Harvesting apples and pears to make cider and perry has been practiced for centuries and the first recorded references date back to Roman times when in 55 BCE, Julius Caesar found the Celtic Britons fermenting cider from native crab apples. Some of the original biblical references to cider were ‘sicer’ or ‘ciser’ meaning strong drink or liquor and later on in the 13th century, it was referred to as ‘sither’ or ‘cidre’ meaning ‘liquor from the fruits’.
Fast forward to the 21st century and the UK’s cider and perry industry has developed such a sophisticated fermentation process, that many ciders are now considered on a par with wine as far as pairing with foods and the quality and finish goes. Enjoying Herefordshire’s harvest and drinking cider has always been a fundamental part of the county’s traditions and as we get ready to celebrate the harvest, we highlight some of the best events where you can enjoy this traditional local tipple in Herefordshire, in and around Ross-on-Wye over the coming months.
1. The 2023 Ross Cider Festival
Located just outside of Ross-on-Wye in Peterstow, the Yew Tree’s annual celebration of cider – and the highlight of their year – takes in three days of live music, ten quality visiting cidermakers, a Thursday night Cider Club plus fantastic local food and, if you don’t want to drive anywhere, you can camp onsite for four nights. This small, family-friendly festival, starts at 7pm on Thursday evening with their infamous Cider Club where you can enjoy a cold plated meal whilst trying eight new ciders and perries. On Friday evening, the team is hosting a Cider & Whisky Masterclass in conjunction with Waterford Distillery where you can sample five whiskies and two ciders. The weekend continues with lots of wonderful food, drink and live music so make sure you buy your tickets in advance.
- Where: The Yew Tree, Peterstow, Ross-on-Wye HR9 6JZ
- When: Thursday 31 August to Sunday 3 September 2023
- Details: https://rosscider.com/ciderfest/
2. Hereford AppleFest
Herefordshire Council’s AppleFest was launched last year to celebrate the humble apple, one of the county’s most iconic symbols. Over 16 days, visitors enjoy a huge range of apple-themed events including live music, cider tastings, exhibitions, apple fairs, children’s activities and historic city trails. This year, in addition to the town centre events, there will a fringe festival all around the county taking in all five market towns, including Ross-on-Wye, so head over to the launch event on Saturday 30 September in the centre of Hereford, and enjoy live music from midday right into the evening, the Saturday market plus delicious food and drink.
- Where: Hereford High Town, Hereford HR1 2AA
- When: Saturday 30 September to Sunday 15 October 2023
- Details: www.herefordcitycouncil.gov.uk
3. Civil War and Cider Apples
If you’ve ever wanted to know what people ate and drank during the time of the English Civil War or wondered who exactly Lord Scudamore was and why was he important to Herefordshire’s apple history – look no further than the Museum of Cider’s ‘Civil War and Cider Apples’ event this October. Meet historian and English Civil War specialist, Stuart Peachey and his team of reenactors from the 1600s who will give you the low down about their lives during this fascinating period. Adult tickets are just £5.50 and children go free.
- Where: Museum of Cider, Hereford HR4 0EF
- When: Saturday 7 October 2023, 10.30am-4.30pm
- Details: https://cidermuseum.co.uk
4. The Big Apple Harvestime 2023
As part of the county’s AppleFest celebrations, The Big Apple Harvestime in Much Marcle will embrace this exciting time of year with a series of events over the weekend. There will be plenty of opportunities to visit local orchards, learn about the local cider and perry-making industry, how these local tipples are made plus, more importantly, you’ll get to taste and buy many different varieties of apples, local ciders, perries and apple juices. There are lots of venues involved including Hellens Manor, Woodredding Farm, Lyne Down Organics, Avenue Cottage, Westons Cider, Much Marcle Memorial Hall, St Bartholomew’s Church, Awnell’s Farm and Gregg’s Pitt.
- Where: Much Marcle – various locations
- When: Saturday 14 – Sunday 15 October 2023
- Details: www.bigapple.org.uk/harvestime/
5. An Apple Gathering Exhibition
Around 30 miles north of Ross-on-Wye near Leominster, you’ll find Herefordshire’s first exhibition of Apples & People which opened this year in April at The National Trust’s Croft Castle. The exhibition will run until 5 November and celebrates the importance of Herefordshire’s apple-growing history and explores the many ways the apple has rooted itself in culture. Throughout the year the castle, grounds, church, and walled garden orchard will be gradually transformed by stories of the apple told through art, music, sculpture and literature.
- Where: Croft Castle, Herefordshire
- When: 22 April – 5 November 2023
- Details: www.bigapple.org.uk/harvestime/
The Apple World Map
Finally, just to round things off, we thought we’d include illustrator, Helen Cann’s stunning map of The Apple World which was a joint commission from Hereford’s Museum of Cider, the Brightspace Foundation and the National Trust in Herefordshire. The map depicts the apple’s journey across time, geography and cultures, illustrating some of the ways that this humble fruit has enriched human existence and how human care and understanding of nature has helped to shape apples today.
The hand painted watercolour map forms the basis for the stories told by Apples & People that each further explore an aspect of humanity’s close connection with the apple and together form a narrative of this astonishing relationship.
The following link has over 40 fascinating short stories exploring the connection between apples and people across the world: Apples & People short stories.
Further events can be found on our listings here.