Fanatical foodies, passionate producers and pro chefs from across the region will come together at Northernhay Gardens this May bank holiday to eat, drink and celebrate the South West’s vibrant food scene at Exeter Festival of Food and Drink. Pack your roomiest shopper, don something stretchy and buckle up for three days of feast-ivities
1. Superstar chefs
In true Exeter Festival fashion, a host of the South West’s finest chefs are set to join co-founder Michael Caines on stage at the Cookery Theatre.
Catch seasoned festival chefs such as Liam Finnegan of The Castle at Taunton and Boringdon Hall’s Scott Paton, alongside Cookery Theatre freshers including Andy Appleton of Appleton’s at the Vineyard and Fifteen Cornwall’s head chef Adam Banks, who’ll be showing off their skills and fave dishes over the long weekend.
With a jam-packed schedule and bill of big names, be sure to pick up a timetable on your way in and blag a front row seat for all the greedy action.
2. Pukka produce
With hundreds of food and drink producers from all corners of the counties spilling out of the Food and Drink Pavilions, we’d recommend doing a full lap of the three marquees before making any hasty purchases (trust us, there’s only so much cheese one can carry on a sunny spring day).
From rustic Devon cider and dainty macarons to chilli-infused chutneys and Cornwall-smoked charcuterie, you’ll find a larder-full of locally crafted products to take home, gift to someone special or devour straight from the packet in the gardens – with something refreshing from the festival bar.
3. Gorgeous grub
Even if your self restraint in the Food and Drink Pavilions was gobbled up faster than that second chorizo scotch egg, you’ll want to make room for lunch at the street food market.
Let the intoxicating aroma of fragrant curries, sizzling bratwurst and posh fish ‘n’ chips guide you to the courtyard, where an atlas-full of indie pop-ups will be cooking up their fave dishes to be scoffed alfresco or under cover.
Refreshments in the form of local fizz, craft beers and artisan softies, plus live music throughout the day, promise good times and chilled festival vibes.
4. Teepee time
The Darts Farm Teepee returns to the festival with a busy timetable of tasty events, talks and hands-on activities for the whole family.
Do some sausage making with the Darts Farm Master Butchers, mature your cheese knowledge with Mary Quicke and taste local wines with food’s wine expert, Susy Atkins.
There’s plenty of action for little ones too: future farmers can plant their own mini vegetable patch or craft an animal mask in the Knowledge Teepee.
Topped up with foodie trivia, reward yourself with a gourmet steak burger or pulled pork bap cooked on a Big Green Egg.
5. Post-festival frolics
The festivities continue after dark at Exeter Beats, where a line-up of local bands and musicians will entertain revellers until late.
On Friday evening Mad Dog McRea will be headlining the Castle Courtyard stage, with Madness tribute, One Step Behind, and The Brass Funkeys sharing the limelight on Saturday night. End the bank holiday on a high with hits from David Bowie courtesy of tribute act David Live and the smooth sounds of Soul Funktion on Sunday.
Sponsored by Otter Brewery (as well as Visit Exeter and Radio Exe), a cracking collection of regional ales, ciders and wines will keep the good vibes flowing, while street food pop-ups including banging burgers and stone-baked pizzas fuel the fun.