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'Best weekend of the year' for 2020 - Readers name Ireland's top food experience

Winner: Dingle Food Festival, Co Kerry

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Dingle Food Festival

Dingle Food Festival

Ireland’s Favourite Food Experience: Dingle Food Festival. Sinead Ryan, Niamh O'Kennedy, Laura Bowe (Chairperson, Ireland’s Blue Book), Matthew Griffin and Pól Ó Conghaile at the Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards 2020. Photograph: Fran Veale

Ireland’s Favourite Food Experience: Dingle Food Festival. Sinead Ryan, Niamh O'Kennedy, Laura Bowe (Chairperson, Ireland’s Blue Book), Matthew Griffin and Pól Ó Conghaile at the Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards 2020. Photograph: Fran Veale

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Misunderstood Heron, Killary Fjord, Co Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes, xposure

Misunderstood Heron, Killary Fjord, Co Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes, xposure

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Dingle Food Festival

The first weekend in October is the tastiest on the calender, readers say. "Best weekend of the year, fantastic experience."

Why? Because that's when the annual Dingle Food Festival takes place, and if your comments are anything to go by, we should be boxing it off in the diary.

"Love it, love it, love it," you said of the festival named Ireland's Favourite Food Experience in our Reader Travel Awards 2020. "Everything about it - the organisation, the food, the people, the craic... just love it!"

"A weekend celebrating local produce as well as culture, not to be missed," you said. Guests can expect "a wonderful choice of delicious food", "amazing locally sourced seafood" and "wonderful demonstrations". One reader even scored the "best fish and chips I've ever had - so fresh and lovely sitting at the harbour eating them".

The Dingle Food Festival is non-profit, locally organised, and has grown into the kind of weekend lots of local people come home for. Its programme includes cookery demos, market stalls, workshops, street entertainment and a taste trail that festival-goers can follow around over 70 venues in the town.

Run in tandem, the Blás na hÉireann Awards (irishfoodawards.com) have also become a well-known competition for quality Irish produce.

Our judges noted how good Dingle is at off-season festivals (think of Other Voices, the Dingle Literary Festival or the springtime Storm Festival) and the fact that, proactively aided by Kerry County Council, the festival has been a trailblazer in terms of sustainability. Visitors can buy eco-friendly cutlery, cup and plate kits made from reusable bamboo, for example. There are rinse stations and water refill points, composting is widespread, and soon hopes to be waste-free.

"Brilliant atmosphere, getting the chance to sample from dozens of places around the town," readers said. "Helps us really see where our food comes from, how to prepare it, and how to enjoy the fruits of our labours."

October 2-4; dinglefood.com

FINALISTS: Top 6 Food Experiences for 2020

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Misunderstood Heron, Killary Fjord, Co Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes, xposure

Misunderstood Heron, Killary Fjord, Co Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes, xposure

Misunderstood Heron, Killary Fjord, Co Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes, xposure

1. Dingle Food Festival, Co Kerry

“Great food and wine. Always looking at reducing plastic and promoting green issues.”

2. English Market, Cork

“Everything you could need under one roof. It’s a shopping experience like no other.”

3. Eatyard, Dublin

“Always guaranteed great options for vegans and vegetarians, with great chill atmosphere, exciting buzz and cool music.”

4. Limerick Milk Market

“Best food, people, atmosphere — everything you could want, fresh at your fingertips.”

5. Misunderstood Heron, Co Galway

“Totally unexpected (pictured above)... you would think the food was produced by a big kitchen with many staff, but no... it’s from a little food truck. Totally scrumptious.”

6. Chapter One, Dublin

“For such a well-known, fancy restaurant, you never feel like you don’t belong here.”

NB: The Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards 2020 are sponsored by Iarnród Eireann. Read the full list of winners here and share on social using the hashtag #indotravelawards.

Irish Independent