Pubs, pints and pop-ups 5 Aug 2019
The pub has always been right at the heart of the community. It’s more than just a pint and a Sunday roast. It’s where we interact socially, share common interests, celebrate, remember and put the world to rights.
In St Albans we are all familiar with the closure of pubs in recent years affected by increased business rates and beer duties.
Pubs have had to evolve in many ways, specifically on the food offer which has exponentially improved over a short time period and out of necessity this has led to more family-orientated business models. This is just one example of how the sector overcomes ongoing challenges.
This wonderful cathedral city has a great community spirit and creates events that showcase the best of our local trade and attracts tourists from all the over the world. Our attractions and our packed programme of events throughout the year really help to put the city on the national and international tourism map.
We at The White Lion have been able to extend our business from within just the pub walls and work with various local concerns. Our most recent venture saw us collaborate with the team from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks to create a pop-up pub – The New Fighting Lion – for this year’s 11-day Open-Air Cinema as part of the St Albans Film Festival in the shadow of the cathedral. We will also be popping up at the Food and Drink festival this September with some lovely bespoke craft gins and sparkling wines.
The two-week food and drink festival kicks off on 23 September with a packed programme of events over two weeks including the CAMRA Beer and Cider Festival, the amazing Street Feastival in the city centre on 29 September, which is where we will be with our craft gins and sparkling wines, the food and drink awards, activities, workshops, dinners and deals run through until 7 October.
Our involvement with organising events began five years ago with the first Sopwell Festival over August bank holiday weekend, which sees six pubs coming together, creating four days of festivities, beer and cider festivals, food and live music as well as fundraising for a local charity.
By working together, our festival appeals to both residents and visitors, helping to support the local economy as well as raise for a worthy cause.
This year’s charity will be the Sopwell and Cottonmill Hub, who want to see more community facilities such as youth clubs in the Sopwell area.
The next pub-based tourism event sees celebrity chef Tom Kerridge’s Pub in the Park come to St Albans in September.
As much as this is a big draw for tourism in the St Albans pub community, we will not be resting on our laurels. We will strive to improve even further on this event and will be providing a fringe festival to complement the Pub in the Park event and further showcase St Albans pubs and restaurants in order to further enhance this city’s reputation as a tourist destination.
By Alicia Meredith, events co-ordinator, White Lion