What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you mention food and drink in Devon? Probably clotted cream scones swiftly followed by creamy ice cream, and then there delicious creamy cheeses, tasty seafood, mouthwatering lamb chops…oooh and what about that rather nice Extra Brut sparking wine from Sharpham Winery? No wonder the county wins so many awards for its flavoursome epicurean offerings fresh from the farm / fish market / vineyard / dairy!
If you’re wondering where to start sampling some of the UK’s finest and tastiest organic produce, Devon’s food and drink festivals are a smorgasbord of sampling, smelling and quaffing. They attract local and national chefs who put on a fine show with their culinary demonstrations (followed by sampling the results, of course!), hands-on cookery classes and cook-off competitions.
We’ve rounded up 13 of the best annual food and drink festivals in Devon that have one thing in mind – celebrating award-winning Devon produce at its very best. What’s not to celebrate in that!
- Devon’s top foodie festivals
- Clovelly Herring Festival: the village that time forgot
- Marldon Apple Pie Fair
- Devon County Show
- Topsham’s top-notch Food Festival
- Tasty treats at Dartmouth Food Festival
- Celebrate the harvest at Cockington Apple and Pumpkin Festival
- Exeter Foodies Festival
- Pickling and preserving at the Powderham Food Festival
- Have a whale of a time at Clovelly Lobster and Crab Festival
- Plymouth Flavour Fest
- Taste East Devon Food and Drink Festival
- Devon’s Beer Festivals (and wine, cider and scrumpy!)
Devon’s top foodie festivals
Clovelly Herring Festival: the village that time forgot
November is herring season and this rich harvest of "silver darlings" from the sea has been celebrated for centuries in the pretty harbour village of Clovelly.
Voted one of the best autumn food festivals in the UK, the Clovelly Herring Festival is a fun family day out, usually on the third Sunday in November. There can’t be many villages like Clovelly and anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting will have noticed the historic charm of this unique traffic-free waterfront community.
Even if you have never visited Clovelly, you will probably have seen pictures of it. The iconic cobbled steps leading down the steep "main street" to the harbour below have been immortalised in countless TV adverts and period dramas.
Clovelly – Nowhere quite like it!
The village of Clovelly is built into the side of a cliff and consists of picture postcard white-washed cottages which are stepped due to the steep incline leading down to the world-famous fishing port. The flower-lined street descends in shallow cobbled steps which are lined with thatched cottages, cafés, pubs, museums and shops.
Believe it or not, the village is privately owned and has been in the ownership of the same family since 1738. The owners have a policy in place that the village is kept in the style of the 19th century. The steep cobbled high street, which remains traffic free due to the many cobbled steps, certainly feels completely different to anywhere else in Devon.
In years gone by, Clovelly was a major player in the herring fishing industry. Herrings and shoals of pilchards were once far more plentiful around the North Devon coastline and 9,000 herring could be landed at one time. Known as "Silver Darlings" these nutritious fish rich in vitamins and Omega-3 were once the livelihood and staple diet for many poor families. The oily fish were smoked as its a means of preserving them and they are then called kippers.
This age-old festival is held to celebrate and keep alive the harvesting of herring or "silver darlings" of the sea, as they are often nicknamed. The over-fishing of hundreds of herring boats that once sailed out of this port has led to a dramatic reduction in herring shoals. Clovelly now has just two herring fishermen who use drift nets and long lines to ensure the sustainability of the remaining herring fish stocks.
The proceeds from the ” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Clovelly Herring Festival help to preserve traditional fishing methods and support these sustainable fishing methods. It certainly makes an informative fun day out for all ages.
What to expect at the Clovelly Herring Festival
The foodie festival starts around 10am and finishes at 4pm. The setting is unbeatable with shanty singers serenading you whilst you take it all in. Herring specialities are on offer along with the obligatory glass of cider to wash it down.
Smoked herring, better known as kippers, make a tasty meal if you take some home, either for breakfast, lunch or supper! Part of the Clovelly Herring Festival is the Kipperland exhibition presented by maritime historian and local fishmonger Mike Smylie. It not only tells the history of herring but is accompanied by tasty kipper and bloater delicacies fresh from his smokehouse.
Other activities include net making, flax processing and cookery demonstrations featuring herrings. Lots of hands-on activities are lined up as well as local craft stalls and demonstrations, live music and fish-themed activities for all the family.
Donkeys in Clovelly
Anyone visiting the Clovelly Herring Festival should be aware that the hilly coastal village is very steep. Donkeys were once used to haul goods up and down the streets in sledges. They can now be seen enjoying a well earned retirement in a grassy field. However there is a Land Rover service which transports visitors up a back road, but you do miss all the sights and attractions if you opt to pay for that route.
