Animation

The story begins...


The Chelmsford CAMRA Beer Festival has always been a highpoint in the year for real ale enthusiasts, but when it was first held back in July 1977, and for some years afterwards, it was very different to the festival you know and love today.

The function room behind the Lion and Lamb (if you are of a certain generation you will know this place on Duke Street better as Dukes Nightclub) was the venue for that first festival, changing to Chancellor Hall the following year. To give you an idea of how much the festival has changed, that year there were 34 beers from 16 breweries on sale; last year there were over 300 real ales on offer, without taking into account the ciders, perries and international bar!

1979 saw the Beer Festival return to the Lion and Lamb for the final time. The following year for the first (but not final) time, there was no festival, as there was no suitable venue available. The Students’ Union Bar at what was then the Anglia Polytechnic College on Victoria Road hosted the festival in 1981, but again in 1982 the festival was not held. This time it was due to difficulties obtaining a licence, and the objections of a few antagonist landlords.

Happily, the next year these were resolved, and 1983 saw 55 beers from 26 breweries (but no cider) on sale. Since then, the festival has taken place every year and stayed at its new home at the APU until 2005.

Real Ale Sausages were a popular snack while the festival was being held at the Student Union Bar, but it was when the festival moved to the larger sports hall on the ground floor that the food on offer became more recognizable as it is today, with the introduction of the burger and hot dog concession which also sold homemade curries. This was accompanied by the famous Podge's pickled eggs and even a cheese stall.

The festival then moved another step closer to its current incarnation as cider and foreign beers were first sold at the festival. It was when the Summer Festival outgrew the Students Union Bar, and in 2000 the Branch held its first Winter Beer Festival in that venue.

We were always looking for ways to improve the festivals, and as both the Summer and Winter Beer Festivals grew in popularity, one year the Branch experimented by making the winter beer festival ticket only, which, perhaps due to a lack of publicity, was not a success, and the experiment was not repeated!

We were fortunate that with the summer festival there was ample space for people to stand or sit on the grass outside, and we were even more fortunate that for the latter years when the summer festival was in the sports hall, the weather, especially on the Friday night, was good as there would have been little chance of accommodating all the customers in the sports hall in the event of a thunderstorm!

After 22 years of residency, rumours of the imminent closure of the APU in town centre due to relocation led to the branch looking for other suitable venues in Chelmsford town centre. When no venue could be found, the branch took the festival in a whole new direction, deciding to organise an outdoor summer festival in a marquee within easy proximity of Chelmsford town centre.

Having made this decision, all that remained was to find a suitable space, and to tackle the daunting task of planning an outside festival. Luckily a venue was forthcoming - the football ground adjacent to Moulsham Mill – and the branch were very fortunate in having volunteers who had been closely involved in the organisation, set up and operation of Chelmsford's Cathedral Festival as well as a number of large Scouting events including 30,000 people Jamborees.

In 2006 we moved outdoors, with the additional available space, we could stock beer from more breweries and for the first time sold more than 300 different brands of beer. We also had a dedicated cider bar and for the first time, asked a brewery (Woodforde's) if they would like to run a bar, as well as a local vineyard (Felstar) for the sale of locally produced wines.

This also saw the first of our hugely popular family fun days, held on the Saturday afternoon, when we had a bouncy castle, an inflatable slide, face painting and an ice cream van for the children. We were also extremely fortunate that that year the sun shone for the entire festival and it was a delight to see whole groups of families having picnics and enjoying the wide selection of beverages on offer whilst their children ate ice creams and were refreshed by the free soft drinks. Although it was very hard work for the volunteers with long, hot hours, the festival was a resounding success, and we haven’t looked back. Every year since, the Summer Festival has been an outdoor event with marquees.

However, it did not stay at the football ground for long. Partly because of the possible redevelopment of the area surrounding the Army & Navy, and also because we felt the summer festival could again run out of space, after unsuccessful negotiations with the local authority to relocate the festival to Central Park in Chelmsford, in 2008 we relocated to its present location in Admirals Park.

So while the festival has changed hugely over the past 39 years there has always been one constant – the love of a good pint, and the desire to make every year better and better.









