The Welsh love their food and, unsurprisingly, surrounded by all those rolling hills and lush valleys, the country offers a lot of scope for small producers. Once of best ways to discover these hidden gastronomic gems is by visiting one of the many food festivals held throughout the country every year. From the well-established, like Abergavenny, to the smaller town and even village-based events – Wales and food sit very well beside each other. Everything from craft beer, local honey, pastured meat and delicious baked goods can be found alongside some rather more unusual offerings, so come this way and be wowed by Wales’ tastiest culinary delights.
The Narberth Food Festival
One of September’s delights, the Narberth Food Festival, is held in the pretty agricultural town of Narberth in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. With dozens of stalls, showcasing the best of Mid and West Wales’ food and drink, it makes for a very lovely day out. Held over two days, you’ll find organic spirits and liquors, chutneys, jams, pies and pastries. Live music events also add to the festive atmosphere. The little town with its idyllic Norman castle is a great place to base yourself in order to explore the wonderful countryside and coastline of West Wales. Known as the ‘cottage garden’ of Wales, Pembrokeshire provides excellent conditions to grow fruit and vegetables, most notably the famous Pembroke potatoes.
The Neath Food and Drink Festival
Neath, located close to Swansea on the South Wales coast, hosts an annual food festival at the end of September or beginning of October. Visitors flock to the pretty stalls outside the market hall to enjoy the best in food and drink that South Wales has to offer. A true celebration of Neath’s local produce, do not miss the Champagne Tent. Running alongside the festival are many fringe events including live music in some of the town’s many pubs and bars.
The Mold Food and Drink Festival
Mold in North Wales holds its annual food festival in September and always plays host to some pretty famous names in the culinary world. Past guests have included Jean-Christophe Novelli, Jo Wheatly and Graham Tinsley. With a cookery theatre, children cookery classes, ample stalls and a bit of live music thrown in for good measure, the Mold Food and Drink Festival flies the flag for North Wales and insures its inclusion in the diverse Welsh culinary map.
The Monmouthshire Food Festival
Right at the bottom of the country, not too far from the border with England, and within site of the Severn Bridge, the Monmouthshire Food Festival is held in twice a year on the grounds of the picturesque Caldicot Castle. This small, but perfectly formed festival is meticulously planned and takes place over two days. Expect great local ales, wonderful cakes, botanical syrups, moreish street-food and informative demonstrations.
The Abergavenny Food Festival
Wales’ most famous food festival is now heading into its twentieth year. Abergavenny food festival takes place in a quaint Monmouthshire country town sandwiched between the green county fields and the dramatic Black Mountains and is held over two days in September. With hundreds of stalls to explore, tastings, demonstrations and workshops, Abergavenny is also one of the UK’s top food festivals. You’ll find everything from locally distilled rosewater to biltong, artisan cheeses, amazing charcuterie and delicious local meat. It certainly takes more than a day to explore, which is lucky because there are some great restaurants and hotels in the area, all with amazing foodie credentials – it would be rude not to indulge – and, with three Michelin-starred restaurants, Monmouthshire certainly takes its food very seriously.
The Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival
The Vale of Glamorgan, close to Wales’ capital, Cardiff is known for exclusive houses, fine restaurants, welcoming pubs and some rather good beaches. Cowbridge, a pretty Georgian town, hosts an annual food festival in May where the streets are decked in bunting and a real festival atmosphere ensues. With its historic High Street and many independent shops, Cowbridge is sometimes called the ‘Bond Street’ of South Wales. Expect tasty lamb from the amusingly named Glam Lamb, potent cider, artisan cheese, real bread and dozens of other small producers, all enjoying the summer sunshine in this most elegant of surroundings.
Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival
Cardigan Bay in West Wales is a delight to visit and, if visiting in July, you may well stumble upon the Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival when the elegant harbour of Aberaeron in Ceredigion is awash with visitors seeking out the best seafood the country has to offer. There are demonstrations by internationally renowned chefs, over fifty exhibitors and a very much carnival-like atmosphere. Established by a group of local fishermen in 1997, the festival has grown and grown. Visitors can enjoy lobster, crab, mackerel, mullet and seabass amongst others. This festival is a real tribute to those ‘farmers of the sea’ who have a very special place in Wales’ cultural history.