10 unusual food festivals that prove the UK is a wonderful place

Days out, Food and Drink, #DiscoverGoodTimes

When it comes to culinary genius, us Brits may not have much on the Italians or the French – but that doesn’t mean we’re low on brilliant and ground-breaking ideas! The UK foodie calendar is jampacked with weird and wonderful festivals and events, catering for all with unique offerings of entertainment, cuisine and family-friendly fun.

For example, did you know that there are six festivals which promote cheese and chilli and have racing pigs? Or that there’s a day in a Devon fishing village to honour the magical properties of seaweed? Or that there’s a whole weekend, held on an island off the south of England, that celebrates all things garlic?!

We’ve found 10 unusual UK food festivals which prove that, when it comes to gastronomic intellect, we’re way ahead of the pack…

Clovelly Seaweed Festival

This fun festival is held in the beautiful cliffside village of Clovelly in Devon to promote seaweed for its immense health and nutritional benefits. Many people may not be aware that seaweed is a hugely versatile ingredient, and so the village’s Quay kitchens will serve up a range of dishes, while stalls will sell a variety of products, arts and crafts, all inspired by the green stuff!

There will also be live music, street entertainment, craft activities, workshops and demonstrations, while the whole event is held in aid of the local North Devon Hospice.

It takes place in Clovelly on Saturday 27 May.

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Isle of Wight Garlic Festival

The Isle of Wight’s biggest show is dedicated to garlic… yes, you read that right! The wonderful festival, held in the middle of the summer holidays, is located in the heart of the island, set against a beautiful backdrop of rolling green hills and farmland.

The show, also this blog's main image, comprises of both fantastic food and fun entertainment, with an array of eats, sights and sounds to suit all tastes and ages. Expect cookery demos, art and craft stalls, live music, children’s entertainment, a funfair and, of course, a range of mouth-watering, garlicky titbits.

It takes place near Newchurch on the Isle of Wight on 18 and 19 August.

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Whitstable Oyster Festival


At the Whitstable oyster festival • 📷: @monicargoya

A post shared by The Gannet (@the_gannet) on

Whitstable’s famous Oyster Festival will be held across three days in July this year, run by Full Event Production for the first time. Although festivities for this year are yet to be confirmed, the festival usually begins with the Landing of the Oysters (the first catch of the season) at Long Beach.

In recent years, as well as exhibitions and displays, there has also been live music and other events including fireworks, the building of “grotters” from oyster shells and an Oyster Eating Competition at the Harbour.

It takes place this year in Whitstable on Saturday 21 July and Sunday 22 July.

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Cheese and Chilli Festival

The celebration of everything cheese and chilli is held at a huge six locations throughout the south of England: Basingstoke, Christchurch, Cheltenham, Guildford, Swindon and Winchester. Although the combination of cheese and chilli may not appear totally unusual on the surface, it’s one of the festival’s key events which has us including it in our list.

Pig Racing sees flocks of revellers watch six rare breed pigs, ranging from Tamworths to Gloucester Old Spots, Saddlebacks, Berkshires and Oxford sandy and blacks, race to be the first to a bucket of food! It’s quite the spectacle – and the animals are very well looked after.

Between June and August.

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Even though it’s taking a break this year, we felt like we had to include Asparafest in Evesham, Worcestershire! Voted "Best Festival in Worcestershire" in the What's On Readers Awards 2017, the festival is dedicated to everything asparagus.

Having been on for five consecutive years, the event is taking a break this year but will return soon. However, if you’re now craving a festival dedicated to the gorgeous green veg, the British Asparagus Festival will be on between 23 April and 21 June; including asparagus auctions, coach tours and more.

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Wild Boar Week

For one week in October, a whopping 31 restaurants in Rye, East Sussex, change up their menus to showcase a range of gamey treats, including mallard, partridge, pheasant, rabbit, venison and, of course, wild boar.

As well as the extensive foodie treats, there is usually entertainment such as walking tours, live music, quiz nights, children’s activities and more, all taking place around the beautiful, old town in East Sussex.

It takes place between 20 and 20 October this year, throughout Rye.

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World Stinging Nettle Eating Championship

The hour-long contest at The Bottle Inn in Crewkerne, Dorset, started in the 80s and usually takes place the Saturday before the Summer Solstice in June. The contestant who strips and eats the most leaves from stalks is crowned the winner – not as easy as you’d think, considering the stinging leaves cause tongues to swell and blacken!

Last year’s Overall Champion was Jonathan Searle from Solihull who chewed his way through 70 feet of stinging nettles, while the Women's Prize went to Kate Ribton who got through 28 feet.

This year’s event date is TBC.

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Egg Throwing World Championships

Held in Swaton, Lincolnshire, the Championships - held on Swaton Vintage Day - take in a huge variety of events, ranging from target throwing (the target being a man named Joel Hicks), egg Russian roulette, where one of the eggs is raw, a relay and more.

It’s not all food waste here though, with plenty of food stalls, including a hog roast, on hand to cure any hunger pangs that may have been brought on by relentless egginess.

The Egg Throwing World Championships take place on Sunday 24 June.

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World Pasty Championships

The culmination of Cornish Pasty Week, run by the Cornish Pasty Association, the seventh World Pasty Championships takes place this year. Anyone from professional chefs to amateurs can enter the day’s contests, while there are two categories: Cornish pasties (those made following a traditional recipe) and open savoury categories, for pasties with creative fillings. 

There’s also plenty of entertainment, and Britpop legends Dodgy headlined the music stage in 2018. There are also pasty workshops run by the Cornish Pasty Association and kids craft workshops – fun for everyone!

It took place at the Eden Project on Saturday 3 March. Next year’s date TBC.

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Yorkshire Pudding Boat Race ®

Exactly what it says on the tin. Giant Yorkshire pudding boats made from flour, water and eggs wind their way downriver, all in the hope of winning the entertaining contest.

The race, held in Brawby, North Yorkshire, actually has roots in English folklore: Yorkshire Pudding Boats were originally baked to use as rescue boats in times of severe flooding. Several coats of yacht varnish would prevent them from going soggy and sinking.

Another festival taking a break this year, the Yorkshire Pudding Boat Race is expected to return in 2019.

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Maybe you'll fancy paying all of these wonderful events a visit this year. If that's the case, you'll need somewhere to stop for a break... and you're in luck! We've reviewed the UK's best service stations, including the most dog-friendly, the best for families and the best of the best.


Photo credits:

  • Clovelly Seaweed Festival c/o Clovelly Village/Ellie Jarvis
  • Isle of Wight Garlic Festival c/o www.garlicfestival.co.uk
  • Cheese and Chilli Festival c/o www.cheeseandchillifestival.com
  • Asparafest c/o asparafest.co.uk/Debbie Butterfield

Posted by Simon Lockyer on 6th March 2018