Rails & Ales Festival, August 25-28, South Devon Railway
There can be few more picturesque ale and cider festivals than the South Devon Railway Rails and Ales Festival, which takes place over the August Bank Holiday. Trains will be running every 45 minutes from Buckfastleigh and Totnes travelling past Buckfast Abbey and Ashburton, where passengers can alight to experience the miniature railway and traditional fairground.
At Staverton, the midway point on the line, the beer and cider festival runs from 11.00am to 11.00pm (6.00pm Monday), offering over 60 different ales and ciders. There’ll also be a Pimms tent and wine bar, a barbecue on Friday and Saturday night, and chilli on Sunday evening.
River Cottage Summer Food Festival, 26-27 August, Axminster
Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is behind this food and drink festival. There’ll be top tips on foraging, creating wild cocktails and wood-fired cookery, as well as farmhouse feasts at the River Cottage HQ, and cider brandy and cheese masterclasses.
Hugh himself will be on the Garden Stage with a selection of renowned guests, and a range of more unusual activities including everything from clay modelling to holistic massage.
Nourish, Bovey Tracey, September 2
Perched on the edge of the dramatic Dartmoor National Park, the historic town of Bovey Tracey, known as the gateway to the moor, is home to Nourish, a celebration of the South West’s finest food, drinks and crafts.
Over 50 of the region’s top food producers and street food vendors will fill Fore Street to compete for the Devon Street Food Awards. Cheese, meat, beer, macaroons, preserves, chillies, cider, olive oil, and cupcakes will be on sale, and new for 2017 is the Nourish Gin Festival. The festival has a craft fair too and, to lighten the mood, there’ll be mellow jazz as well as classical music performances.
Ashburton Food & Drink Festival, September 9
Nestled on the southern side of Dartmoor, Ashburton Food & Drink Festival is a celebration of the fantastic local food found in and around this historic stannary town.
Over 50 food and drink stallholders will line St Lawrence Lane and North Street, while music, comedy and children’s shows take place throughout the day. Ashburton’s retailers, pubs and eateries get in on the act too, with a host of festivities including live entertainment stretching late into the evening. Perfect for families, this free festival is one of Dartmoor’s finest.
Plymouth Seafood Festival, September 16-17
Plymouth’s Seafood Festival is back for its sixth year. Set in and around the Barbican and Sutton Harbour, visitors can enjoy a host of entertainment, activities and dishes to celebrate the city’s seafood heritage. The first city in the world to be awarded the Fish2Fork Blue City status for its commitment to sourcing sustainable fish, this festival will celebrate the finest of local fish dishes and produce. It also features demonstrations from regional and celebrity chefs at the Cookery Theatre, and a vast array of local food and craft stands.
Abbfest, Ipplepen, near Newton Abbot, September 22-24
If you like beer and cider, then Abbfest could well be worth a visit.
This year over 200 ciders and beers will be available to try over the three-day festival, plus food stalls and street food, cookery demonstrations – featuring chefs including 2017 Masterchef winner Elly Wentworth – craft stalls, and kids entertainment – including a climbing wall, archery, face painting and a bouncy castle.
Taste of the Teign Food and Drink Festival, September 25- October 1
The Taste of the Teign Food and Drink Festival features produce that’s only been picked and reared in the surrounding fields, caught in local waters or harvested from the hedges, such as the Teign mussel and oyster. There also wine and beer produced on the hills above Bishopsteignton.
Over the course of the festival dozens of events will take place in Teignmouth and around the Teign Estuary. Local restaurants and cafes will feature menus based on foods available from the local area. There’ll be everything from food demos, crab cracking and farmers’ markets in Teignmouth, to tours of the steepest Vineyard in England at the Old Walls Vineyard in Bishopsteignton.
Powderham Food Festival, Exeter, October 7-8
Now in its sixth year, Powderham Food Festival will have over 100 artisan food and drink producers to choose from. The Theatre of Smoke and Fire will bring a touch of heat and spice to the proceedings, with ITV BBQ Champ, Simon Dyer and King of Meatopia, Marcus Bawdon, among others, flaming, smoking and barbecuing meat to perfection.
Over on the cookery stage, illustrious names from the cheffing world will include Tim Maddams of River Cottage fame; Richard Hunt, TV chef and co-founder of Devon Scone Company, and Food writer and founder of Olive magazine, Orlando Murrin.
For the brave, or foolhardy, Clifton Chilli Club will be hosting another Great Chilli Challenge. It’ll be a case of last man standing as competitors chomp on increasingly spicy chilli peppers until only one remains.
Cullompton Food and Drink Festival, October 14
Renowned for produce from the Culm Valley, this pretty market town food festival is a huge draw for producers from mid-Devon and as far as Exmoor, where there will be a selection of hot food stalls and artisan food producers to choose from. A host of chef demonstrations will be taking place, and there’s even a Cream Tea showdown to find the best cream tea from the Culm Valley.
Dartmouth Food Festival, 20-22 October
The Dartmouth Food Festival is back for 2017 with a mix of regional food and drink, chef demonstrations, workshops, food debates and activities.
Set in the pretty estuary town of Dartmouth in the beautiful South Hams, the three-day Dartmouth Food Festival draws around 20,000 people to the town each year. More than 100 South West producers will showcase their produce, and the line-up of celebrated chefs demonstrating their skills includes Simon Hulstone, Richard Bertinet, Romy Gill, and Angela Hartnett, TV and Radio personalities, Matt Tebbutt, Jay Rayner, Matthew Fort and Dan Saladino, alongside wine experts Susy Atkins, Fiona Beckett and award-winning Tim McLaughlin-Green from Sommeliers Choice.
For more information go to www.visitsouthdevon.co.uk