The uneven cobbled streets mean that flat sensible shoes are an absolute must. Be sure to take plenty of photos as this will be a unique historic food festival that you will want to remember long after your visit.
☀️ Why not book a holiday cottage in Clovelly and experience this timeless village for yourself?
Marldon Apple Pie Fair
If you find yourself visiting the English Riviera on the last Saturday in July there is nowhere better to spend the afternoon than at the Marldon Apple Fair, and not just for the delicious apple pie…
Marldon is a small traditional South Devon village tucked away between Torquay and Paignton. If you are feeling energetic and you are staying in Torquay or Paignton you could easily walk to Marldon, catch the local bus or make the 10-minute drive.
In the weeks leading up to the Apple Fair, you’ll notice signs posted everywhere, inviting you to this most prominent event in the Marldon Diary. It is advisable to arrive early as the small lanes leading to the village and the cricket field where the fair is held get absolutely jam-packed, as you can imagine.
Apple pie and scrumpy
The fair was started in 1888 when local farmer George Hill used his windfall apples to bake a giant apple pie for the whole village. Of course, it was so popular it became an annual event.
The fair was known as "Apple Pie Day" by the locals but since 1955 it became known as the Marldon Apple Pie Fair. When you set eyes on the magnificent apple pie (singular!) you will see why. It is absolutely massive and you should really get in the queue to sample its delights with a dollop of fresh Devon cream before it runs out.
I don’t think I have ever been to the Marldon Apple Pie Fair without seeing many disappointed faces walking away from an empty large silver tray with the words "Sorry. Sold out!" written on a piece of cardboard, balanced up on the crumb-strewn serving table.
You will be pleased to know that the apple pie is not the only attraction. There are stalls in every available space with the scrumpy stall always being extremely popular. However, a word of warning! This is pure Devon scrumpy we are talking about so don’t be surprised when it is served to you in a small plastic glass. You are not being ripped off, you are being looked after as this drink is very intoxicating, especially on a warm summer’s afternoon.
There are live country events throughout the afternoon such as dog racing and wood cutting and it all adds to the uniqueness of the event. The cheers that fill the air when the results are announced for the live events drown out the general hubbub from the crowd.
End the day at the historic gastro pub
As the afternoon events are drawing to a close, thoughts drift toward a scrumptious meal at the award-winning Church House Inn, situated just across the road from the cricket field. Dating back to 1362, this Grade II listed inn was the first pub in Devon to be listed in the Michelin Pub Guide. It was constructed to house the masons working on the church, became a village meeting house and finally became a charming village pub. It’s well worth returning on a less busy evening and sampling the outstanding cuisine or a traditional Sunday roast.
Devon County Show
Not entirely a food festival, the Devon County Show nonetheless celebrates the fine livestock and farming practices that actually put food on the table. They also have a fabulous Food and Drink Pavilion, hence it’s inclusion in this section.
The best in the SouthWest at the Devon County Show
Devon County Show is a big event for Devonians and schools close to allow the whole family to attend "the biggest variety show in the county calendar". Schoolchildren, farmers, families, retirees, business folk, tourists and locals all make their annual pilgrimage to the Devon County Show which is held at Westpoint, near Exeter, on the fourth Thursday, Friday and Saturday in May.
History and info about the Devon County Show
The Devon County Show has been a local tradition for over 140 years. Basically the show is a big shop window for Devon’s farming community, food and tourism industries. It attracts around 95,000 visitors over the three-day event.
The show’s Patron is HRH the Prince of Wales, who has held the honorary position for over 12 years and has been known to attend on occasion. It is a very appropriate appointment as more than half the Duchy of Cornwall is actually in Devon and includes 29,000 hectares on Dartmoor.
Things to look forward to at the Devon County Show
Award-winning displays include crafts, pets, farmyard animals, tractors, falconry displays, flower arranging, cars, agricultural equipment, restored steam engines, trade stands, WI competitions, archery, forestry, buggy racing, heritage breeds and plenty of food and drink. The WI (Women’s Institute) tent is always a great place to find tasty homemade food including game pie and scones with clotted cream.
Devon’s big day out!
On a more traditional note, there are quite a few classes for horses, show jumping and dressage as well as a broad range of livestock classes. You will see a parade of huge and handsome farmyard animals being led docilely around the arena, hooves shining, manes and tails intricately plaited and coats a-gleaming. Whoever knew that South Devon cattle are affectionately known as "orange elephants?"
Basically everything from alpacas to pigs and cider to honey becomes an opportunity to win a rosette at Devon’s Big Day Out. One of the main draws is the tasty local food, so head over to the refreshments tent and nab yourself some of the delicious homemade goodies. Fruit cakes, pies, pasties, rolls, crab sandwiches and more are available and there is a happy babble of chatter from the communal tables arranged inside the huge marquee.
