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Source: © www.hanssloane.com
In September, thousands will walk down London’s Sloane Street, shopping for designer clothes, and into Sloane Square for a fabulous meal; or maybe contemplate a stroll up Hans Crescent, to Harrods. As they do, I wonder how many of them will realise that, in Northern Ireland, thousands more will be celebrating the person, after whom all those streets are named, for a very different reason?
Hans Sloane was born in the Killyleagh village, in 1660. Amongst other things, he made what some might call ‘a wise investment’, when he bought a manor known as ‘Chelsea’, and his descendants, the Cadogan family, still own much of it. Nevertheless, the people visiting County Down are more interested in the fact that he invented a recipe, using cacao and milk, which was drunk as a medicinal elixir. This was later sold by Nicholas Sanders in Soho, perhaps making 'Sir Hans Sloane's Milk Chocolate' the first brand-name milk chocolate, albeit in liquid form.
Now, over 250 years later, thousands of chocoholics and enthusiastic foodies, from Northern Ireland and beyond, are set to descend again, on Killyleagh town centre, to celebrate the 2016 ‘Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival’.
Founded in 2010, to celebrate the village’s most famous son, the biennial festival has grown from strength to strength. It’s now regarded as one of the leading events of its type, in the UK and Ireland, and a highlight of the local’s summer calendar. Held, this year, from 23rd – 25th September, it’s sponsored by artisan producer Finnebrogue, based in nearby Downpatrick, and famous for their venison and sausages, among other favourites. This year’s festival will be the largest yet, with over 15 chocolatiers and nearly 40 local artisan food producers scheduled to set up camp at the historic Killyleagh Castle, for the weekend-long festival.
“We look forward to welcoming guests coming from as close as Killyleagh and as far as mainland Europe, who will share in this special festival”, said committee member, Maeve Davison.
Joining the line-up of this year’s festival is ‘Cancer Fund for Children’, who have been confirmed as the beneficiary of this year’s fundraising activities.
The festival begins on Friday 23rd September with the Chocolate Ball, which will take place on the grounds of the stunning Killyleagh Castle, one of Ireland’s longest-inhabited castles. Guests will be treated to a chocolate-rich menu prepared and curated by the Chef Simon Dougan of Yellow Door and Finnebrogue consultant development chef, Chris Burt, followed by entertainment set in a stunning marquee, against the backdrop of Killyleagh Castle.
The three-day celebration will continue on Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th September with the Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival, where guests can enjoy the range of chocolatiers’ displays and market stalls, taste and purchase local artisan produce.
Afterwards, you can let me know how many pounds you put on, in the comments below!