Tucking into some celebrated local food is one of the best things about taking a break in the UK. Whether you’re trying out haggis for the first time, heading back to a well-loved haunt to taste those out-of-this-world sausages again or sinking your teeth into the juiciest ever apple, we’ve got a mind-boggling menu of food to explore.
And with a growing number of food festivals springing up all across the country – from big international fairs to small specialist shows – there’s never been a better time to treat your taste buds.
We’ve put together a food festival map that gives you a month-by-month to some of the best events around the country. So dive in and start planning your tasty getaway today…
FOR CHEESE LOVERS
The Big Cheese, Caerphilly, July
Famous as the home of crumbly cheese and one of Europe’s largest castles, Caerphilly in South Wales knows how to put on a party. With a funfair, re-enactments, folk music, minstrels and troubadours bringing a real buzz to the streets, get stuck into all the delicious cheeses and other foodie treats on offer to make sure you’ve got enough energy to keep up.
International Cheese Show, Nantwich, July
If you’re serious about your Cheddar, Cheshire and Cornish, there’s nowhere better to pay homage to the big cheeses of the dairy world. 5,000 entries from over 25 countries compete for the prestigious awards on offer and after a day of judging the giant marquee opens to public, so you can sample the best.
For meat lovers
Grillstock, Bristol, July
For a fired-up celebration of all things barbecued, follow the crowds to Bristol’s historic harbourside. Prove your meat-eating muscle in a hot wing eating contest, try out meaty delicacies from the King of the Grill winners or just kick back with a beer and a burger and listen to the bands rock out. And if you’ve got any room left, head off to explore the city’s wealth of other foodie hotspots.
The Great Framlingham Sausage Fest, October
What makes the best banger is a hotly debated topic. And if you love the idea of taking to the trail of tasting venues to help judge who should be crowned Sausage Champion, then this market town in Suffolk should be right at the top of your autumn trip list. Besides bangers there’s all sorts of street entertainment to enjoy on the day, plus a cracking castle and lovely surrounding countryside to explore by bike or on foot.
For veg lovers
Vegfest, Brighton, March
In a world where the vegetarian options on many menus only usually run to risotto or veggie lasagne, this two-day vegan gathering is a must for non-meat-eaters. One of the biggest festivals of its kind in Europe, Vegfest shines a spotlight on global vegan cuisine with cookery demos, stalls, a food village and a programme of talks for everyone from the curious to the committed.
British Asparagus Festival, Vale of Evesham, May & June
What began as an idea over a pint at the famous local asparagus auctions has grown into an all-out extravaganza giving these delicious green spears legendary status. Over several weeks in early summer, you’ll find asparagus-themed fun runs, music festivals, tours and, of course, food events where you can praise the great vegetable in the most fitting way – by tucking into a plateful.
For seafood lovers
Arbroath Sea Fest, August
Held on the seafront overlooking the North Sea, everything about this Scottish festival pays homage to the area’s maritime heritage and, in particular, the famous Arbroath Smokie. They’ve been smoking line-caught haddock over hardwood round here for generations and this is a great opportunity to get a taste of the real thing, as well as enjoying the general knees-up in the harbour.
Falmouth Oyster Festival, October
If you only think of Cornwall as a summer holiday hotspot, this four-day festival – celebrating the start of the oyster season and the particular delicacies native to the Fal estuary – is a great excuse to consider an autumn break. There’ll be working boat races, shucking competitions, fine Cornish produce and plenty of music and dancing to keep you entertained.
For acquired taste lovers
The World’s Original Marmalade Awards & Festival, Cumbria, March
For some, there’s nothing better to slather on a hot piece of toast than a thick layer of glistening marmalade. If you’re one of the orangey preserve’s self-confessed fans, then making the pilgrimage to Dalemain Mansion in Cumbria must surely be on your bucket list. You could even join in and battle it out with over 2,000 home marmalade makers from all over the world for the prestigious Best-in-Show award.
Pontefract Liquorice Festival, July
Do you have a strangely sweet tooth for this dark candy delight? Plan your trip to Yorkshire to take in the market town of Pontefract and you’ll be able to indulge your love of liquorice in a place famous for its confectionary history. Enjoy tastings, music, a funfair, liquorice-themed talks and even try a pint or two of the ever-popular liquorice stout.
Make sure to check out our festival food map for more!