If you fancy taking some great Devon fare home with you, there are stands around the showground selling cheese, homemade fudge, Devon cider, eggs and dairy products, sausages, wine, honey, jam, meat, pickles and pudds. Go on – treat yourself!
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Topsham’s top-notch Food Festival
A pretty town, a scenic quay and a great reputation for locally sourced foods make Topsham the perfect place to host one of the best epicurean events in the Westcountry. The Topsham Food Festival includes tastings, workshops and a BYO feast.
The small riverfront town of Topsham is best known as a genteel boating community on the River Exe in what many visitors describe as "the loveliest place on earth". It is home to the upscale Darts Farm (Food Hall and Restaurant) and Pebblebed Vineyards, providing fresh gourmet food and drink on the doorstep.
In order to promote good food to a wider audience, the Topsham Food Festival was established. Its aim was to put this little-known gem on the map as an outstanding destination for celebrating local food and drink. The festival takes place on the third weekend in June and includes a diverse programme of food and drink-orientated events.
Join in Nello’s Longest Table at the Topsham Food Festival
Topsham Food Festival is a three-day event including a Food Trail around the village, cookery workshops, chef demonstrations, food and drink tastings (remember this is cider country!) with live music in a friendly community atmosphere. One of the most memorable events is Nello’s Longest Table. This involves participants setting up a 350 tables all along High Street so the whole village can sit down and share good food and friendship.
The tables are decorated in style with tablecloths, fancy napkins, flowers and more. Participants must bring their own chair and a meal consisting of local food and drink. Tesco and Sainsbury’s carrier bags will he hexed at the door! The event begins at 2pm with setting up and it runs until well into the evening. Just for fun, many people wear fancy dress.
Topsham’s campaign to Eat, Drink and Shop Local
Although much of our food tends to be supermarket sourced and not as fresh as we might hope, Devon has plenty of local food sources right on its doorstep. Many of the local pubs and restaurants in the area pride themselves on producing a menu of great tasting food from whatever is local; and seasonally available. The Topsham Food Festival echoes the same thought principle.
The emphasis on sustainability, limiting how far food is transported and being concerned about the environment, are key concerns which help shape this gourmet food fest. It is an extension of Topsham’s ongoing "eat, drink and shop local" campaign.
The proof, so they say, is in the pudding, so you can sample local produce as part of the Food Festival and decide for yourself whether fresh is best.
Where to find the best food in Topsham
Topsham is famous for the "Topsham Ten"; not a group of pardoned criminals but a set of exceptional pubs, cafés and award-winning restaurants. These places serve outstanding menus to suit all budgets and tastes. Those looking for a food-themed holiday in Devon should certainly consider staying in the area, particularly on the weekend of the Topsham Food Festival.
The Darts Farm shopping village is on the outskirts of Topsham and is a mouthwatering food hall, restaurant and farm shop which sells local produce to the public. From fresh eggs to pink rhubarb, if it’s in season you will find it here. Other places gourmets may want to browse are the Shaul Bakeries, Country Cheese, Salt Fish Deli and Arthurs Butchers and Deli. The area is served by
a vibrant Saturday Farmers’ Market in Matthews Hall.
You can dine in style at the food-centric Salutation Inn or enjoy perfectly cooked fish and chips at the Fish Shed. There’s something for all tastes at Topsham, and the best time to discover it is at the Topsham Food Festival.
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Tasty treats at Dartmouth Food Festival
Dartmouth Food Festival has grown from humble beginnings back in 2002 into a first-rate feast for food-lovers on the last weekend in October. It includes hands-on cookery workshops, food seminars, tastings, competitions and demonstrations as well as 120 stalls, mostly from local Devon suppliers. Led by local restaurateur Mitch Tonks, it’s a heady mix of celebrity chefs, food markets, tasting shacks and demos and it’s absolutely free to attend.
Haven’t I seen you on the telly?
These are a number of top class chefs who have acquired a celebrity chef status and many find their way down to the Dartmouth Food Festival. With the hugely talented Mitch Tonks on the organising committee of the festival it is not unusual to see the like of Tom Parker-Bowles in attendance. He has been seen at past events, beavering away in the background, joining in with the cooking demonstration and getting involved with the visitors. Everyone is eager to learn the tips and tricks that are part of creating a culinary masterpiece.
If you have ventured in to Dartmouth recently you will no doubt be aware that it has turned into something of a Mecca for highly talented young chefs who have opened top restaurants in the area. MasterChef Finalist Elly Wentworth heads the team at The Angel Dartmouth and Tonks himself has two restaurants: The award-winning Rockfish and the quayside Seahorse, so the festival is in good hands!
