Have fun in the country

From county shows to open farm days and ferret racing, Melonie Clarke picks the best countryside events
Highclere country show
This is the country sports event of the year for families, with an abundance of features including terrier racing, horseback falconry, ferret racing, archery, magic shows, rural crafts, claypigeon shooting and many stalls and arenas. Nestled in the grounds famed for ITV’s Downton Abbey, this is the perfect incentive to pay a visit to the beautiful backdrop.

Where: Highclere Castle, Newbury, Berkshire: 0845-230 5175, www.highclerecountryshow.co.uk  
When: 25 and 26 May

Suffolk Show
Suffolk’s biggest two-day farming event will showcase many heavy-horse displays, the Shetland Pony Grand National, as well as the beloved Suffolk Punch breed. There will also be many livestock classes for cattle, sheep and other domestic animals.

Where: Suffolk Showground, Ipswich: 01473-707110, www.suffolkshow.co.uk
When: 28 and 29 May

Royal Bath and West Show
This year’s show features the 50th anniversary of the Golden Shearers, where top-class sheep shearers will be battling it out in competition. Both the British Cider Championships and the British Cheese Awards will announce their winners at the show. Friday 30 May is Ladies’ Day and ticket holders will have access to exclusive arenas and afternoon tea.

Where: The Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset: 01749-822200, www.bathandwest.com
When: 28 to 31 May

Westmorland Country Fest
With wide-ranging activities for all the family, this show will deliver the best locally produced food and drink from around the Cumbria area and food demos in the Food Theatre. There will also be a vintage revival marquee with tea room, kite displays, open sheepdog trials and a historical car club display.

Where: Westmorland County Showfield, Lane Farm, Crooklands, Cumbria: 01539-567804, www.westmorlandshow.co.uk
When: 31 May and 1 June

Country-Events-02-590Clcokwise from top left: Highclere Castle, setting for Downton Abbey. The South of England Show has trials for those of all ages. The British Asparagus Festival fun run

Cambridgeshire County Show

This small-scale traditional show has been organised by supporters of the local Young Farmers Club and is focused on celebrating rural tradition. Promoting British food and farming, there will also be a variety of trade stands, including country clothing, wrought ironwork, plants and handcrafted toys.

Where: Wimpole Home Farm, Arrington, Royston: 07758-676017, www.cambscountyshow.co.uk
When: 1 June

South of England Show
Horticulture will be a central feature this year, with forestry and flower displays, the latest innovations in crop production, a focus on seasonal fruit and beautiful arrangements in the flower tent. The show also features the hotly contested Young Craftsman Of The Year award. The Princess Royal will be attending this year, so you can be sure that all the stops will be pulled out.

Where: South Of England Showground, Ardingly, West Sussex: 01444-892700, www.seas.org.uk
When: 5 to 7 June

Open Farm Sunday
Hundreds of farmers open their farms up to the public for one Sunday a year. Each site is different, in accordance with the type and history of the farm. Typically, activities include farm walks, tractor and trailer rides, picnics and lots of animal encounters. Visit the website or call the number below to find a participating farm near you.

Where: Nationwide: 02476- 413911, www.farmsunday.org
When: 8 June

Rural Pastimes
The annual celebration of rural pursuits and agriculture promises to be a great day out for those of all ages, while raising money for the local Blackbourne Church and St Nicholas Hospice Care. Other attractions include an air display, a flower show, a jousting competition, vintage and classic cars and rural crafts. Euston Hall will also open its doors to the Red Rooster Festival for sounds of the American Deep South over the same weekend.

Where: Euston Park, Euston, Suffolk: 01842-824793, www.eustonruralpastimes.org.uk
When: 8 June

Country-Events-03-590Clcokwise from left: Shetland Pony Grand National at the Suffolk Show. At the South of England Show. Open Farm Sundays offer animal magic. Livestock parade at the South of England Show

East Peak Outdoors Festival

Celebrate the great outdoors by going on one of the walks, horse or bike rides suggested by the organisers. Many of the events are linked to the region’s culture and history.