Complete the Registration Form


Volunteers are required from the 28th June to the 10th July.

Become a Volunteer...

Who can Volunteer?

Anyone! As long as you are over the age of 18, your help is welcomed. You do not need to be a member of CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) to volunteer, or even to like beer! We have roles in many different areas for all abilities. All we really need is enthusiasm and your time. You don’t even have to be local to Chelmsford as we can offer camping, catering and showering facilities on site, and caravans are welcome too.

Do I have to commit to a certain number of hours or days?

We are grateful for any time you have available to volunteer to the festival. All that’s asked is that each shift is a minimum of three hours. Volunteers are required from the 29th June to the 10th July.

As a volunteer, what do I get?

We think you will agree that free beer is the best kind of beer! In return for your time you’ll get free beer and cider and be fed when your working. You’ll also get a volunteer souvenir shirt* to wear, and an experience like no other.

* Minimum 8 hours work required for a souvenir shirt.




As a volunteer, what will I be expected to do?

We want our volunteers to enjoy themselves – that is the first requirement! We need help setting up the festival, running it, and taking it down again afterwards. These three areas encompass lots of different jobs and roles that you can be involved in.

Before the festival begins

The publicity team needs help distributing flyers and promoting the festival.

The Build Team are responsible for organising and building the site, including installing toilets, electrics, plumbing, fencing, banners, scaffolding, bars and marking out. This work starts the Thursday before the festival. (The Build Team also do the stripping out for two days after the festival.)

During set up, duties include putting up fences, installing cooling equipment, installing signs, erecting stillage and scaffolding, running cables & pipes, installing lights, putting out tables and chairs, racking up the beer.

While we're open to the public

The festival is split into different working areas and teams:

  • Entrance and Glasses

    This team welcomes our customers, takes their entrance money and deposits for glasses. They also hand out glasses, load and unload the dishwashers, give back deposits for any glasses that are returned, and say goodbye to the customers.

  • Information & Membership

    This team encourages our customers to join CAMRA, processes memberships and answers questions about the festival.

  • Beer and/or Cider Bar

    This may be what you first think of when you think about volunteering at the festival. This is the team that serves the beer, helps the customers with their selection and takes their money.

  • Beer and/or Cider Cellar

    This team ensures the products are ready for sale, checks cooling, moves casks, and manages the stock.

  • Finance

    The finance team moves money from tills to the finance office, counts the cash and does some accounting routines.

  • Operations and Maintenance

    This team does everything from taking deliveries to fixing broken toilet seats! (You are not expected to clean the toilets) They check power supplies, fix leaks, move barriers, man the service entrance and are involved in opening and closing the site.

  • Litter Picking and Waste Management

    The festival generates a lot of rubbish, and this team keeps on top of it, ensuring the site is kept clean. This includes moving around bins, litter picking, cleaning tables. Please note volunteers are not required to clean toilets.

  • Stewards

    Friday Evening & Saturday Only. This year, a team of customer focused stewards will be on hand to give our customers directions, help to spot broken glass, lost children and adults, assist in site evacuation, be on hand to give a polite word to those who may be about to put themselves or others in warning, and see to the general wellbeing of the customers. We have a professional SIA security company on site and you won’t be expected to deal with any individual who has gone beyond being politely spoken to.

  • Volunteer Reception

    We treasure our volunteers and need smiley cheery people to welcome them into the festival at the Volunteer Reception, allocate volunteers to areas, hand out food tokens and shirts as well as being a listening ear and helping hand for any volunteer problems which may arise.

After the Festival

During take down, duties include dismantling and clearing the site after the festival, including a final litter pick.

As well as the roles outlined above, we are always on the lookout for anyone willing to use their existing skills or who may be interested in gaining new skills with us. We are currently seeking volunteers with skills in:

Telehandlers / Finance / Electricians / Plumbers / Personnel Section Managers / Scissor Lift Operators / Corporate Hospitality Coordinator / Education Programme Coordinator / Administrator

Complete your volunteer sign up by the 20th June to guarantee your volunteer souvenir shirt.