Things to do during Dartmouth Food Festival!
The Dartmouth Food Festival usually takes place over the last weekend in October in Dartmouth’s market square and along the embankment. Even though it is out in the open, inclement weather doesn’t dampen the proceedings too much. Most of the stalls are close together and the positioning of the festival is relatively sheltered from the elements.
As well as cookery demonstrations there is wine tasting and children’s activities. In the evening local art galleries stay open for an art walk of exhibitions and local restaurants show off their skills to festival-goers.
Dartmouth Food Festival is worth the walk!
The big problem with Dartmouth is the lack of parking and bottleneck streets. For an event like this you will often find yourself driving around in circles trying to get a space but if you don’t mind walking a short distance, drive through the town ignoring the car parks and make your way along Victoria Street. Keep going up the hill where you will find a residential area with free parking. Be warned though, after a few samples of the local wine and cider, walking back up the hill is not as easy as it was walking down!
The Dartmouth Food Festival carries on in the local bars and restaurants into the night. It certainly makes it a true celebration of Devon food and everything that goes with it. The enthusiasm of all of those involved really is infectious and perhaps that’s why this event continues to be so successful.
☀️ Why not book a holiday cottage in Dartmouth and experience the Dartmouth Food Festival for yourself!
Celebrate the harvest at Cockington Apple and Pumpkin Festival
If ever there was a true celebration of the English countryside, it would have to be Cockington Apple and Pumpkin Festival. Formerly known as Cockington Apple Day, the autumn festival is held the last week in October in the well-preserved Cockington Country Park, Torquay. The authentic village setting of Cockington attracts thousands of visitors throughout the summer months to see the quaint thatched cottages and beautiful scenery that Cockington is famous for. The festival adds something new to the attraction.
Did you know…
The 17th century manor house, village, church and park make up Cockington Court which is a key site of the UNESCO Global Geopark on the English Riviera. The country park also includes 460 acres of rolling Devon countryside and water meadows. It is one of the few attractions to achieve the prestigious Keep Britain Tidy Green Flag Award over 25 times since it was launched.
History of Cockington Apple Day
National Apple Day began in 1990 by the charity Common Ground. It wanted to raise awareness of the disappearance of traditional apple orchards in the UK. There were once over 6,000 varieties of apples grown here, but only nine are currently available in supermarkets. Modern methods of farming and cheap imports have led to more than 90% of Devon’s orchards being lost since 1965.
Cockington Apple Day was devised to celebrate the diversity of apples and raise awareness of the importance of preserving the traditional orchards that remains. The day included tasting apples and cider, recipes, songs, stories, wassailing and pruning of the orchards and attracted around 3000 visitors. The new look and name promises the appeal will be even wider.
Head to the Old Cider Press
For those not familiar with Cockington, the focal point of Cockington Apple and Pumpkin Festival is the big old cider press. Crowds surround the apple press as it creates over 600 pints of apple juice during the day. It is situated alongside the impressive looking craft centre in the former stables where local artisans work and sell their wares.
The festival is a great excuse to browse and buy some genuine handcrafted jewellery, paintings, crafts and gifts unlike anywhere else. Check out the glass-blowing, sculptures, leather goods, ceramics and more.
The Cockington Apple and Pumpkin Festival includes some fabulous entertainment laid on by the organisers including storytellers, live music and craft demonstrations.
A view to die for!
One area of Cockington that many tourists don’t even realise exists is the orchards themselves. To reach them you just have to walk past the Cockington Court Craft Centre and through the wooden gate at the top of the overflow car park. The orchards are not signposted but you are free to enter – just remember to close the gate behind you as there are often sheep grazing there.
When you walk through the gate, carry on walking up the hill to the top corner of the field but make sure that you don’t look behind you. When you reach the top corner you will see an apple tree with a makeshift bench which has been knocked together. When you reach the bench, slowly turn around and you will be greeted by a view which will take your breath away due to its sheer beauty.
Surrounded by the most glorious woodland to your left and right, the view to the sea in front of you is interrupted only by the flag of St George which is flying proudly above Cockington Church. There can’t be many better views anywhere else in the world!
When you have sat down on the bench to take it all in, enjoy a short walk back through the orchard and join in with the festivities of the Apple and Pumpkin Festival.
There are plenty of food stalls that are part of the festival along with tea rooms and cafes serving Devon cream teas. When the fun is over, a short walk down to The Drum Inn which is situated in the middle of Cockington is the order of the day to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat. If the sun is shining there are plenty of seats outside but if it is getting a bit chilly, the roaring log fire will give you a warm glow whilst you think back over a typical day in the "Old English" countryside.
