Festival season has arrived. Some of our most unanimously popular ones are the food festivals! With them comes a good reason to eat and drink a host of foods from local and international sources.
Over the coming months, the Garden of England will be showing off its culinary credentials with a whole host of festivals dedicated to sensational food and drink. Whether you are a sucker for street food or want to watch some of your favourite celebrity chefs go about their work, it’s time to tempt your taste buds.
18th to 20th March 2022
There are five senses among humans, which all contribute to how we as a species perceive the world around us. Combining each of these, Ramsgate Through the Senses is a weekend festival that not only celebrates touch through to sound, but as we're talking food - taste! Across the weekend, visitors to Ramsgate can take part in festivities such as sampling unique dishes from top local chefs paired with local drinks, truly (and we mean truly) immersive foodie experiences, foraging and of course there's something for the little ones, with the likes of fishy tales and sea shanties from the Snottledogs.
Spring and summer dates
With the stunning backdrop of The Nest and vines at Gusbourne, the ever popular Chef Series has returned for 2022. Throughout the spring and summer, four exciting and Michelin-starred restaurants take over the kitchen at the vineyard and cook for guests at lunch or dinner time, with Tom Kerridge’s The Hand and Flowers on the 29th April, Trinity on the 20th May, The Fordwich Arms on the 24th June and Tom Seller’s Restaurant Story on the 16th September. Adding the Gusbourne touch, you’ll start off your experience with a wander in the vines with canapés and an aperitif before the bespoke multi-course meal paired with Gusbourne sparkling and limited-edition wines. Be sure to secure your place!
16th to 18th April; and 30th September to 2nd October
One of Kent's best festivals (and not just because of its stunning views over Broadstairs and the sea!) is holding not just one, but two events this year! At the April event, try and buy from over 50 stalls of Kentish producers, and in autumn take in 100 stalls of regional produce and sharpen up your skills with workshops and live chef demonstrations. If the weather's good, you can always burn off the extra calories with a dip in the sea.
If you're inquisitive like us about processes and how wine is made, you'll need to sign up for this Evolving English Wines event at Chapel Down, hosted by the Wine Garden of England. Bringing a winemaker from each of the seven WGOE partner vineyards, attendees will learn truly behind the scenes techniques and get answers to pressing winery queries - from understanding the notes of the sparkling wine and what it tastes like before fermentation, to what the winemaker looks for throughout the process. This is an event the aspiring sommelier will not want to miss!
28th & 29th May
Right next to the stunning Tonbridge Castle, on the banks of the River Medway, the Tonbridge Town Food Festival will feature dozens of stalls of delicious food and drink product both locally and from across the globe. Think sweet treats such as fudge and of course cakes, to savoury cheeses and breads, all lined up to taste and buy to get your early summer fix. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for all the latest details.
With the beautiful backdrop of Squerryes Court, embark on a day full of celebrating English wine. Throughout the day you'll be able to meet and try wines from the eight vineyards that make up the Wine Garden of England, sample some tasty local food and learn all about the industry and what makes our wine so special. More information will follow soon but grab your tickets while they last and keep an eye on their Eventbrite page!
24th to 26th June
Doing as it says on the tin, the UK’s biggest touring celebrity food festival is making its way to Kent this summer, with a stop in Maidstone to celebrate everything gastro! Across the weekend, visitors will be treated to a plethora of celebrity chefs cooking live on stage – in particular for the Maidstone event, Kate Humble and Atul Kochhar from Saturday Kitchen, and stars from MasterChef and the Great British Bake Off! To really up the festival vibe, there’ll be live music each day from the likes of Scouting for Girls and Lee Ryan and Simon Webbe from Blue.
Right in the middle of the year, and at the height of the summer, is surely the perfect time to taste Kent’s finest wines all under one roof. With 14 vineyards showcasing their product, Master of Wine Clive Barlow will host the event where you can sample the county's finest wines. Of course after the session you are free to buy your favourites, which to us sounds like the perfect way to amplify those summer evenings.
Dates throughout the year
With the stunning Whitstable Castle as your backdrop, embark on a day long foraging and mushroom growing course with Urban Farm-It. Not only will you be able to learn how to farm your own fungi, you'll have the day to forage in the local area and explore skills so that you can become more self-sufficient in how you get your food. There are dates throughout the year so whichever season you go for, there'll be all kinds of fare waiting for you.
27th & 28th August
Whether you are a coffee guru or a casual fan of a well-made cup, head to the Kent Coffee Festival in Canterbury’s Gulbenkian and you can learn everything from seasonal trends in coffee to just tasting some of the country's finest coffees. You’ll be able to pick up some bags of coffee to take home with you too from some of the scene's best names. With live music on hand, the festival will feel like your local little coffee shop. Keep an eye on their website for more info!
3rd to 4th September
Our county is quite well known for its beers and food produce - and in certain areas of Kent, hops! In steps one of Faversham's most beloved street celebrations, the Hop Festival. Bringing together no less than 60 bands and live performances stretching folk music to Morris dancers, but it doesn't just stop there as there'll be a fairground and the likes of magic shows for kids - this one big free weekend for all to celebrate and have fun.
12th & 13th September
Kent Life is known for its animal experiences and a portrait of how Kent was over the centuries, so it is only fitting that the Hop and Harvest Beer Festival is set there for a weekend. You can start the process that the producers take by having a go at hop picking, and then taste and sample the 50 varieties of locally brewed ales and ciders on offer. Ironically this festival is also perfect for kids as there is a Big Top which has some of the best indoor and outdoor activities going on.
With Kent's reliable transportation links, Southeastern railway and Stagecoach bus service, travelling around the county's food festivals couldn't be easier (or cheaper). Especially with Stagecoaches' brand new express route which runs through cultured Canterbury, to the bustling town of Chatham, finally landing at the Capital in about 2 hours. The service also runs late at night so you can come out of hiding when the words 'designated driver' are muttered... Or, if you’d prefer to stay a weekend the Camping & Caravanning Club has plenty of sites across the county.