Festivals, Fun & (hopefully) Sun!

7 Apr

Ok, so we don’t want to get too hopeful just yet but recently the sun has been shining a little bit more (admittedly in the breaks between downpours), the clocks have gone forward – marking the official start of British Summertime, and I’ve managed to leave the house with a little jacket rather than a big coat on more than one occasion………..spring has sprung and summer is (hopefully) not too far behind!Sunny London

I think summer has to be my favourite season in the capital. Elsewhere I’m a big fan of autumn – with its crisp mornings, stunning colours and the promise of apple pie and custard. Also, if I’m honest, I’ve even been known to long for winter, albeit the winter of my imagination (where I’m curled up near a Christmas tree with a hot chocolate, watching the snow drifting down) rather than the far less appealing reality (rain, grey clouds, rain, dark days, rain, more rain). But in a city like London, where there’s always something happening, Summer wins by bringing with it the warmer days to spend out and about with friends, soaking up all that the city has to offer, whiling away long lazy summer evenings over dinner and cocktails in a pop up on a terrace somewhere………bliss.

Summertime in the UK means festivals – and London is no exception! And I’m sure you can guess what kind of festival is my favourite…………………………yep, as much as I do love music (and film), food festivals have a special place in my heart. Not only do I very much enjoy tasting all of the delectable food on offer, I love the enthusiasm and passion brought to these events by the people taking part. For me, a summer’s day spent wandering around bustling food stalls with the colours and scents of delicious cooking filling my senses, stopping to chat with stall holders and producers, experiencing their pride in their work – and of course trying a few samples…..that is a day well spent. So, with that in mind, here are the foodiest happenings I have my eye on attending in London in the upcoming months:

Summer in the City,  BBC Good Food – 20th May

With live cooking demonstrations from celeb chefs such as Tom Kerridge, James Martin and Paul Hollywood, Summer in the City is off to a good start! Add to that the book signings, stalls, shopping and Eat Well area and you have the recipe for a great food show. The ever growing exhibitor list is already looking very exciting, stalls range from the mouth-wateringly naughty Brownie Bar (perfectly gooey brownies and blondies in over 30 flavours – yes please!) to the fresh and healthy Thrive on Five, who produce delicious vegetarian wraps, salads and curries that contain a minimum of – you guessed it – 5 different types of veg to help you get your recommended serving each day, I’ll be trying out their Thai Green Curry and the Indian Vegetable Dahl for sure!

In the Eat Well area you can book a 1-2-1 with a trained dietary specialist, attend a masterclass in healthy snack making (all filling, gluten free and no baking involved!) and stock up from the healthiest stalls around.

Finally, at the heart of the show, is the producers market where you can meet the artisan producers and sample the wares before buying – this promises to be a very tasty day indeed!

 Foodies Festival – Various Dates

What began in Edinburgh in 2006 as a fun, family festival is now a countrywide celebration of local foods – London’s festivals will take place in Syon Park, Blackheath and Alexandra Palace.

vegThe Foodies Festivals really do have everything you could ask for: a chefs’ theatre with appearances form the likes of Rosemary Shrager and Aldo Zilli, an market boasting an array of Great Taste Award winners, Street Food Avenue featuring street food from around the world, a drinks theatre where you can take part in champagne and wine masterclasses (or craft beer if that’s more your thing!), a vintage tea tent for afternoon tea, live music, pop-up bars and……if you’re feeling indulgent……VIP tickets (which include a glass of bubbles on arrival, refreshments throughout the day, use of a Deco Noir VIP tent, a goodie bag to take home and more!).

The weekend festivals last from 11am – 7pm and with so much to do you might just need all day……..I’m thinking I’ll gather a group of foodie friends and we can take the day to wander around the stalls and then spend the evening with some drinks, getting to know some new music from the line-up of unsigned artists on the entertainment stage, a perfect day.

Taste of London Food Festival – 15th – 19th June

The eagle-eyed amongst you will already have spotted that this is the longest fest on the list – a whole 5 days of foodie goodness!

There’s an impressive line-up of chefs set to appear this year: Monica Galetti (best known for working with Michel Roux jr at Le Gavroche but you may well recognise her from Masterchef too!), Daniel Doherty (of Duck and Waffle fame) and Michelin starred Pascal Aussignac – to name but a few. As well as the Taste Theatre, where you can watch the chefs on stage recreating their favourite dishes, there will be live cooking masterclasses where you can cook alongside chefs and pick up some tips for taking flavour further.

There’s also an array of London’s top restaurants from the all veggie Vanilla Black to the decidedly carnivorous MEATliquor and they’re working away preparing a menu of over 200 sample sized dishes for us to try………can this festival come sooner please?!

Of course, there are also drinks to complement the tasty food – the wine and spirits theatre will be holding complimentary masterclasses whilst a visit to the House of Hops can teach you all you need to know about food & beer pairing.

As if all of that wasn’t exciting enough, Taste of London is also boasting a huge selection of producers – there will be buying opportunities galore (I’m definitely planning on heading over to Supercherry – which promises to be ‘all about Italy, chocolates, cherries and wine’……..although maybe I should visit everywhere else first, I may find it difficult to pry myself away from that stall!). With their website claiming hundreds of artisans – all of whom I imagine I’ll want to buy something from – better start saving now!

 Love London Food Festival – 13th July

Over 50 independent restaurants and street food vendors will be taking part in this popular festival which sees Regent Street closed to traffic but buzzing with the sights and smells of London’s food scene. As you’d expect from a cross section of London’s finest, the food showcased originates from around the world, with each exhibitor showing off 3 of their delectable dishes. British, Spanish, Argentinian, Indian, French, Venezuelan…………the list goes on and on! There are also juice and coffee stalls, bars serving craft beers from some of London’s top breweries along with cocktails and wine and even ice cream stalls to round off the meal.

Also worth noting is that Love London is the only food festival here to have its own currency – Magic Beans! Entry to the festival is free but if you’d like to buy anything while you’re there (and why wouldn’t you want to?!) you’ll need to get yourself a bean card – don’t worry though, they’re available to buy on the day and there’s plenty of opportunity to top up around the festival, the average price of dishes seems to be about 4/5 beans (£4/£5) so how many beans you’ll need really depends on how many dishes you want to buy…….or I suspect in my case, since I’ll want to try everything, how good you are at resisting temptation!

Fantastic British Food Festivals at Wimbledon Park – 29th  August

The setting for this festival is almost enough to sell it on its own! The beautiful surroundings of Wimbledon Park are the perfect place to spend a Summer’s day, add live music, chef’s demonstrations and food stalls featuring fresh, local produce and you’re definitely on to a winner. Wimbledon Park’s food festival may be slightly smaller than the others (still over 40 stall mind you!) but when your exhibitors include companies like the Snowdonia Cheese Company, Riverford Organic Farms and Mojito Mavericks, I don’t think slightly fewer stalls will cause any problem!Riverford

This one’s a really family friendly festival with games, face-painting and storytelling for the kids to enjoy whilst you chill out with a nice glass of something from Bubbles & Punch – the family run mobile bar company who will be on hand with Prosecco and Pimms….sounds like a good idea to me.


So that’s it for now, but remember; this list is by no means exhaustive and I’m sure more will pop up as the year goes on! So if you hear of any more (or if there are any I might have missed) let us know in the comments – we’d hate to miss out!

As for the fantastic foodie festivals we’ve already listed ………………………….……… well, I’ll see you there!