Summer wouldn’t be complete without one foodie festival making its mark on your calendar. And, luckily, there are loads to choose from. So, leave the wellies and wet wipes at home, says ABI HACK. Instead, grab a fork, pick the stretchiest waistband you own, and get your eat and drink on, because here’s what we have to look forward to in the Cotswolds…
The Cotswolds is well famed for its eccentricities, and that doesn’t stop when it comes to food festivals. Sure, we have all the basics covered, but where else could you get Dizzee Rascal alongside Deliciously Ella, Morris Dancers next to Milestone Ales, Groove Armada buddying up to Gastronaut Live presenter, Stefan Gates?
First on the agenda is the Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival (12-14 June). Held in the town’s pretty Montpellier Gardens, this event brings together food and drink from across the country. In the Joseph & Kingsley Kitchen Theatre, big names such as Jean-Christophe Novelli and Mark Lloyd – alongside local chefs from the Cookery School at Daylesford, Montpellier Chapter, the East India Café, Prego Broadway, The Five Alls and the King’s Head in Cirencester – will be hosting live demos and sharing some of their top tips for the kitchen.
As well as typically British cuisine, Beronia Txoko Club (Spanish), Turtle Bay (Caribbean) and Richard Bertinet (Bath’s most famous French baker) will be providing food and knowledge from slightly further afield. For the bakers and creatives amongst you, Xavier Pelloux will also be there with his contemporary cake designs, while Stefan Gates, presenter of Gastronaut Live and explorer of weird and wonderful cuisines (including insects!), will be bringing together the wonders of food and science to end the festival with a (presumably big) bang: he is known for his exploding ingredients, after all.
In amongst this mountain of talent, you will even be able to find the kids holding their ground, as Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival plays host to the 2015 Junior Chef Competition final (our editor Laura’s judging). The International Wine Theatre (that one’s definitely for the adults) will be running a series of interactive and educational courses, too, while the local and regional produce on sale means the foodie fun doesn’t have to end when you leave.
Come 4-5 July, The Cotswold Show and Food Festival makes an appearance on the summer calendar. Whetting our appetite for a second year in a row, after its success in 2014, The Cotswold Show is now expanding its Food Festival with top local talent including Francesco Volgo (of The Gumstool Inn at Calcot Manor), Andrew Kojima (MasterChef finalist and Crumbs columnist), Jake Mitchell (Seven Mile Cookery School), Matthew Beardshall (Wild Garlic), Russell Loades (Graze), Dave Watts (King’s Head), Ivor Peters (Urban Rajah), Thomas Conway (The Potting Shed), and David Witnall (Jesse’s Bistro). Local cordial maker BottleGreen will also be making an appearance, and with more than 50 food producers and 200 trade stands scattered across the grounds, you can use your newfound knowledge when you eventually return home. (If you ever want to, that is.)
There are a number of beer festivals to keep you hydrated through the summer, one of which is the aptly names Cotswold Beer Festival (17-19 July). Now on its 39th year, it’s offering real ales by the barrel. Hosted in Tithe Barn, near Winchcombe, cider, perry, and soft drinks will also be available, alongside all that beer. (Did we mention there’s beer?)
Last, but by no means least, Jamie Oliver and Alex James return to the Cotswolds to host their rather large (the name kind of gives it away) foodie event, The Big Feastival (28-30 August). Held at Alex’s farm in the North Cotswolds near foodie haven Kingham (home to Daylesford), this pair has, yet again, managed to put together a large-scale event that brings together the best of food and drink in the South West while raising money for the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.
Big names include Jamie Oliver (obvs), Raymond Blanc, Ashley Palmer-Watts (Heston Blumenthal’s right-hand-man), Deliciously Ella, Nathan Outlaw, Monica Galetti, Mark Hix, Gizzi Erskine, Gennaro Contaldo, Anna Jones, The Happy Pear, John Quilter, James Lowe, Hemsley + Hemsley, Natasha Corrett, Olivia Wollenberg, Baker Brothers, and Richard Burr (2014’s GBBO finalist).
As if that list of talented chefs isn’t enough, music headliners such as Paloma Faith, Dizzee Rascal, Groove Armada, and Ella Eyre are all in the line-up too. A Little Dude’s Den, live Cotswold Farm Park, The Cheese Hub (courtesy of Alex James himself ), food and drink markets, Healthy Living Zone and a Big Top Tent will all be holding their ground (well, farm patches) as well.
So there you have it: five food and drink festivals that will ensure your much-needed foodie fix is catered to throughout the summer. You are welcome.