Complete the Registration Form

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need to have experience working behind a bar?
A: No none at all, just the ability to do simple mental arithmetic and smile.
Q: I'm not a CAMRA member, can I volunteer?
A: Yes, we welcome anyone who wishes to volunteer.
Q: I know nothing about beer or cider?
A: That's not a problem, there are plenty of people around who do. By the time you finish volunteering you will have a better knowledge and understanding.
Q: I want to volunteer, but don't want to serve behind a bar?
A: We require volunteers at the main entrance, processing glasses, litter picking, welcoming customers, and building the site. There are plenty of roles which don't involve serving pints to customers.
Q: I would really like to volunteer, but only have a few spare hours during the week?
A: No problem, all we ask is your shift is a minimum of three hours.
Q: I’m 17 years old can I volunteer?
A: Unfortunately, we are only able to accept volunteers who are over 18 years old, see you next year though.
Q: I only want to work during the day?
A: The hours each person volunteers are down to the individual to specify. Where we are lacking volunteers in a certain area/time we may ask you to move your preferences.
Q: Can I camp over?
A: For volunteers who are working all week, or who work six hours on a particular day are able to camp over that evening or the night before.
Q: Can I bring a caravan?
A: If your camping over you are welcome to bring a caravan, space for these is limited and we would ask that you consider this when volunteering your time. Caravan space is generally allocated for those volunteering three or more days. We would ask that you mark on your volunteer sign up form if you wish to bring a caravan, so we can plan and assess numbers. No electric hook ups are available for caravans.
Q: What camping facilities are there?
A: Hot showers, separate toilets to the public, a 24hour staff and welfare room, charging points for phones, breakfast, overnight security.
Q: Will I need to bring lunch or will I be fed?
A: If you work through a meal time you will receive food vouchers to use at the onsite traders. During build and takedown food will be provided to.
Q: So what do I get for volunteering?
A: In short, souvenir t/polo shirt, free food, beer/cider and camping. But a whole lot more, being part of a team who produce one of the top UK beer and cider festivals. The experience, being able to preview beers/cider before they are sold to the general public.
Q: Can I bring my children or dog?
A: We don't encourage children behind the public areas at the event. We don't have any childcare facilities on site and you would be unable to leave your child unsupervised. The site can be warningous with forklift trucks and other vehicles operating. We welcome dogs on site, but you should assess if the service areas of the festival are a suitable place for your dog, dogs should remain on a lead at all times.
Q: Can I enjoy the festival when I’m not volunteering?
A: Yes of course, if you’re not camping on site, please enter through the public entrance showing your volunteer badge for free entry.
Q: I have a special skill you might like; how do I contact you?
A: The festival always needs people with specialist skills like, electrics, plumbing, IT, software development, video editing, finance, plant operator, including 3A, to mention a few. Please drop a line to [email protected] and introduce yourself.
Q: I am looking for something to put on my CV can I get a reference for volunteering?
A: Yes, if your using the festival as work/volunteering experience, ask one of the Festival Organisers who will be happy to give you a reference for your time spent at the festival.
Q: I’ve volunteered but not heard from you.
A: If you have completed a form online you will have been sent a receipt that your form has been submitted. If you don’t hear from us after this email, please turn up 15 minutes before your first shift starts, or on the Monday 4th July briefing starting at 1930hrs.

Festival Events Guide

The What, The When & The Where! Add Event Admission Prices


  • TUE

    Festival Open

    12:00

    Festival Open to the general public.

  • TUES

    Silver Keys

    17:30 - 19:30

    ‘Silver Keys’ are a band playing a mix of Folk/Irish/Country/Blues and some Gypsy Swing plus covers.
    In the ‘duo’ form they are Pete George on guitar and vocals, and Dave on drums.
    They regularly play at private parties, corporate events, pubs and clubs.

  • TUES

    Silbury Hill

    20:30 - 22:30

    Silbury Hill is a folk/rock duo - Scott Dolling (flute, guitar, vocals) and David Stainer (guitar, mandolin, vocals) who play a lively mix of music by the likes of Jethro Tull, REM, Fairport Convention and Focus. Based in the Essex/Suffolk borders they play at events, festivals, bars and clubs throughout the region and beyond - including regular appearances in Belgium and France. To date they have released 3 cd's of original material. They have played live radio sessions and their original music has been featured as a soundtrack for film.



