Taste of London
A must-do on any dedicated foodie’s calendar, Taste of London is a deliciously diverse festival taking place in Regent’s Park each June that has spawned a number of sister events across the globe in cities including Toronto, Sydney and Paris. Alongside over 40 of London’s best restaurants serving up signature small plates, the five-day long Taste of London also features live demonstrations from celebrity chefs like Monica Galetti and Marco Pierre White, hands-on food and drink pairing masterclasses and artisan food shopping at the Small Producers’ Market.
Isle of Wight Garlic Festival
Set amongst the beautiful rolling hills and farmland just outside Newchurch, the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival, as its name suggests, celebrates all things garlic and local. Alongside the opportunity to buy more locally grown garlic than you can shake a stick at and sample all manner of garlic-flavoured delights, including a few unlikely fusions like garlic fudge, ice cream and popcorn. There’s also plenty more island produce (meats, cheese, cider) and cooking demonstrations, a beer tent, live music, and a funfair. Attendants might want to take along some chewing gum, but on the upside, visiting the Garlic Festival is sure to keep the vampires at bay at least for a few days.
The Big Feastival
Founded by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and former Blur bassist turned award-winning artisan cheesemaker Alex James in 2010, The Big Feastival takes place on the latter’s farm against the beautiful backdrop of The Cotswolds. Part food, part music festival, the family-friendly, three-day event features cooking demos from top chefs like Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, cookery classes for adults and kids, a Wellness Kitchen and plenty of street food vendors alongside music from the likes of Tinie Tempeh, Toots & The Maytals and Mark Ronson. Single day, weekend and camping tickets are available, and for festival-goers who don’t like the thought of roughing it, boutique yurts and bell tents are available in The Big Feastival’s Glamping Village.
North East Chilli Fest
For foodies who like a fiery kick to their grub, there’s nowhere better than the North East Chilli Fest. Drolly dubbed the ‘year’s hottest event’, the festival features over 80 independent food producers selling some of the spiciest eats the country has to offer – from award-winning chilli sauce and chocolate company Grim Reaper Foods to The Chilli Jam Man’s red-hot homemade jams – plus extra fun in the form of live music and its legendary chilli eating competition. Thankfully, there’s plenty of thirst-quenching real ales and lagers from Newcastle-based Wylam Brewery alongside cider, wine and cocktails to cool those burning taste buds.
Loch Lomond Food & Drink Festival
First held on the bonnie banks of Scotland’s second largest loch in 2005, the Loch Lomond Food & Drink Festival now attracts an average of 30,000 gourmets each year. There’s fun for the entire family with cookery demos and classes, foraging and bush craft sessions and the annual haggis eating competition, while adult festival-goers can grab a deck chair at its resident, loch-side Beach Bar with a refreshing Scottish real ale or two. While Scottish products, producers and vendors are the focus, think Loch Lomond wild venison and succulent smoked seafood from the award-winning Argyll Smokery, plenty of cuisines are represented from Mexican and Moroccan to Italian and Japanese.
Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival
Each July, Weymouth’s picturesque 17th-century harbour is host to one of the UK’s most luxurious, epicurean events, the Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival. A true celebration of Dorset’s historical fishing and seafaring trades, the festival not only feeds attendants with its 90+ seafood selling vendors – chow down on award-winning crab cakes from Dorset Shellfish or smoked salmon from The Hix Academy, Dorset-born chef Mark Hix and Weymouth College’s joint collaboration – but also educates about sustainability and sea-to-plate philosophies too. Of course, a visit to the festival wouldn’t be complete without sampling some fresh oysters washed down with a glass of bubbly from festival sponsors Champagne Pommery.
Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival
Now in its 11th edition, the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival is one of the UK’s most raved about food events and takes place at the charming Snape Maltings arts and retail complex on the banks of the River Alde. The focus is hyper-local, paying homage to Suffolk’s flourishing food and drink scene with over 100 stalls selling local products and eats, including taste wares from the likes of the popular Pump Street Bakery and Newlands Cheese Straws. There are also two cookery demo stages featuring a host of local and visiting chefs, followed by two weeks of fringe festivities like farm walks, workshops and meet-the-producer events.
Founded by the late, great food writer Josh Ozersky in New York and brought to London in 2013, Meatopia is, simply put, a meat lover’s paradise. The three-day carnivore-centric shindig, whose motto is ‘eat, meat, sleep, repeat’, transforms London’s Tobacco Dock each September into a tribute to all things meaty with world-class chefs, vendors and restaurants cooking up everything from juicy burgers and ribs to succulent steak and shawarma along with butchery demos, informal workshops and live music. Naturally there’s no better accompaniment to a hearty bit of meat than a nice, cold beer, and Meatopia’s recently introduced Craftopia, an area dedicated to craft beer, live brewing plus beer and food pairings, does the trick nicely.
Abergavenny Food Festival
Hailed by Welsh journalist and Observer features writer as the ‘Glastonbury of food festivals’, Abergavenny Food Festival is Wales’ biggest, best-loved foodie event. Taking place in the pretty Monmouthshire market town since 1999, the festival has won a host of awards in its 18-year history and today attracts an average of 30,000 visitors and over 200 of the country’s best food and drink producers. Masterclasses, food markets, tastings and chef demos all feature, but one of the festival’s most popular events are its evening parties, taking place at Abergavenny Castle, they include live music, street food and a dazzling fireworks display.
Abergavenny Food Festival, Abergavenny, UK, +44 1873 851643
We’ve covered the carnivore-friendly events on the food festival circuit, so now here’s one for the vegans and vegetarians, Vegfest, one of Europe’s biggest and best vegan festivals. Founded in Bristol by Tom Barford, the man behind organic hemp company Yaoh, the festival has since expanded to include Brighton, London and Glasgow too. By day, attendants can sample grub from dozens of vendors such as Brighton’s Loving Hut Vegan Café and organic, vegan-friendly craft beer producers Pitfield Brewery, get handy culinary tips at live cookery demos and learn more about veganism through talks on nutrition, health and lifestyle. And at night, there’s plenty of live music to look forward to.
Vegfest, Brighton/Bristol/London/Glasgow, United Kingdom