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The Fitch & Leedes Gin and Tonic Festival – Cape Town 2018

If there’s one type of event I rarely need encouragement to attend it’s a festival. It’s even more alluring when it’s a festival with lots of gin and Fitch and Leedes tonics.

The Fitch & Leedes Gin & Tonic Festival took place on the 6th of October 2019 at The Lookout at V&A Waterfront.

There are many things that can be said about the event with some being positive and some negative. If there were less people at the event the overall lay-out would’ve been perfect. As you enter the venue the Howler Cashless Card tent is on the right and the bathrooms on the left. Before you there are seats and tables under shade with perfect view of the stage.

Behind the stage the indoors part of the venue is stocked with many different stalls of the best gins. There were even a few new gins to try of which the Flowstone Wild Cucumber and the Victoria Blue (not sure about branding) was my favourites.

A deeper look

First off, you pay between R140 and R180 for entrance depending on when you’ve purchased your ticket. I was lucky enough to get an early bird ticket so I spent only R140 to get into the event. The big problem was that this cost only included your entrance into the event and a branded glass.

There were no tasters, coupons or even a goodie bag added to the pricing. And while many would say “people today just want free stuff” that is not the case. The fact of the matter is that people paid nearly R200 to get into an event where they had to stand in a massive queue to get a cashless card. Many of the other attendees were upset as they did not know the event would be cashless and they definitely didn’t want to stand in a massive queue to get this card.

The pricing was a bit ridiculous as with the cost of the event and the cost of each gin you could’ve bought two new gins and stayed at home. At least in doing so you would’ve been able to sit down somewhere.

The event had seating and shade but not nearly enough to help even half of the people that were attending. Especially considering what an incredibly hot day it was in beautiful Cape Town, standing from 11 am was not great. And consuming alcohol while doing so didn’t help either.

Fitch and Leedes is still one of my favourite brands when it comes to tonics but they have a lot to learn in terms of such events. Yes there were many new craft gins to try but you couldn’t even purchase a bottle. Each merchant said you can buy online or in store and while I don’t mind doing that, it kind of defeats the purpose of the event.

Think about it, when you attend a wine and cheese festival you are allowed to purchase the wines and cheese you liked most. You get to take home some of your favourites and still have a great time at the event. Instead the Fitch and Leedes Gin and Tonic Festival was practically a massive Gin Bar with limited seating, shade and not much value for money.

When speaking to some of the Gin vendors it turned out that they themselves didn’t make a lot of profit from the event. In fact they had to sell a few bottles worth of drinks before they could start cashing in on the event.

The one thing I can say is that there were a few distilleries whose representatives went all out in telling you about the gin. Some even had small samples of the ingredients that were added to the gins which you could smell and view.

Hendrick’s Gin of course went all out with a nice little photo booth area and incredible decorations. I think that’s the one thing that was also missing. Some went the extra mile to make their stall look pretty while others stuck to basics and in doing so you kind of just missed them. On the other hand with how many left vendors and attendees left disappointed you couldn’t really blame them.

Food Vendors & Cashless card

There’s not much to say about the food vendors apart from that they were really expensive. Most people easily spend over R500 during the event on food and drinks and that doesn’t even include the ticket expense. The food was nice and there was a lot of variety but it definitely wasn’t worth the pricing.

One of the other big problems with the event was the cashless card system. Not a lot of people were aware that this would be implemented as Fitch and Leedes only added this info to their event page last minute. People weren’t even sure where to go to get their card, all indication they had was the very long queue. You had to pay R5 to purchase your card and add funds to it. The other not so great thing about this is that you have to do refunds online but this can only be done 4 days after the event. You have 14 days to claim your refund or the money remains with the company.

If there is ever another Fitch and Leedes Gin & Tonic festival in Cape Town I would suggest they do things a little differently.

Ways to Improve

  • Bigger venue
  • Goodie Bag (or at least some free tonics or taster coupons)
  • Full transparency on what to expect
  • Allow purchasing of Gins, tonics and even exclusive merchandise
  • More seating
  • More shade
  • Less expensive food options.

I’d love to attend more of these events when there’s proper planning and more value for attendees and vendors. The only entity that were benefited during this event was the organizers.

Did you attend the Gin & Tonic festival and what were your thoughts?

Have any questions or queries?

Feel free to contact me…