  • TUE

    Festival Closed

    23:00

    Festival Closed to the general public.

  • WED

    Festival Open

    12:00

    Festival Open to the general public.

  • WED

    Charlie Duo

    17:00 - 19:00

    With Lee on guitar and loop station, accompanying Charlotte on vocals, "Charlie Duo" are a wonderfully refreshing acoustic based covers duo from Chelmsford, performing popular songs from the 60's to date. They have an extensive and varied repertoire, covering artists such as Stevie Wonder, Ed Sheeran, Chaka Khan, Coldplay & Bill Withers, to name a few!



  • WED

    The Curst Sons

    20:00 - 22:30

    The Curst Sons unique sound mixes traditional American roots genres with gutsy live shows and powerful original songs.

    Since 1998 they have released six studio albums and one 10” vinyl EP, have been Runners up in the internationalSong Writing Competition (ISC), nominatedfor Best Alt Country Album in the Independent Music Awards and for Best Americana Act in the British Country Music Awards. They have played far too many pubs, clubs and festivals to remember, twice been Time Out magazine’s critic’s choice and recorded two live sessions for the much missed Mark Lamarr show on BBC Radio 2.



  • WED

    Festival Closed

    23:00

    Festival Closed to the general public.

  • THU

    Festival Open

    12:00

    Festival Open to the general public.

  • THU

    Free From Gravity

    17:00 - 19:15

    Free From Gravity are a 5 piece Originals Rock band from Portsmouth UK who play "Kick Assed Chilled Out Rock" - that's Soft Rock With Attitude"



  • THU

    Adrenalin

    20:15 - 22:30

    Adrenalin are a rock and indie power pop covers band formed around 6 years ago in Essex, we cover many top artists from the 60s to present daywe play various genres of music i.e. classic rock,indie, Ska, Reggae, etc and gig all over Essex and beyond.



  • THU

    Festival Closed

    23:00

    Festival Closed to the general public.

  • FRI

    Festival Open

    12:00

    Festival Open to the general public.

  • FRI

    Funk 2K

    16:00 - 18:30

    Funk 2K are a six piece function band from the Essex area playing a wide variety of music from 60's to the latest chart hits of today.



  • FRI

    Skamite

    20:00 - 22:30

    As 70s Kids the Two Tone movement had a huge influence on the "Magnificnt Eight". This experienced 8 Piece have a blend of sound that fills the room and makes you want to dance.

    With SKA-MITE you will taste the different flavours in every tune.



  • FRI

    Festival Closed

    23:00

    Festival Closed to the general public.

  • SAT

    Festival Open

    12:00

    Festival Open to the general public.

  • SAT

    Family Fun Day

    12:00 - 18:00

    Children's Fun Fair
    Face Painting (Adults allowed too!!)
    Coconut Shy & Games
    Ice cream van
    Operated by our charities:
    Giant Inflatable Dartboard Football
    Free soft drinks & water


  • SAT

    TBA

    13:00 - 14:00

    Event TBA

  • SAT

    Djangos Tiger

    15:30 - 17:30

    Django's Tiger play swinging gypsy jazz in the tradition of Django Reinhardt and Stefane Grapelli. We're a Cambridge- based band playing acoustic or lightly amplified, typically an instrumental quartet, or quintet with singer Tiffany. This music grew out of a mix of American swing jazz of the 1920s to 40s, Parisian "musette" dancehall music, and traditional gypsy songs. It is fun, tuneful, melodic, and very easy to dance to: we regularly play for swing dancers and lindyhoppers.



  • SAT

    Bouncing Off Concrete

    19:00 - 21:30

    Bouncing Off Concrete have been delivering hard rock and pop-rock classic tracks to eager audiences for a decade and a half, led by powerhouse frontman Paul Legg whose versatile vocal delivery is backed up by virtuoso axe man Steve Laney. Mark Hamblion provides the wall of sound guitar backdrop that is the signature out the band, with Chris Woolven (drums) and Kristian Legg (bass) providing the backbone.They play a range of songs from the 70’s through to the present day - anthems, crowd favourites and theoccasional curve ball thrown in for good measure.”



