August and September are busy months within the calendar of food festivals, and who would believe that somewhere above the swathes of grey British cloud sits the latter half of a summer.
Despite the rain and below-average summer temperatures, it’s never too dull to celebrate food and drink at one of the many food festivals happening up and down the country this year.
Why we Love Food Festivals
The temperature is hot in the kitchen this summer, and we love food festivals at Citreus Catering. We’ve got plenty planned for our guests this year, and our usual blend of culinary charm is on display at some spectacular locations across the region.
Event catering – https://citreuscatering.co.uk/event-catering-citreus-events-and-weddings-east-midlands/ – allows us to delight attendees with impeccable food diversity. Food festivals offer us an opportunity to showcase our unique quality within beautiful surroundings that adds to the event experience and creates a memorable occasion for all the family to enjoy.
Food festivals also allow for the collaboration between chef and host, bringing about the perfect dining combination of quality cuisine, consumed within unique surroundings.
Eating was once a mundane experience just to satisfy hunger within a daily routine of survival but the role of food has now changed, and we are witnessing a revolution of dining experiences designed to heighten the senses.
The rise of foodie culture has sparked a shift towards new and exciting ways to experience the finest cuisines – https://www.lightspeedhq.co.uk/blog/foodie-culture-impact-2/ – and since the phrase ‘foodie culture’ was coined in the 1980s by American food critic Gael Greene – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gael_Greene – well-planned and successfully marketed food festivals are pulling in massive crowds.
Food festivals are all about trying something new, sampling what life has to offer, and here is what to expect for the remainder of the summer and beyond…
Food Festivals Related to Food Culture
Food Festivals are now part of a vast food tourism industry of which Citreus Catering is proud to be part – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_festival.
As we will see, food tourism plays an important role in international tourism as a whole, supporting local industries by attracting tourists to otherwise less popular localities and promoting products and services from outside of larger urban areas with their homegrown harvests.
Local produce now gives an event-based excuse to visit remote areas and helps turn a destination into a brand – https://holmeswilliamscc.com/brilliant-branding-hwcc-blog/ .
Great British Food Festivals
The food takes the ambience to a new state of consciousness as critics describe https://greatbritishfoodfestival.com as the ‘foodie’s perfect day out’.
This small family business has hosted over 100 events at top locations since 2010, and days are still available throughout August and September.
Not for Vampires
If you like a happy atmosphere as much as Russ Abbott, Countryfile can inspire your walk with a day out at some of the best food festivals in the country. Check out their list of recommendations here – https://www.countryfile.com/go-outdoors/days-out/best-food-festivals-uk/.
One of the events listed by Countryfile is the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival. The garlic connoisseurs will be familiar with the Gilroy Garlic Festival, Gilroy, California –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilroy_Garlic_Festival – that was hosted from 1979 until last year, when it announced its permanent suspension. The festival was inspired by a quote from a small, French village claiming to be the garlic capital of the world.
Slightly less boastful, the Isle of Wight cooks up a vibrant affair with music and produce from the island’s multi-award-winning garlic farm.
Plant yourself here from 19th-20th August this year and you’ll find yourself rooted in an anti-vampire event that will throw all things garlic at you, from garlic beer to garlic fudge and ice cream.
Where there’s smoke…
Where there’s smoke there’s probably a BBQ, and summer isn’t complete until the BBQ has been put through its paces.
As far as food festivals go, the pancreas-punishing Smoke and Fire Food Festival over the August bank holiday is one for all the family – https://www.smokeandfirefestival.com/bbq-festival-east/.
It’s a BBQ appreciation weekend with, and I quote, an ‘open freestyle BBQ championships, a myriad of award-winning street food traders, international pitmasters and fire cooks set to elevate your BBQ appreciation’.
There are international DJs to spin the beats, a dedicated kids’ zone with rides and bouncy stuff, and camping is available for those who want to take full advantage of the integral mini ale and cider festival with local brews on offer.
