Aw, shucks – oysters in Falmouth
Every October, I find myself drawn to the Falmouth oyster festival, where fresh oysters, pulled straight from the boats, are shucked before your eyes. As you wander, the streets of Falmouth are buzzing with lively music, bursts of laughter, and the salty scent of the sea. Everywhere there’s a palpable energy – folks clinking glasses of chilled local ale, traders calling out their fresh catches and kids dancing to impromptu tunes. And oh, those oyster-shucking contests? An absolute riot. You’ll be cheering, laughing, and maybe even joining in. From 12 to 15 October.
Eat your fill – with ghosts, York
York Food and Drink festival is a 10-day feast of wildly imaginative food and drink-related events. There are walking tours, food tastings and cookery workshops, but also food-related comedy, bird of prey displays and “Ghosts in the Gardens”. It’s the perfect opportunity to get to know the historic city in a new way. Browse the programme at yorkfoodfestival.com and dip in until 1 October. Later, on 21, 22, 27 and 28 October, there’s Yorktoberfest beer festival at the racecourse.
SusannaFruity feast, Runcorn, Cheshire
Quince and Apple Weekend is celebration of both fruit in a ruined abbey, whose grounds are home to the national collection of tree quince. A hidden oasis at the end of an industrial estate, Norton Priory hosts the event every autumn. There are food and produce stalls, crafts, music, animals and plants: magical on a mellow autumn afternoon.
Chefs uncorked, Dartmouth
The stalls and exhibits are all around the town at this autumn food event, so there’s no entry fee. There’s a huge array of food and drink on offer, and vendors are generous with their samples. Some of the country’s best chefs give free cooking displays in an intimate outdoor venue and, with its outstanding harbour views, the gin tent is a must. There are some ticketed events, such as wine tasting, but there’s so much to enjoy for free that you don’t have to spend a fortune. Dartmouth food festival runs from 20 to 22 October.
Dosas for Diwali, Leicester
For many in the UK, autumn food is synonymous with bonfire night and harvest suppers. But for the people of Leicester it’s the city’s Diwali festival that sparks joy as winter draws near. From aromatic biryanis to delicate sweet mithai, India’s culinary richness is showcased. Cafes on the city’s golden mile serve piping hot dosas, samosas and pakoras. Traditional desserts and confectionery such as jalebi and barfi are a sweet tooth’s dream. With authenticity and variety, this festival brings the essence of Diwali to a little corner of the east Midlands. Events start on 13 October and Diwali Day is on 12 November.
Cereal fillers, Carrbridge, Highlands
The Scottish Highlands turn gloriously gold and radiant red in autumn – a perfect time to join the cooks and food lovers converging on the village of Carrbridge, near Aviemore. The Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship, on 7 October, now draws an international oat-loving crowd to sample all things oaty – including porridge pizza and piña colada-flavoured porridge when I went last year. My attempt to make a porridge and pineapple cake was a disaster and met with rather harsh derision but it was fun trying. There are whisky tastings and a celebratory ceilidh to climax.
Core tastes, Kent
Perry Court Farm on the A28 lies in a valley below the North Downs at Wye. I’ve been feasting on their homegrown fruit and veg for decades and, of course, as we’re in Kent they have a cornucopia of orchard fruits. The Fermor family host a two-day Apple Fayre in mid-October, with proceeds donated to a local hospice. Reminisce about the harvest festival displays of childhood, with the huge variety of apples and pears they grow. 14 and 15 October.
After laughs, serious scoffing, Edinburgh
Edinburgh from September onwards is the best time for foodies: the fringe is over and we get our city back, which means it’s worth going back out to eat. And that always means the farmers’ market in Castle Terrace under the shadow of the extinct volcano on which our 920-year-old castle sits. Fresh porridge, kale, scallops, raspberries, buffalo burgers and smoked haddock. Just don’t tell festival-goers, they might stay longer next time! Saturdays, 9am-2pm.
Winning tip: Bangers – with bangers, Essex
Fireworks won’t be the only sizzling bangers flying through the air in the autumn mist in coastal Essex this year. If you don’t have plans on 4 November, there are “wurst” things to do. So get along to the historic and atmospheric seaport of Harwich for its annual Sausage festival and sausage-throwing competition. Once the best tosser has been crowned, three of the town’s traditional inns invite revellers to sample butchers’ wares from across the local area, and to vote on their favourite sausage. There is cider and ale in abundance and, with the involvement of Camra, the Campaign for Real Ale, it’s excellent quality. Entry is free. .
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