Frequently Asked Questions (2017)

1 - Children : Are under 18s allowed in the Festival?

Due to licensing restrictions, under-18s are not allowed to purchase tickets and they are not permitted to enter the beer tents, age will be verified on entry. Under 18's are allowed into the castle grounds during normal Castle opening hours (City Council admission charges may apply) but they will be required to leave site at 5pm.

2 - Dogs : Are dogs allowed at the festival?

The City Council do not allow dogs into the castle grounds at any time (apart from Guide dogs). This is not a CAMRA decision and is not something we have any influence over – sorry.

3 - Pass-Outs : Will I be allowed to leave the festival and return later.

Unfortunately due to severe abuse of the system in previous years pass-outs are not available at any time during the festival. Once you have entered the grounds, either with a ticket or by paying cash on the gate you will not be permitted to return once you have left the site. In the case of emergencies customers should contact the steward on the exit gate.

4 - Ordering Tickets from Abroad : I live overseas, how can I purchase an advance ticket?

Internet ticket sales are handled for us by SeeTickets of Nottingham. They will mail tickets out to some countries within the EEC but not further afield. However if you contact festival@nottinghamcamra.org we will endeavour to assist you in getting tickets.

5 - Gluten Free Beer : Unfortunately I have recently been diagnosed with coeliac disease meaning that I cannot eat or drink anything with gluten in - will you be showcasing any gluten free beers at this year’s festival?

We have great difficulty in sourcing gluten-free cask beers, we managed to source four for 2015. However for 2016 it already appears that we may be able to get a fair few more. We will set ourselves the task of trying to source at least a dozen.. Incidentally we are not supposed to sell bottled beers at the festival as there is a strict no glass policy on the site, so we have no bottled gluten-free bottled beers. However we are assured that all the ciders and perries we sell are gluten free.

6 - Disabled Access : Are disabled facilities available at the festival and can my carer gain access with me?

Disabled access is possible to all areas of the festival and we welcome disabled customers. There is a short but fairly steep hill up to the upper marquee, but anyone needing assistance should contact the stewards and assistance will be given. Disabled toilets are available, although some of these are of the portable variety (as are most of our toilet facilities at the festival). Disabled customers will be charged full admission prices but accompanying carers will be admitted free of charge.

7 - At a lot of festivals the last day tends to run dry early, how likely is this with the Saturday (and last day) of the Robin Hood Festival?

We always plan never to sell out of beer and have not done so for well over twenty years, though even after all those years some people refuse to attend Saturday evening claiming that we "always run out of beer"! Whilst there are about 800 beers on the stillage at any one time we have over 300 reserves that are added as space becomes available. We also have a van load of extra (sale or return) beers parked on site in case it is needed, in addition local brewers top up their supplies as necessary.

Last year when we did Sunday take-down there were still over 200 different beers left from the Saturday evening (more than most festivals start with!).

8 - Can I pay at the Gate or do I have to obtain an advance ticket?

None of the sessions are all-ticket and discounts are available to cash payers on Friday and Saturday.

In 2015 there was never a point where cash paying customers were not able to be admitted, although of course it is impossible to guarantee this.

Since Nottingham’s annual Beer Festival moved to the Castle in 2008 attendances have increased considerably every year, meaning that the grounds can be at capacity at peak periods. This is despite us adding more and more covered areas to increase capacity further, indeed in 2014 we added a further marquee for customer seating down in the bandstand area, which will again be available in 2016.

The castle and its grounds are an ancient monument, which is owned and operated by the city council, and understandably they are concerned that attendances should not exceed comfortable and safe levels. It was insisted that we should sell advance tickets some years ago to ensure that we are able to manager and control numbers more satisfactorily but the sessions are NOT ALL TICKET, allowing us to admit some pay on the gate customers on each day. However the actual number we are able to allow in is dependant on the weather, as when it is wet the marquees tend to become more crowded. In 2015 there was never a point where cash paying customers were not able to be admitted.

As well as regulating numbers to allow for changes in the weather, paying on the gate is permitted because customers with advance tickets, which allow them all day access, often do not arrive until later, early evening on Friday and Saturday afternoons being the busiest periods, and so this allows us to permit cash payers in at other times to fill the resultant spaces. Saturday evening after about 7.30 pm is a good example, when the afternoon peak of customers reduces and we are able to allow a good number of cash payers in at discounted rates.

So when are the best and least favourable times to attempt entry without an advance ticket?

Wednesday Evening. - There is usually plenty of space and you are virtually guaranteed to get in. All of the bars and stalls are open and there is a full programme of entertainment. Some people feel this is the best session to attend.

Thursday – Whilst Thursday’s are becoming increasingly popular we have yet to see a situation where attendances have reached capacity, although Thursday evening gets pleasantly busy. Pay on the gate admissions are unlikely to be limited although if you wish to be absolutely certain then you can buy an advance ticket.

Friday - The Friday session usually fills up gradually during the afternoon and by early evening we are often at capacity. The earlier you arrive the better your chances of being able to pay on the gate, at a discounted price, but once we reach capacity it is “one in” “one out” with queues possible. This stage was never reached in 2015.

Saturday - Cash admission is discounted for 2016. This is becoming the most problematic day with regard to cash admissions although there proved to be no customers who failed to gain admission in 2015. By 9.30 am we usually find that a queue of would be cash payers has started to form and in some previous years we have had to operate a one in one out system by early afternoon. Attendances ten to peak by late afternoon and so there is always space available in the evening.

Cash admission is further discounted to £10 after 7.30pm on Saturday evening

9 - What if I want to visit the Festival but do not drink Beer or Cider or am a designated driver?

There will be a bar serving country wines and some soft drinks are available around the various festival food stalls. However we will not be selling spirits as this is it not really appropriate to the ethos of the Festival.

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Page refreshed : 10th March 2017