Saintly Food Festivals
Bury St Edmunds is the home of Saint Edmund, the original Patron Saint of England. In medieval times, the wealth and majesty of The Abbey of St Edmund drew crowds from all over Europe.
Today, Bury St Edmunds is known as the foodie capital of Suffolk, and this month the crowds will be flocking to the Bury St Edmunds Food and Drinks Festival, from August 27th.
Slave trading company Greene King – Pub chain and insurance hub ‘sorry’ for slave links – BBC News – has been brewing in the region for 200 years so expect the availability of their local brews to help wash down the award-winning grub, enjoyed in beautiful, historic surroundings with a culture of theatre, music and art.
Did Someone Say, Foodie?
If you are feeling blue, hit the Norwich Foodies Festival in Norwich – Norwich – Foodies Festival .
Home to Alan Partridge and The Canaries, Norwich is throwing a bit of a bash over three exciting days in September.
With live music from boy band Blue, Toploader, and an Abba tribute act on the final day, this is a summer signature recipe not to be scoffed at.
Starting on August 8th, for three days, this is one of the food festivals we recommend for those wanting to see Michelin-starred chefs and top local chefs in action.
Food Festivals in the Bath
There is nothing dirty about this weekend. Set later in the summer, Bath hosts one of the season’s last food festivals to celebrate the best food and drink of the South West – The Great Bath Feast 22nd – 24th September 2023.
Appealing to culinary connoisseurs everywhere, there will be MasterChef champion of champions, Ping Coombs, Michelin-starred Chris Cleghorn and legendary English chef, writer and restauranteur Mark Hix – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Hix .
The Great Bath Feast is a great end to the summer. There will be chef demonstrations, live music, book signings, fun for the kids, and as much street food as you can point a large fork at, and it’s in the beautiful city of Bath, Somerset.
If food, drink and culture are your thing, this is one for the diary.
Viva La Food Festival
Nobody celebrates food and drink like the Spanish, and if you really do want to escape from the British summer and leave the rain at home, see if you can stand the heat in Spain.
Food Festivals in Spain are just like those in England but with the heat turned up – https://allexciting.com/festivals-in-spain/– and you get the culture, the food and the drink with the added benefit of cheaper prices and extra Vitamin D thrown in for free.
It’s probably too late for the preparations but if you are lucky enough to catch San Sebastian’s Semana Grande – https://allexciting.com/great-week-san-sebastian/ – you are in for a big week of celebratory fuss in the form of fireworks, food, fun in the sun, and beach volleyball.
Semana Grande (Big/Great Week) celebrates Virgin’s Day on the dramatic north coast. They looked at doing a similar day in England but they struggled to find provincial towns with an over-abundance of virgins.
The resort town of San Sebastian, set in the mountainous Basque region, already has a reputation for outstanding food and drink but San Sebastian is culturally dynamic, being voted the European Capital of Culture in 2016 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Capital_of_Culture.
If you can’t make this month’s food festival, there is the annual film festival in September and then, in January, there is the feast of San Sebastian where, for 24 hours, the city is filled with the sound of drums – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamborrada .
It’s the most celebrated festival of the year for the locals and is renowned for being one of the best food festivals in the world.
When a Summer Full of Food Festivals Just isn’t Enough
We’ve asked it before but who doesn’t like Italian food? The Italians are so confident that they can hold a festival every month of the year – https://www.italyfoodies.com/blog/12-months-of-food-festivals-in-italy .
No shortage of fruit and veg in Italy, they are throwing half a metric tonne of oranges at each other, celebrating a 12th Century skirmish, north of Turin, in February.
The food fight lasts for three days but not everything goes to waste as February’s Battle of Oranges is a real treat for gourmands looking to try fagioli grassi capunet, (tasty beans, stewed and cooked with pork), salam duja (Pork salami served in lard) and Itlay’s famous toma cheese – https://www.cheese.com/toma/ .
