Willy Wonka’s factory gates to appear at free chocolate festival in Bury St Edmunds this weekend

Try chocolate truffles and bars and sample the free chocolate fountain at the Bury St Edmunds Chocol

Try chocolate truffles and bars and sample the free chocolate fountain at the Bury St Edmunds Chocolate Festival this December Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/LightFieldStudios - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Free chocolate fountain, children’s activities and chocolate cocktail tepee form part of the Bury St Edmunds Chocolate Festival.

Get ready all you chocolate fiends because the arc shopping centre in Bury St Edmunds has a treat for you this weekend (December 8 and 9).

For the first time ever, the centre’s Charter Square will host a Chocolate Festival to bring a little bit of festive cheer to shoppers as they cram in their Christmas gift buying.

Taking place from 9am to 5pm on Saturday and 10am to 5pm on Sunday, the hub of the event will be a giant tepee, strung with fairylights where event spokesperson Ellie Pimberley said “there’ll be sofas and armchairs and blankets so people can grab a cocktail, sit down, relax and enjoy themselves.”

The festival is themed around Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with characters from the book and film out in force, as well as the official gates from Willy Wonka’s factory being present across the weekend, where lots has been planned for visitors of all ages.

Children can take part in a free activity making hot chocolate bags in the shape of Rudolph, ready for Christmas Eve.

Hotel Chocolate, Debenhams and Byron Burger will be giving out samples from their menu with a chocolate twist.

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Staff on skates will zoom around the square with free chocolate samples.

And there’ll even be a free chocolate fountain – just pick your dip from the selection of cookies, fruit and marshmallows and smother them in flowing chocolatey lava.

Stalls come in the form of Marimba World from Sudbury, and Newmarket’s Artistry in Cocoa who will have activities to take part in for a small charge.

Marimba brings its pick and mix truffles and pots of single origin chocolate buttons, giving customers the opportunity to write messages on their own bars in white chocolate.

While Artistry in Cocoa can explain more about the chocolate making process, from bean to bar. Owner Cheryl sells everything from bars to truffles, with gluten-free and vegan options available. All Cheryl’s products are made without preservatives or added fats or butters – a great gift for real chocolate aficionados.

Got a thing for cocktails? Head over to The Chocolate Cocktail Club’s bar where options include The Christmas Chocolatini (chocolate liqueur, dark crème de cacao and chocolate milk), Sleigh Ride Salted Caramel (chocolate liqueur, salted caramel vodka and chocolate milk) and Santa’s Strawberry Hat (chocolate vodka, white crème de cacao, strawberry liqueur and strawberry milk).

Arc centre manager Colin Roberts said: “ We are excited to host a chocolate festival. It is a great opportunity to come and relax with friends for a few cocktails or to bring along your little ones for free chocolate crafts. We love being able to spread the Christmas cheer with our fantastic free events.”

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