☀️ Why not book a holiday cottage in Torquay and enjoy a day at Cockington Country Park at any time of year!
Exeter Foodies Festival
Superceding the successful Exeter Food and Drink Festival, the nationwide Foodies Festival comes to Exeter. It combines top chefs, tasty food, delicious drinks and headliner music in an amazing event at Escot Park, a huge country park on the outskirts of the city. The event takes place over the middle weekend in September and is already grabbing the headlines.
This ticketed event has already attracted top chefs such as Mark Dodson (Michael Roux’s head Chef at The Waterside Inn, Bray and now rooted in Devon at the Michelin Star Masons Arms Knowstone). He’s in good company with fellow Michelin Star Chef Peter Gorton (Horn of Plenty and Gorton’s Restaurant in Tavistock) along with Dan Bowden, Daniel Marreiros (MasterChef Finalist 2021), and newcomer Sam Lomas (Glebe House Devon). See them and other star chefs in action at the festival and pick up a few tips and tales during their culinary demos.
Masterclass food and drinks
The Chef’s Theatre promotes MasterChef winners and Michelin rated chefs cooking their signature dishes while the Cake and Bake Theatre is perfect for those with a sweet tooth. Join British Bake-off winners, top bakers and patisserie chefs in a mouthwatering culinary workshop event.
If you prefer liquid calories, the Drinks Masterclass allows you to sip champagne, wine, beer and cider while being guided through the appreciation experience by top experts in the Drinks Theatre. The Cocktail Masterclass will soon have you mixing and shaking to create amazing cocktails ready for your next party!
More than just great food…
The headliner event also has a lineup of musical talent and live entertainment from top UK bands such as East 17, Five, Gabrielle and Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
Feed your face on delicious street food from around the world, sample craft beer, fizz and fine wine or join the Chilli Eating Competition. You can also have a chat with award-winning artisan producers showcasing their speciality foods at one of over 200 food stalls. Vegan and free-from foods are featured for those with special dietary needs and preferences.
Kids are not forgotten with the Kids Cookery Theatre and classes, bouncy castles and Kidzone. It makes it a fantastic foodie festival for all the family.
☀️Why not book a holiday cottage in Exeter and experience the city’s many top restaurants and waterfront gastropubs!
Pickling and preserving at the Powderham Food Festival
The Powderham Food Festival takes place on the first weekend in October and has become a popular themed event on Devon’s social calendar since it started in 2012.
For those who are not familiar with this particular venue, Powderham Castle is an imposing stately home, set in the middle of a deer park with stunning views out towards the Exe Estuary.
Location, location, location!
The organisers of the Powderham Food Festival wisely combine the history and location into the theme of the festival. Most of the action takes place in the magnificent ground floor rooms of the castle and spilling out into the courtyard outside.
The list of exhibitors is usually well over 100 and every type of food and drink is covered with the vast majority of stallholders being Devon locals. Cooking demonstrations and free samples will also be the order of the day. It’s also a great excuse to sample the delights of Powderham Castle estate.
What’s in store at the Powderham Food Festival
Many eager visitors to the Powderham Food Festival will be waiting to enter when the doors open at 10am and won’t be ready to leave until the event is due to finish. Food stalls, a Preserves Competition, apple pressing, demos on jam-making, smoking, salting and brewing as well as preserving methods developed by NASA are all discussed and demonstrated.
Exhibitors are accompanied by growers, cookery demonstrations, talks and tastings by local artisans, small producers and experts in the art of food preservation, from picking to potting. In past years there has even been a panel of experts offering an entertaining Gardeners Question Time.
The impressive lineup of chefs and food geeks includes many household names such as Jan Baxter, author of the Riverford Field Kitchen and Peter Greig will be manning the fire pit tending grass-fed free-range meat from the Pipers Farm Group. His smoked BBQ beef brisket is to die for!
Under cover, marquees will have endless demos on perfect baking, bread and more.
More things to do around Powderham Castle
For anyone who is visiting the area for the first time, they will enjoy exploring the area around Powderham when they have had their fill of the festival. Where better than the short walk along the road into the pretty coastal village of Starcross.
Just a short distance from Powderham, there’s a ferry across the river from Starcross to Exmouth from April to October. The trip is very reasonably priced and all of the crew on this family owned boat are extremely friendly. After the short trip over to Exmouth, what could be better than a quick pint and some fish and chips from one of the ‘chippies’ on Exmouth harbour, if you have not gorged yourself on the freebies on offer over at Powderham of course!
☀️ Why not book a holiday cottage near Exmouth and experience the Powderham Food Festival for yourself!
