UK Food Festivals 2015

Get a taste of summer with our comprehensive guide to the country’s best foodie events


3rd – 4th, The Big Apple Blossomtime, Putley, Herefordshire

This year marks the 26th anniversary of the festival which sees small rural communities put together a series of tours around the villages and orchards west of Ledbury, culminating in a grand cider tasting.

9th – 10th, Ludlow Spring Festival, Ludlow, Shropshire
With more than 140 real ales, demonstrations on the art of bread making, hands-on cookery classes, 60 food and drink stands and a vast selection of sausages, there is plenty to enjoy at this taster of the larger festivities to come at Ludlow’s gastronomic knees-up in September.

15th – 17th, The Crab & Lobster Festival, Cromer and Sheringham
A weekend when historic rivals, Cromer and Sheringham, unite to celebrate their shared seafood heritage. Events include a crab dressing competition, a seafood trail around the towns’ best eateries and a cookery theatre featuring Norfolk’s top chefs.

16th, Witney Festival of Food and Drink, Oxfordshire
Something of a cross between a village fair and a giant farmers’ market, this family-friendly festival, in the heart of David Cameron’s home stomping ground, showcases an impressive array of food and drink producers on a roomy church green – these include the Cotswold Curer charcuterie, Oliphant and Pomeroy artisan ice cream and Bolitas Brazilian cheese ball makers. A festival cafe serves homemade goodies and wannabe master chefs can hone their cookery techniques by learning how to make sausages and how to prep crayfish in the Skills Tent.

16th – 17th, Loch Fyne Food Fair, Cairndow, Argyll
A free fair dedicated exclusively to the gastronomic goings on of West Coast Scotland. There will be a wide choice of Scottish fare, from oat cakes to bumble puddings, and a particular emphasis on seafood with experts on hand to dispense handling and cooking tips on the likes of oysters and hand-dived scallops. A live music programme runs throughout both days and the Wee Green Cinema – driven by audience pedal power – showing short films about food.

17th, Alresford Watercress Festival, Alresford, Hampshire
Watercress fills the streams and water beds around this popular market town and this day festival celebrates the locally grown crop. A line-up features cookery demonstrations from regional chefs, the world watercress eating championships, children’s workshops and a Hampshire farmers’ market ripe with the county’s produce. Morris dancers, jazz bands and the crowning of a watercress king and queen complete the festivities.

23rd – 24th, VegfestUK, Bristol
This three-day outdoor extravaganza in the heart of Bristol celebrates all things vegan, with more than 150 stalls, caterers, raw food and juice bars, activist workshops and nutrition talks. The 64-page event programme features a range of main events including cookery demonstrations by Rachel Demuth, from Bath’s Demuths Cookery School, DJs and a Well-Fed World campaign for school lunches in Ethiopia.

21st – 25th, Jersey Food Festival, Jersey
A five-day celebration of Jersey’s favourite foodie export, its Royal new potato, along with oysters, seafood and other local island produce. Highlights include Michelin starred dining, low water rambles foraging for limpets and seaweed, food and ale trails and, tutored chocolate tastings, as well as a “cider and sausage” evening under the stars and a “pop up” seafood paella by the beach.

23rd – 24th, Food Lovers Festival, Malton, Yorkshire
More than 100 food and drink stalls fill the streets of this handsome market town in Yorkshire which, in recent years, has garnered a reputation as the county’s gastronomic nerve centre. A well organised programme comprises demonstrations at the Malton Cookery School, tutored tastings, and book signings and interviews featuring Valentine Warner, Levi Roots and afternoon tea with Diana Henry.

23rd – 25th, Sheffield Food Festival, Sheffield, Yorkshire
A May bank holiday weekend dedicated to the Steel City’s food and drink. On the menu: street food traders, an artisan food market and cookery demo tent, Ready, Steady, Cook! competitions, pizza making classes for kids, a pop up farmyard and the Peace Gardens’ mini beer festival, curated by the Sheffield Breweries Cooperative. Look out for Sheffield’s very own vegetable entertainer, Madame Zucchini, who will be presenting her live shows in St Paul’s Place.

23rd – 31st, English Wine Week, From Cornwall to Kent
Dozens of nationwide events offer the chance to become better acquainted with English wines. These include in-store wine tastings at branches of Waitrose, food and wine pairings at restaurants and vineyard visits. In Sussex you can tour the county’s best vineyards on a vintage Routemaster, while Manchester Wine School offers tastings of all shades of English wine including rare northern varieties.

