What better way to spend Britain’s sunniest months than by savouring our nation’s finest foodie flavours? Soak up the atmosphere – and hopefully the sunshine – as you join hundreds of happy people tucking into sumptuous, locally produced specialities. And that’s not all: you could rub shoulders with, or even get a selfie with some of the country’s celebrity chefs and famous food experts.
Nowadays, outdoor feasting is fast becoming as popular as music festivals. If you’d like to experience the fun of a food festival, why not time your next UK mini-break to coincide with one?
We’ve rounded up just some of the nation’s most popular food festivals which are sure to get your taste buds tingling:
Part of a growing number of vegan festivals, Vegfest also takes place in Brighton, London and Glasgow. The Bristol festival features dozens of vegan food stalls and cookery demos by day and
live DJs by night. If you didn’t know how to make vegan cheese, kale chips or nut milks, here’s the perfect place to learn. There are also fun cookery classes for kids and talks on vegan lifestyles and nutrition to keep the whole family entertained.
Port Eliot, Cornwall
The doors of Port Eliot’s house and rambling estate open once a year for a festival of food, literature and music. Port Eliot is ideal for the educated connoisseur, plus anyone who enjoys wild swims or a bit of yoga in the drawing room. Food is also a key element of all the fun. Many award-winning stalls and restaurants serve up anything from Cloud 9 Marshmallows to Cornish Primrose Herd pork sausages and crab sandwiches. Wines from independent local wine producers and ingenious, expertly made cocktails are well worth a try too.
The Big Festival, Alex James’ Farm, Cotswolds
The annual Cotswolds shindig, Big Festival, includes a strong line-up of foodie names put together by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and Telegraph columnist and ex-Blur bassist Alex James. Raymond Blanc, Tom Kerridge and Nadiya Hussain from “Bake Off” are some of the cooks who gave demos in 2016, while the wellness kitchen hosts talks and demos from the nation’s nutritional experts and health experts. There’s even a kids’ demo kitchen, with CBeebies A-listers and music stars engaging with the little ones over food.
Garlic Festival, Isle of Wight
For two days each August, the Isle of Wight positively hums with garlic. This popular festival has been taking place since 1983 and hosts hundreds of local producers of not only of garlic, but cheeses, meats and ciders too. Garlic is the focus so for a new culinary experience, you might like to try the garlic-flavoured fudge, scones or popcorn. There’s also a beer tent, plenty of live music and general festival fun to be had.
Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire
Here’s one for spotting the food celebrities: long-table banquets hosted by the likes of Raymond Blanc and Skye Gyngell are features of the event, as is the chef’s table where you can taste the creations of other highly acclaimed UK culinary stars. Feasting tents and drop-in dining rooms are opened by prestigious restaurants like the Duck & Waffle and Shotgun. The smokehouse from London burger company, Patty & Bun is a firm favourite for meat eaters. Between courses, you might like to join a food debate, curated by famous food experts from across the UK.
Urban Food Fest, Shoreditch, London
Transport yourself away from a Shoreditch car park to a food-focussed international party every Saturday night from August to December. A revolving cast of food traders offers up delicious dishes – from Venezuelan beef to hand-made vegan pasta – all served aplenty while the live music adds to the atmosphere. And to keep you watered while you eat, the bars stock as wide a selection of craft beers, ciders, wines, prosecco and cocktails – a novel way to spend a night out in the heart of the city.
You’ll need to work up a good appetite for September, a busy month for feasting across the UK:
If you love all things meaty, your mouth will be watering before you even get to Meatopia: the aromas waft over Tobacco Dock in east London to herald your arrival. Founded in New York City by the late US food writer, Josh Ozersky, the festival was brought to London with the help of the Hawksmoor steak restaurant owner, Richard H Turner. If you love butchery demos, succulent ribs and craft ales as you listen to the sounds of top DJs, you’ll love Meatopia. If you like peace or veganism, stay away!
Mark Hix’s Food Rocks Festival, Lyme Regis, Dorset
Mark Hix, a Dorset native, runs the Food Rocks Festival with one main aim: to showcase the best food, produce and suppliers from Lyme Regis and the surrounding areas. In addition to providing great entertainment, the festival also raises money for key charities such as the RNLI. Hix hosts crab and mackerel-themed suppers and you can also enjoy talks, tastings, “how to” workshops, and several demos from top West Country chefs.
Loch Lomond Food Festival, Loch Lomond, West Dunbartonshire
If you’re holidaying around Loch Lomond in September, don’t miss this, one of Scotland’s most popular festivals, attracting around 30,000 foodies each year. The festival is unsurprisingly strong on Scottish produce, so expect plenty of stalls offering local venison, oatcakes, smoked mussels, rib-eye sandwiches and cider. There’s also a haggis-eating contest, along with foraging and whiskey tastings. Kids love the cookery classes and food-themed stage shows.
Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival, Snape Maltings, Suffolk
Home to one of the UK’s best-loved food festivals, Aldeburgh sits alongside the River Alde, a few miles inland from Suffolk’s coast. You will find a well organised line-up of UK producers, chefs and writers, making this the perfect festival for creative home cooks. Less of a celebrity experience, the Aldeburgh festival is more about perfecting your cooking techniques than getting a selfie or an autograph from Gordon.
Abergavenny Food Festival, Monmouthshire, South Wales
Abergavenny is a picturesque town nestled in the Brecon Beacons and has lured the likes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tom Kerridge, Claudia Roden and Hemsley & Hemsley for demos, talks and master-classes. Wander round the producer stalls and sample the wares of craft brews with a marked emphasis on Welsh beers. The festival’s incredible evening parties are held in the open-air at Abergavenny Castle with live music and more delectable street-food.