  • SAT

    Festival Closed

    23:00

    Festival Closed to the general public.

  • Tuesday Entry
  • FREEBefore 17:00
  • £2.00After 17:00
  • FREECAMRA Members
  • £3.00Glass Hire
  • Wednesday Entry
  • FREEBefore 17:00
  • £2.00After 17:00
  • FREECAMRA Members
  • £3.00Glass Hire
  • Thursday Entry
  • FREEBefore 17:00
  • £2.00After 17:00
  • FREECAMRA Members
  • £3.00Glass Hire
  • Friday Entry
  • £2.00Before 17:00
  • £5.00After 17:00
  • FREECAMRA Members
  • £3.00Glass Hire
  • Saturday Entry
  • £2.00Before 17:00
  • £2.00After 17:00
  • FREECAMRA Members
  • £3.00Glass Hire



FREE ENTRY
(CAMRA MEMBERS ONLY)

Join CAMRA today from as little as £16.50 per year!
Learn More



JOIN CAMRA ONLINE

join.camra.org.uk

From as little as £24 a year, that's less than a pint a month!

Some great benefits include:



Brewery Bar Listings

Bishop Nick Silks Brewery Nethergate Brewery Wibblers Brewery Brentwood Brewery Harveys Brewery Skinners Brewery Round Tower Brewery Felstar Brewery

Beer & Cider Listings



View Mobile Listing

View Mobile Listing

View Mobile Listing

View Mobile Listing

View Mobile Listing

View Mobile Listing

View Mobile Listing

Your Questions Answered...

As a public festival, we made the decision to go "green". All beer and cider lists are available on our website and will also be displayed on the festival notice board. We also have printed copies at our information/membership tent for those who do not have access to the internet or would prefer something physical to hold. We have made this decision due to the majority of waste from the field in previous years has been from where customers have discarded their programmes on the floor.
All bars accept cash or pre purchased tokens. None of our bars have a debit card facility. Cashback is available from the Information and membership tent.
Not all prices are the same, prices are all similar to standard pub pricing. We serve real ales and ciders in 3rd half and pints to ensure you can try as many or as little as you like.
Please contact us via the contact page.
Accompanied children welcome throughout the festival.
Well behaved dogs on leads with a responsible adult are welcome. Taps for drinking water are located around the site.
The festival has a large outdoor area, where you can smoke. PLEASE NOTE that smoking/vaping is NOT allowed inside or in the doorways of ANY of the marquees or tents, as well as in the toilets.
The festival has a large out door area, where you can use electronic cigarettes. PLEASE NOTE that using electronic cigarettes is NOT allowed inside or in the doorways of ANY of the marquees or tents, as well as in the toilets.
In the first instance please come back to the festival site all lost property will remain on site until Monday afternoon. After this period please email [email protected] or call 07746 326 996.
Yes, there will be a range of food stalls and soft drinks will be available at the soft drink tent.
Yes, you are welcome to bring your own food and soft drinks. Please note be prepared to have your bag searched on entry.
Please contact us via our contact page.
We offer free soft drinks to everyone, these are available from the soft drinks stand.
Chairs and blankets are welcome, there are tables and chairs around the festival but only for around 15% of our customers due to space.
We close the entrance at 22.45 each night.
Only cash can be used over a bar, we operate a cashback facility at the Membership & Information stand in the centre of the beer garden for up to £50. There will be a 50p charge per transaction.
Yes, outside the festival there are places to chain a bike. The festival, its organisers and CAMRA take no responsibility for any items left there.
No. Please see our festival parking map for more information.
Unfortunately we are unable to offer camping to customers. We do provide camping to Volunteers who complete a minimum mount of working hours, consider volunteering if you wish to camp over.
No we don’t, but by becoming a member of CAMRA at the festival your entry is free.
Not all beers will be available all the time, for a number of reasons. Real ale takes time to settle so the beer may still be settling. We don’t have enough stillage space to rack up all beers on the setup Saturday so need to wait for space to become available to put the beer up. In some small circumstances the brewery was unable to supply what we ordered. Alternatively it was very popular and already sold.
Perry is made from Pears in the same method used to produce cider. And Pyder is a mix of cider and perry.
The organisers have reviewed this question many times, over many years. In the interest of being an all-inclusive festival its felt that one queue for all regardless of CAMRA membership provides fair ingress into the festival. CAMRA members get the benefit of free admission into the festival which is felt compensates for any time spent queuing. A new entrance layout will be in operation in 2016 to try and speed up ingress into the festival.
Cashback is available at the Membership & Information stand in the centre of the beer garden for up to £50. There will be a 50p charge per transaction.
Yes, this can be arranged with a VAT invoice for payment prior to entry via BACS or card. Please contact us via the contact page
If you're lucky to look young please make sure you bring proof of age with you. You will not be served if you appear under age and do not have proof of age with you. Please request an over 18 wrist band at the entrance if you believe you will be challenged regularly.
There will be some European pilsner lagers available, on the International Beer bar. However, there will be cask lagers on the main beer bar - ask a volunteer on any of the beer bars
Felstar vineyard will be on at the festival selling a selection of wines.
We currently operate a corporate ticket scheme, however this does not give any special discounts, just easier ticketing, invoicing and payment, large groups are more than welcome to use the same service.
No, sorry. Only alcohol purchased on site can be consumed on site. Searches do take place at the entrance and alcohol found will be held at the entrance for collection on leaving, any person found within the festival with alcohol not purchased on site will be evicted.
Visit the membership and information stand in the garden to find out more information.
There is a refundable £3 deposit on a Commemorative Festival Glass, which you can keep as a souvenir. The refund is only available if the glass is not damaged and while the refund counter is open.
Yes, but we can only serve into a CE marked lined glass, so you are welcome to hire a festival glass and pour your drink into another vessel.
Yes, just join at the Information and membership tent in the middle of the beer garden.
Yes, wheelchair access to the festival is possible, however, there is no parking at the festival. Please see our festival parking map. Please bear in mind that the festival is in a field with marquees, and ground conditions may not be suitable at all times due to the weather.
There is small car park for Admirals park just down the road from the entrance. Or see our map to other local carparks, we do prefer if you can use those opposed to the local roads.
We are only able to serve into CE lined glasses. You can certainly drink from your stein, but if its not CE lined we will have to serve you in your own lined glass. Thanks.

