Alresford Watercress Festival kicks off 2023 UK Festival and Watercress Season!

There may have been sparkle and glitter at Eurovision but down on the farm in Alresford even the tractor is getting in on the act as the town prepares to celebrate the start of the UK watercress and festival season with the 19th annual Alresford Watercress Festival this Sunday, 21 May.

The crop has been crucial for the prosperity of the town for over 150 years even earning it the name ‘the capital of watercress’.

Tom Amery, MD of The Watercress Company (pictured), and a key sponsor of the festival says: “The excitement is building as all the final plans fall into place.  On the farms we’re working hard to make sure the watercress is in tip top condition and ready to harvest.  It really is a unique crop – it doesn’t grow in soil like other plants but attaches to the gravel beds, which date from Victorian times and through which the natural spring water flows.  This same water feeds the plants with all the nutritious goodness that makes watercress so good for us.”

Tom will be on hand on Sunday to talk about the incredible health benefits of watercress while chefs including the renowned restaurateur Mark Hix, MasterChef The Professionals 2022 finalist, Charlie Jeffreys and popular TV chef, Lesley Waters, will be demonstrating just how versatile an ingredient watercress is – so much more than a garnish or simple salad.

As well as cookery demos there will be stalls – craft, foodie and vintage – to scratch all types of retail itches, as well as live music and entertainment for the kids and adults alike.  There is also the chance to sign up to a BBQ Workshop run by Season Cookery School at Lainston House.

There are competitions and raffles with a raft of great prizes including £400 cash to win.  The official charity for the festival is local children’s cancer charity, Abby’s Heroes – collectors will be roaming the streets with free bags of watercress but for which a donation would be welcome, while Mark Hix will be auctioning off the dishes he makes to the highest bidder, with all proceeds going to Abby’s Heroes.  Festival organisers are hoping to add substantially to the £50,000 that has been raised over the previous years.

The day gets underway at 9.50am when the 2023 Watercress King and Queen, Jack Sims and Beau Reilly-Taylor from Sun Hill Infants and Junior School will be crowned by Mark Hix and Charlie Jeffreys with watercress crowns made by Wild Bunch West Street, Alresford.

After their coronation, they will move up Broad Street in a cavalcade of Morris dancers and musical bands throwing freshly harvested watercress to the crowds.  Cookery demos take place all day from 10.30am and winners of the Barter’s Best Awards (the most innovative use of watercress in food), judged by Mark Hix will be presented with their prizes at 14.50.  The grand finale is of course, the World Watercress Eating Championships!  Competitors brave enough to put themselves forward can sign up from 14.30 with the competition beginning at 15.00.

Getting to the festival couldn’t be easier with a park and ride service running from Ropley on the Watercress Line, or catch the free bus service – the Winchester to Alton Stagecoach service 64.   There is limited parking available (for which there is a fee) and with road closures it is advisable to use the available transport services.


For more information, a map and complete schedule for the day, visit www.watercressfestival.orgor follow our social media:

For recipes, visit and for information about the health benefits of watercress go to

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All Rights Reserved. Website By MiHi