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06th February 2020 Angela Upex

The UK and Ireland’s best food festivals for 2020

The season of outdoor festivals is approaching fast and now’s the time to get tickets for this year’s hottest food festivals, from carnivorous carnivals to vegan. Angela Upex picks the best from the UK and Ireland.

Bishop Auckland Food Festival

Where: Bishop Auckland, County Durham
When: Saturday April 18 and Sunday April 19

The 15th annual Bishop Auckland Food Festival promises to be bigger and better this year and top television chef John Torode will headline the 2020 festival which is organised by Durham County Council.

John, who also presents John and Lisa’s Weekend Kitchen with his wife Lisa Faulkner on ITV, will demonstrate a selection of delicious dishes on the Saturday. John said: “I am really looking forward to coming to Bishop Auckland Food Festival. I have heard great things about the event and the wonderful produce that can be found in the North East. Please come along and say hello. I love to meet people who share my passion for food and cooking”.

This year’s offer looks set to be just as appetising, with organisers preparing an irresistible menu of famous faces, interactive cookery demonstrations, live music, children’s entertainment and more.

Music has always been a popular part of the festival and once again, an eclectic line up of bands and singers will create an uplifting soundtrack to the foodie fun on offer.

Everything you need to know about Durham


Abergavenny Food Festival

Where: Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
When: Saturday September 19 and Sunday September 20

The people of Monmouthshire know how to throw a good party. Every summer, the county comes alive with countless festivals. Of course, there’s the big one, Abergavenny Food Festival, which is a firm favourite in the UK and Ireland culinary calendar.

Called the ‘Cannes of food festivals’, Abergavenny plays host to the best of Welsh, British and international producers for two days every September, alongside a wide variety of top chefs, entertainment, demonstrations and more, all in a beautiful market town nestled amongst the Brecon Beacons.

Over the years, the festival has attracted top food heavyweights such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver, Monica Galetti, Jane Baxter, Jose Pizarro and Valentine Warner, to name but a few. Abergavenny Food Festival was created in 1999 by two local farmers in response to the BSE crisis and the resulting lack of consumer confidence in British produce. And every year it grows in popularity and size.

Everything you need to know about Monmouthshire


Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival

Where: Galway, Ireland
When: Friday September 25 until Sunday September 27

Once a year, Galway holds the International Oyster and Seafood Festival which dates as far back as 1954. These days, the event is one of the biggest on Ireland’s social calendar, drawing thousands of visitors to sample the famous native Galway Oysters at the end of September each year.

Now the festival sees more than 20 competitors, representing countries from all over the world, flock to Galway to vie for the World Championship title. The event lasts for four days and nights where the best seafood is served with wonderful music and a lot of beer.

Everything you need to know about County Galway


Lymington Seafood Festival

Where: Lymington, Hampshire
When: Saturday August 7 11am-8pm and Sunday August 8 11am-6pm

The New Forest is home to some of the finest artisan food producers, chefs and restaurants in the country, and the Lymington Seafood Festival features some of the best at a range of stalls from across the region. There’s two demonstration kitchens – one for the professionals and another where children can explore foodie fun getting their fingers mucky!

Held in historic Georgian market town of Lymington, Bath Road Park boasts glorious sea views across the Solent. Entry is free and each year the festival supports a local charity – this year it’s Sailability. Get set to learn from some of the region’s most exciting chefs, including Masterchef winners Shelina Permalloo and Jane Devonshire.

With over 90 food artisan producers and pop-up restaurants it’s a foodie paradise with over 300 dishes on offer across the weekend with every seafood delicacy possible, from scallops, clams and crab to lobster, oysters, mackerel and much more. There’s also live music and street entertainers to put even bigger smiles on everyone’s faces!

Everything you need to know about Hampshire


Edinburgh Food Festival

Where: Edinburgh, Scotland
When: Friday July 24 until Sunday August 2

With quality Scottish food at the heart of it, the Edinburgh Food Festival is a fantastic introduction for visitors to see just a soupçon of what Scotland’s larder has to offer.

The free festival welcomes visitors of all ages to George Square Gardens, with stallholders offering everything from Alandas Gelato and Fish & Chips (East Lothian) to Jarvis Pickle pies (Berwickshire) and Chick + Pea street food (Edinburgh). Quenching thirsts throughout the five days are a selection popular drinks brands, including Fyne Ales from Argyll.

George Square is Assembly Festival’s main hub and the home of the Edinburgh Food Festival once again. Assembly George Square Gardens houses the festival’s Spiegeltent Palais du Variété, the Piccolo Tent, The Treehouse and a selection of street food vendors and bars.

Everything you need to know about Edinburgh


Ludlow Food Festival

Where: Ludlow, Shropshire
When: Friday September 11 until Sunday September 13

Held each September in the grounds of Ludlow Castle, Ludlow Food Festival is one of the UK’s best food festivals showcasing the very best local food and drink producers from Shropshire and the Marches. Within the castle walls you’ll be able to see great demonstrations and talks, take part in workshops or masterclasses, or you may just like to pick up a tasty morsel or two from the 180-plus exhibitors.

The festival atmosphere spills out across Ludlow’s historic town centre and there is no end of foodie-related events and activities taking place.

Everything you need to know about Shropshire


Whitstable Oyster Festival

Where: Whitstable, Kent
When: TBC

This is a vibrant, family-friendly festival – an homage to the shellfish for which Whitstable is famous – takes place in the town every summer.

The Whitstable Oyster Festival has its roots in Norman times when fishermen held a service of thanksgiving around the feast day of St James of Compostella, considered the patron saint of oystermen. Traditional events at the Whitstable Oyster Festival include the oyster parade, the landing and blessing of the oysters, the ‘mud tug’ and building ‘grotters’ – small candlelit mounds of oyster shells – on the beach at sunset. As well as exhibitions and displays, there are numerous musical and fireworks. Dates for 2020 are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Everything you need to know about Kent


Manchester Food and Drink Festival

Where: Manchester
When: TBC

Celebrating its 23rd year in 2020, Manchester Food and Drink Festival features a street food market, pop-up restaurant and a programme of events stretching right across the city.

The festival has a number of events set around the city’s festival hub in Albert Square so there will be plenty to do and lots to taste.

The event culminates in the annual MFDF Awards and gala dinner, recognising the best of the city’s restaurant and bar industry. The dates for 2020 will be confirmed soon, but it usually takes place in the last week of September and first week of October.

Everything you need to know about Manchester

Image credits: ©Ashleigh Cadet/Ludlow Food Festival; Bishop Auckland Food Festival; David Aylieff-Sansom/Middle of the Road Photography/Lymington Seafood Festival

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