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 gastro pubs to a cheese festival in London
Looking for food festivals to visit in May? Here’s our round-up of the best food festivals taking place this month, from a crab festival in Devon to a celebration of independent foodies in Yorkshire. Check out all of the events, here…
London Wine Week
DrinkUp.London is back with its annual celebration of the capital’s best wine bars. Purchase a £10 pass online to unlock tonnes of deals across London – from £5 wine tasting flights, wine and snack pairings, to full-blown dinners.
Here are our top five London Wine Week deals to try with the pass:
Vinoteca, Marylebone – tasting flight of rosé wines from England, Provence and Spain – £5
Hawksmoor, Borough – glass of Oloroso sherry with three of Hawksmoor’s bone marrow oysters – £11
28° – 50°, Marylebone – tasting flight of Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire, New Zealand and Bordeaux – £5
Humble Grape, Battersea – tasting flight of sparkling wines from Veneto, Alsace and South Africa – £5
Vagabond, Charlotte Street– tasting flight of Vagabond’s signature wines, including a Portuguese vinho verde, a Spanish red and a French rosé – £5
Grab one of Leeds Indie Food Festival’s passports to gain priority event access and special discounts at this celebration of independent food and drink. The Real Junk Food Emporium brings you an innovative ‘pay-as-you-feel’ (PAYF) supermarket on Boar Lane which, in a bid to reduce the enormity of food wasted every day in the UK, redistributes surplus and waste food from around Leeds.
Coffee lovers can head to the Oatly Latte Art Throwdown to watch and participate in oat milk latte art contests at Leeds’ Stage Expresso & Brew Bar, while those who want something a little stronger can sample the best of local and international craft beer from breweries including Northern Monk, Verdant and Camden Town. If tacos and cocktails are more your style, visit The Dilla Deli’s vegan Mexican pop-up.
Following the success of Marlow’s Pub in the Park, which debuted last May, the festival is touring Bath, Tunbridge Wells and Knutsford to showcase a selection of the UK’s best gastropubs and chefs. The first event kicks off this month on home ground in Higginson Park, Marlow, as Tom Kerridge joins a line-up of chefs to bring you top pub grub along with live music and cooking demonstrations.
Paul Ainsworth, Stephen Terry and Josh Eggleton will be among the line-up, showcasing their skills on stage, while pubs The Pony & Trap, The Coach and The Crown at Bray will be serving up a special festival menu including BBQ pulled tacos, beef biltong chilli and sriracha and sesame chicken fried bao. If you can’t make the Marlow event, check the website for details of the Bath festival in June, Tunbridge Wells in July and Knutsford in September.
One for cheese lovers, this three-day festival taking place in east London is a chance to discover a selection of the UK’s best cheesemakers, cheesemongers and street food chefs. There will be talks, tasting and demos across the two days, including the art of cheddar with Quickes and how to eat cheese, led by the Academy of Cheese.
Somerset-based Trethowan’s Dairy and Suffolk’s Fen Farm Dairy will be showcasing their farmhouse Caerphilly and raw milk farmhouse brie, while The Cheese Truck will be serving up grilled cheese sandwiches across the weekend.
Cambridge’s annual food and drink festival is returning for a day of celebrations followed by two-weeks of events. Taking place on Saturday 19th, the main event will see a line-up of talks including ‘Seasonal produce – at home and abroad’ with Rosie Sykes and Rachel Roddy and ‘Taking cheese off the cheeseboard’ with Suzannah Watson of Hum-Closen. Over the next two weeks there’ll be supper clubs, masterclasses and street food markets.
Head to this Cornish coast in May for a weekend of chef demos, live music and food from local producers. Based on Porthminster beach, the cookery stage will see the likes of Jeremy Pang, Henrietta Inman and Romy Gill cooking up a feast, while the market area will bring together food and drink producers including Brew Cornwall, Freda’s peanut butter and River Amble Creamery. Be sure to try paella from Thyme & Tide, or pick up souvlaki to eat on the seafront.
Salcombe Crab Festival, or ‘Crabfest’, takes its name from the famous Cancer Pagurus crabs, which are caught off the south Devon coast. Bringing seafood fans together to sample the local catch and take part in crab-picking masterclasses and cookery demos, the festival celebrates all things pescatorial.
This year, learn cookery secrets from the likes of Freddy Bird, Allister Bishop and Jane Devonshire before sampling ales from Salcombe Brewing Co. and sourdough pizzas from World Pizza.
Join the likes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Anna Jones and Ren Behan for a weekend of food events on the farm at this year’s River Cottage Food Fair. Masterclasses include wood-fired meat cooking, bread and butter creation and pasta-making for kids.
If you fancy something a little different, why not attend one of ‘Fermentation Queen’ Tiffany Jesse’s introductory workshops? You’ll leave understanding the art of lacto-fermenting vegetables (and its benefits), as well as owning a jar of your own home-made sauerkraut.
