By Hebe Hatton
Hooray – January is finally over! While we can’t promise you that spring is on its way just yet, we can provide the best foodie events the UK has to offer to get you through these final wintery weeks…
Exmoor Food Fest
For a fourth year restaurants across Devon and Somerset’s national park will shine a spotlight on the region’s produce by offering outstanding meals at affordable prices (from £10 per meal). Diners can vote for their favourite throughout the month, with the winners announced in March.
Edinburgh Restaurant Festival
Take a bite out of Edinburgh’s thriving food scene as over 20 restaurants across the city take part in special events and showcase exclusive menus. The festival’s highlight is a ticketed four-course “Movable Feast” that will see guests eat at four different restaurants in one evening.
Ikley Beer Festival
With over 70 different beers and ciders to taste your way through, this boozy event is perfect for real ale enthusiasts and perry lovers alike. The festival is also a fundraising event, supporting a range of local charities. Drinking good beer for a good cause – what’s not to love?
Tickets £18.88 and include £10 worth of beer tokens
South West Vegan Festival, Bristol
Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or omnivore, you’ll find something delicious (and nutritious) at the South West Vegan Festival. Browse over 100 stalls selling delectable food and drink, plus healthcare and beauty products – all animal-product free.
£3 (under 16s go free)
Pancake Day Race, Borough Market, London
Every year local businesses from the Bankside area get into the spirit of Shrove Tuesday and compete with their neighbours in a fast and furious pancake-flipping relay. Go along to watch the spectacle, gorge on pancakes and help raise money for charity.
Free to watch, £25 to enter a team (all proceeds to charity)
Olney Pancake Race, Buckinghamshire
Rumoured to have originated in 1445, the Olney Pancake race can lay claim to being the world’s oldest. The event sees local women take part in a 400m pancake-flipping dash, competing against women in Liberal, Kansas, US – a transatlantic competition that began in 1950. A Pancake Day breakfast, cooked by celeb chef Lesley Waters, is available on the morning for runners and supporters.
£8.50 for breakfast and a glass of Prosecco, 8-10am
Gin Festival London
This celebration of the nation’s much-loved tipple offers up the opportunity to taste a huge variety of gins from all over the world. Gin enthusiasts can expect samples to sip and cocktails galore (complete with unusual garnishes), master classes and talks from industry experts, plus live music and tasty nibbles.
National Winter Ales Festival, Norwich
Calling all lovers of real ales, foreign beers and fine ciders! Organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), the festival offers a plethora of beers for sampling. The coveted Champion Winter Beer of Britain title will be announced on the first day, giving you plenty of opportunity to try the winner.
Tickets from £13, including £7 worth of beer tokens
22- 24 February
Craft Beer Rising, London
Well-established brewers sit alongside rising stars at the UK’s biggest craft beer festival, which returns to The Old Truman Brewery this month. Over 150 breweries will be exhibiting over the three days, with some of London’s finest street food vendors on hand to help soak up all that booze.
Gin Festival, York
The ever-popular spirit is the subject of this showcase, featuring gins from around the world. Chat to distillers, enjoy gin cocktails and live music, and take home a free G&T copa (a large Spanish bowl-like glass) for sipping your new favourite gins.
Wakefield Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb Festival
One of the three points of Yorkshire’s Rhubarb Triangle, Wakefield will be celebrating the glorious pink stalks with a lively produce market and cookery demos. Don’t miss the chance to visit a Yorkshire forcing shed and hear the rhubarb growing (creak, creak…)
Viva! Vegan Festival, Cardiff
Returning for a second year, charity Viva! aim to provide festival-goers with some food for thought, encouraging people to pursue a “kind, compassionate and healthy diet” that avoids animal products. Whether you’re a committed vegan or just curious, there’s plenty to enjoy, with cookery demonstrations, informative talks and over 90 stalls offering up tasty vegan treats.
24 February-4 March
Rye Bay Scallop Week
Whether you’re a fan of this rather special mollusc or have yet to try one, celebrate the start of the scallop season at Rye’s picturesque port. The UK season may be short but with market stalls, cookery classes, live demonstrations and special menus at local restaurants there’ll be plenty of opportunities to enjoy this tasty shellfish.
25 February-3 March
Cornish Pasty Week, Cornwall
The inaugural Cornish Pasty Week will celebrate the heritage of the oggy, with pasty pub quizzes and pastry crimping classes at schools, plus specials at local bakeries. Cornwall’s Eden Project will host the seventh World Pasty Championships – the Oggy Oscars – on 3 March.
Images: Clive Sawyer