24th – 25th, Dartington Food Fair, Devon
The fifth annual food fair, held at the Shops at Dartington, a social enterprise in South Devon, celebrates the “best of the West” with edible goodies from more than 50 local producers, a pop-up restaurant run by Riverford Field Kitchen’s Jane Baxter and award-winning grub at the White Hart pub. Culinary demonstrations include a crab cracking class, hedgerow foraging on the Dartington Estate and preparing a DIY Devon dinner.

29th – 31st, Southport Food and Drink Festival, Southport, Merseyside
Set in Victoria Park, this three-day event features a street food festival, food-themed activities for children, live cookery demonstrations and the annual Great Southport Bake Off. Regional producers showcase the north-west’s best pies, chutneys, sausages and ice cream.

30th – 31st, Asparafest, Evesham, Worcestershire
Ever tried “asparasausages”? No? Well, now’s your chance. Make the most of the asparagus season at this two-day festival in Worcestershire where the “world-famous Asparamancer” will be making an appearance and asparagus royalty will be crowned. There are farm tours, eating and cooking competitions featuring the green spears and a chance to meet the brewers at the real ale and cider bar.


5th – 7th, The Yorkshire Post Food and Drink Show, Leeds
The climax weekend of the month-long Leeds Food and Drink Festival, now in its fifth year, this is a celebration of the range and quality of the food and drink available from both the outlying county and in the city’s restaurants, with events and promotions in venues across the city including Leeds Kirkgate market, Victoria Quarter and Millennium Square.

7th, Open Farm Sunday, nationwide
Touch base with the land that feeds us and explore some of the UK’s leading farms, many of which are open to the public for just one Sunday each year. Soak up the scenery, go on a farm walk or a tractor ride, enjoy ferret racing or worm charming and stock up on farm-fresh produce at a host of mini farmers’ markets and farm shops.

7th, Shaftesbury Local Food Festival, Dorset
A glorified Dorset farmers’ market bedecks the length of Park Walk with more than 60 regional stallholders, including Purbeck Ice Cream and the Somerset Cider Brandy Co. There are cookery demonstrations by Hive Beach Café chef, Steve Bant, a junior MasterChef cook-off and an afternoon Tudor banquet at Gold Hill Museum.

7th – 13th, Bridport Food Festival, Dorset
A week of food events builds up to the main event at Asker Meadows on June 13. In the food producers’ marquee you can find local heroes producing Dorset Nectar artisan cider, handmade Dorset Pies and From Dorset With Love’s Dorsetshire Sauce, a three-star winner in last year’s Great Taste Awards. Highlights from an inspired programme include a taste trail around the town’s gastronomic treats, a vegetable cake competition, a food writing workshop, a one-pot challenge for school children and cookery demonstrations by Dorset-based all-rounder Christine McFadden, who will be rustling up a number of dishes using locally caught mackerel and Dorset watercress and wasabi.

11th – 14th, BBC Good Food Summer Show, Birmingham
A fun-filled “bunfight” featuring food producers, market demonstrations, tastings and entertainment in the “Supertheatre” from top chefs and TV stars including James Martin, Michel Roux Jr, Tom Kerridge and Mary Berry.

12th – 14th, Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival, Cheltenham
Sponsored by Wholefoods Market, the Real Food and Drink Theatre has an interesting range of informal tutored tastings and talks on a variety of subjects ranging from cheese making to coffee brewing and from wild food foraging to school food. The celebration takes place in the swish Montpellier Gardens, where celebrity chefs Jean-Christophe Novelli, Stefan Gates and Mark Lloyd will share pans with their local counterparts, and refreshments can be found in the wine and cider tents.

12th – 14th, Crail Food Festival, Fife
The food emporium at this harbourside festival offers a chance to sample the likes of Mara’s dried seaweed, Iain R Spink’s Arbroath Smokies and a cuppa from the Wee Tea Company. The Chocolate Larder hosts interactive sessions with the producers of Scotland’s best artisan chocolate, while there’s a lively programme of foodie films, communal suppers and workshops featuring fishermen, farmers and brewers.

