A bite-size guide to the best summer food festivals
From now until autumn, festivals all over the country offer the chance to sample the finest produce in the British Isles. Zahra Saeed picks the best
Thursday 07 April 2011
Tewkesbury Food & Drink Festival
30 Apr-2 May 2011
Vineyards Playing Fields, Tewkesbury
This Cotswolds event offers daily cooking demos by celebrity chefs plus real ale and cider from local microbreweries and food from 80 regional producers. Adults can enjoy alfresco dining in the Restaurant Village, with children kept busy in the arts and crafts tent.
Early bird 2-day ticket: adults £13; children £5
Connemara Mussel Festival
30 Apr-2 May 2011
Renvyle Peninsula, Co. Galway
Celebrate the Royal nuptials by heading to Ireland and feasting on plump Killary mussels at the spectacular Renvyle Peninsula – allegedly a favourite retreat of WB Yeats. Taster scuba dives, and the chance to try casting and angling with the head of the Irish fly fishing team are also on offer.
Big Apple Blossomtime Festival
1-2 May 2011
Traipse through the apple blossom with a beverage made by the winners of the Cider and Perry Maker of the Year in hand (voted for the previous day), take a guided walk through bluebell woods and blackcurrant fields, go bird-watching and watch morris-dancing in this quintessential celebration of spring in the countryside.
The Underground Farmers and Craft Market
6 May 2011
Cult celebrity food blogger Ms Marmite Lover, founder of the Underground Restaurant, will transform her two-bedroom house into a quirky farmers' market for the evening. If past events are anything to go by, expect cocktails on the ironing board and cupcakes in bed. The address for this guerrilla event will be revealed once once you've bought your ticket.
Ludlow Spring Festival
7-8 May 2011
Ludlow Castle, Shropshire
Beer buffs will be spoilt for choice with 150 varieties of real ale from Wales and the Marches (the border country between England and Wales) on draught. Watch bread-making demonstrations while you sip your drink, and there'll also be a tantalising variety of sausages waiting to be sampled.
Tickets (one day): £6; £2
Bath Coffee Festival
21- 22 May 2011
The Recreation Ground, Bath
The only coffee festival in the country returns to the spa town for its second year. It's not just the umber liquid on tap; there'll be stalls offering luxury biscuits to dunk in the coffee blends, and even salsa and samba workshops to dance off the caffeine.
27-29 May 2011
The Amphitheatre, Bristol
Be inspired by veggie experts from all over the country at the biggest vegan festival in Europe. Nutritional and lifestyle advice as well as cookery classes for children are on offer throughout the day, while evening highlights will include performances by big music names that include Ms Dynamite and rappers Goldie Looking Chain.
Tickets: daytime free; £10 per night (special prices for multi-night passes)
Taste of London
16-19 June 2011
Regent's Park, London
This gourmet festival is overflowing with Michelin-starred chefs and cuisine. Foodies who can afford the £95 special pass have a chance to chat to the likes of Michel Roux Jr and Gary Rhodes in the new Secret Garden area. For just the admission price you can still indulge in special dishes from the capital's top fine dining restaurants. Taste of Edinburgh takes place 1-3 July.
Tickets (in advance): £22; £12
Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival
17-19 June 2011
Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham
Michelin-starred chef Galton Blackiston will be showcasing his world- famous Gressingham duck at this sophisticated festival. Wash down the delicious mouthfuls with a glass of bubbly from the champagne bar, then peruse the stalls selling handmade jewellery and paintings by local artisans.
Tickets: £3 on Fri, £6 on Sat & Sun; children under 16 free
Dorset Seafood Festival
9-10 July 2011
Weymouth Harbour, Dorset
Weymouth's historic waterfront will be transformed into a seafood extravaganza, with stall upon stall of only the freshest and most delectable underwater produce on offer. Top celebrity chefs will be there to reveal their culinary secrets, and competitions such as the Fishtucker Trials and Young Seafood Masterchef will keep visitors of all ages on their toes.
9-10 Jul 2011
Brogdale Farm, Kent
Travel back to more innocent times with a horse-drawn carriage ride through the cherry orchards on this award-winning farm, and pick the ripe fruit directly from the trees. There are 320 varieties of cherry to choose from, many of which you wouldn't be able to find anywhere else in the world.
Tickets: £8; £4; family £20
MedFest: A Taste of the Mediterranean
9-10 Jul 2011
West Dean Estate, West Sussex
Spain and Lebanon are the main focus in the launch of this new festival showcasing the colourful array of gastronomy and culture from our Mediterrannean neighbours. Expect flamenco and chickpeas, churros and belly dancing, all clashing beautifully with a very English garden setting.
Tickets (in advance): £8.50
Pylewell Park Food & Drink Festival
23-24 Jul 2011
Pylewell Park, Lymington
This recent addition to the festival calendar is set in the grounds of a New Forest country estate boasts a wealth of exciting activities including laser clay pigeon shooting, a sculpture exhibition and a samba band. With bars offering champagne, local cider, Pimms and real ale, you're unlikely to go thirsty.
