A few weeks ago I blogged about the launch of a fab new website, called DiscoverDelicious.Wales. The site makes it easier for people to buy directly from artisanal Welsh food & drink producers in one place.
Well, just a few short weeks after I first began nosing around on DD, its founder, Laura Pickup, slid into my Instagram DMs with an invitation I just couldn’t refuse. Laura explained that DiscoverDelicious.Wales would be sponsoring a bar at this year’s Machynlleth Comedy Festival, and wanted to know if I fancied coming along to try some of the produce available on the website first hand.
I didn’t have to think about her offer for very long!
I didn’t know very much about the Machynlleth Comedy Festival when I agreed to this little trip, but a quick squiz on the festival website revealed that above all, the organisers “wanted to create somewhere where people came to have fun and get away from it all, whether this be the attendees, the comedians or the festival team” and to create “a spirit of experimentation and intimacy”.
That sounded pretty good to me.
The drive from Cardiff to Machynlleth is bloody glorious. This roads in this part of Wales are so scenic, and the breathtaking views honestly put tired, barren old Pen Y Fan to shame. Have a look at my recent post about a stay in nearby Llanidloes to see what I mean.
After a very beautiful 2h 45min drive, we arrived at the market town of Machynlleth, often affectionately known as ‘Mach.’
After a quick wander around the town to get our bearings (which doesn’t take very long!) we checked into our accommodation:
For two nights, we were housed in one of Fred’s Yurts. Every year at Mach, they set up a festival village for the weekend – complete with fairy lights, mattresses, bedding and even log burning stoves!
This was such a cosy place to sleep each night, and with the weather like it was, waking up to the sun streaming in through the ‘skylight’ was lovely. Safe to say I really enjoyed my first time sleeping in a yurt, and it won’t be my last.
This year, the Machfest camping village was based on the local school field, but don’t let that fool you, the surrounding views were still absolutely gorgeous…
The festival village
The festival itself (one that Rhod Gilbert calls “one of the best in the world“) is set all over the market town of Machynlleth.
The whole set up feels a bit like an adult Disney Land; as you wander from beer-tent to pop-up gig, clutching a pint, Mach locals are still popping in and our of their houses going about their usual business. The cafes and restaurants are all packed, as the town positively buzzes with tourists, comedians and locals.
The free programs for the festival are available at cafes, pubs and venues all over the town. From these, you can quickly get an idea of where everything is based. We soon worked out where the bars were, where the street-food area was, and where we could buy tickets for the shows we wanted to see.
As it happened, the lovely team at DiscoverDelicious.Wales sorted us out for all of the shows we were keen on. Over the course of the weekend we went to gigs in a leisure centre, on woodland stages, in school halls and on open-air platforms. We also watched a live show being recording for BBC Radio Wales.
What we drank
Thanks to DiscoverDelicious.Wales‘s involvement in the festival, the food and drink on offer over the course of the weekend was top-notch.
On the bar, there were some fab beers from Bragdy Twt Brewery in Treforest, Bluestone Brewery in Pembrokeshire and Purple Moose Brewery in Porthmadog. By far my favourite tipple of the weekend though, came from Hallets Cider. Their 7% ‘Heartbreaker’ on draught was perfect accompaniment for a weekend in sunny Machynlleth, though I couldn’t drink too many of them and stay standing…
There were also some fabulous Welsh-made spirits on offer, including Barti Ddu rum. This new seaweed-infused, spiced rum has recently been developed by the award-winning Pembrokeshire Beach Food company. I didn’t get a chance to try this at the festival but I’ve ordered a bottle from the DiscoverDelicious.Wales site and will let you know what I think – I can’t wait to try it.
The other stand-out spirit on offer at Mach was Dyfi Distillery gin. These guys are based in the UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere Reserve just outside Mach, and they forage the botanicals for their gins from the surrounding habitat. This means that their gins are influenced by what nature provides each season, truly reflecting the place they come from. They also taste absolutely incredible; their Pollination London Dry was named the best gin in the UK at the 2017 Great British Food Awards.
Not bad for a distillery who can only make a few hundred bottles a week!
Thanks to DiscoverDelicious.Wales, we were even treated to a pop-up comedy gig within the distillery – a chance to drink award-winning G&Ts and laugh our socks off with the likes of comedians Nish Kumar, Mark Watson and Dan Cook.
What an experience that was 😀
What we ate
Hungry comedy-lovers were kept-well fed by a variety of street-food traders at the festival, including Cardiff regulars The Parsnipship. These guys were smashing out veggie bombs at an incredible rate to keep up with demand. I went for the The Glamorgan, the Parsnipship’s signature ‘crumble’ – made with breadcrumbs, carrots, leeks, mature cheddar cheese, salt & pepper. Just the thing for soaking up all of that cider and gin…
The Machynlleth Comedy Festival is bloody great; I can’t say any more than that. Awesome people, a beautiful town, a lovely, relaxed vibe, and thanks to DiscoverDelicious.Wales, some excellent food and drink too. I will definitely be going back next year, and taking as many of my friends with me as possible.
If you fancy going next year, you can read all about the festival at machcomedyfest.co.uk, and of course, if you fancy trying any of the food and drink we enjoyed over the course of the weekend, you can have it all delivered straight to your home via DiscoverDelicious.Wales. My top tip: order some of that award-winning Pollination Gin!
Podcast coming soon…
Whilst wandering around Machynlleth I managed to snatch a few chats with the Hallets Cider family, the founders of The Parsnipship, and the lovely people at the Dyfi Distillery. Look out for a new episode of the Hank! podcast coming soon, featuring all three.
Do you like the sound of Machynlleth Comedy Festival? Have you been before? Would love to hear your thoughts!
Let me know in the comments below.