13th – 14th, Farm Feast Wirral Food & Drink Festival, Wirral, Merseyside
A two day, family-run festival of hearty grub and music in the summer fields of Claremont Farm. There’s plenty of local cheese, sausages and cakes at the food producers’ market, a range of local chefs strutting their stuff on stage and a chance to learn how to juice or create chocolate in the Good Life Marquee. For kids, the Chefs Adopt a School team will be “teaching children in a holistic way” about good food practice, while adults can take an “alcoholic spirits cruise” or explore the barrelled craft beers and ciders in the real ale tent run by Merseyside’s renowned Ship and Mitre pub.

13th – 14th, Soho Food Feast, London
This mini gourmet festival, founded by Margot Henderson, of Rochelle Canteen and St John restaurants, is in aid of Soho Parish Primary School. In exchange for a £2 token, festival goers can sample taster signature dishes from an impressive range of high-quality and innovative restaurants. Chefs’ demonstrations in St Anne’s Church hall include frying-pan pizza and making preserves. There’s also a vegetable sculpture competition for kids, cocktail bars and live music.

17th – 21st, Taste of London, London
Based in Regent’s Park, this heavily sponsored gourmet jamboree is a showcase of the capital’s top chefs and restaurants who offer taster menus from their temporary kitchens. Added attractions include champagne tastings and interactive cookery lessons as well as demonstrations and appearances by many of the aforementioned elite chefs. Not cheap, and inevitably crowded, but a great way to survey the London restaurant scene in one go.

20th – 21st, The Scandinavian Midsummer Feast, Somerset
The ample grounds of Harptree Court provide the backdrop to this Scandi-style midsummer celebration. The festival is a seasonal smorgasbord of some of the tastiest food and drink from Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Highlights include baking and preserving demonstrations from the chefs Trine Hanhnemann and Valentine Warner, as well as foraging walks, a herring masterclass and fire-pit cooking with Michelin-starred Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt.

27th – 28th, Shrewsbury Food Festival, Shropshire
There’s foodie fun for all ages at this well-established festival held in Shrewsbury’s river-hugging Quarry Park. The weekend features a lively programme of local chef demonstrations – including the town’s fishmonger and baker – a restaurant food safari, kids’ cooking lessons, a bumper puddings tasting event and more than 200 of the county’s best artisan producers.


July 1st – August 2nd, Hampshire Food Festival, Hampshire
Hampshire has one of the best organised food agencies in the country and some of the most delicious fare to boot. Its food festival now spreads across an entire month of high summer offering a superb assortment of fun for all ages, from forest trails and butchery classes to “jamming” sessions, teddy bears’ picnics and “Hampshire on a Plate” menus at some of its most illustrious hotels and restaurants.

10th – 18th, Oundle Food Festival, Oundle, Northamptonshire
This bustling affair fills the streets of Oundle with a local producers’ market on the 18th. During the week there are Aga cookery demonstrations, tea master talks, a whisky masterclass, a popular teddy bear’s picnic and a number of local restaurants serve special menus.

11th, Mortimer Country Food Fair, Shropshire
Now in its seventh year and hosted at Aardvark Books in Brampton Bryan, the fair celebrates the best of Hereford and Shropshire’s local produce and crafts, including British cherries, Easy Peasy Children’s cookery classes, a vintage tea tent and country wines and liqueurs.

11th – 12th, Grillstock, Bristol
The second of three Grillstock barbecue and music festivals in 2015 (the next one is in London) is a muscular, no-nonsense affair comprising meat, more meat, foot-stomping bands and BrewDog beer. Highlights include the King of the Grill US-style low ‘n’ slow BBQ competition, chilli, hot wing and hot dog eating contests, smoking masterclasses and all the latest al-fresco dude-food gadgets.

11th -12th, Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival, Dorset
The champagne flows at this fishy festival set around Weymouth’s waterfront and showcasing an impressive choice of seafood available from the South Coast. The popular Hive Beach Cafe comes to town with its pop-up restaurant, there are live cooking demonstrations from some of the region’s best loved chefs and a chance to “Glam your Clam” and celebrate the Great British whelk.

18th – 19th, Essex Festival of Food and Drink, Braintree
Join celebrity chefs John Torode and James Martin on a medieval moated farmstead at Cressing Temple Farms for Essex’s primary food celebration. There’s a free kids cookery school, Camra beer tastings, local chef demonstrations and an open-air food court featuring more than 120 exhibitors.

