Food festivals are great places to discover new products, chefs and foodies. Here are our top UK food festivals and foodie events in May, from a celebration of asparagus to sustainable menus using scraps from restaurants and a Cornish festival on the beach
The market town of Ludlow, among the rolling hills of south Shropshire, is on many a food-minded traveller’s bucket list thanks to its wealth of restaurants, delis, cafes, fish bars and specialist food stores. Time a trip for May and you can enjoy the town’s Spring Festival, too.
Described by its organisers as “like a beer festival but better”, while there are plenty of food producers lined up (Forest Pig Charcuterie and Hilltop Honey among them) and food demos to watch, the main attraction here will be booze. More than 60 brewers will be exhibiting, bringing 200 barrels of real ale between them, as well as Gun Dog Gin, Halfpenny Green Vineyards’ English wines and local cider brewers.
The Leeds Indie Food Festival is now in it’s third year, and between May 11 and May 28 there will be almost 100 events taking place! It’s a celebration of the independent food and drink scene in Leeds, and highlights include meet the brewer events; modern beer exhibitions; chocolate masterclasses; a special menu from the team at Bundobust; and entertainment including brass bands, a circus and a craft fair.
Check out the Leeds Indie Food Festival website (it’s brilliant) for loads more information, including how to get your hands on a festival passport for £11.
London Craft Week rolls into the capital this week with a programme of imaginative food and drink events among its talks, workshops, exhibitions and films. These range from a whisky-tasting organised by Bruichladdich to a knife-sharpening event at Blenheim Forge in Peckham, a Dark Danish Dinner at Spring restaurant (diners will eat from Christine Rolands’ inky ceramic tableware) and a nine-course kaiseki dinner cooked by chef Yoshinori Ishii at his restaurant Umu.
We also like the sound of Scandinavian restaurant Aquavit’s partnership with Flow Gallery; the restaurant will host a three-course dinner served on specially commissioned plates designed by Flow’s three Nordic ceramicists – Finland’s Anna Kantanen, Sweden’s Maria Kristofersson, and Lars Soendergaard from Denmark – in celebration of Nordic craft and food.
We Brits love our niche food festivals, and this two-month celebration of asparagus is one of the best. Kicking off on St George’s Day with a Great British Asparagus Run (a giant round of asparagus will be carted up and down the country to prestigious British landmarks), the festival’s varied programme also promises an Asparabus coach tour (stopping off at asparagus fields, farm shops and for an asparagus-themed lunch) and a even an asparagus auction. The celebration culminates in an Asparafest music and food festival in early June.
River Cottage is celebrating the late May bank holiday with a spring food fair. Sit in the site’s beautiful gardens to enjoy a stream of entertainment while grazing your way through local cheeses and charcuterie, street food (try burgers from Good Games, crepes from Little Van Rouge and pulled pork from Trill Farm), local ciders and seasonal cocktails. Explore the gardens in more depth on a foraging tour with River Cottage guru John Wright, or bring the family along and join in various child-friendly activities.
If you’re after a sit-down gourmet experience, sign up for a Farmhouse Feast at River Cottage farmhouse’s pop-up restaurant. And don’t miss the fair’s programme of cookery demos – catch Signe Johansen, Mark Hix, Tom Hunt and more for some top tips.
The Cornish town of St Ives will be celebrating the area’s produce and restaurant scene over two days in mid-May. Nathan Outlaw, Jose Pizarro and Jack Stein will take to Porthminster beach to guide festival-goers through demos, while around 60 artisans will showcase local food and drink.
Enjoy street food from Choccy Churros, Jumunjy Thai cuisine and Elseafood then walk along the beach, or hike up along the neighbouring cliffs.
Acclaimed chef Skye Gyngell, of restaurant Spring, is teaming up with Photo London to put on a four-day feast at Somerset House’s New Wing this May.
Not your average pop-up restaurant, diners at this one will be eating in aid of a good cause; Skye’s three-course set menu has been designed to unite people from different backgrounds to tackle food waste. Collaborating with farmers, producers and other chefs, Skye will collect seasonal scraps (think stalks, seeds and roots) to create a unique “Scratch Menu” each day.
Make the most of the early May bank holiday weekend, and head to the annual Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink. The popular three day event, now in its 14th year, is taking place in the centre of Exeter in the beautiful Northernhay Gardens and grand surroundings of Exeter Castle. Featuring more than 100 producers from the region, visitors can look forward to an array of the best in South West food and drink and great live music from local musicians throughout the weekend.
With over 30 top chefs taking part, 7 of which are Michelin-starred, there will be live cookery demonstrations taking place in the Festival Cookery Theatre. And for some hands-on workshops and family activities, make sure to stop by the Dart’s Farm Food is Fun Teepees and learn how to make pizza in a wood fired oven or let the kids have a go at cupcake and biscuit decorating.
Yorkshire’s foodie haven – Malton is holding its 9th annual food lovers festival this May with a focus on all things local. There’ll be a bar stocking Yorkshire ales and ciders as well as spirits from Sloe Motion – a Yorkshire gin producer. You can watch cookery demonstrations by local chef and Great British Menu contestant Stephanie Moon as well as Prue Leith and Levi Roots. Should you fancy some more international flavours, check out the street food stalls offering food from all over the globe.