10 of the best autumn food festivals in Europe and the UK

Food and drink[1]

10 of the best autumn food festivals in Europe and the UK

With the season of mellow fruitfulness in full swing, we pick culinary events that will appeal to all palates, from white truffles in Croatia to bright golden saffron in Spain




Get stuffed … Belgian specialities at Kookeet, Bruges

Kookeet, Bruges, Belgium

29 September-1 October 2018
Street feasting is nothing new in London but Kookeet[2], in central Bruges, does things differently. Only here can you eat Belgian specialities cooked by local chefs, several of them holders of Michelin stars.

Pop-up stalls this year offer dishes such as Zeebrugge shrimp with poached egg, buttermilk and sourdough, Belgian pancakes paired with Liefmans beer and, for the more adventurous, Flemish white tripe with mustard and peanuts served with spring rolls. Most dishes cost around GBP6-8. This year’s star chef is Roger van Damme, who is among the best pastry chefs in the world.
Stay: Hotel Jacobs Brugge[3] (doubles from EUR79 B&B)

Taste Svalbard, Longyearbyen, Norway


10 of the best autumn food festivals in Europe and the UK

4-6 October 2018
Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago between Norway and the North Pole, has culinary traditions that match its dramatic setting.

As well as iffy-sounding reindeer soup and seal meat, there is salmon, trout, herring and Arctic cheese, and beer from some of the world’s most northerly breweries (Red Bear in Barentsburg, and Svalbard Bryggeri in Longyearbyen). The world’s most northerly culinary festival, Taste Svalbard[4], is held in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre, with concerts, pop-up dinners and film screenings.
Stay: Coal Miners’ Cabins[5] (doubles from GBP85, including breakfast but with shared bathrooms) on the edge of Longyearbyen

Tbilisoba, Tbilisi, Georgia


10 of the best autumn food festivals in Europe and the UK

Photograph: Alamy

7-8 October
Is Georgia in Europe? It depends who you ask.

Some parts of Tbilisi certainly look European, and many Georgians feel they belong more in Europe than in Asia, yet one definition of Europe marks the Caucasus mountains as its border, putting Georgia in Asia. Either way, there are now direct flights from London[6] taking just over four hours. And, for food, it is very much worth it.

Cuisine is hard-wired into the Georgian soul and in the capital, Tbilisi, restaurants offer spicy salsa-like adjika, plates of pickled chillies, trout tartare, bowls of spinach pkhali (a minced vegetable dip) and – the ultimate Georgian comfort food – khachapuri, canoe-shaped cheesy bread with a wobbling, almost raw egg in the centre. Tbilisoba[7] is the birthday of the Georgian capital, where locals celebrate with dancing, partying and huge Georgian feasts.
Stay: Betsy’s Hotel [8](doubles from GBP59 B&B)

Falmouth Oyster Festival, Cornwall


10 of the best autumn food festivals in Europe and the UK

Photograph: Alamy

11-14 October 2018
Celebrating Cornwall’s native Fal oyster and the start of the bivalve season, Falmouth Oyster Festival [9] means four days of slurping on these soft and briny molluscs. There’s the usual offering of crafts and real ales but also wine and seafood bars, and events such as a working boat race, grand oyster parade, shucking competitions and an oyster draw.
Stay: the restored Chain Locker[10] (doubles from GBP104 B&B), on the quayside in one of Falmouth’s oldest buildings

So Good Festival, Bordeaux, France


10 of the best autumn food festivals in Europe and the UK

16-18 November
Prestigious wine aside, the port city of Bordeaux, in south-west France, has excellent oysters, saffron, mushrooms, white asparagus, macarons and ethereal dunes blanches de Bordeaux – tiny choux buns filled with cream. It also benefits from being relatively close to the Gers region, with its duck dishes, tomatoes from Marmande and asparagus from Blaye, caviar from local sturgeon farms and prunes from Agen.

You can get a taste for the food of south-west France at Bordeaux S.O Good[11], a major gastronomic festival showcasing local producers and chefs. Expect plenty of artisanal black pudding, cheese, sausages, croustades and wines.
Stay: All Suites Bordeaux-Marne[12] (studio for two from GBP68 room-only)

Csabai Sausage Festival, Bekescsaba, Hungary


10 of the best autumn food festivals in Europe and the UK

Photograph: Alamy

19-22 October 2018
Hungary produces sausages so good that an entire country tour could be arranged round them, but serious sausage fans ought to look out for csabai sausages, made in the south-eastern city of Bekescsaba. Granted Protected Geographical Status, it is a spicy sausage, laced with paprika, and once a year in October Bekescsaba celebrates it with its Csabai Sausage Festival[13].