Held on one Thursday each month, Hull’s Zebedee’s Yard and Trinity Market are filled with food traders serving up a feast. KerbEdge will be flipping burgers including their Yorkshire blue topped with crumbled cheese and streaky bacon while gastro pop-up Shoot the Bull will be dishing up macaroni and cheese topped with crispy onions and smoked bacon cream. Wash it down with a tropical IPA (made in Hull’s own micro-brewery) from the Yorkshire Brewing Co.
Head to the Harewood estate in Yorkshire and enjoy a tasting menu, eaten in some of the hidden corners not usually accessible to the public. Executive chef Josh Whitehead has created a menu that makes the most of the Harewood produce to be enjoyed in the grounds over four nights. The ingredients used will be grown, foraged and reared at the estate, including lamb from a flock of Hebridean black sheep.
Yorkshire’s foodie haven, Malton, is holding its 10th annual Food Lovers Festival this May with a focus on all things regional. 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 chefs Tommy Banks, Andrew Pern and James Mackenzie. And, should you fancy some more international flavours, check out the street food stalls offering dishes from all over the globe.
If you’re keen to sate your thirst for food knowledge, book your place at The School of Artisan Food’s Food for Thought series of topical food talks by industry experts.
Taking place over one weekend you can book just for a day or for both days, catching the likes of Nisha Katona (founder of Mowgli Street Food), Robyn Eckhardt (author of Istanbul and Beyond) and Adam Balic (microbiologist, geneticist and chicken expert) as they debate and discuss the food topics of the day.
Held in a tented village at Hay-on-Wye, on the edge of the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park, Hay Festival brings together film, literature and food.
This year’s event aims to showcase a series of events focusing on the sustainability of food production and supply, and how we should continue to change our practices to better the future. Book early to hear Ruth Rogers in conversation with Rosie Boycott as well as Minette Batters talking to Rob Yorke about the UK’s future food and nature post-Brexit.
Having been left with plenty of food for thought, make time to visit the food hall for vegan falafels from Falafel Mama, buckwheat galettes from La Bonne Crepe or Souvlaki from Meat & Greek.
The UK’s largest dedicated cheese fair welcomes you to enjoy a host of cheese-themed events across one weekend in Melton Mowbray. Workshops cater both for novices and experts. If you fall into that first category you’ll want to catch Tasting Cheese – A Beginners Guide. This class is designed to help you understand all the different varieties of cheese and includes tutored tastings of goat’s cheese.
Over 60 cheesemakers will be bringing their produce to the festival this year, including Isle of Mull cheddar and Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese.
Make the most of the early May bank holiday weekend by heading to Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink. This popular three-day event, now in its 15th year, is taking place in the centre of the city, in beautiful Northernhay Gardens and the grand surroundings of Exeter Castle. With over 100 regional producers taking part, visitors can look forward to a real slice of the south west, as well as live music from local artists.
As for the food, expect live cookery demonstrations in the Festival Cookery Theatre as well as the chance to try local produce (keep an eye out for rhubarb crumble flapjacks from Tavistock-based bakery Flapjackery, and pork and smoked chilli sausage rolls from Little Jack Horner’s). For hands-on workshops and family activities, make sure to stop by Darts Farm’s Food is Fun Teepees and learn how to make pizza in a wood-fired oven.
On the last May bank holiday weekend, London’s Southbank will play host to a celebration of Spanish cuisine and culture. The event, inspired by the fairs of southern Spain, will include live music and Flamenco dancing for a party atmosphere. Stalls will be serving tapas, tortillas, croquetas and churros, all washed down with regional wines. Fino producer Tio Pepe will be hosting a series of sherry masterclasses over the weekend, too.
Borough Market will be hosting the British Cured Meat Festival and Awards at the end of the month, featuring cured meat demonstrations, live panel debates and artisan workshops. Hosted by Ed Smith, of Rocket & Squash, events range from pie-making techniques with Calum Franklin to ham-carving with Jose Pizarro.
Free masterclasses from Jascots Wine Merchants and Fourpure Brewery will cover how to pair cured meats with drinks and, if all the listening gets you feeling hungry, grab a slice of pizza from Pizza Pilgrims or a Greek pita wrap with goat kofta and tzatziki from Gourmet Goat.
Niklas Ekstedt x Roth Bar & Grill – The Lost Art of Cooking
For one night only, Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt will be joining the kitchen at Somerset’s Roth Bar & Grill and, together with head chef Steve Horrell, cooking a dinner that celebrates the heritage of foraged and fire-cooked food. The menu includes carrot, cold-pressed rapeseed oil and buckwheat as well as hay-flamed arctic char, salsify, beets, chervil and breadcrumbs and tickets must be booked in advance.