From baking traditional Welsh Bara Brith to sampling delicious local produce in the shadow of a UNESCO World Heritage castle, Wales is chock-full of fantastic foodie experiences. The Abergavenny Food Festival is just one of many food festivals and distilleries helping to promote the best of Welsh culture and cuisine, many of which take place in spectacular surroundings across the country.
Abergavenny Food Festival
The market town of Abergavenny, in Monmouthshire, is transformed by the Abergavenny Food Festival in September, a delicious opportunity to discover more about the world of Welsh food. Having grown considerably since its creation in 1999, the festival now includes more than 220 traders and four stages of free chef demonstrations, spread over nine sites in the town. With food tasting workshops, masterclasses and a whole host of other events, the festival seeks to introduce visitors to the people who live for making, cooking and writing about food via an array of delicious foodie experiences. The festival doesn’t shy away from tackling the key issues facing the industry either. Visit the Welsh chef demonstration stage to see local and emerging chefs in action, discover the abundance of food in nature during a Wild and Foraged event or get up-close and personal with farm animals in the expanded rare-breed animal area and petting zone. A Weekend Wristband for the festival is £15, whereas day wristbands are priced at £10 for Saturday and £8 for Sunday. Entry for under 16s is free and there are plenty of cookery classes and other activities to keep them entertained. Many of the main festival events are individually priced and should be booked in advance.
When? 21-22 September
Narberth Food Festival
Get a taste of the finest food from Pembrokeshire and Welsh producers at the Narberth Food Festival, one of the longest-established festivals in the country. Celebrating its 21st year in 2019 in the picturesque surroundings of Narberth Town Moor, the festival includes an abundance of entertainment, welcomes guest chefs aplenty and has activities all the family can enjoy. With the chance to visit more than 50 stalls, visitors can also take part in an exciting set of workshops and masterclasses where the finest local produce is top of the menu.
When? 28-29 September
Neath Food and Drink Festival
Tuck into high quality Welsh produce at the Neath Food and Drink Festival, spread across three days in early October. Hosted in the historic town’s Victorian Market and in the surrounding streets, it’s an opportunity for shops and cafes in the region to showcase their products and for visitors to try a range of mouth-watering dishes. Around 60 exhibitors, including some from the town’s renowned Indoor Victorian Market, attend each year, and there’s also an array of fun street entertainment for visitors to enjoy.
When? 4-6 October
Gwledd Conwy Feast
An annual celebration of food, music and art, Gwledd Conwy Feast takes place in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Conwy every October. With the stunning stonework of the formidable Conwy Castle providing the backdrop, an array of street food and arts and crafts stalls fill the streets, offering delicious local produce and an abundance of unique jewellery, paintings, textiles and other crafts. A number of food halls and market stalls pack into the Quayside, where visitors can sample new dishes, watch chefs in action and try a collection of fine wines. Lancaster Square and the High Street of the medieval walled town are home to further stalls and entertainment options.
When? 25-27 October
Llandudno Christmas Fayre
The stunning Victorian seaside resort of Llandudno hosts the World Bara Brith Championships as part of its traditional Christmas Fayre. Bakers from around the globe are invited to submit their own take on the famous Welsh bake, meaning ‘speckled bread’, at the competition, hosted in the town’s Holy Trinity Church. A new Junior class takes its place at the 2019 fayre, as people young and old are invited to show off their culinary skills. With more than 150 food, drink and craft stalls, as well as plenty of festive entertainment on offer, the fayre provides a platform for Welsh suppliers to showcase their extraordinary array of seasonal and local produce.
When? 14-17 November
Portmeirion Christmas Food and Craft Fair
Set in the grounds of the beautiful Italianate village, the Portmeirion Christmas Food and Craft Fair promises a delightful mix of local flavours and festive cheer. More than 120 artisan stalls sell an abundance of local produce and fine crafts, alongside a mix of entertainment including live bands, cooking demonstrations and a Santa’s Grotto.
When? 6-8 December
Aber Falls Distillery
Located near to picturesque Rhaeadr Fawr, the famous Aber Falls waterfall, the Aber Falls Distillery was the first to open in North Wales for a century. Its whisky is not yet available – the first batch is due in 2020 – but visitors can tour the distillery and discover more about the processes involved, while sampling some of the site’s award-winning portfolio. The distillery also produces small batches of handcrafted gins and liqueurs, developed using specially selected Welsh ingredients from the surrounding area. Distillery tours run between 12pm and 5pm and booking is recommended.
When? All-year round
Found in the foothills of the spectacular Brecon Beacons, the Penderyn Distillery produces award-winning single malt whiskies and spirits. Visitors can tour the site to discover what makes the produce unique, including the innovative single copper-pot Penderyn stills, before finishing with a sampling session at the Tasting Bar. Occasional Whisky and Chocolate Tours also run, with the distillery’s single malt whiskies being paired with hand-made chocolates from Chocolate House of Pontypridd. The distillery is open seven days a week from 9.30am-5pm and booking for the tours is a must. The main tour is priced at £9 for adults, with whisky and chocolate tours must be requested and cost £17.
When? All year round
Loving Welsh Food tours
For a true taste of Wales, discover the capital city and try its culinary delights as part of a tour from Loving Welsh Food. Visitors can sample traditional and modern Welsh dishes in locations across Cardiff as part of a food tour, while meeting local suppliers and discovering more about Welsh culture. Cardiff Tasting Tours run on Fridays and Saturdays and take in some of the city’s key sights, including the castle and the home of Welsh rugby, the Principality Stadium, while offering a chance to taste laverbread, cockles, cheeses and to sample Welsh beverages. Private tasting tours are also available, giving access to a range of farms, producers, vineyards, distilleries, pubs and restaurants in the Vale of Glamorgan.
When? Friday and Saturday, 10.30am-2.30pm
Halen Mon Saltcote and Visitor Centre
On the banks of the Menai Strait in an Area of Outstanding National Beauty is the award-winning Halen Mon Saltcote and Visitor Centre. Embark on a one-of-a-kind tour to discover salt’s place in Wales’ history, culture and food, including a tutored salt tasting to find out what sets Halen Mon Sea Salt apart from the rest. Visitors can find out more about the family-run company and get unique insights into the world of salt from members of staff.
When? Open daily (apart from over Christmas/New Year) with tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.
Foodie foraging tours
Whether foraging along the seashore for ‘mermaid confetti’, samphire and oysters or hunting for lemon sorrel in Abergavenny’s lush undergrowth, there are a whole range of foodie foraging adventures to try throughout Wales. Discover the culinary delights hidden in the hedgerows on a short course at Llys Meddyg, learn about edible plants and where to find them in North Wales, or track down the freshest seafood in West Wales, on a coastal foraging experience to remember.
When? Various, see websites for details.
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