Christmas is a time of year that has come to be associated with decadence and indulgence. We choose to treat ourselves to delicious delicacies that we would normally eschew at any other time of year so it’s a time to stock up on things that will delight our tastebuds and buy indulgent gifts for others.

The Southbank Centre regularly has a food market, but in the second weekend of December it is given over to the enjoyment of all things chocolate. With some of the best artisan chocolatiers and famous names in quality confectionery, you’re bound to find something you’ll enjoy and plenty of inspiration for Christmas presents.

The Festival

The 2013 Chocolate Festival at the Southbank Centre is the 11th annual celebration for chocoholics and chocolatiers to take place in London. The festival runs throughout the year in different English venues but comes to London just in time for Christmas to ensure that chocolate lovers are stocked up ready for the festive season.

Churros and chocolate
Take a break from your wandering for a helping of churros and a cup of thick hot chocolate

A range of events is scheduled over the course of the weekend that will allow visitors to the Festival to indulge all their senses. With tasting sessions, cookery exhibitions and chocolate themed daily quizzes, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.

Getting involved

Aiming to educate as well as indulge fans of chocolate looking to enjoy some of the finest chocolate available, the Festival offers a feast for the mind as well as the eye and the taste buds. A range of tickets are available for educational and demonstration sessions at The Cookery Theatre throughout the weekend of the Festival, with tasting experts, chefs and chocolate enthusiasts offering the benefits of their wisdom on a wide range of chocolate-related subjects.

Starting the day’s activities on the Friday and Saturday of the Festival is Martin Christy, founder of Seventy% Chocolate and artisan chocolatier with over 17 years’ experience with chocolate, leads a guided tasting to experiencing the true flavours of chocolate. With tickets priced at just £5 it’s a fantastic experience for chocoholics not to be missed.

A number of master chocolatiers are expected at the Festival, many of whom are offering cookery demonstrations to offer the benefit of their wisdom on including chocolate in your cooking at home. Whether you’re interested in Rachel’s Kitchen and her salted caramel pecan brownies or would like to create their own version or would like to know Manju Mahli’s secrets of blending fine Indian spices with the best chocolate, tickets are available for just £2 each.

The finest afternoon tea

One of the most decadent events at the Festival is the creation by great chocolate house Valrhona of a perfect chocolate lover’s afternoon tea. Inspired by the best-selling novel “Chocolat,” the tea brings together chocolate-infused savoury treats, chocolate scones and a selection of cakes and pastries inspired by characters and events in the novel.

A decadent Valrhona chocolate fondant
A decadent Valrhona chocolate fondant

With tickets starting at £25 per person and rising to £35 per head for the inclusion of a glass of the finest champagne, this is an event not to be missed. Sittings are at 2pm and 4.30pm on Saturday 14th December and can only be booked in advance until 1st December on the Festival website.


A range of exhibitors from the finest chocolatiers in the Europe, a whole host of events to entertain and inspire chocolate foodies and connoisseurs and the best chocoholic afternoon tea ever created, the Chocolate Festival is set to be the event of the season for those who want to make this Christmas the chocolatiest ever.

Image Credits: Wikipedia and TummyRumble

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