18th – 19th, Scythe and Cider Festival, West Sussex
Staged in the meadows of Kew’s country garden at Wakehurst Place, this festival has all the charm of an old-fashioned country fayre with its hay bale picnic area, traditional tea and cider tents and its, doubtless Poldark inspired, scything competitions. There is a range of cookery demonstrations and talks from local food and drink experts, foraging walks and street cooking from as far afield as Vietnam and India. Free admission to National Trust members.

23rd – August 2nd, Whitstable Oyster Festival, Whitstable, Kent
Highlights of this long-running seaside institution include the Landing of the Oyster ceremony and the oyster parade, seaside foraging walks, dozens of stalls at the Harbour Food Fair and the festival’s own showcase restaurant, bar and performance venue, The Shuck.

26th July – 31st August, Pershore Plum Festival, Worcestershire
This month long festival will turn the town purple in its endeavours to celebrate this special fruit, culminating over the August Bank Holiday weekend with three “plum crazy” days of events and activities.

28th – 29th, Nantwich International Cheese Show, Nantwich, Cheshire
The biggest cheese show in the world showcases some 4,500 cheeses from 26 countries inside its uber Cheese Marquee. There are plenty of new varieties to taste and discover such as Weydeland Villa Wasabi and Orsom Blue, along with “big cheese” chefs such as James Martin and Will Holland who will be cooking with cheese – obviously – in the Gruyere Theatre.


1st – 2nd, The Great Dorset Chilli Festival, Wimborne St Giles
The Earl of Shaftesbury’s St Giles Park is home to this weekend of tongue-tingling celebrations, with stalls selling a mind-boggling array of chilli condiments and edibles, cooking demonstrations, expert talks on seeds and growing, and spicy street food from around the world. The development of the super-hot Dorset Naga has really put the county on the map for chilli enthusiasts and the festival sauce competition offers a chance to taste dozens of salsas and vote for your favourite.

4th, The Egton Bridge Gooseberry Show, Yorkshire
First established in 1800, this is one of those specialist fruit fairs that are fast disappearing in the UK. Growers from all over the country head to Egton in the North York Moors National Park to compete for the honour of growing the prize gooseberry over four categories. The record weight to beat: 35 drams or 62g.

8th, Clitheroe Food Festival, Lancashire
The historic market town of Clitheroe hosts this showcase for the superb array of produce found in and around Lancashire’s Ribble Valley. It’s a packed day with workshops and talks covering topics ranging from honey bees and canapés to herb gardens and cocktails. There are cookery demonstrations by local chefs and kids’ cooking workshops.

8th – 9th, Sandringham Food Festival, Norfolk
An eclectic mix of events make up this foodie jamboree on the Sandringham Estate. Rewind in time with historic food demonstrations, man up for the bush tucker insects and grub challenge, enjoy beer in the real ale marquee, watch local chefs in the main food theatre and sample the best regional produce in the food hall.

11th – 15th, Great British Beer Festival, London
This annual jamboree under the vast roof of Olympia is organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and offers 55,000 beer drinkers the chance to explore more than 900 real ales, ciders, perries and international brews. There are ten brewery bars, a Champion Beer of Britain competition and tutored tastings including a session matching beer and music with blogger Pete Brown. If you walk away from this event in a straight line then you may not have made the most of it!

14th – 16th, Bakewell Baking Festival, Derbyshire
This festival, appropriately held at the namesake of one of our most enduring puddings, taps into the national obsession with all things baking. There are cake-offs, masterclasses – Indian bread-making and gingerbread decoration to name but two – tea appreciation and the eccentric Mr Darcy custard pie fight to celebrate that Jane Austen is said to have finished *Pride and Prejudice* at the town’s Rutland Arms Hotel.

15th – 16th, River Cottage Summer Fair, Axminster
This summer bash at Hugh FW’s HQ offers a range of top-notch artisan masterclasses, including curd cheese, pickling, hedgerow cocktails and delicious local food and drink, plus lots of weird and wonderful rural activities such as pig racing and welly wanging.

15th – 16th, The Isle of Wight Garlic Festival, Isle of Wight
The island’s many varieties of garlic are at the heart of this event, flavouring everything from prawns and ice cream to coffee and popcorn. The food theatre line-up is headlined by celebrity chef Rachel Khoo and will showcase the best local produce, including tomatoes, blue cheese, honey and wine. There are beer and tea tents for refreshments, live music and family events.