Chocolate & Fine Food Festival Will Offer Something ‘Sweet’ For All Ages

Thousands of chocoholics and enthusiastic foodies from Northern Ireland and beyond are set to descend again this year on Killyleagh town centre to celebrate the 2016 Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival, 23rd – 25th September.

Chocolate Festival is just the ticket for Chef Rankin! Photo by Aaron McCracken, Harrison Photography.

Chocolate Festival is just the ticket for Chef Rankin! Photo by Aaron McCracken, Harrison Photography.

Sponsored by artisan producer Finnebrogue, based in nearby Downpatrick and famous for their outstanding quality venison and sausages, among other favourites, this year’s festival will be the largest one 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.

Founded in 2010 to celebrate Killyleagh’s most famous son, Hans Sloane, who was born in the village in 1660 and later became one of the most famous men of his time partially because of his development of milk chocolate, the biennial festival has grown from strength to strength and is now regarded as one of the leading events of its type in the UK and Ireland and a highlight of the summer calendar for locals in Killyleagh.

“Now in our 4th festival season, the committee is working tirelessly to ensure that this year’s Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival is the best one yet. With increased interest in our abundance of local produce and artisan suppliers with thanks to 2016’s Year of Food & Drink, our chocolate-themed festival stands as a unique event in this year’s events calendar,” said Meave Davison, festival committee member. “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.”

Joining in the anticipation of the event was Joanna Discombe, Business Development Director at event sponsor Finnebrogue Artisan who said, “Like Hans Sloane, Finnebrogue is an iconic name synonymous with this part of County Down. Known for our high-quality ingredients which go into making unique, artisan food, the Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival offers the perfect local platform to show off our outstanding products to local and international audiences.”

The festival will kick off 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 world class entertainment set in a stunning marquee against the backdrop of Killyleagh Castle.

Killyleagh Chocolate FestivalThe 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, and be entertained by the activities for the whole family, offering serious fun for all in 2016!

Joining the line-up of this year’s festival is the Cancer Fund for Children, who have been confirmed as the beneficiary of this year’s fundraising activities. The leading local charity that provides practical, emotional and financial support to children and young people affected by cancer and their families, the charity offers therapeutic short breaks to families at Daisy Lodge, Newcastle, just a short drive from Killyleagh.

“We’re delighted to have partnered with this year’s Killyleagh Chocolate Festival,” said Gillian Creevy, Chief Executive, Cancer Fund for Children. “Our charity focuses on providing respite to families impacted by cancer. The children and families we support are at the heart of everything we do, and we are thrilled to be a part of such a family-friendly, wide-reaching event.”

The Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival kindly acknowledges the support of Tourism Northern Ireland, Newry Mourne & Down District Council, and Food NI in the staging of this year’s event as well as the support of sponsors Bryan Somers Travel, Finlay Wealth Management, Jeep, Killyleagh Development Association, Mash Direct, Roskyle, and S.D. Bell’s.

Ticket prices vary, based on events running throughout the Festival. For further information on all events taking place and to book tickets visit or follow the Killyleagh Chocolate Festival on Twitter @KillyleaghChoc or

About the Author

Abby Williams
Belfast based author/writer specialising in entertainment, mental health and human interest.