Have a whale of a time at Clovelly Lobster and Crab Festival
If you’re partial to a succulent platter of lobster or a fresh crusty roll crammed with moist crab, Clovelly Lobster and Crab Festival will have you salivating at the very thought! In case you’re wondering, Clovelly only offers sustainably caught lobsters and crabs in order to preserve stocks for this all-important local livelihood.
The first Sunday in September is when Devon’s fabulous seafood is celebrated at the annual Clovelly Lobster and Crab Feast. Nothing beats the taste of freshly caught seafood, carefully dressed and cooked to perfection. Not only is this event a feast for the stomach, it’s a wonderful feast for the eyes too!
The event is hosted on the quay in the pretty North Devon village of Clovelly which is known for its fishing fleet as well as for its picturesque cobbled street leading steeply down to the beach and harbour.
Lively activities at the Clovelly Lobster and Crab Feast
As well as sampling the tasty local catch, the day includes folk music, quayside kitchens, cookery demos and there’s a champagne prize draw to go with the delicious lobster and crab dishes on offer.
This celebration of local crustaceans also raises money to support the National Lobster Hatchery located just along the coast in Padstow. The staff will be exhibiting a tank of baby lobsters reared from eggs at the hatchery. After being featured as an interesting exhibit at the Clovelly Lobster and Crab Feast, they are then released into the sea to improve their chances of survival. As well as learning about local lobsters, you can adopt a lobster for £4 to pay for it to be hatched, nurtured and released.
Like many other events hosted at Clovelly, this is a very family friendly event and there are amusements and entertainment everywhere for youngsters. Street theatre, face painting, balloon modelling, walkabout magicians and creative storytelling will give them plenty to talk about.
Live folk music and sea shanties are performed by various musicians to keep the party atmosphere. Bring your eyepatch as there’s usually a few young pirates hanging around the town. Youngsters under the age of 16 get in free if they are dressed as a pirate or mermaid!
Enjoy the best seafood platters at the Clovelly Lobster and Crab Feast
Other ways the festival celebrates this local feast day include arts and crafts stalls and plenty of yummy things to eat and drink. As well as the beer and cider tasting booths there is an array of pop-up kitchens along the quayside where local chefs create delicious seafood snacks and dishes. The sizzling sound and aroma of seafood are enough to make your tummy rumble and your mouth water with anticipation, so definitely come hungry!
If you fancy a proper sit-down meal during your visit, the old Red Lion Pub on the harbourside prepares hundreds of exquisite seafood and lobster platters as well as the usual crab baguettes, crab salad and Devon cream teas. The seafood platters are the speciality of the day and are served with a glass of complimentary champagne – the perfect accompaniment for these subtle seafood delicacies.
Unique Clovelly attractions
As Clovelly is a private village the usual admission charges apply, payable at the Visitor Centre near the car park. Once inside the village you can wander down the famously steep High Street with its shallow cobbled steps. The cottages were once serviced by donkey-pulled sleds which carried deliveries and provisions up and down. You can see the donkeys enjoying a pampered retirement in a nearby field.
The village dates back to late 11th century when it was owned by the king and listed in the Domesday Book. The charming fishermen’s cottages are beautifully maintained, thanks to the ongoing maintenance program funded from the admission fees. Restoration work continues to ensure the charm and authenticity of this Devon community are retained for future generations.
The usual Clovelly attractions are open and I would definitely recommend visiting the Fisherman’s Cottage during your festival visit. It shows how local fishermen and their families would have lived here in the 1930s. The neighbouring Kingsley Museum recaptures the life of author Charles Kingsley who once lived in Clovelly and there are various recordings of poems and local tales to listen to.
☀️ Why not book a holiday cottage near Clovelly and experience Clovelly seafood at its freshest!
Plymouth Flavour Fest
Known as the Southwest’s largest free food and drink festival, Plymouth Flavour Fest is a must-see event for anyone with tastebuds. This top-notch event attracts over 150,000 hungry visitors who enjoy locally produced food and drink and find new inspiration at the chefs’ demo kitchen.
If you’re in the area over the Late May Bank Holiday, Plymouth Flavour Fest is a must-do event. It features hundreds of local producers showcasing the very best and tastiest produce. Add to that, a chef stage for demonstrations, and regional chefs showcasing their culinary skills, and you’ve got a fabulous foodie event to savour.
The great thing about Plymouth Flavour Fest is that it is put on by people who clearly love great-tasting food and drink. The collection of stalls are laden with produce actually grown, raised and produced by the vendors themselves, each promoting their own products. Who better to answer your questions as you sample their fare?
Famous chefs and foodie experts
Plymouth Flavour Fest is a platform for local and celebrity chefs to come together for a good time. Through demonstrations and shows they share their tips and enthusiasm with wannabe chefs and keen cooks. As well as an open-air cookery theatre there are big screens so everyone can see what’s going on in the kitchen.
