Meet, eat, drink and be merry: Food festivals are offering flavours to suit every taste this summer

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Le Cordon Bleu Henley Food Festival

16-17 May

Phyllis Court Club, Henley-on-Thames

The crème de la crème of summer food festivals, with demonstrations from Michelin starred chefs, an amateur cook-off challenge and more than 60 exhibitors. Wash it all down with the Theatre of Wine tasting sessions to complete your weekend.

Prices: adults £10 weekend, £6 day; seniors £9 weekend, £5 day; children £1, under-fives free. www.henleyfoodfestival.co.uk

The British Asparagus Festival

Until 21 June

Vale of Evesham

More than a month of festivities celebrating the season of the quintessential English vegetable, with tasting sessions, cookery demonstrations and the festival day, on 25 May. Book a place on the "Asparabus" tour, during which day-trippers will experience the "Asparagus showcase".

www.britishasparagusfestival.org

Isle of Wight Garlic Festival

15-16 August

Near Newchurch, IOW

Organisers are claiming 2009 is going to be the biggest garlic-fest of all time, with an expected 20,000 people attending over two days. As well as plenty of the pungent root, the festival showcases the best of the isle's produce and offers a broad range of arts and crafts stalls.

Prices: adults £7.50; seniors £6.50; children £4. www.garlic-festival.co.uk

Taste Festival

29-31 May, 18-21 June, 9-12 July

London, Edinburgh and Birmingham

Fine dining hits city-centre parks, as Taste arrives in three UK cities this summer. Although not the cheapest of food festivals, foodies can expect top-notch dining for the price, including stalls from restaurants Le Gavroche, Theo Randall and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. New this year is the Taste of Thailand experience.

Price: from £12. www.tastefestivals.com

Ludlow Marches Food Festival

11-13 September

The foodie jewel in Shropshire's crown, the Ludlow festival is in its 15th year and offers all that's great and good from the English/Welsh border, with more than 130 small independent food and drink producers. Stall holders will also be doing battle to be crowned best pork pie of the Marches and best Ludlow sandwich.

Price: from £7 for adults. www.foodfestival.co.uk

West Dean Chilli Fiesta

8-9 August

West Dean Gardens, near Chichester

Some like it hot, but this is the festival for those who want it with an extra kick this summer. Over 200 varieties of chillies are on display, as well as numerous stalls to try out the hot stuff in everything from chilli con carne, chilli chutneys and even chilli chocolate if you're feeling daring.

www.westdean.org

Flavour Fest

14-16 August

Plymouth

Flavour Fest is one of the most eagerly awaited events in the West country, and attracts more than 100,000 people over the two-day fest. Expect a dazzling array of all the best produce the area has to offer, wrapped up in a weekend of fine dining, demonstrations and lessons.

www.plymouth.gov.uk/flavourfest.html

Really Wild Food and Countryside Festival

5-6 September

St Davids, Pembrokeshire

One for wannabe Bear Grylls, the Really Wild Food and Countryside Festival takes it back to nature, showing people how to use wild materials and food in the same way our ancestors did. The utterly unique experience offers music, rural tradition, storytelling and the culinary delights of the wilderness, all while you enjoy the fresh outdoors.

www.reallywildfestival.co.uk

Totally Tomato Show

5-6 September

West Dean Gardens, near Chichester

You say tomato, we say tomato show. You'll be shown myriad ways to use the summer fruits in this festival, and there'll be a chance to taste more interesting varieties such as Black Plum, Eva Purple Ball, Santa, Green Tiger and Yellow Cherry, all presented in the beautiful surroundings of West Dean Gardens.

www.westdean.org.uk/gardens/totallytom

Watercress Festival

17 May

Alresford, Hampshire

A festival set up to prove the green stuff is "more than a bit on the side", the free event hosts celebrity chefs offering up new recipes, including watercress pesto, watercress scones and even watercress chocolates. The festival highlight is the watercress May King and Queen, who bring the first leaves into the town, but you can also expect an array of Morris dancers, musicians and street entertainers.

www.watercress.co.uk/festival

Bristol Vegan Fayre

30-31 May

The Amphitheatre and Waterfront Square, Bristol

Probably the only festival ever to bring together tofu burgers and Ian Drury and the Blockheads, vegans will be in foodie heaven as the festival celebrates all that's great - without dairy, meat or fish. The festival offers something for all aged vegans with music, kid's arenas and gentler culinary talks for those who want a quieter weekend.

Price: from £8. www.veganfayre.co.uk

The Isle of Man Queenie Festival

29 June to 5 July

Isle of Man

The Queenie festival celebrates the Isle of Man's favourite seafood – scallops, or Queenies, as they're known locally. A week's worth of classes, events and talks comes to a head for Marine Day, where there's a big seafood barbecue and firework display. There will also be dramatic water-sports demonstrations, Kayak racing, flipper football and many more activities for friends and family to enjoy.

www.queeniefestival.com

The Children's Food Festival

27-28 June

The Northmoor Trust Farm, near Oxford

This year's festival is fronted by patrons Raymond Blanc and Sophie Grigson. The weekend offers fun filled family activities such as bicycle-powered smoothie-making, baking bread, sushi rolling and an observation bee-hive. In addition the Roald Dahl museum team will demo Willy Wonka chocolate recipes with U.K's leading chocolatiers and offer tastings for all of those foodies with a sweet tooth.

Price: £10 per car, at gate. All activities free. www.childrensfoodfestival.co.uk

Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling

25 May

Cooper's Hill, near Gloucester

Technically an event rather than an all-out cheese-fest, but the Cooper's Hill rolling event gives you a chance to try your hand at the sport of cheese-rolling. Competitors roll, hurl, fling, chuck and throw not just the cheese but also themselves down the treacherous hill, aiming to win the glorious wheel of cheese. And you could always have a cheeky nibble afterwards.

www.cheese-rolling.co.uk

Pontefract Liquorice Festival

12 July

Pontefract Town Centre, Yorkshire

Love it or hate it, liquorice is the jewel in the crown of this festival. The Pomfretians put on quite a show, as local acts and musicians perform alongside stalls and smaller events promoting the sweet in liquorice draft beer and liquorice bread. Local schools also put on colourful parades in between all the live entertainment. Quite literally the sweetest festival of the year.

www.pontefractliquoricefestival.co.uk

Whitstable Oyster Fair

18-25 July

Whitstable, Kent

The mighty oyster is greatly revered in the seaside town of Whitstable. The townsfolk welcome in the new season of bivalves with an oyster parade, followed by a week's worth of indoor and outdoor celebrations, including historical, family, art and culinary events. The highlight for many is the oyster eating contest, where participants aim to be the fastest to down six oysters and half a pint of Whitstable Brewery Pilsner.

www.whitstableoysterfestival.com

Nantwich International Cheese Show

29 July

Dorfold Hall Park, Nantwich

The big cheese of the fromage world, the Nantwich show has been going for more than 100 years and attracts more than 33,000 visitors each year, calling itself "the greatest cheese show in the world". Why not go and see for yourself and take part on a world-wide cheese crawl as the show boasts almost 3000 cheeses from 24 different countries.

www.nantwichshow.co.uk

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