The festivals start in Sicily on January 6th to celebrate Montelepre’s traditional Sicilian sweet treat, sfincia di priescia which, if typically Sicilian, will contain lemon and an abundance of olive oil.
If you’re familiar with Sicily you will know how great the food is on the island. Even a snack on a Sicilian beach consists of wine, lemons and seafood for less than the price of a cod from a Nottinghamshire fish and chips shop. (Warning: prices will increase if the locals are aware that you have arrived on a cruise ship).
Sicily is largely volcanic – there is always something erupting – and this adds to the fertility of the land which brings forth a bounty of deliciousness, and this is probably why the island hosts several food festivals within the Italian food calendar.
Drop by the Piazza Principe di Piemonte to share this uniquely shaped pastry with the town’s citizens.
And, to end, the festivals join in a crescendo with widespread Christmas food festivals right across the country, so expect lots of mulled wine and wild boar in Tuscany.
Like a Magnet to the Glutton
We couldn’t leave without mentioning French food festivals but, before we move on to the best food festivals in France, I have to point out that America’s food culture has moved on from the gluttonous affair experienced at all-you-can-eat buffets, and the USA has a proud, sophisticated foodie culture within its churning, capitalist bosom that has captured the attention of the critics.
As you can imagine from the sheer vastness of the country, each state literally has dozens of food festivals, mostly overlapping and becoming one. New Jersey, Florida and California have dozens of food festivals, keeping the agricultural community alive and prosperous.
With no concerns over a Brexit supply chain, America is the land of plenty when it comes to food festivals. To give you some idea, check out this list of festivals, just for the state of Florida – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_festivals_in_Florida#Food_festivals .
A couple of food festivals that stand out are the Florida Seafood Festival (the state’s oldest food festival) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Seafood_Festival and the Florida Strawberry Festival which was conceived almost 100 years ago and just sounds awesome. In fact, the Florida Strawberry Festival sounds so good that I’m surprised Prince never wrote a song about it – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Strawberry_Festival .
If you are East Coast inclined, the New York Food and Wine Festival in October might sound like the ultimate American food festival.
Although it claims to be a family-friendly event, it does warn that most aspects are 21+ here.
It’s such a massive event that Capital One cardholders receive a discount and it must be expensive because you can pay for the event in instalments (WTF?).
There is a walk-around tasting experience which sounds detrimental to anyone restricting their calories, and top NYC chefs participate in the festivities.
There is apparently ‘no better experience for food and wine lovers’ than the ‘Grand Tasting Package’ – https://nycwff.org/tour/ .
This event sounds so exciting, decadent, and ridiculous at the same time that I’m surprised Matt Groening hasn’t written a Simpsons episode around the event, whereby Homer is found floating in the Hudson River on a raft of empty plates, a week later.
French Food Festivals
And as you’d expect, the French know a thing or two about Food Festivals. In fact, the French probably invented the idea –
Lemon festivals, a 15,000-egg omelette and, of course, France couldn’t be complete without an onion festival.
Around the middle of this month, the pretty harbour town of Roscoff, Brittany, celebrates its famous export: the humble onion – AOP Oignon de Roscoff – site officiel .
There are 300 authentic years behind pink French onions and Roscoff will do anything to thwart its post-Brexit export issues.
If you can’t wait for your onions to be delivered get your fix on a ferry and take the short crossing to the Roscoff Food Festival.
Later this month and further south in Provence, the town of Solliès-Pont in the Var’s Gapeau Valley produces about 2,500 tons of the fruit each year – about 75% of France’s entire fig harvest – and, yep, you’ve guessed it, a fig festival arises from within the bowels of the valley and unleashes its fresh harvest in the form of one of France’s finest food festivals, offering jams, tarts, liqueurs and all things fig.
Also, in Provence, about an hour inland from Saint-Tropez, the little town of Collobrières, set in the Massif des Maures’ cork oak and chestnut forest, celebrates its chestnut harvest for three Sundays in October where it collaborates to make a chestnut-based daube stew – made with wild boar to help thin out the numbers of the pesky pig that continue to ravage the land.
