Missed the Ballymaloe Litfest? Not to worry - there are plenty of food festivals in 2016

Missed the Ballymaloe Litfest? Not to worry - there are plenty of food festivals in 2016
World of Coffee hosts the World Barista Championship.

With over 50 food festivals now happening annually on our island, this country, once hiding from its culinary heritage, has become a veritable foodies’ paradise.

With a feeding frenzy taking place from one end of the country to the other, visitors from overseas and at home can plan trips and weekends around a growing passion for food.

From wine tasting to sourdough baking, seaweed picking to sauerkraut pickling, foraging walks and craft beer talks, there is nothing you can’t find on the food calendar.

The biggest of them all, the Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine, was a huge success in May, and always marks the beginning of a busy summer of food festivals.

Food tourism is a no brainer and Ireland has long been seen by overseas foodies as the place that it is, a green and lush haven where sheep roam the mountains and it’s a given that the beef is grass fed.

A new wave of farmers markets with hip folk selling hummus, sushi and rare breed pork sausages has made visiting farmers markets and food festivals a cool way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Everybody needs to eat, and a good meal even if it’s an amazing burger bun will determine where you go and how you rate your experience.

With so many food festivals on offer for the coming months, where are the best places to spend your foodie footfall?

The So Sligo Food Festival

The Só Sligo Food Festival was voted ‘best food festival in Ireland’ by the lauded John and Sally McKenna’s Guides, and this year’s theme, “foods from the waters and the wild’ promises something different for food buffs.

One of the highlights is the Fermentation Festival at the Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co.Leitrim.

Fermenting is the oldest yet newest healthy food buzz, and with the seaweed expertise of Prainne Rhatigan, this is gut health with a twist.

With Ireland’s longest tapas trail, the World Irish Stew Championship Rally, foraging walks, pizza making for kids and and an early morning trip to Coney Island, from salt to seaweed this is a colourful and lively weekend not to be missed.

June 17-19 www.sosligo.ie 

Taste of Dublin

You can’t argue with the format of this winning food weekend where you get to go to the best restaurants all at the same time in the same place.

Rachel Allen is part of the celebrity line-up at Taste of Dublin.
Rachel Allen is part of the celebrity line-up at Taste of Dublin.

Dublin has transformed in recent years from not only having the finest of fine dining to choose from but the explosion of hipster eateries and food trucks means the capital is officially foodie heaven.

Mingling with top chefs while nibbling their food is a great way to spend a weekend.

More for a glass of bubbly in the other hand than a buggy this is one for pure indulgence.

Rub shoulders with our own Rachel Allen, Kevin Dundon, Nevin Maguire, Ross Lewis, Anna Haugh et al, the people who put us on the world food stage.

June 16-19 www.dublin.tastefestivals.com 

World of Coffee

So do we love the hot black stuff that there is now an entire two days dedicated to the worship of the humble bean in the capital this June.

Thousands of coffee enthusiasts will converge on Dublin for World of Coffee, Europe’s greatest coffee gathering.

World of Coffee hosts the World Barista Championship.
World of Coffee hosts the World Barista Championship.

Sure to attract attention is the World Barista Championship where the Irish Barista Champion, Natalia Piotrowska will compete to take home the title.

If you can’t function without your lait Russe or your flat white, the World of Coffee Ambassadors’ Club will feature 30 of the best cafés, restaurants, hotels and bars serving quality coffee in the Irish capital, and make sure you aways know where to get the best possible cup of Joe in the city.

With talks focusing on sustainability and environmental challenges, this event looks at coffee in the bigger picture too. Perfect for insomniacs.

June 23-25 www.worldofcoffee-dublin.com 

Westport Food Festival

The organisers of the Westport Food Festival are doing something different with their Bike Buffet.

Why not go on a cycling tour stopping off at four dining venues along the route, cleverly kicking off with mocktails before heading off to find taster plates of starters at the next stop, and moving on to the next eaterie for the main course and on for their well deserved deserts.

With mushroom foraging, the food village at the Octagon which showcases local products like Achill Island Sea Salt, cooking demonstrations every hour, this family festival set against the backdrop of Croagh Patrick is another excuse to visit Westport.

June 24 - 26 www.westportfoodfestival.ie 

Food on the Edge

JP McMahon’s Food on the Edge is a two day symposium for the coming together of the world’s best chefs.

So if you want to take your passion for food to the next gastro level, this is for you.

JP McMahon hosts Food On The Edge.
JP McMahon hosts Food On The Edge.

A number of exciting chefs are already confirmed for this years event including Magnus Ek of Oaxen Krog, one of Sweeden’s most renowned restaurants, Christian Puglisi from Relae in Denmark along with Danielle Barry from Deanes in Belfast and Massimo Bottura from Osteria Francescana in Modena who features in the series Chef’s Table.

Food on the Edge encourages us to take a look at the bigger picture and this year focuses on our fishing industry regarding sustainability and how we will cook in this and future generations.

This is one for any food professionals own diary for sure.

October 24-26 www.foodonetheedge.ie 

Dingle Food Festival

One of the originals on the food festival trail, and still one of the best is the Dingle Food Festival, started up by the amazing Murphy Brothers of the Ice Cream fame and now enjoying its tenth year.

What better town that gorgeous Dingle to spend a weekend pounding the pavements going from place to pub, nibbling on local treats on their cleverly designed taste trail that takes in over eighty locations.

Purchase your book of tickets and enjoy bite sized treats of the best the region has to offer.

This festival sets the standard for many aspiring and attracts over 10,000 visitors over the three day event.

Sept 30-October 2 www.dinglefood.com

Savour Kilkenny

With Kilkenny as the beautiful backdrop for one of Ireland’s most well established festivals, the October bank holiday weekend couldn’t be better spent than indulging in locally made delights in this gorgeous city.

With a strong emphasis on the School of Food this one festival that focuses on the importance of educating our future generations on how to cook, with classes in baking, growing, cooking and encouraging kids in food enterprises.

Featuring local producers, brewers and makers and coking demonstrations from some of the top names in the country, plus a fermenting workshop for those following their gut instinct, Savour Kilkenny is an all round family event.

October 28-31 www.savourkilkenny.com 

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