I’m going to go ahead and feed probably quite a lot of your American stereotypes with this post, and I’m not going to lie when I say I felt like I was living my best life at London Wing Fest. There was live blues and rock music, day drinking, trucker hats, chainsaw carving, and of course the thing that brought me all the way to London for the day from the North, ALL THE CHICKEN WINGS!
“There’s such thing as a chicken wing festival?” I hear you ask. Of course there is, there’s a festival for everything. After a friend said they weren’t bothered about going as they don’t like to eat chicken on the bone (heathen) I did a little googling and turns out there is also a chicken nugget festival.
But that’s not what this is about this is all about the wings. Saucy, spicy, spectacular chicken wings. The brilliant owners of Randy’s Wing Bar in London started this delicious festival in 2014 and it’s gotten bigger every year. How I never found out about it until this year I’ll never know, but it started with having the most incredible wings from Wingmans who were visiting Sheffield’s Peddler Market street food market. It was love at first sauce lick, and I decided I needed more.
So I gathered my chicken wing loving friend Michael and Adam said he’d come along as he just likes doing things, and we booked our early bird tickets for Sunday. The festival takes place at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a short train or tube ride away from London Kings cross.
Every stall holder has a Buffalo Wing and a Wild Wing for you to sample, and all wings cost £1, which is a complete bargain I think with the quality of wings and sauces. There are a couple bars that serve a few different kind of beers, cocktails and soda. I read there was meant to be a water station, but I never saw this elusive place. You can download the Wing Fest app and see all the traders, whats going on, and most importantly vote for your favourite wing. Tasked with voting we got to tasting. First up was Wingmans, the wings that brought this American all the way to London for the day. Their Buffalo wing was tangy with a hit of spice that didn’t overpower and an ode to the original buffalo wing sauce from Buffalo New York. The Wild Wing was the super flavourful ‘Soulja Boi’ inspired by Korean street food with a sweet and spicy Gochujang sauce topped with toasted sesame, honey drizzle, pickled daikon, lime, pineapple and Gochugaru. It was a true taste explosion with a lot of flavours that melded into one tasty bite.
Wingmans did not disappoint and set the tone for the day, how could anyone possibly compete? Were we just going to be disappointed with everything else? Not in the slightest. We were in for a super chicken wing adventure. Next up was We Serve Humans who had two wing choices, but we didn’t fancy their fishy sounding wild wing (my wing partners aren’t that adventurous) so we opted for the Buffhello to try. I mean, bacon dust, come on. These were amazing, and won my vote for best buffalo wing of the day. The wings themselves were gloriously crispy and the buffalo sauce was perfect. The stilton sauce complemented everything well, and I was thankful they’d tossed an extra wing into our basket because I claimed it for myself. Sorry boys, you snooze you lose. I’m a sucker for anything Mexican inspired, so while Michael headed for a buffalo wing from somewhere nearby, I beelined for Taco Dave. No tacos today (my second favourite food, can you imagine a chicken wing AND taco fest? I’d die I’d be so happy) but innovative sounding wing flavours got my attention. The kind man gave me an extra buffalo wing as well, I got three extra wings in total all day, I can only attribute this to either the fact I was wearing a sling because of my dislocated elbow, or the chicken wing gods were shining down on me, you decide.
I went for one of each and was most excited about the flavour combinations. I’m a lover of spicy things so a hit of habanero in the buffalo wing was super good, and the mole wing was subtle with it’s chocolate flavour with only a tiny bit of heat to it and cooled my mouth down after the spicy buffalo wing. Big thumbs up for me and I’d follow this food truck anywhere. There aren’t just wings though! There’s a stage with live blues and rock music playing all day, live wood carving with a chainsaw, magicians, hypnotists and the wing eating competition which I just got jealous I wasn’t taking part in. After a break and a sit down watching the bands in the small amount of shade we could find, we headed out for round 2. BBQ Dreamz caught my eye with a thai inspired wing, so I opted for one of each of their Buffalo and Wild Wing entries. Out of this world flavours, the satay wing killed it and the squeeze of lime on each was exquisite. I would have happily ate both all day long, but especially the satay wing. The Joint London offered ‘Crack wings’ as their wild wing, which were doused in bacon crumbs and a maple sauce. I liked the concept but the wings were too soft and were hard to eat. I wasn’t wowed but their buffalo wing at all, it fell a bit flat. This was the third time I got tossed an extra wing as well, I was just glad it was the maple bacon one and not the buffalo. Sounds mean but I’d probably skip these guys next time in favour of trying one of the other amazing vendors we didn’t get to. If you want to visit London Wing Fest, I’d suggest signing up to the newsletter, and booking early bird tickets as soon as they go on sale. The festival gets BUSY as you can see above, this is when we left around 5ish. Early bird tickets let you over an hour from general admission and this is key to avoiding huge queues. We were able to try some of the most popular wing slingers first, and head to ones with shorter queues later in the day.
What were the outcomes I hear you cry? Who won!? The judges voted Best Buffalo wing to 1. Wingmans 2. We Serve Humans 3. Gurt Wings and Best Wild Wing to 1. Earls 2. Thunderbird 3. Petare. For Peoples Choice Best Buffalo Wing was 1. Wingmans 2. We Serve Humans 3. Randy’s Wing Bar and Best Wild Wing 1. Wingmans 2. Lord of the Wings 3. Petare. There’s traders on here that we didn’t get to try so you best believe they are on my list for next year.
Top tip, there is not a lot of shade or places to sit. I’m not sure if they are going to try to do something about this for next years festival, but I sure hope they do! We lucked out with a sunny day, but were unlucky in the way that it was super hot. The hats helped shield us, but bring suncream if it’s sunny. If you’re not into sitting on the pavement, bring a towel or blanket to chuck down as tables are few and far between, and people tend to save them early on for groups and send their friends off for wings while they keep the table.
Would I recommend the festival? Absolutely. The wings were amazing, it was a great atmosphere, and a pretty great way to spend a Sunday. I think next year we will book the Sunday again as I imagine it gets a bit crazier earlier on on the Saturday. Until 2019 Wing Fest! I’m so glad I found you.