It’s a beautiful setting for wonderful food at a glorious time of the year, with parades, concerts and a market selling a wide variety of chestnut products from sweet chestnut paste to liqueur.
Several producers roast chestnuts over braziers, leading to a delicious aroma filling the air. Local restaurants set out their tables on the street under the yellowing plane trees to help showcase their expertise.
Fête de la Dinde, Licques, Hauts -de -France – Mid-December
The tiny town of Licques has been famous for its poultry since the local abbey’s monks began rearing turkeys in the 17th century. The poultry production for such a small town, an hour from Calais, is something only Bernard Matthews could revere.
Each year, the locals and its 80 poultry producers (of a population of just over 1,600) celebrate its turkey history with la potée, the hotpot – a huge cauldron warmed by a fire pit containing tasty, warming turkey soup.
Local producers parade their turkeys like VW campervan owners at an adventure convention. They bring their live turkeys to show off and allow excited children to herd them up the street to their slaughter, anxiously awaiting to see their favourite protein-filled bird’s flesh in a pot.
A parade of brotherhoods (guilds), representing other regional food specialities, stop with the crowds for mulled wine intoxication, prior to drunken alliteration and spicy chicken wings from the stalls that line the way.
The ensemble gathers in a huge marquee where they feast on roast turkey and chips. The local food market allows attendees to stock up for the festive period and offers the obligatory French trio of poultry, cheese and wine.
Although we have only touched upon the multitude of internationally renowned food festivals, we would just like to point out what makes a great food festival.
Everyone has their own tastes but it goes without saying that the best food festivals all seem to have something in common.
What 5 ingredients do the best food festivals all have in common?
- Marketing – to draw the crowds people need to know about the event. Good PR builds a brand and awareness and the biggest events probably need to go beyond the basics of social media.
You’ll probably need a website and printed leaflets as part of a campaign that builds over several months to allow everyone to prepare for the event and put the date in their diaries.
- Live Music – no matter what the event, whether in a field or a castle, live music is always a crowd-puller. Most food festivals will give their event a theme and mention the headline act almost immediately, often before the chefs!
Event managers know that a big name is likely to seal the deal when eating your favourite food with friends and family, so famous chefs and celebrity musicians are a great combination.
The musicians don’t have to be megastars.
You don’t need Ed Sheeran or Lauryn Hill to plan an event. Chefs and musicians with a good, local reputation work particularly well.
For instance, any food festival or event in Padstow will indubitably drop the name ‘Rick Stein’ into the marketing, even if he’s not doing the cooking – but perhaps fail to mention that the famous Chef and restaurateur once ran a quayside nightclub as a student, where local fisherman would frequently brawl into the early hours – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Stein .
- Inclusivity – make the event stand out and encompass everything concerned, and always include something for the kids.
- Diversity – we love the fact that Citreus Catering can diversify and play to the tune of an event. The top chefs step up and deliver their quality on any level, at any time, regardless of the occasion or the location.
- Unique Theme – we touched upon some pretty unique food festivals – from garlic, strawberries and turkey – and there is always a great starting point for any food festival. Direct questions should be asked of an event: What is it that makes the food unique? Why should people travel from miles away to sample the food? What is the history of the location?
The history, culture, local industry and geography all tell a story that should be purveyed to the audience.
People love stories, and a great story around the theme provides a reason for a festival. Regardless of the event, a relatable story always goes down like an ice cream at a kids’ dessert festival.
Booking Food Festivals
As Delicious Magazine reminds us – 90+ food festivals happening in the UK this summer – delicious. magazine (deliciousmagazine.co.uk) – don’t forget to check travel well in advance as events may be subject to change.
And, if you are looking for a professional catering team at your event, contact us for more details – https://citreuscatering.co.uk/outdoor-catering-citreus-events-weddings-east-midlands/