The best food festivals in 2018

Where to go for spectacular street food, fine booze and culinary masterclasses from celebrity chefs

A host of food festivals are taking place throughout 2018, celebrating the best food and drink Great Britain has to offer, from homegrown produce to innovative cooking. Food festivals are also the perfect excuse to venture out with family or friends and explore some of the most beautiful parts of the countryside, from seaside villages to historic estates. We’ve sniffed out the best gastronomical jamborees available…

Alex James and Jamie Oliver at The Big Feastival in 2016 (Getty)

The Big Feastival, August 24-26

In the heart of the Cotswolds, The Big Feastival has been running since 2011 on the farm of Blur bassist Alex James. This year’s programme include a Cheese Hub run by James, which promises to be a ‘fromage-ophile’s paradise’, as well as a Caribbean Rum Shack, a Veuve Cliquot VIP Lounge and a Collaboration Kitchen offering ‘global flavours and mash-ups’. Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc, and Christian Stevenson (aka ‘DJ BBQ’) will be among the guest chefs. There will also be a programme of live music, with artists including Paloma Faith and Melanie C set to perform. thebigfeastival.com

Meatopia, August 31 to September 2

If you like nothing more than the aroma of sizzling steaks, and you’re in London at the end of August, hop on the DLR and head down to Tobacco Dock for the carnivores’ paradise that is Meatopia. According to the event manifesto, all the meat comes from well-treated animals and is roasted not on new-fangled hobs, but on ‘wood, charcoal, peat or moss’ fires. Special events, including the Art of Butchery and Cooking in the Great Outdoors, will be held in the ghoulishly named Cutting Room. Live music and entertainment will range from the Cuban Brothers to (the inappropriately named) DJ Tofu. meatopia.co.uk

Hot stuff in Dorset (Getty)

The Ludlow Food Festival, September 7-9

Not far from the Welsh border, Ludlow Castle in Shropshire will once again host the Ludlow Food Festival. On show will be more than 180 exhibitors from Ludlow, the Marches and further afield, including cheesemongers, winemakers, brewers and bakers. Guest speakers include Observer Food Magazine editor Allan Jenkins, Masterchef Professionals finalist Louise Ellis and food writer Claire Thomson. New this year is a Fire & Feast event in the castle, which will celebrate outdoor cooking. www.ludlowfoodfestival.co.uk

Food Rocks, September 8-9

The sixth Food Rocks festival will be hosted in the atmospheric Dorset seaside town of Lyme Regis, setting for Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Founded by British restauranteur Mark Hix, the festival will involve cookery demonstrations and tastings, plus food stalls offering treats such as Somerset hog roast and gourmet cheese toasties. Highlights include two supper clubs hosted by Hix, one centred on beef and the other on crab and mackerel – all locally sourced and accompanied by Lyme Bay and Castlewood wines. Profits from the festival will be donated to the RNLI and the Fishermen’s Mission. www.hixrestaurants.co.uk/restaurant/food-rocks/

Ludlow Castle, home to The Ludlow Food Festival (iStock)

Abergavenny Food Festival, September 15-16

30,000 visitors will descend on the small town of Abergavenny in south Wales this September. The town’s food festival has established itself as a popular event for food businesses, chefs and critics. The programme is impressive, offering events such as a night market, a tour of the White Castle vineyard and classes on mutton tasting, making proper bread and butter and weekend cocktails. Guest speakers will include Zoe Adjonyoh, author of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, food philosopher Barry Smith and The Guardian’s Grace Dent. To round off both evenings, there will be dancing at Abergavenny Castle. www.abergavennyfoodfestival.com

Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival, September 29-30

More than 100 producers will pitch up at this popular festival, with the food offering including boar and venison, Middle Eastern cuisine and South American delicacies. Food masterclasses, including sessions focused on chocolate tastings and Indian street food, will be on offer, while Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith will be interviewed by Thomasina Miers, founder of Wahaca. Children can learn to press rapeseed oil and climb the biggest combine harvester in the world. The venue is the historic Victorian malthouse of Snape Maltings, in ‘an area of outstanding natural beauty’ five miles from the Suffolk Coast. www.aldeburghfoodanddrink.co.uk


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