A Foray Into Haigh Foodie Friday

When I was a little, I was a regular visitor to Haigh Hall and Country Park, in Wigan. It always felt so exciting, with big swings, trampolines, woodland to run through, and craft workshops to make my own souvenirs. As I grew up it lost its sparkle and began to feel a little tired, but it has recently undergone a huge transformation and become Haigh Woodland Park.

Amongst the updates I have noticed crazy golf, a high ropes adventure course, a refreshment of the playground, and -my favourite- a food court! The upper level still houses craft classes with something for everyone, and the ground level now offers a variety of food and drink options and a florist, all surrounding a courtyard which plays host to Foodie Friday. 

Lyd wearing a cream bobble hat and burgundy jacket, holding a plate of duck spring rolls and biting into one

It's an opportunity for permanent and guest vendors to sell their wares and chat to customers, which they are all too happy to do. These aren't big chains, Haigh Woodland Park purposely chose independent artisan retailers including a chocolatier, ice cream parlour, micro brewery and bakery. There's even a small farm shop, Cook and Foragers, offering locally sourced, free range food, and food education through the 'Pig Tail Trail', which is a great way to introduce children to thinking more about what we eat. 

Man holding a tub of poutine with pastrami, mustard, and pickle
Female hand holding up a bottle of Bec cola

I plumped for poutine, which I've wanted to try for ages. It was brought to Foodie Friday by Blue Caribou Canteen, who offer authentic Quebec style poutine. We chose the Reuben style, which consists of fries topped with pastrami, mustard, and a pickle, alongside the traditional gravy and cheese curds. I'm really glad that I finally tried it, and standing outside in the drizzle made it feel like true comfort food. Blue Caribou also stocked Canadian soft drinks, and I had a maple syrup based cola in the most beautiful bottle. 

a man drizzles hoisin sauce onto a plate of 5 spring rolls

The portion was huge, but we soldiered on and forced down further foody delights. The things I do for this blog, eh? Our next choice was a plateful of piping hot duck rolls from Waan Yen. Again, these were authentic, as the lovely lady cooking them learned to do so through her Thai family. They were so far removed from supermarket spring rolls, and full of tender meat and fresh flavours. Topped with hoisin sauce and spring onions, they were simply scrumptious.

A colourful hand painted sign for Indian street food
A Mexican food truck is decorated with sugar skulls and colourful lights
A chef turns a piece of meat on a grill, with steam rising from it

Whilst I was tempted by treats from Canada and Thailand, other visitors were sampling the best of British beefburgers, feeling the heat from India and Mexico, or trotting their tastebuds around Portugal, Syria, Italy, and Africa. It was clear that the event had been carefully planned so nobody was stepping on anyone else's toes, and visitors had a wide range to enjoy, including vegan and vegetarian options, which was great to see.

A chocolate brownie with peanut butter icecream, whipped cream, and chopped nuts
sundaes, milkshakes and desserts in a fridge

Deciding to end the evening on a sugar high, we headed into Holden's ice cream parlour for a warm, chewy chocolate brownie. They're served with your choice of ice cream, and I can promise you that the peanut butter makes a perfect partner. The parlour is a clear favourite amongst the younger visitors, and as I polished off my pudding I noticed the variety of visitors that Foodie Friday brings in.

Groups of friends in their 20-30s queued in Two Left Feet, the microbrewery, for somewhere different for weekend drinks, families brought their children, who could play safely in the confines of the courtyard, and older couples soaked up the atmosphere while enjoying one another's company. It's a very welcoming environment and an evening that everyone would enjoy. It would make a great, affordable date night with a difference too- £15 each will easily buy you a main, drink, and something sweet.

A girl surrounded by amps sings from an illuminated marquee

With tummies full, we stepped back out into the square just as singer-songwriter, Jay, took to the stage. Think of Birdy, but sassier and funnier, and you've cracked it. She was great at chatting to the crowd, and even better at performing covers of Amy Winehouse and Sam Smith along with her own originals. Having a live performance was the cherry on the cake, and brought the event together perfectly. 

Whether you visit for an upcoming event or simply to take in the Autumn air, you certainly won't go hungry at Haigh Woodland Park! Grab a baked bite from All You Knead chill out with Holden's ice cream, or take home a handmade treat from Luisco Chocolate.

Have you been to a food festival?

*My food and drink for the evening was compensated in exchange for review. All opinions are my own, see my disclaimer for more.



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