THERE’S only just over a week to go until the Spring Essex Festival of Food and Drink kicks off.

The family-friendly event will be jam-packed with food and drink demonstrations, exhibitors and themed activities.

It will take place at Chelmsford City Racecourse over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, May 11 and 12.

The event will feature 80 food and drink stands serving up mouth-watering produce from all over world as well demonstrations by celebrity and well-known chefs - plus hands-on masterclasses for budding cooks of all ages.

A focus of the festival this year is on giving families real value for money by offering free activities for children especially. Anne Pocock, festival organiser, explained: “As a parent myself, I’ve often been disappointed at the additional costs for things for the kids to do after you have paid your entrance fee.

“Going out as a family can become an extremely expensive treat.

“So once you’ve paid your entrance ticket, all our adult and kids activities are FREE.

“And kids under six years have free entrance to the festival too.

“We even have a free Rossi ice cream cone or tub to the first 50 children through the gate each day. And our glitter face painter will paint as many little faces free of charge as she can throughout the weekend.”

If you want to improve your kitchen skills, you can book yourself onto one of three adult cookery classes that will take place with Braxted Park Cookery School.

At 11.30am you can learn how to cook a Vietnamese dish, at 1.30pm whip up a Malaysian chicken dish and the last class of the day is a Greek speciality.

The classes are free to take part in and you can eat what you make or take home to enjoy. Classes last for one hour. Meanwhile why not book the kids into a science class?

The award-winning Dragons Den-backed Sublime Science classes are a perfect mix of hands-on activities. including fizzing potions, bubbling concoctions and giant smoke rings guaranteed to astonish children.

It’s best to pre-book your child into one of two classes each day 11.30am and 2pm to avoid disappointment. There’s also the chance for a slice or two of fun with kids pizza classes.

At the festival they can make their very own pizza with their favourite topping and eat it too!

And for youngsters who like to get creative, a series of free craft classes with food themed activities will also be served up. Adult and kids activities are free to take part in but to ensure you get a spot it’s advisable to pre-book a place in advance. You can buy discounted tickets online until Thursday May 9 at 5pm. Adult entry tickets cost from £7 in advance Thereafter tickets can bought on the gate.