October is traditionally a month of harvest celebrations, and food and drink festivals. It’s when farmers are gathering the last of their summer crops before the winter sets in, kitchen gardens are ripe and fruity, and the weather’s still warm enough for people to be out and about, looking for a day’s entertainment in the autumn hues.
Many of the food and drink events at this time of year offer freshly harvested crops, home-made food, artisan cheeses, new flavours of wine, freshly pressed juices, local ciders, antipasti, and a range of interesting baked goods. Many incorporate world cuisines too, giving you the opportunity to experience new tastes and textures.
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Fresh local produce is a common theme, and we all know the health and environmental benefits of supporting local growers: it’s good for the environment, good for the farmer, and good for the local economy. Your food travels fewer miles from field to consumer, so it’s super-fresh and nutritious, with a good range of organic food available too.
Here’s a selection of food festivals from around the country.
Alcester Autumn Food Festival: 15 October
Alcester Food Festival takes place twice a year, with 100 stalls in the town centre. You can indulge in local seasonal produce, artisan cheeses and unusual breads. There’s plenty for those who enjoy a tipple, with speciality beers and wines, local ales and ciders. The emphasis is on local food and drink, offering fresh and tantalising flavours. The handmade puddings, pies and cakes go down a treat. With local meat, a pig roast, fruit and vegetables, and handmade chocolates, there really is something for everyone. The event is free, with a free park and ride.
Image Credit: Alcester Food Festival
The Big Apple Harvestime, Much Marcle: 8-9 October
Celebrate English apples and English cider at The Big Apple Harvestime near Hereford. This festival brings together a series of events at the farms and orchards, cider mills and barns near Hereford, so that visitors can enjoy a full weekend of harvest fun. The event has ‘walk, talk, and taste’ events, guided tours, bike rides, music and readings, talks on cider making, a Golden Fire film looking at Herefordshire cider. You’ll also find opportunities to explore natural pest control, bees as pollinators and wildlife in orchards. It caters for all tastes and most events are free.
Image Credit: The Big Apple Harvestime
Elsecar Food Festival, Barnsley: 23 October
Elsecar is a historic village, once a thriving centre of iron and coal. Today, there are craft shops, artists’ studios, antiques shops, and a heritage centre, near a park and canal. Visitors can explore the old workshops, and enjoy the cafes, delicatessens and curiosity shops in the village. At Elsecar’s very first food festival this year, you’ll be able to sample fine food and drink, and perhaps see celebrity chef, James Martin, who’ll be doing a live cooking demonstration. Entry: £3.50. Cooking demonstration £15.
Image Credit: Elsecar Food Festival
Robin Hood Beer and Cider Festival, Nottingham: 12-15 October
Try new beers and explore tantalising new tastes at this annual beer and cider festival in Nottingham. With over 1000 brands to choose from, the challenge will be sampling those you fancy, without losing your head! At £3 a pint for all but the strongest brews, the prices are attractive. There’s a full programme of live entertainment, offering different musical styles on an Edwardian bandstand. There’s also a marquee away from the music, for those who prefer a quieter environment. Entry fees apply.
Image Credit: Robin Hood Beer & Cider Festival
Dartmouth Food Festival: 21-23 October
Dartmouth Food Festival has over 20 cookery demonstrations with celebrity chefs and food writers, including Matt Tebbutt from Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped and BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen; Mitch Tonks, award-winning chef and restauranteur; and Romy Gill MBE, an acclaimed female Indian chef. Susy Atkins from Saturday Kitchen will be speaking and hosting some wine seminars and tastings.
Visitors can buy fresh farm produce, sample jams and chutneys, artisan cheeses, and infused oils. For those who enjoy a brew, there are beers, ciders and wines. Don’t miss the pies, bakery products, cakes, cordials, antipastis, and seafood! Kids’ activities and ice cream for dogs ensure everyone is catered for! Entry is free.
Image Credit: Dartmouth Food Festival
Brogdale National Apple Festival, Kent: 15-16 October
Brogdale National Apple Festival has its largest ever display this year, with 1000 apple varieties on show. Visitors will be able to taste and buy rare and unusual apples, and explore new ways of cooking with them. There are gardening talks, cooking demonstrations, live music, orchard tours, a craft and produce village, local food, and children’s crafts. Some of the rare varieties come with fascinating stories and associations. Entry fees apply.
Image Credit: Brogdale Collections
Falmouth Beer Festival: 20-22 October
Falmouth Beer Festival offers more than 240 real ales from local breweries and others across the UK. The cider tent will have over 60 ciders, perries, and bottled beers and wines. There will be stalls, games, a selection of food, and a variety of entertainment, to keep revellers feeling upbeat and in the party mood all weekend. Entry fees apply.
Image Credit: iStock.com/zoran simin
Manchester Oktoberfest: 19-23 October
Manchester Oktoberfest is based on a German tradition, focused on fun with giant beers, food and music. It will take place on Albert Square, in the center of the city, over five days. It’s free to get in on Wednesday. Charges apply for the other days. German music will ring through the air, and if you really want to experience Bavarian culture, you’re invited to dress like a Bavarian, in traditional German lederhosen – leather shorts with braces!
Image Credit: Manchester Oktoberfest
The New Forest Food and Drink Festival Week: 31 October-6 November
This week-long food festival has something for everyone with themes ranging from ‘Forest fish and fruits of our sea’ to ‘Cheese and the forest larder’. There are heritage and artisan foods, local wines and beers, local game, pannage pig, foraged foods, and afternoon teas! There are special events for children too. It’s all set in the beautiful surroundings of the New Forest, and you can choose events to suit your own tastes and preferences.
Image Credit: New Forest Food and Drink Festival
If you’re planning on relaxing and enjoying alcohol at any of our featured festivals – always remember to pre-plan your transport and accommodation accordingly!