Savour the Season: Your Guide to the Best Summer Food Festivals
Tis the season of sun-kissed adventures, balmy evenings, and, most importantly, indulging in an array of delectable dishes at the summer’s best food festivals.
Summer is firmly upon us and, as temperatures rise, so does the excitement surrounding some of the most anticipated events of the year: summer food festivals. Bringing together culinary enthusiasts, food lovers, and curious epicureans to embark on a gastronomic journey like no other, this years' offerings include everything from sizzling street food to fine dining fabulousness.
Pub in the Park
Kicking things off with the biggest of the bunch, Pub in the Park is the brainchild of renowned Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge, so you already know you’re in for a treat. Celebrating the best of British food and drink, this year the food festival is making stops at numerous locations around the UK, with Chiswick and St Albans still to go.
As usual, Kerridge will be joined by a roster of equally incredible chefs – look out for Ainsley Harriott at St Alban's and Si King and Andi Oliver at Chiswick – who will be serving up everything from breakfast classics to evening staples alongside music from excellent acts including Toploader, Gabrielle, and UB40.
Be sure to wear loose-fitting trousers for this one.
Dates: 1-3 September in Chiswick; 8-10 September in St Albans.
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Hampton Court Palace Food Festival
You can eat like a king – quite literally – at Hampton Court Palace’s annual food festival, which opens up its royal grounds every summer for a weekend of deliciously decadent food.
With its traditional English fete vibes, it feels more intimate than some of the other festivals on our list, but its impressive array of activities and entertainment – this year John Clapper, The Estrellas, and Polka Dots Duo will be taking to the bandstand – making it a great day out for both couples and families alike.
As for the food, you’ll find The Grump Dumpling’s Asian-inspired street food, BEYRoots Lebanese dishes and The Horsebox UK’s ‘Posh Toasties’ among the line-up, all designed to be washed down with a crisp glass of wine (or three).
Be sure to take a tour of Henry the VIII’s palace before you leave.
Dates: 26-28 August 2023 at Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey.
Chefs including Ben Wood of Spanish tapas spot Barrafina fame, Masterchef champions Nikita Pathakji and Alex Webb, and Great British Bake Off 2022 winner Syabira Yusoff will be whipping up their signature summer recipes at this year’s events, while budding chefs can learn new skills and sample even more goods in The Chefs Theatre, The Cake & Bake Theatre, The Drinks Theatre and The Kids Cookery Theatre.
In fact, there’s so much great food on offer you’ll struggle to fit it all in. If we were you, though, we’d give it a really good go.
Dates: 4-6 August in Edinburgh; 11-13 August in Glasgow; 26-28 August in Oxford; 8-10 September in Norwich.
A food festival dedicated to (you guessed it) meat, Meatopia’s USP is quality, sustainability and, of course, damn good food. Held at London’s Tobacco Dock, more than 100 of the world’s best live-fire chefs will be on hand to cook up delicious dishes over sustainably-sourced wood and charcoal. This year you can look forward to the likes of Ottolenghi’s Christos Karetsos, Hawksmoor’s Mike Ward and Le Bab’s Ronit Rana, to name a few.
Now celebrating its 10th year, we’re being treated to an extra day of celebrations this year, so there are even more demos, talks and exclusive recipes to look forward to.
Dates: 31 August – 3 September at Tobacco Dock, London.
Abergavenny Food Festival
Shining a spotlight on the gloriousness of Welsh cuisine, the Abergavenny Food Festival was founded by two farmers back in 1999, and today is one of the UK’s leading food festivals.
Showcasing a wide range of workshops and masterclasses, top chefs including Jeremy Lee and Imad Al Arnab will be headlining 2023’s event, where visitors can also enjoy night markets with street food, cooking classes for children and live acoustic music sets.
Don’t leave before the Saturday night party at the castle, which is a thing of legend.
Dates: 16-17 September at Raglan Chambers, Abergavenny.
"The Abergavenny Food Festival was founded by two farmers back in 1999, and today is one of the UK’s leading food festivals."
Ludlow Food Festival
There’s no location more charming for a summer food festival than the grounds of Ludlow Castle, which hosts more than 100 exhibitors during its annual gastronomic event. There’s something for everyone with plenty of meat-based vendors and vegetarian stands alike, while the Real Ale Trail proves popular among punters looking to sample the local pubs’ very best beers. Booze not your thing? Fret not, as the Sausage Trail is equally as tasty.
Elsewhere expect lots of live action cooking plus talks, workshops and masterclasses.
Dates: 8-10 September at Ludlow Castle, Castle Square, Ludlow.
Cocktails in the City
Dubbed the nation’s leading cocktail festival, Cocktails in the City returns to London’s Bedford Square Gardens this summer, with some of the capital’s most accomplished bars showcasing their very best mixology.
Think Henson’s Bar and Social, Blue Bar at The Berkeley and Zetter Townhouse, cocktail connoisseurs can enjoy exclusive new creations, workshops and even the art of ice carving, with Japanese pours, Tiki-style bars and Mexican stands all on site to get the party started.
Expect plenty of sore heads come the next morning.
Dates: 18-19 August and 7-9 September at Bedford Square Gardens, London.