Sample everything from plump oysters and golden whisky to garlic ice cream and the hottest chillies known to man at the UK’s top 10 food and drink festivals.
Whitstable Oyster Festival, Canterbury, England
It was the Romans who first celebrated the tasty molluscs of the Kentish coast and oysters remain in high demand from fans of fine food across the globe. From 23-29 July head to this gorgeous seaside town for the ‘Landing of the Oysters’ at Long Beach, the colourful Oyster Parade and, of course, to eat as many tasty oysters as you can manage.
Nantwich International Cheese Festival, Cheshire, England
Cheese is something of a national obsession and the place to sample it at its very best is at the biggest cheese show in the world on 27 July. The Nantwich International Cheese Festival has been maturing for over 100 years and with a record number of competitive entries, from some 24 countries it’s been hailed as the greatest cheese show on earth.
Great British Beer Festival, London, England
Britain’s biggest celebration of the frothy cold stuff hits London’s Earls Court from 2-6 August. Try a wide range of ales, ciders, perries and international beers from great British Real Ale to delicious European lagers. They’ll also be live music, tutored tastings and book-signings by the experts.
West Dean Chilli Fiesta, West Sussex, England
Join chilli fanatics from around the world from 5-7 August to sample everything from chilli jam to chilli chocolate and some of the hottest sauces known to man. And when the heat gets too much, chill out in the beer and cider tents and soak up sexy summer sounds from the Latin Fiesta band. Over 300 chillies and sweet peppers will be on display including the California Death Pepper, now officially the world’s hottest chilli.
Isle of Wight Garlic Festival, Isle of Wight, England
Kicking up a stink from 20-21 August, this festival celebrating garlic and garlic-flavoured food from sausages to ice cream and beer is a firm favourite of the Isle of Wight summer season. Other entertainment comes in the form of acrobats, strongmen, stunt artists, magic, kids’ shows and live bands and there’s plenty of non garlicky food to tempt those who want to stay kissable.
Hilden Beer festival, Lisburn, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland’s oldest beer festival runs from 26-28 August at the family-run Hilden Brewery outside Lisburn, Ireland’s oldest independent brewery. Attractions at the popular three-day festival include a fantastic range of world beers to sample, live music from top local bands, a barbecue and children’s entertainment.
Ludlow Food Festival, Shropshire, England
Visit this historical corner of Shropshire from 9-11 September and check out 130 top-quality small, independent food and drink producers within the grounds of Ludlow’s Norman castle. Stalls spill out onto the streets of this handsome market town and events include cookery competitions, tutorials and contests judging the best sausages, pork pies, sandwiches and more.
Abergavenny Food Festival, Monmouthshire, Wales
Wales’ growing reputation as a nation of passionate producers and fanatical foodies is nowhere more apparent then in the normally sleepy border town of Abergavenny. From 17-18 September the streets will be bursting with flavour, ringing to the sound of cooking demonstrations and murmuring with appreciation as the Abergavenny Food Festival takes over town. Check out the best local produce, join cookery workshops and indulge in samples and tastings from Wales, the Marches, and further afield.
Autumn Speyside Whisky Festival, Scotland
The crystal waters of the River Spey cleave a landscape of moving beauty that’s home to 13 distilleries producing some of the finest malt whiskies in the world. The Autumn Speyside Whisky Festival takes place in Dufftown from 30 September-3 October and sees tastings and tours at several distilleries that are not normally open to the public. There’s also plenty of entertainment with music, dancing, exhibitions, pipe bands and food and craft fairs.
Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival, East Suffolk, England
Taking place from 23 September-8 October the festival showcases the cream of East Suffolk’s food and drink producers, with plenty of opportunities for you to try before you buy. Other highlights will include cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs, fun food-related activities, workshops, boat trips, bird spotting guided walks and more.
Chilli image via Bert23