As well as countless sausage tastings, the festival offers a stuffed cabbage cooking contest, a series of concerts and a youth sausage competition expected to attract up to 250 young teams.
Stay: Arcanum Hotel[14], with its restaurant specialising in Hungarian cuisine (doubles from GBP93 half-board)

National Chestnut Festival, Cuneo, Italy


10 of the best autumn food festivals in Europe and the UK

19-21 October 2018
The most prominent ingredient of this weekend festival may be chestnuts, but the Cuneo National Fair is one of Italy’s most important food festivals, showcasing fine Piedmont produce from ravioli and pancakes to polenta and crepes. Cuneo’s chestnuts are world famous and there’s plenty of opportunity to try them roasted straight from braziers lining the city streets, but don’t miss the sweet marrons glaces (candied chestnuts).
Stay: Cuneo Hotel (doubles from GBP54 B&B) in the historic centre

Truffle festival, Istria, Croatia


10 of the best autumn food festivals in Europe and the UK

Photograph: Alamy

20-21 October 2018
The Istrian peninsula in northern Croatia has a glut of gourmet treats, from asparagus and prust (prosciutto) to octopus and sardines, but truffles are the real stars. Along with Piedmont in Italy and Perigord in France, north-west Istria produces premium-grade truffles.

Every autumn, from September to November, skilled truffle hunters search the dark forests around the towns of Motovun and Buzet, led by highly trained dogs adept at sniffing out truffles hidden in the soil. Livade, a renowned truffle village near Motovun, hosts the annual Tuberfest[15] celebrating the region’s famous truffles with auctions, live cooking demonstrations and a white truffle fair. Local delicacies include pasta topped with truffles and truffle-infused ice cream.
Stay: Istarske Toplice[16] in Livade (doubles from GBP38 B&B)

Chilli Festival, Espelette, France


10 of the best autumn food festivals in Europe and the UK

Photograph: Alamy

27-28 October
Espelette pepper, the cornerstone of Basque cuisine and ranking just 4,000 on the Scoville scale (roughly the same as a jalapeno), is harvested late summer around the French-Basque town of Espelette.

This annual festival[17], organised by the Confrerie du Piment d’Espelette, celebrates the chilli pepper and its production with choir concerts, blessings at churches and large banquets featuring peppery local dishes such as stews and chocolate cakes. Don’t miss local speciality piperade, sauteed peppers and tomatoes with egg.
Stay: Relais du Silence Argi Eder[18], a 25-minute drive away (doubles from GBP100 room only)

Saffron Rose Festival, Consuegra, Spain


10 of the best autumn food festivals in Europe and the UK

Photograph: Alamy

27-28 October
In central Spain’s Castilla-La Mancha, where Cervantes set the fictional journeys of Don Quixote, food is taken seriously. Manchego cheese, garlic and superior shepherd’s style game stews take centre stage, but saffron is the ingredient most ingrained in the community.

At the Saffron Rose Fiesta[19], held since 1963, there is a “Grinding of Peace and Love” ceremony at a 16th-century windmill, and competitive separation of crimson saffron threads from the purple crocus flowers. Saffron goes well in a surprisingly large number of dishes, from custard tarts to aioli, and the festival is a good excuse to explore them all.
Stay: Centrally located Hostal Restaurante San Poul[20] (doubles from GBP48 room-only) Looking for a Discount Holidays © holiday with a difference?

Browse Guardian Holidays[21] to find a range of fantastic trips

References

  1. ^ Food and drink (www.theguardian.com)
  2. ^ Kookeet (www.kookeet.be)
  3. ^ Hotel Jacobs Brugge (www.hoteljacobs.be)
  4. ^ Taste Svalbard (en.visitsvalbard.com)
  5. ^ Coal Miners’ Cabins (www.spitsbergentravel.com)
  6. ^ direct flights from London (www.georgian-airways.com)
  7. ^ Tbilisoba (georgiatoday.ge)
  8. ^ Betsy’s Hotel (www.betsyshotel-tbilisi.com)
  9. ^ Falmouth Oyster Festival (falmouthoysterfestival.co.uk)
  10. ^ Chain Locker (www.theguardian.com)
  11. ^ Bordeaux S.O Good (www.bordeauxsogood.fr)
  12. ^ All Suites Bordeaux-Marne (en.allsuites-apparthotel.com)
  13. ^ Csabai Sausage Festival (www.csabaikolbaszfesztival.hu)
  14. ^ Arcanum Hotel (www.arcanumhotel.hu)
  15. ^ Tuberfest (www.istra.hr)
  16. ^ Istarske Toplice (www.istarske-toplice.hr)
  17. ^ annual festival (www.espelette-paysbasque.com)
  18. ^ Relais du Silence Argi Eder (en.relaisdusilence.com)
  19. ^ Saffron Rose Fiesta (www.consuegra.es)
  20. ^ Hostal Restaurante San Poul (sanpoul.es)
  21. ^ Guardian Holidays (holidays.theguardian.com)

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