The English Summer and its new season of produce is upon us, which spells one thing; a fresh crop of brilliant food festivals popping up across the country. From all-out foodie extravaganzas including music and banquets at Port Eliot and Big Feastival, to niche, relaxed fare at the Isle of Wight’s Garlic Festival, whatever your gastronomic preference, Britain has it covered…
Brits know how to put on a fantastic seafood festival and the award-winning Dorset Seafood Festival is a fine example – the largest seafood festival in the country and free to attend. Taking place in Weybridge Harbour, this year it has a focus on cuttlefish and how to cook them. There’s a brilliant range of events and tastings, and talks from everyone from Mitch Tonks to Pete Murt, head chef at Rick Stein. There will also be a lobster and champagne pop-up, demo theatres and stages made from upturned boats!
Getting there: Weymouth in southern England, a two-hour and 45-minute train journey from London - or why not stop by the festival on our Discover South West England rail itinerary?
Port Eliot is the sort of festival that feels like the world’s most magical secret garden party. Set in the rolling Cornish countryside, within the grounds of the quintessentially British Port Eliot House and Gardens, it’s so pretty that Napoleon once claimed it ‘the most beautiful place in England’. The festival is also renowned as a foodie lovers’ favourite with a long list of celebrated chefs attending every year. Taste some of the freshest just-caught fish from the atmospheric fairy-lit Oyster Shack in the walled garden.
Getting there: St. Germans is in Cornwall, south-west England, a three-hour and 40-minute journey from London.
If there ever was a niche food festival, then the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival is it. Celebrating the endless versatility of the little white allium, the Great British Bake Off’s TV star baker Jane Beedle will be among the chefs giving cooking demonstrations and signing books. Of course, it’s not just garlic, there’ll be other delicious local produce on offer, like meats, cheeses, honey and cider. Don’t miss the chance to tickle your taste buds and try some garlic fudge!
Getting there: The Isle of Wight sits four miles off the coast of Hampshire. Portsmouth in Hampshire is an hour and 40-minute train journey from London. Regular ferries run between Portsmouth Harbour and the Isle of Wight.
Every year, Blur’s bassist-turned-cheesemaker Alex James opens up his farm in the Cotswolds for the Big Feastival. The aptly named festival really is a feast for all the senses, as up on the bill of celebrity chefs are Rick and Jack Stein, Antonio Carluccio, Nathan Outlaw, Neil Rankin, Romy Gill and Gizzi Erskine. There’ll be feasts and banquets, a food and drink market, street food, table sessions, a ‘cookaholics’ cookery school and Alex James’ famous double-decker cheese hub.
Getting there: Kingham is in the Cotswolds, an hour and 25-minute train journey from London, or you can visit the beautiful area on our Cotswolds & West Country rail itinerary.