Where: Various venues around Sheffield, South Yorkshire: 01226-763201, www.epip.org.uk
When: 15 to 21 June

British Asparagus Festival
Our only festival dedicated to this vegetable draws big crowds. There will be cookery demos, tours, fun runs and a special asparagus auction.

Where: Various venues, Vale of Evesham, Worcestershire: 01386-565373, www.britishasparagusfestival.org
When: Until 21 June

Polo for Heroes
Get a first-class view of the battle between the military polo team and the civilian polo team, captained by boxer Steve Collins. The tickets for this annual fundraising event cost £25 and include a gourmet BBQ, beverage and entertainment.

Where: St Albans Polo Club, St Albans, Hertfordshire: 07956-017090, www.stalbanspoloclub.co.uk
When: 28 June

Wisley Arts Fest
A diverse range of artists will be welcomed at the garden for this inaugural arts festival. Expect theatre, live music, craft, aerial performances and artists’ masterclasses.

Where: RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey: 0845-260 9000, www.rhs.org.uk/wisley
When: 28 and 29 June

Hampshire Food Festival
More than 70 events celebrate the best of Hampshire’s food and farming – visitors can attend farm tours, chocolateand jam-making workshops, wine tastings and barn dances.

Where: Various venues, Hampshire: 01962-846509, www.hampshirefare.co.uk
When: 1 to 31 July

Yorkshire Festival 
The inaugural cultural festival celebrates 100 days of arts events such as fi lm screenings, live music and exhibitions.

Where: Various venues, Yorkshire: 0113-322 3500, www.yorkshirefestival.co.uk
When: Until 6 July

Country-Events-04-590From left: Visitors can savour seafood in Hastings. Stepping lively at show time

Bolsover Food and Drink Festival 

This event is perfect for realale fans. Bolsover Castle will host the festival with food and drink stalls, masterclasses and demonstrations.

Where: Bolsover town centre, Derbyshire: 0114-221 7487, www.discoverbolsover.co.uk
When: 26 and 27 July

Summer Activities, Tatton Park Farm 
Watch sheep compete in the daily hurdle challenge, meet newly born ducklings and chicks, learn about the work of sheepdogs and attend the Fun Dog Show (10 August).

Where: Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire: 01625-374400, www.tattonpark.org.uk
When: 29 July to 22 August

Enjoy live music from local and national bands, art activities, and stalls selling local produce. This small and friendly festival is perfect for all the family.

Where: Gilcombe Farm, Bruton, Somerset: 0845-838 9924, www.farmfestival.co.uk
When: 1 and 2 August

Festival of British Eventing
Held at HRH The Princess Royal’s home, Gatcombe Park, this will be a celebration of equestrian achievement, including dressage, show jumping, the Show Jumping Championship Final and the Cross Country Championship.

Where: Gatcombe Park, Gloucestershire: 0843-208 7455, www.gatcombe-horse.co.uk
When: 1 to 3 August

Country-Events-05-590From left: Pre-judging at the Royal Bath and West Show. Will he go home with a rosette?

Highland Homecoming 

This two-month-long celebration of Highland culture and traditions includes the world sheepdog trials and a clan ceilidh.

Where: Various venues, Inverness: 0845-859 1006, www.clans2014.com
When: 1 September to 31 October

Dundee Flower and Food Festival
The region’s top lifestyle festival offers the best in food, horticulture and live entertainment, with free demonstrations, children’s activities, craft fair, music and TV celebrities. Buy plants and bulbs and take in the inspirational garden displays.

Where: Camperdown Country Park, Dundee: 01382-433815, www.dundeeflowerandfoodfestival.com 
When: 5 to 7 September

Hastings Seafood and Wine Festival 
Food, drink and themed activities to tempt everyone from wine connoisseurs and seafood lovers to those who just enjoy trying something different. There will be plenty of live music and street entertainment, too.

Where: Stade Open Space, Hastings: 01424-451111, www.visit1066country.com
When: 20 and 21 September

Hush Heath Estate
Enjoy tours and tastings at this award-winning producer of wines and ciders in Kent. Hand-prepared picnic boxes can be pre-ordered. Tastings and self-guided tours are free.

Where: Staplehurst, Kent: 01622-832794, www.hushheath.com
When: Open all year