival, you only had seven brands who actually made gin or rum in attendance. We also quickly worked out that three of the brands were also just combined onto one stall, being operated by Gin Festival staff, so you could buy bottles there and try some samples, but there wasn’t actually anyone there from the brand.

I will say, the brands that were there were lovely. We tried (and bought) some really nice gins and rums, chatted to a couple of friendly makers and ate a bloody lovely charcuterie box from the cheese stall. However, because they were so few traders, queues were LONG. It was hard to get near any of the stands, especially later in the evening, as people got drunk and started to push their way to the front. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience. It quickly reached the point where you couldn’t really speak to traders, as there would be a crowd of drunk women screeching for free samples and trying to elbow you out of the way. I really think this event needs a lot more traders actually in attendance.

As for the Meet The Maker talks? Well, we tried to attend the first talk, waited fifteen minutes after it should have started, and nobody turned up to run it. We could actually see the brand who were meant to be up first from where the talks were being held, but they didn’t bother to send anyone. We tried again for another brand later in the evening, waited for a quarter of an hour, and once again…nobody arrived. Out of four Meet The Maker talks advertised on the night, only two went ahead.

All in all, I was really disappointed. If you want to spend £15 on a glass and a straw, go right ahead, but personally, I’d save your money for an independent festival! At a minimum, I’d expect advertised parts of the event to go ahead (or for staff to at least acknowledge it if they can’t for some reason), which this festival just didn’t manage.

I did reach out to them on Twitter, but they ignored me. Definitely don’t waste your money!

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30-something lifestyle blogger in Birmingham. Restaurants, nightlife, travel, child-free lifestyle. Caffeine fuelled, pet mum, secret geek. She/her.
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