The pedestrianised shop-lined streets of Plymouth’s Armada Way and the central Piazza area are taken over by around 120 different food and drink traders. It resembles a continental-style market with apron-covered vendors all keen to show off their delectable goodies.
This being Devon, there is so much good locally produced food on offer including cider, cheese and fresh fish. Of course there are local oggies (pasties), rich clotted cream and plenty of sweet treats too,. They all combine to define the true flavour of the southwest.
Ready, steady, cook at Plymouth Flavour Fest
Past events have included entertaining live events mimicking the popular TV show format of "Ready, Steady, Cook". This is always well attended as top chefs and special guests are invited to show what they can do against the clock.
Another area of the food fest is specially for children, so look out for the "Food is Fun" signs. This is an educational area for all ages and has interactive displays showing how food is transformed from farm to familiar everyday meals.
Food and drink for grown-ups
Parents may want something a little more adult, so head over to the Real Ale and Wine Area usually sponsored by a local brewery. The Westcountry is famous for its cider and ale production which goes back centuries. There’s a relaxed seating area so make yourself comfortable and try some of the best ciders in the UK.
Of course, you will not escape Plymouth Flavour Fest without tucking into some great food from the nearby stalls and pop-up kitchens. Sample it, buy it, eat it or take it home with you – you’ll have a wonderful time at this top foodie event in Plymouth.
☀️ Book a holiday cottage in Plymouth – there’s so much to see and do in this Ocean City!
Taste East Devon Food and Drink Festival
New to Devon’s foodie scene is the Taste East Devon Food and Drink Festival that celebrates field to fork produce that makes Devon a food lovers paradise. Many of Devon’s top chefs and TV celebrities come together to raise the standard of this epicurean feast. Award-winning chefs such as Michael Caines (Michelin star Lympstone Manor) and Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall (River Cottage HQ) join the line-up of restaurateurs and producers in the 16-day festival in early September.
Where is it?
What makes the Taste East Devon Food and Drink Festival so unique is the fact that it takes place in a host of different venues. It allows producers to show off their fare on their home turf, so to speak.
You’ll find gastropubs, Michelin star restaurants, breweries, wineries, country house hotels, cookery schools and upmarket farm shops such as Darts Farm in Topsham all opening their gates/ doors to the public for a buffet of special events during the festival.
Past highlights included a picnic, wine tasting and vineyard tours at Darts Farm and tucking into delicious pizzas at Deer Park Country House in Honiton.
Bottoms up with wine, cider and cocktails nights!
Those who prefer their calories in liquid form can perhaps attend gin and rum making classes at Otterton Mill and Sidmouth Gin School or try a little educational spirit tasting. The Two Drifters Distillery has hosted cake and cocktails in the past, while gastropubs such as Jack in the Green have celebrated with cocktails and canape nights
Otter Brewery’s "Meet the Brewer" evenings are always popular along with special vegan lunches and talks at Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary.
Devon food tastings and workshops
Onsite workshops abound on topics such as how to make samosas, how to cook seafood or how to choose the freshest ingredients at a market. And there’s more. If you want to get back to the grass roots of great food, the festival has included workshops and lectures on how to manage your own kitchen garden and the benefits of fermenting.
Check out the current Taste East Devon Festival "menu" of events and book a place at a homemade pie and pint night, summer party, seafood specials night or splurge at a 6-course tasting menu event.
Every year this foodie festival has something new and different, so check it out. The diet can wait!
☀️Why not book a holiday cottage in East Devon and experience the amazing wineries and restaurants in this area?
Devon’s Beer Festivals (and wine, cider and scrumpy!)
Maltingsfest is a new name for an old tradition that has been celebrating Devon beer for over 20 years. Maltingsfest was formerly known as the Tuckers Maltings Beer Festival. It’s not just the name that’s changed; the festival has moved to marquees in neighbouring Osborne Park in Newton Abbot. It allows for more attendees and more keg beers, lagers, ciders and gins etc.
It still takes place over a long weekend in late April. The sessions begin on Thursday evening, followed by two full days of sampling and entertainment from 11am to 11pm on Friday and Saturday. You’ll need to sleep off the after effects on Sunday, believe me!
Check out the entertainment…
This top beer festival showcases “the finest ales in the Southwest from SIBA members” and the event is organized by the southwest branch of the society. It usually has over 140 West Country ales out of a total 280 beers on offer. There are plenty of great hot food stands giving off delicious aromas of sausages and other goodies. The all-weather family marquee makes it a family-friendly event.
The story behind Maltingsfest
Started in 1992, and organised by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) the Tuckers Maltings Beer Festival grew to be one of the premier beer festivals west of Munich’s Oktoberfest!
