The UK’s best food festivals, from Meatopia to Seafest

·5-min read
Carnivores, assemble: Meatopia in London  (Tom Gold)
Carnivores, assemble: Meatopia in London (Tom Gold)

If your idea of a good time is braving the great British outdoors, dusting off your wellies and scoffing a plate full of brownies, spiked with nothing but caramel, then you have come to the right place. Grab your knives and forks because we’ve put together the best food festivals this summer, the only thing that needs to get wet is your appetite.

Foodies Festival, various locations

Until September 18

 (Foodies Festival)
(Foodies Festival)

The UK’s largest touring food festival has expanded its locations this year and chances are it will be coming to a town near you. Popping up in Syon Park in West London too, doing the rounds in Scotland with dates in Edinburgh and Glasgow and rounding off the feasting extravaganza in Exeter. Foodies Festival is not the biggest in the game for nothing, expect a packed itinerary of cooking masterclasses from what appears to be every Masterchef and Great British Menu winner that ever existed to live music from a roster of throwback hit makers including Gabrielle, The Feeling, Scouting for Girls and 90s boy band heartthrobs Five.

From £20, across the UK, foodiesfestival.com

Food Forever, Kew Gardens, London

May 21 - September 18

 (RBG Kew)
(RBG Kew)

Cerebral foodies rejoice, Kew’s Food Forever Event is an art exhibition, food festival and sustainability lesson rolled into one. The focus of the season of events at London’s most bucolic botanical gardens is the future of food and how our changing eating habits impact the world. The festival features four major art installations which will be erected throughout the gardens, including artist Thomas Dambo’s huge Troll sculptures, based on Scandiavian folklore and made out of recycled materials. Fear not, however, there will be grub to eat too, with guest menus from a roster of award-winning chefs inclusing Jamie Oliver’s protege and Sunday Times bestselling author Anna Jones, shef and founder of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen Zoe Adjonyoh and award-winning sustainable chef Tom Hunt.

From £4.50, Kew Gardens, TW9 3AF, kew.org

Body&Soul Festival, Dublin

June 17-19

 (Body & Soul, Shantanu Starick)
(Body & Soul, Shantanu Starick)

This is a slightly different breed of food festival, and dare I say it a little cooler. The Body & Food festival takes place on the grounds of the picturesque Ballinlough Castle in the magical countryside just outside of Dublin. With only 5500 tickets up for grabs and a strict over 21s policy, this festival is a thoroughly grown up affair, although obviously with a little debauchery thrown in for good measure too. There will be live music, therapy tents, exercise classes and of course an area dedicated exclusively to the very best organic food and drinks. Expect freshly-shaken cocktails, foraged snacks, artisan Irish delicacies and Victorian tea parties. Ooh la la.

£250 for weekend camping, Ballinlough Castle, Clonmellon, Westmeath, C15 DY77, bodyandsoul.ie

Picnic Social, Lincolnshire

July 23 - August 7

Is there anything that says “British summertime” more than a picnic? The Picnic Social is set in the atmospheric grounds of Lincoln Castle, home to the Magna Carta and, for two weeks of the year, a whole load of manchego. Visitors don’t have to worry about M&S running out of their tapas selection, because there will be stalls selling all the picnic ingredients you can think of from charcuterie meats to freshly baked cakes. All you need to bring with you is an empty basket, a picnic rug and a hearty appetite.

Free, The Wheat Quarter, Hyde Way, AL7 3BU, lincolncastle.com

Heaton Park Food and Drink Festival, Manchester

August 20-21

 (Heaton Park Food Festival)
(Heaton Park Food Festival)

Voted number one non-music festival in the UK, attendees are in safe hands (or should that be oven mitts?) at Heaton. The green fields of of this Manchester spot are a smorgasbord of international cuisines, artisan food markets, independent bars selling freshly made lemonade and cocktails in every shade of the rainbow. From falafels to freshly baked focaccia, hog roasts and local fudge, there are delicacies to suit even the fussiest palettes. There will also be live cooking demonstrations from some of Manchester’s most exciting chefs. The only downside is you may have to buy a bigger tent by the end of the weekend…

From £4.95 (children £2.95), Heaton Park, M25 2GT, heatonparkfoodfestival.com

Meatopia, London

September, 2-4

 (Meatopia)
(Meatopia)

On the surface not for everyone, particularly in this age of meat-free Mondays, Tuesdays and perhaps also every other day of the week - but it’s not for nothing that Meatopia is still going strong after a decade on the scene. Located on London’s Tobacco Dock, Meatopia will be hosting over 70 of the world’s most skilled live-fire chefs roasting, scorching, blackenning and charring for your carnivorous pleasure. Don’t eat meat? All’s not lost, as some chefs will be whipping up mouth watering fish and veggie dishes, too. Yotam Ottolenghi, Fergus Henderson of Farringdon institution St John and Chef’s Table star Lennox Hastie are among those to have dropped by in recent years.

From £26.80, London, E1W 2SF, Meatopia 

Seafeast, Dorset

September 10-11

 (Seafoodfest)
(Seafoodfest)

Ahoy there, fish and shellfish lovers! Grab your lobsters shuckers and stretch out your sea legs, because this Dorset seafood festival is back, taking place on Weymouth Peninsula The festival is a sensory experience, set to overwhelm your tastebuds (and, erm, noses) will be with fishy dishes. Seafood lovers will be drooling over the the menu, which includes BBQ buffalo oysters, mussels in cider, huge skillets of seafood paella and melt-in-the-mouth crab fries. Wash it all down with some delicious Miraval rosé while listening to the line-up of acoustic music acts.

From £10, Peninsula, Weymouth, DT4 8ED dorsetseafood.co.uk

Scottish Wild Food Festival, Balfron

September 17-18

 (credit D Dalziel)
(credit D Dalziel)

Like the name suggests, this bijou festival in the magical Scottish countryside celebrates wild produce and all things foraging. The festival encourages all ages to immerse themselves in nature and learn about different types of edible vegetation, so you can tell your nettles from your shiitakes. At the end of a long day of wild cocktail making and bushcraft, festival goers will sit down to a wild banquet along the impressive long tables in the woods; think Robin Hood but with loads of lemon curd.

From £16 (children £2), Balfunning, Balfron, G63 0NF, scottishwildfoodfestival.co.uk

Abergavenny Food Festival, Abergavenny

September 17-18

 (Tim Woodier AFF)
(Tim Woodier AFF)

One of the original food festivals on the circuit, you can always expect great things from Abergavenny. Set in various bucolic locations across the Welsh town, the weekend is jam-packed with food tastings, demos from Michelin-starred chefs, cookery book readings, some foraging (obv) and even a couple of wild parties.

From £16, across Abergavenny, NP7, abergavennyfoodfestival.com

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