Jonathan Swain takes you on a culinary journey through Wales with his guide to the top food festivals of 2023 in Wales. From the legendary Abergavenny Food Festival’s 25th anniversary celebration to the vibrant Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival and the charming Cardigan River & Food Festival, a feast of flavours, live demos, and family-friendly attractions are on the menu this year.
ABERGAVENNY FOOD FESTIVAL
At the tail end of Wales’ food festival season in 2023 – though nonetheless significant – the Abergavenny Food Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this September. Started by two local farmers in 1999, it is a huge draw, attracting talent from near and far. Across six accessible venues, all within easy walking distance of each other, you can watch chef demos, hear talks and debates, and experience all the drama of fire cooking at the Castle. You can shop for hours, browsing 150 exhibitors all chosen for originality, quality and provenance; and of course, there are many street food stalls to keep you busy, with plenty to entertain the whole family too.
Although the full guest line-up is under wraps (but imminent), the festival is sure to welcome a bona fide BBQ legend. Hosts Sam Evans and Shauna Guinn (Hang Fire) will host the Live Fire Area at The Castle, presenting Chicago-born, Florida-based Ray Lampe, aka the legendary Dr BBQ. Chef, pitmaster, spokesman and author Ray was inducted into the BBQ Hall of Fame in 2014; an American barbecue titan, his appearance, Sam and Shauna explain, has been some time in the making.
“We’ve been trying to get Ray over to Abergavenny Festival for a couple of years. And thanks to great festival sponsors, it’s finally happening! Ray really is a living legend. His accolades are numerous and well-deserved. As we host Ray around the Fire Pit, he’ll be sharing his story as well as giving the festival goers next-level BBQ tips. This is a demo not to be missed!”
Their enthusiasm is echoed by their guest of honour. “I’m really looking forward to my visit to Abergavenny and spending some time with my old friends Sam and Shauna,” Ray tells me. “The festival is legendary and I’m so honoured to be a part of it. Meat, fire and passion for food is what I love so that’s what you can expect to see from my demo!”
Abergavenny Food Festival, various locations, Abergavenny, Sat 16 + Sun 17 Sept.
Tickets: £13.50 / free under-16s (with a paying adult).
COWBRIDGE FOOD & DRINK FESTIVAL
A fixture since 2004, Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival is unrecognisable from its humble beginnings. What was a one-day event with 40 stalls and 4,000 visitors, now spans the whole weekend and brings over 10,000 visitors to the town, where they can enjoy over 100 exhibition stands.
Arthur John Car Park, Cowbridge, Sun 28 + Mon 29 May
CARDIGAN RIVER & FOOD FESTIVAL
With attractions for the whole family, from boat trips, coracle demonstrations, to an RNLI Rescue Demonstration and even a duck race, this is an opportunity to celebrate the food grown and prepared in the River Teifi area. Food vendors include Indian street food from Babita’s, the taste of southern Spain from Ele’s Little Kitchen and Batak’s traditional Syrian dishes.
Quay Street Car Park, Cardigan, Sat 19 Aug
WELSH VEGAN FESTIVAL
Cardiff’s Tramshed will welcome stalls selling all-vegan food and drinks, crafts, gifts, clothing, cosmetics and more, supplemented with discussions about how our choices affect ourselves, our world, and other living things.
Tramshed, Cardiff, Sun 20 Aug
GREAT BRITISH FOOD FESTIVAL
Between a wealth of street food and bars, a live music stage, circus skills, chef demos, baking and barbecuing stages, an artisan market and much more, Margam Park will be busy over this weekend. There’s plenty for young ones to enjoy too, with an adventure playground and ‘Fairy Tale Land’ among the attractions on the huge site.
Margam Country Park, nr Port Talbot, Sat 2 + Sun 3 Sept
ST FAGANS FOOD FESTIVAL
You’ll find over 80 food, drink and craft stalls here, with a focus on entertaining (and, of course, feeding!) the whole family. The setting lends it a uniquely historical setting. Expect cookery demos, live music, and plenty to sample from some of Wales’ best producers.
National Museum Of History, St Fagans, Sat 9 + Sun 10 Sept
CONWY HONEY FAIR
At 700 years old, The Honey Fair is Conwy’s oldest event. It can be traced back to King Edward I, when local beekeepers were first allowed to sell honey within the walls of the town, every September 13th, from midnight to midnight, without charge.
High Street / Lancaster Square, Conwy, Wed 13 Sept
SWANSEA GIN & RUM FESTIVAL
You’ll find over 120 leading gins & rums here, from the UK and abroad, so expect cocktails in abundance. Your ticket includes a goodie bag to make the most of the festival, and of course to enable you to take your newfound mixing skills home with you.
Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, Sat 16 Sept
MOLD FOOD & DRINK FESTIVAL
This visitor centre in the Flintshire town will host several hundred exhibitors and welcome up to 20,000 visitors. Attractions include Snowdonia cheese and Rhug Estate Organic Farm.
Discover Flincher Visitor Centre, Mold, Sat 16 + Sun 17 Sept
NARBERTH FOOD FESTIVAL
Narberth is already a favoured destination for food lovers from across the UK, due in large part to Ultracomida. Among those appearing at the two-day event are festival patron Angela Gray and former Great British Bake Off contestant Michelle Evans-Fecci. Saturday will feature Matt Waldron, of Pembrokeshire’s Stackpole Inn. Look out for Carwyn Graves, known for his writing on Welsh food and produce (reviewed by Buzz last year); and the team from Velfrey Vineyard, for a talk about wine.
Town Moor, Narberth, Sat 23 + Sun 24 Sept
From local chefs holding cookery demos to live music throughout the day, and a selection of street food traders from across Wales, this two-day event – formerly Wrexham Food & Drink Festival – promises to be busy.
Waterworld Car Park, Wrexham, Sat 23 + Sun 24 Sept
words JONATHAN SWAIN
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