Monday, 28 March 2011


Most of us have been to (or at least heard of) one of the many music festivals around Britain: Glastonbury, Leeds, or Reading, to name but a few. They form a staple go-to for many a student summer holidays. Festival-goers however, have probably never really given a second thought to the glut of food festivals out there. Spread across the country, they cater to whatever food or drink preferences you may have, from chocolate to beer.

Last September, I visited Jimmy’s Harvest Festival, which really opened my eyes to the delights of a food festival. This one – held in Suffolk on Jimmy Doherty’s own farm – was dedicated to food and music (what better combination, I hear you cry!). Harvest at Jimmy’s was a weekend-long delicious and melodic extravaganza with live music alongside cooking demonstrations from some of the greats: Newton Faulkner, Scouting for Girls, Jean-Christophe Novelli, Thomasina Miers and Atul Kochhar, and that’s only for starters.

The food on offer was second to none: from Jamie Oliver’s most scrummy pasta, to my personal favourite, Wahaca’s tangy Mexican market food. A converted barn and well-stocked farm shop finish off this foodie paradise with organic local produce from free-range eggs and rare-breed sausages made all the more delicious with ketchup from Jimmy’s own range of appetizing condiments.

Since my over-indulgent visit to Harvest at Jimmy’s, my search for foodie festivals to whet my appetite has been ongoing. A quick ‘food festival’ Google is enough to display the wealth of food events held far and wide. This month alone, you can feed your sweet tooth at the Chocolate festival at London’s South Bank; pretend you’re on a weekend break in Rome or Venice at La Dolce Vita Italian food and wine festival in Islington or, for the green-fingered among you, learn how to grow your own at the Edible Garden Show in Warwickshire.

In September, Blur bassist Alex James who in recent years has become an award-winning cheese maker, is hosting Harvest’s sister festival at his farm in Gloucestershire. June brings Eat! Newcastle & Gateshead Food & Drink Festival and the BBC Good Food Summer Show in the NEC Birmingham, which offers a food and drink extravaganza with contributions from James Martin as well as the ultimate MasterChef Experience with John Torode and Gregg Wallace.

But if you can’t wait to quell your culinary cravings any longer, a simple visit to London’s Borough Market every Thursday, Friday or Saturday will do the trick. In an aromatic maze of deliciousness located between Borough High Street and the river Thames in South East London, Borough Market is idyllic for any food lover, providing an enormous variety of great British and international produce from pappardelle to potatoes.

So wherever you’re located, whatever the season, there is a foodie event out there to satisfy your taste buds.

Other great gluttonous festivals:

The Great British Beer Festival 2nd-6th August

The Lakes Chilli Fest 13th-14th August

Taste of Edinburgh 1st-3rd July

Georgina Davies

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