Roll up, roll up … Exeter’s exciting epicurean extravaganza takes place from April 29-May 1, and there’s loads to take part in. Here’s a few of our fave picks at this year’s gastro-jamboree
Fun loving foodies
The Food is Fun Teepees from Darts Farm return to the festival, giving merrymakers a chance to munch on pizza made by their own hands for lunch. Workshops around the wood fired oven include sausage making and a chance to get the kids cupcake decorating.
The teepees are great fun for families. Younger foodies can meet the Black Dog Eggs free-range chickens or head to the Knowledge Teepee where they can become a mini Darts farmer and create a vegetable patch to take home.
Also within the teepees, Saturday Kitchen wine expert and food columnist Susy Atkins (pictured) will host a local wine tasting in The AGA Cookery Theatre where you can meet all kinds of amazing artisan producers.
Curious home cooks
Front row seats go fast in the Festival Cookery Theatre so hotfoot it over to watch Michael Caines lead top South West chefs such as Josh Eggleton, Thomas Hine and Mitch Tonks in a series of fascinating demos.
Down with the kids
Kids will be inspired to get creative in the kitchen at the Little Cookies workshops where they can get their hands in the mixing bowl and enjoy messy foodie fun. Keep an eye out for other family-friendly things to do, including meeting cute farm animals, storytelling and craft activities.
Flour-power festival folk
No doubt you’ll be able to smell the gorgeous doughy goodness emanating from the Westcountry Bakery before you even get there. Find out what’s on the rise in the world of bakes and breads with a series of lively fun demos from a host of regional producers and chefs.
Do you know your kombucha from your koji? Stay ahead of the trends and discover what the next big foodie craze will be. food will be joining Exeter Cookery School at the Festival Question Time, hosted by BBC Radio Devon, to discuss the biggest foodie movements of the moment. You can also learn more about the rise of the home brew with Otter Brewery and the Blueberry Brothers.
Grab the tote and take a trip to the food and drink marquees in Northernhay Gardens where you can weigh yourself down with trad treats such as cheeses, meats, preserves and ciders or seek out new artisan products offering original twists on gins, charcuterie, ice cream, oil and coffee. With almost 100 producers from across the South West exhibiting, you’ll need some very roomy bags.
Street food stuffers
The array of to-go options in the form of street food might bring on a serious case of decision anxiety. Everyone is catered for, whether they’re after a carnivorous carnival in the form of juicy ribs or a paean to all things veggie with a mac ‘n’ cheese.
Many small-scale artisan breweries are exhibiting at the festival so hit the ale trail to find Bays, Emal, Hunter’s and Otter. And discover award winning cider, lovingly crafted by Harry Fry on his Somerset Farm.
For top-class tipples, produced from vines grown across the South West, seek out Eastcott Vineyard, Sharpham Wine and Pebblebed Vineyards. Or if you’re after something sumptuous, indulge yourself with honey-rich mead from Lyme Bay Winery.
To keep your spirits high, stuff the shopper with Cornish Pastis (a modern take on the French anise classic) by Southwestern Distillery, Dappa (like its Italian counterpart grappa made from pomace brandy) by Devon Distillery or Triple Distilled Gin by Sibling Distillery.
You might want to counter that lot with a quality bag of speciality beans from Origin Coffee. For festival fizz head to Oddfellows Cocktail Bar at Exeter Castle, where you’ll also find the festival bars.
Omnivorous night owls
On Friday April 28, the After Dark Music Festival in the Castle Courtyard kick starts the event with a bonanza of locally-brewed beers and eats from the street, scoffed to the big-band brassy strains of The Locked Horns with the Stephens Scown Choir, The Rolling Scowns and Loose Cannons.
Feed your soul on Saturday night with the rhythmic jazz funk of the Leigh Coleman Band, while gorging and guzzling on everything from American-style burgers to local ciders. Support comes from Celine Dos Santos, Yazzy and Joanna Cooke.
The gastronomic get-together ends on a high on Sunday night with Bill Ding and the Skyscrapers playing hits from across the decades – the last chance to wolf down delights from the rolling caterers. Acoustic talents Roger Styles and Alex Dobson add to an atmospheric finale.