Tickets: £5, under 14 free
Really Wild Food and Countryside Festival
29-30 Jul 2011
St Davids, Pembrokeshire
This event has moved from its usual September slot and now has a music performance for the first time on the Saturday evening. Aside from that, wild ingredients foraged from hedges, beaches and rivers are still the order of the day, ensuring that visitors will feel truly at one with the countryside.
Tickets £4, £2, free for under-threes
Field to Fork Show
Laverstoke Park Farm, Hampshire
The former Formula One champion Jody Scheckter's biodynamic and organic farm is the setting for the final of the professional chefs British BBQ championship. Amateur grill aficionados are invited to take part in their own contest – the BBQ World Cup – while the less competitively inclined can relax by petting buffalo calves then learning the art of stretching mozzarella cheese or making sausages.
Tickets (in advance): £6; £3
Lakes Chilli Fest
13-14 August 2011
Levens Hall, Kendal
Kendal may be best known for its mint cake, but this fiery fiesta held in the stunning gardens of an Elizabethan stately home might change this. More than 50 stalls dotted among thetopiary will be offering chilli-infused products including cordials, jams, chutneys and even ice cream. A steel band, fire-eaters and a croquet lawn will be on hand for the entertainment.
Tickets: £8.50; £4; family £21
The Isle of Wight Garlic Festival
20-21 Aug 2011
Newchurch, Isle of Wight
Garlic from the Isle of Wight is so famous even the French import it. But although the aromatic bulbs are the star of this renowned show –being offered up in both the usual and more unconventional ways (garlic fudge, anyone?) – live music and entertainment also play an important part in this annual event the island's biggest show.
Tickets: £7.50, £4
Newlyn Fish Festival
29 Aug 2011
Newlyn Harbour, Penzance
Head to one of Cornwall's oldest fishing villages to sample the sea's bounty – either by taking part in the fish auction or simply leaving it to the experts and enjoying yourself tasting the paellas and monkfish curries on offer. Rescue demonstrations by boat and helicopter will keep the children enthralled, while those craving something calmer should enjoy watching the parading luggers (sailing boats).
Tickets £5, free for under-16s
Organic Food Festival
3-4 Sep 2011
Bristol Harbourside, Bristol
It's not just mouthwatering and chemical-free food and drink on offer at this late-summer city event:organic textiles and health andbeautyproducts are also being showcased. Children are bound to love the sheep show and the fun demos.
Tickets: £5 per day or £8 for two days; children under 15 free
Conwy Honey Fair
13 Sep 2011
Conwy High Street and Lancaster Square, Conwy
This street fair – held in the Welsh World Heritage town of Conwy with its 13th-century castle – has been attracting local beekeepers for more than 700 years, ever since Edward I allowed them to sell their wares at no charge once a year on 13 September. The number of stalls will depend on this year's harvest, and the district's hardworking beekeepers aim to have shifted a tonne of honey by lunchtime.
Abergavenny Food Festival
17-18 Sep 2011
Monmouthshire, South Wales
Abergavenny may be small, but its annual festival is huge in both size and spirit, with Monmouthsire's homegrown cheese and wine artisans setting up shop next to exhibitors from Italy and further afield. Expect plenty of tutored tastings, debates andlive entertainment. Last year it even included a performance by the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.
Feast of Dorset
17-18 Sep 2011
Deans Court, Wimborne
From donning a beekeeper's suit to experience the interactive beehive area to relaxing in the tranquil surroundings of the Chinese tea garden, there really is something to delight everyone in this former winner of The Independent Magazine's Best UK Food Festival.
Ticket prices tbc
Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival
24-25 Sep 2011
Snape Maltings, North Aldeburgh
This weekend marks the climax of a two-week celebration of food in East Suffolk. Top chefs including Valentine Warner and Matthew Fort will be taking advantage of the locally sourced ingredients such as rare-breed meat and game in their workshops and demonstrations, all within the surroundings of the Suffolk coast.
Tickets (in advance): £6; children 12 and under free
Great British Cheese Festival
24-25 Sep 2011
Cardiff Castle, South Wales
With more than 200 stalls, there is an abundance of British and Irish cheese to tempt visitors at this Welsh fair, which also plays host to the World Cheese Tossing final. Cheese and alcohol tasting masterclasses are available – but don't drink too much because you'll need a clear head for winning the cheese skittles contest.
Ticket prices tbc
Autumn Speyside Whisky Festival
29 Sep- 3 Oct 2011
Whisky fans should not miss this five-day homage to the single malt Scotch. Explore distilleries normally closed to the public and learn how best to pair your whisky with salmon, cheese or chocolate. Then toast the end of the festival at the Dregs Party, where every last drop must be slurped from leftover bottles all to the swirl of the pipes.
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