Where to find us?


Are you making a delivery to the festival?

Get in touch...


Terms of Entry

Valid card carrying CAMRA members free entry / Last Orders 2245hrs / Glass deposit £3.00 refundable on presentation of an undamaged glass before 23:15hrs. / Terms of Entry / You enter the festival at your own risk, the Organisers will not be held liable for any losses, injuries or damages sustained at the event. The festival reserves the right to refuse admission or eject any persons on grounds of public safety or any other infringement made while on these licensed premises. No alcohol is permitted to be taken into the festival. All persons, including possessions entering the festival site may be searched as a condition of entry. By entering the festival, you consent to being photographed, filmed & sound recorded as customers which may be used for security, promotional or commercial activities. We operate a challenge 21 policy on these licensed premises. Under 18’s are permitted to enter with a suitable accompanying adult. It is against the law for anyone to purchase alcohol on behalf of an under 18 on these licensed premises. The Organisers have a zero tolerance on illegal drugs, and ‘legal highs’. Anyone found using these on the premises will be ejected or passed onto the police. No admittance after 22:45hrs. No smoking including electronic cigarettes within any enclosed space. Well behaved dogs on leads are permitted. All complaints should be directed to the Duty Festival Manager.
Site Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy apply.
All rights reserved. Chelmsford Beer Festival® & Chelmsford Beer & Cider Festival™, Chelmsford Winter Beer & Cider Festival™ & Chelmsford Summer Beer & Cider Festival™ The trade marks, logos and artwork displayed are the registered and unregistered trademarks and copyright of Campaign for Real Ale, except where third party ownership is indicated.
© 2016 Campaign for Real Ale.



Festival Partners




Help your business reach 23,000 people

Download our Advertising Tariff

Interested in Corporate Hospitality?

Download our Information Pack

Photo Gallery