Think you’re finished with festivals? Don’t give up too quickly – festival season no longer needs to be a lost weekend somewhere obscure, getting muddy in a field. Swap out chasing tunes to chasing edibles and you’ll find there’s a rousing food festival circuit growing and thriving around Ireland, inspired by the much-loved Ballymaloe Litfest. This event elevated its genre with thought provoking talks and demos, unrivalled artisan food offerings, and – importantly – plenty of fun times. As Ballymaloe takes a well earned hiatus from Litfest in 2018, we’ve rounded up a smorgasbord of alternative food events that should keep hungry revellers happy, enlightened and well fed.
Burren Slow Food Festival – May 11-13
Well known for its stunning landscape, the Burren has been carving itself out as one of the most intriguing food destinations in the country, and the Burren Slow Food Festival is the ideal opportunity to explore this. Now in its 14th year, this boutique gathering showcases the best of local food and suppliers. The festival kicks off on the Friday with a unique seafood supper involving a ferry ride from picturesque Doolin to the smallest Aran Island, Inis Oírr. The rest of the weekend is focused around tasting the Atlantic from the Pavilion in Lisdoonvarna, with celebrations around seafood, cookery demonstrations by renowned chefs including seafood aficionado Niall Sabongi, and an interactive talk with Kevin Thornton. Don’t miss the excellent annual Burren Slow Food Banquet, showcasing the best of local ingredients. For a spot of adventure among the feasting, head to nearby Lahinch for a surf lesson to work up your appetite again. Or if you’re more inclined to need a rest between feeds, check into the striking 18th century manor house hotel, Gregans Castle, where relaxation is top priority with TV-free rooms and sweeping views of the surrounding landscape, slowfoodclare.com.
Also worth checking out …
Boyne Valley Food Series
A showcase of food events from March to December all around the Boyne Valley, boynevalleyfoodseries.ie.
Connemara Mussel Festival
Now in its 13th year, this three-day celebration of the native mollusc will see demos from Cliodhna Prendergast and Keith Carden from Hooked, a performance of The Loves of Lady Gregory by Curlew Theatre Company and live music, connemaramusselfestival.com.
Galway’s West End Summer Festival
May 31 – June 4
Local restaurants Kai, Dela, Tartare, Aniar and many more join forces for a brilliant street food celebration, galwayswestend.com.
Taste of Dublin
Four days of eating, drinking and entertainment right in the city, tasteofdublin.ie.
Taste of Cavan
Artisan food, craft producers and chef demos from Cavan and surrounding areas. @TasteofCavan
A Taste of West Cork
Celebrating the best of West Cork food, producers, landscape and people, atasteofwestcork.com.
Galway Oyster & Seafood Festival
Ireland’s longest running food festival celebrating Galway’s rich annual oyster harvest, galwayoysterfestival.com.
Food on the Edge
An international symposium for chefs and food enthusiasts with talk and debate on the future
of food, foodontheedge.ie.
Now in its 12th year, this festival in mediaeval Kilkenny has more than 100 events and 100 stallholders with demonstrations by some of Ireland’s best known and loved chefs, savourkilkenny.com.
To read Ali Dunworth’s extensive round up of the best food festivals taking place this summer, pick up the May issue of IMAGE Magazine. On sale now.