It’s often said we’re a nation of homebodies. But it seems we’re also a nation of foodies if new research is anything to go by.
A recent VisitEngland survey found that food is becoming increasingly important to us on our travels. The body found that 26.2million of us said we wanted to go to a food festival on our next holiday. And, the results are hardly surprising when you consider the wealth of scrumptious local produce on offer around Britain.
Visiting a food festival is the perfect way to sample some of the delights grown, made, reared and raised across the country. Here are just a few of the best celebrations of food taking place in Britain this year:
Pembrokeshire Fish Week
Wales is fast becoming one of the world’s leading gastronomic destinations so it’s little surprise this little country hosts more than its fair share of food festivals to celebrate what is on offer on its doorstep. Pembrokeshire Fish Week, at the end of June, offers not just the chance to try fresh fish and shellfish including lobster, mackerel and mussels, but a host of family friendly activities, such as guided beach walks, boat trips and snorkel safaris. In total, there are 150 things to do during this celebration of all things fishy. You can even learn to fly fish as a family – perhaps you might be lucky enough to catch your own supper.
St Ives Food and Drink Festival
Cornwall’s home in the south western tip of the country, surrounded by beautiful coastline, means it has a deserved reputation for serving up some of the best fish dishes in the world. It’s not just about the fish though, or the famous Cornish pasties and cream teas.
At the St Ives Food Festival, which takes place on May 17 and 18, cheese producers, artisan bakers, chocolatiers, farmers, cider makers and micro-breweries come together to provide a true flavour or Cornwall. Held on stunning Porthminster beach, there’s a pop-up kitchen on the sands and you can take part in oyster and Champagne tastings and join in food foraging walks. Parkdean’s St Minver site is a picturesque drive east along the coast from the festival base. And, if you’re staying in a caravan or lodge there, you could always watch chefs from Cornish restaurants giving food demonstrations, buy the ingredients you need and try to recreate the dishes for supper.
Alnwick Food Festival
At the other end of the country, near Northumberland’s dramatic coastline, Alnwick Food Festival draws thousands of visitors to this historic market town, not least because of the regular appearance of Michelin-starred chef Jean-Christophe Novelli. The event, which takes place in September, includes demonstrations and stalls from award-winning local food producers. Even if you’re not visiting at the right time, you’ll find regular farmers’ markets take place in the square. You could take an empty picnic basket with you, fill it with goodies and then head to one of Northumberland’s stunning beaches. The pretty coloured houses, likened to those on Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, of Alnmouth sit behind one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in the country. You can watch the fishing boats bobbing on the estuary as you enjoy freshly baked bread, rare meats and Northumberland nettle cheese.
Crail Food Festival
There are so many food festivals taking place in Scotland, it’s difficult to choose which one to attend. But, while not the biggest by any means, Crail’s festival is certainly one of the most charming. Taking place in mid June in this picture postcard pretty fishing village in Fife, markets are set up along the waterfront and there are cooking demonstrations, talks from chefs, foraging walks and supper clubs. One of the highlights is the Crail Food Trail, where you can try special dishes at the local pubs, cafes and restaurants for just a few pounds. The Honeypot Bed and Breakfast is a good option as it’s right in the centre of Crail and prides itself on serving up the most local of local produce in its café, including crab landed a stone’s throw away at the village harbour.
English Wine Week
Well, with all of that shellfish, cheese and locally-reared meat, you’ll need something to wash it down with. That’s where English Wine Week, at the end of May, comes into its own. Over the week, vineyards and merchants in the south highlight English wines, offering tasting sessions and the chance to get to known English wines a bit better. You could try a two-hour tour of Chiltern Valley Vineyard, which makes a delicious sparkling Reichensteiner, or hop aboard the Sussex Wine Bus Tour, which takes you to two vineyards, making sure you don’t have to worry about who is going to be the designated driver. As the tours finish in Brighton, you could make a night of it by staying at the family run Hotel Una, which provides attentive yet unfussy service.
Wherever you visit in Britain, and wherever you stay, there is delicious local produce just waiting to be tried, and probably a nearby food festival to celebrate it.
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