On the Thursday, before Maltingsfest opens, the all-important judging of beers takes place. The number of classes has increased over the years and earning a coveted award helps the beer producers enormously.
Fine ales and a sense of history at Tuckers Maltings
There are now only four remaining malthouses in England that produce malt using traditional methods and Tuckers Maltings in Newton Abbot is one of the best. After 180 years in the trade, they are well-known for producing some of the best quality malting barley in the southwest of England. The malthouse is known for its wide range of bottled malt beers and the Speciality Bottled Beer Shop onsite is a CAMRA aficionados dream.
What makes Tuckers Maltings particularly special is that it is the only malthouse that opens its doors to the public. As well as offering regular guided tours, it continues to organise and host the annual Maltingsfest each year.
Established in 1831 by Edwin Tucker, the brewery has a long and interesting history. It has been part of the Newton Abbot scene for over 180 years, and the occasional waft of malt from the brewery is all part of the charm of this rural town.
Edwin Tucker’s original business was in seeds and he had a good reputation for supplying local farms with high quality seeds. The maltings side of the business were a sideline and fitted in well with his business as it allowed him to buy back the barley produced by his farming clientele. His malt beers were mostly sold at Newton Abbot and Totnes markets as there was no rail service and the beer had to be transported by horse and cart.
When the railway arrived in 1872, Edwin moved to his purpose-built malting at the Station Yard in Ashburton and later to the site adjoining Newton Abbot railway station where it remains today. With his three sons now engaged in the business, it expanded rapidly. One of Tucker’s early brewery customers was Guinness which is now a world-renowned producer of Irish Stout.
This family-operated business has endless experience in brewing bitters, malts, porters, lagers and stouts with names as crazy as Totty Pot, Black Boar and Peregrine. If you want to sample their brews in an authentic atmosphere, then Maltingsfest is THE beer festival to head for this April.
☀️ Why not head down to Newton Abbot in April, book a holiday cottage and join in the Maltingsfest experience!
Abbfest Beer and Cider Festival – Oktoberfest Devon-style!
As Munich gears up for Oktoberfest, South Devon girds itself for the start of Abbfest, a three-day ale and cider extravaganza over the third weekend in September. More than just another beer festival, Abbfest is run by volunteers as a fundraiser for local charities.
The festival features over 200 Devon-brewed ales along with 30 ciders and there’s a wine & champagne bar serving Pimm’s and prosecco as well as a cellar of wines. Live demos, street food, live music and a craft marquee make it a very family-friendly event.
Abbfest – where, when and what?
Abbfest Beer and Cider Festival is held at Fermoys Garden Centre between Abbotskerswell and Ipplepen. If you haven’t happened across either of these delightful communities before, Abbfest is a great excuse to do so.
There is a small admission charge to attend individual days at Abbfest or you can purchase a weekend pass (usually around £10). All proceeds go to local charities and good causes. To date, over £250,000 has been donated to good causes in Devon including Rowcroft Hospice, MacMillan Cancer Care, RNLI and the Devon Air Ambulance.
Although it advertises itself as a Beer and Cider Festival, Abbfest has gradually expanded to include a whole array of family entertainment. Here’s a tip from a local. Start your visit by browsing the 70+ stalls of Devon food and local crafts in the Food and Crafts Hall where local chefs are on hand to offer advice and entertaining demos. If you don’t shop early, some of the best samples and bargains will have been snapped up.
Abbfest is a great place to start your Christmas shopping, especially if you want to pick up some local Devon goodies to make up a Devon hamper – and who wouldn’t want to receive a gift like that at Christmas?
Chef demos and food trucks
Duty and shopping done, you can turn your attention to the more immediate pleasures of food and drink. As well as locally brewed beer, wine and cider there are soft drinks, tea and coffee to lubricate the hog roast barbecue or your pick of enticing food from one of the local food trucks. Free range meats, local cheese samples and some of the best ice cream in the world can be found here, along with the more predictable pickles, jams and relishes.
A visit to one of the chef demonstrations is sure to spike your appetite with their mouth-watering recipes and tips on how to make the most of Devon meat, fish and dairy produce. Local chefs and restaurateurs are on hand with live cookery demos.
Entertainment for children includes fun activities in the Children’s Marquee, supervised by the Ipplepen Playgroup. As well as a bouncy castle you’ll find the usual rides, games, crafts, face painting and side shows to keep them happily distracted.
The event usually includes live music in the evenings with full details closer to the event date.
☀️ Why not book a holiday cottage in Devon and experience all these Devon food and drinks festivals with family and friends?
So there you have it – a real smorgasbord of food and drink festivals that take place every year in Devon. Whenever you choose to stay in a holiday cottage in Devon, there’s always something tasty going on!