I’m With The Chef!: The Best Food Festivals

It was only a matter of time before celebrity chefs cashed in on their lucrative TV programmes and launched their very own festivals, based around the premise and ideology of their shows. So with several new food inspired festivals now planned around the country, festival goers have a real decision to make – music or food? Luckily many of the new foodie fests have incorporated music into the food fairs and combined rock with a fine dining experience. And although food festivals are  by no means a new phenomena, there seems to be a real buzz and enthusiasm surrounding this years crop as celebrity chefs pull out all the stops with renewed inspiration and vigour. In fact you could say that some chefs are becoming more famous than their rock star counterparts. So where should you head to sample some of Britain’s best food events?

I’m surprised that Jamie Oliver has the time to start his Big Feastival, seeing as he is spending so many weeks in Hollywood, promoting his healthy eating programme, but he has pulled it off. The festival is based in Clapham Common, South London and runs from July 1st to 3rd. As well as food events which include 14 pop up restaurant experiences, cook offs by his famous Fifteen project and Canteen, there is music provided by KT Tunstall, The Charlatans and Norma Jay. You can also decide whether you want a music or food ticket only and prices start from £35 for a day ticket with food available from top chefs for a fiver. Buy tickets from jamieoliver.com.

The Wilderness Festival is a extravaganza created by Sam and Sam Clark, who are the husband-and-wife team behind Moro, the award-winning southern Mediterranean restaurant that they founded together in 1997. The festival starts on 12th August and runs until 14th and includes speakers such as Ian Goldin, Director of Oxford University’s James Martin 21st Century School, debating different topics, live music including Mercury Rev, Antony & The Johnsons, The Guillemots and of course food events including a Saturday evening banquet hosted by Sam and Sam, while newly Michelin-starred Skye Gyngell and her team will be hosting a Sunday Afternoon Feast. Tickets start from £60 and are available from widernessfestival.com.

Alex James may be best known for playing in Blur but more recently he has been involved in the food industry, creating his own brand of cheese named after a New Order song – Blue Monday and now has his own farm, situated in Oxfordshire. Part of the Harvest Festival group, with Jimmy Doherty, his one also has musical acts such as The Feeling, KT Tunstall (she must love her food!) and will feature a range of  pursuits on offer, including gardening workshops with Monty Don, cookery masterclasses, a children’s field, pop-up restaurants and the obligatory farmers’ market. The festival is based  in the farm in Kingham, Chipping Norton and tickets can be purchased at alexjamespresentsharvest.com for around £35. It starts on September 9th and finishes on the 12th. I feel a bit hungry now…

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