It’s cold and dark outside and, let’s be honest, a good deal more challenging in terms of must-eat seasonal treats than it is in June. But that doesn’t mean the UK food festival calendar takes a break in February. Not a bit of it. Whether you’re based in Bridlington or Bognor, here are five happening food gatherings worth making a beeline for next month:
Rye Bay Scallop Week, East Sussex, 21 Feb – 1 March
While the restaurants around these shores are rarely short on surf-fresh fish and seafood this annual celebration focuses on fat little bivalves, to tie in with the local scallop season. From scallop ravioli to scallop kebabs, participating restaurants will be offering a stomach-orientated paean to the scallop, with special menus, tastings, cookery classes, demos and live music.
Kingussie Food on Film, the Cairngorms, 5 – 8 February
It’s not quite Cannes (you’re better off with a sturdy pair of Brasher boots than Louboutin heels in this part of the world) but this brilliantly community-rooted blend of food films and food eats promises much less pretension and plenty of fun. Film and food pairings range from a showing of The Lunch Box followed by a veggie Indian meal to a screening of Chef! As a side order to a Cuban-themed menu.
The World Marmalade Awards & Festival, Cumbria, 28 Feb – 1 March
This year should be a bumper one for these citrussy awards; not just because they celebrate their 10th anniversary but also because the Paddington blockbuster has shone a rather sticky spotlight back on this neglected preserve. Alongside the judging there will be an artisan food and craft fair, workshops, demos, Fortnum & Mason tea tasting and even a 10K ‘fun’ run.
BITE, The Cotswolds, 2 – 8 February
The month kicks off with this very civilized collection of events across the Cotswolds. From a sausage and cider evening at a cosy country pub to a cocktails and canapés comedy night, a 1940s-themed tea dance and lunch with the Helmsley sisters (main image, above) at a boutique hotel, its wide-ranging programme includes something for most tastes. Not least the one-day food fair on 7 February in Chipping Campden that’s set to be packed with local produce.
Wakefield Festival of Food, Drink & Rhubarb, Yorkshire, 20 – 22 February
Surely one of the best-named food festivals in the country, this one puts pride of place (as you might expect) on Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb – now enjoying PDO status alongside Champagne and Parma ham. Alongside cookery demos, walks, tours and candlelit visits to growers in the local “Rhubarb Triangle” there will also be a dedicated Yorkshire Food Market. Where you can, of course buy the stuff – in jams, pies, chutneys, sweets and au naturel.
Pssst… one more reason to be cheerful in February? National Chip Week takes place in the middle of the month.