Northern Ireland going '˜cocoa' over 2016 Chocolate & Fine Food Festival

As thousands of chocoholics and foodies gear up for the highly-anticipated return of the biennial Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival this weekend, outstanding chefs and leading local artisan food producers from are joining up with festival organisers to ensure that the three-day festival offers a foodie experience not to be missed.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 19th September 2016, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:47 pm

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.

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.

The three-day celebration will continue on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th September with the Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival.

In addition to a range of family-friendly activities to enjoy on the grounds of Killyleagh Castle, guests can also take advantage of live cooking demos led by chef Burt alongside leading local chefs including chefs Danny Millar, Balloo Inns; Roy Abraham, The Smuggler’s Table; and Fernando Correa, Quails at the Gallery, among others hosted by Food NI.

Incorporating locally-grown and sourced produce paired with chocolate elements and even a chocolate stout from local Mourne Mountains Brewery, these chefs will bring home the theme of local cooking with a touch of chocolate in honour of Sir Hans.

Visitors to the castle can also explore the wide range of chocolatiers’ displays and market stalls, taste and purchase local artisan produce and street food, and 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.

Founded in 2010 to celebrate Killyleagh’s most famous son, Sir Hans Sloane, who was born in the village in 1660 and later credited for bringing the recipe for drinking chocolate to Europe from Jamaica, 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 food lovers across the country.

Aine Kearney, director of Business Support and Events Tourism NI, commented: “Tourism Northern Ireland is a proud sponsor of the Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival, in line with the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink initiative, the festival is showcasing our unique chocolate offering.

“The festival schedule has something for everyone from the Chocolate Ball to the family fun days and we hope this will encourage thousands of foodies from Northern Ireland and beyond to enjoy some of our great indigenous foods.”

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, Jeep, Killyleagh Development Association, Mash Direct, Roskyle, and S D Bell’s.

For further information on all events taking place and to book tickets visit or follow the Killyleagh Chocolate Festival on Twitter @KillyleaghChoc or