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From chilli to cheese - the best UK food festivals

January 30, 2013
by Laura Canning | guides

Chilli Fest. Spicy. Look askance at those foodie types who assume that British cuisine is pie and mash washed down with a warm ale – the British food scene has been thriving for years. Check our giddily-named ‘ gastronomic delight ’ campsites and parks to pitch up in foodie heaven, or take a trip to one of the many food festivals up and down the country showcasing the best of British food and drink from wild game pies to hand-pressed Scottish whisky. Yums. Here’s our roundup of five of the best British food festivals:

International Food and Drink Festival, Cardiff

This is the festival for foodies in Wales, with hundreds of food and drink stalls taking over Cardiff Bay in July. There are Welsh cheeses, Persian snacks, French wines and Norwegian smoked salmon just for starters, alongside music, entertainment, food theatre and a waterside champagne bar. Cardiff also hosts the Great British Cheese Festival at Cardiff Castle in September, with hundreds of cheese available to taste and buy alongside Welsh produce, cooking classes and talks. Pass the crackers.

Stay nearby : Cefn Mably Lakes , with lakeside pods and fishing on site, is less than six miles from Cardiff and has pods starting from £30 a night. Student groups are welcome.

Ludlow Marches Food and Drink Festival, Ludlow

The Ludlow Food Festival started in 1995 and has been growing in size and popularity ever since, in a town well known for its scrumptious food and drink. Held in the grounds of Ludlow Castle on the second weekend of September every year, the festival includes cookery demos, kids’ activities and the best of Shropshire produce from mead to mutton. There’ll also be plenty of foodie events in the town: following the Ludlow Sausage Trail or the Festival Loaf Trail should keep the kids happy – and there’s an Ale Trail for the grown-ups. And if you can’t wait until September, there’s a Ludlow Spring Food Festival too.

Stay nearby : Appropriately for a food festival, there's a Shropshire site called Baron of Beef within reach - and it's a pub campsite dishing up grub in the bar too. Pitches here start from £11 a night and the site is dog-friendly. Or book a camping pod at the adults-only Broadmeadow from £33 a night, where you can bring your horse too (not in the pod, natch).

Alnwick Food Festival

Also over a September weekend but happily not clashing with Ludlow, the Alnwick Food Festival includes the Alnwick Beer Festival running alongside – and is held at Alnwick Castle, home of Hogwarts. The dozens of food stalls here vary from year to year, but you’re likely to find all sorts of delicacies to try, from chilli flavoured popcorn to root vegetable cake, whiskey flavoured mustard to organic venison and bison, and homemade ginger wine to wild boar and pheasant pies.

Stay nearby : Northumberland 's Riverside Country Park is open all year, has an indoor pool and Jacuzzi and has pitches starting from just £7 a night, with a camping pod available from £25. There's also the small family-run South Meadows Caravan Park , with a two-bedroom lodge available from £385 for a week for up to four people. Both sites are open all year.

Chilli Fest UK

Everyone has an overly macho friend who insists on chilli-eating competitions when a little tipsy, and the various Chilli Fests around the country are the perfect place to send them. In West Sussex, the Great Shoreham Chilli Festival is at Shoreham in July, with a hot weekend at Blackpool in April, Somerset in July and Perth in September. Wherever you end up, it’ll be a celebration of all things chilli, from jams to jellies and sauces to seeds. Spicy.

Stay nearby : In West Sussex , Chichester Lakeside Holiday Park comes with ten fishing lakes and is a few miles from the beaches of the south coast; pitches start at a bargainous £6 a night. In Somerset , there's Glastonbury glamping at Middlewick Farm from £40 a night, or hire a tipi at Keens Cottage Camping from £65 a night sleeping up to four, or a luxury caravan from £75 a night for up to five.

York Food Festival

The clever sorts who organise the York Food Festival have it on over a week, so even if you’re going to Alnwick or (and) Ludlow, you can still roll your way along to North Yorkshire for markets, demos, workshops and yet more food and beer. There’ll also be foodie experts on hand to show off their trade and entertain during the festivities, including chutney producers and Nepalese Gurkha curry makers. Nom.

Stay nearby : York 's The Alders Caravan Park has camping pods on Wharfedale Bay from £36 a night, with three pubs within a couple of miles. Or book a tent, tourer or motorhome pitch at the nearby York Touring Caravan Site from £17 a night, with unlimited free wifi in the on-site café lounge.

More food? Eat your way Pacman-like around the land at any time of the year with our guide to filling your boots in winter camping and caravanning .

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