The Summer's Top 12 Foodie Festivals
There's a cornucopia of foodie festivals taking place across the country in the next few months.
The sun is out (as we go to press), the grass is dry (ditto) ... no better time, then, to eat, drink and be merry. The summer months are littered with opportunities to enjoy the finer gastro experiences that Ireland has to offer.
Whether you're a die-hard gourmand or merely curious about what foodie finery is on offer, there's a gourmet weekend in every corner of the country.
Flavours of Fingal County Show,
Newbridge House & Farm,
Donabate, June 28-29
Hot on the heels of the Taste of Dublin comes the Flavours of Fingal weekender, now in its third year. Just 20 minutes from the city centre lies Newbridge House, an impressive Georgian mansion that will become home for the weekend to more than 66 foodie experts, producers and crafty types. With livestock competitions, sheep dog trials, weaver workshops and floristry demos also on offer, the Flavours of Fingal is the perfect opportunity to sample all that Ireland's great outdoors has to offer.
Westport Festival of Music & Food,
Co Mayo, June 28-29
If music be the food of love and all that... the cream of musical acts and local food producers make the perfect marriage for this hugely popular festival. The musical line-up is heaving with homegrown and international heavy-hitters: Sinead O'Connor, The Divine Comedy, David Gray, Kool & the Gang, Bryan Adams and Sophie Ellis-Bextor all head west for the weekend. Among the foodies in attendance will be Neven Maguire, Darina Allen, Rachel Allen, Clodagh McKenna and Ross Lewis. A food village, beer tent and wine bar also makes up part of the 400-acre grounds of Westport House.
Wexford Strawberry Festival,
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, June
We're now slap bang in the middle of strawberry season, and where best to mark it than down with the yellowbellies? Make haste to Enniscorthy, where there are celebrations aplenty planned: expect music, markets, street entertainment, food demos, a music competition for teenagers and plenty of fruit-flavoured action. Attend the Strawberry Ball and see the traditional, time-honoured crowning of the Strawberry Queen (it wouldn't be a country fair without a 'lovely girls' competition, after all). The event itself is free, although certain events are ticketed.
Kenmare Food Carnival, Co Kerry,
Now in its third year, hopes are high this summer for an illustrious and high-spirited event down in Kenmare. From the Carnival Parade and puppet shows to food photography exhibits to pop-up restaurants and funfair rides, there's much to like should you venture down to this tourist hotspot for this weekender. Dyed-in-the-wool foodies can enjoy pop-up restaurants, an artisan food market, and numerous opportunities to meet food producers for tips aplenty. Online bookings are now closed, but it's possible to book tickets at the carnival office on Henry Street. See kenmarefoodcarnival.com
Feile Bia Na Mara, Achill Island,
Co Mayo, July 18-20
Achill has long boasted a rich sea heritage, and this tradition springs to life this weekend. Neven Maguire is this year's master of ceremonies, and he heads up a collection of renowned seafood experts. Enjoy cookery demonstrations, seaweed safaris, seafood BBQs and plenty of fish markets. An absolute must-do for foodies who love their fare to come from the ocean. Now that Achill is part of the Wild Atlantic Way, why not hit a number of its Discovery Points, too?
Carlingford Oyster Festival,
Co Louth, August dates to be
Known the world over, visitors to the Oyster festival partake in a heady schedule of events, including an oyster pearl hunt, world crab-fishing contest, oyster tent and sailing regatta. The picturesque seaside town comes to life, both on and off-shore. Add in a handful of street performances and musicians, and a lively atmosphere is guaranteed. Kids aren't left out of the fun, either: face painting, kayaking, a magic show and children's cookery demonstrations will keep those who aren't yet old enough to appreciate a fine oyster more than occupied.
Doolin Irish Craft Beer and Food
Festival, Co Clare, August 22-24
For those who believe that fine beer is a perfect accompaniment to a good meal, the Doolin Craft Beer festival is the ticket for you. Against the backdrop of the Hotel Doolin, enjoy hand crafted tipples from Carlow Brewing, Galway Hooker, White Gypsy and the Franciscan Well. Local trad musicians and food stalls round off the event, so expect beery gaiety galore.
A Taste Of Donegal, Donegal Town,
Kevin Dundon heads up north for this increasingly popular bayside festival, held at a windswept spot near the Wild Atlantic Way route. The itinerary is heaving with cookery demonstrations, as well as wine and beer tastings. Also in tow are a number of local food producers and restaurateurs, while the entire weekend will culminate in a fireworks display over Donegal Bay. There are a few new additions to the weekend's lineup: a Cookery Comedy Theatre event, Richard Finney's wine masterclass and even a Rat Pack tribute act to provide a jazzy soundtrack.
Waterford Harvest Food Festival, Co
Waterford, September 12-14
The folks behind the Waterford Harvest Food Festival profess to be passionate about healthy, homegrown food, so expect to learn plenty about growing your own and mastering the art of slow food cooking. With plenty on offer to keep kids entertained, grown-ups can get down to the business of enjoying restaurant trails and jazz concerts.
Festival, Co Galway,
Clarinbridge in Galway is known as a prime oyster breeding ground, and the Oyster Festival is the arguable jewel in the picturesque village's crown. Given that this year marks the festival's 60th anniversary, expect something a little extra-special this year. The Stunning will be brewing up a storm as part of the weekend's live line-up, while local heroes the Amazing Apples – described as 'Waterboys meets Mumford & Sons' – will provide the festival's rousing soundtrack. Elsewhere, the sea's bounty is celebrated with plenty of food, markets, dancing and all manner of old-fashioned craic. As ever, there will be a prize for the festival's best-dressed lady, so be sure to bring your glad rags.
Midleton Food & Drink Festival,
Co Cork, September 13
Depending on who you ask, Cork is the official foodie capital of Ireland, and the People's Republic certainly know how to celebrate their thriving gastro culture. This festival is the perfect opportunity to check out Midleton's bustling farmers' market, while the Main Street's open air food market is as close to food heaven as you're likely to get. Local craftspeople aren't left out of the action either, while the East Cork camera club and a handful of local street entertainers will turn this East Cork village into a hive of activity, creativity and foodie delights.
Irish Craft Beer & Cider Festival,
RDS Dublin, September 4-7
If getting up close and personal with more than 30 Irish craft breweries and cider producers sounds like your bag, this is just the weekend for you. A whiskey corner and international guest breweries also bolster the line-up, while master-classes will include food pairing, cooking with craft beer/cider and a whiskey tasting session.
For a full menu of food festivals and events, go to discoverireland.ie/food