Food Events Festivals & Fairs
Not only do Northern Irish people have a fondness for eating, but there’s always an excuse to celebrate food too! Every year there is a plethora of annual events celebrating local foods. Both the apple blossom season is marked with tours, tastings and markets in Armagh. Our fishing heritage is celebrated with a summer of festivals, cookery demonstrations, and competitions in fishing ports.
Those with an appetite for oysters and stout can compete for international championship titles at the hugely popular Hillsborough Oyster Festival. At Christmas time Belfast City Hall hosts a Continental Market, where glüwein, German sausages, pretzels and sugary sweets enhance the Christmas sparkle of the city centre.
Apple Blossom Festival, Co Armagh, May - Celebrate the beautiful apple blossom season in County Armagh www.armagh.gov.uk
Open Farm Weekend, various locations NI, June - Open Farm Weekend returns for its 2nd year. This free event gives families the opportunity to explore their local farm, learning about its history whilst exploring the land and interacting with the animals. www.openfarmweekend.com
Comber Potato Festival, Comber, Co Down, June - This special event is held to celebrate one of Comber's most famous exports: its potatoes, which in 2012 were granted protected geographical indication (PGI) status under European law. The festival will be a fun and educational event, with great food, and entertainment. Admission is free. www.discovernorthernireland.com/Comber-Potato-Festival-Comber-Newtownards-P35181
Flavour Fine Food Festival, Shane's Castle, Antrim, June - this is part of the Irish Game Fair, a country lifestyle event. Game and fish cookery demos, and the opportunity to sample produce from Ireland's leading artisan producers. http://www.irishgamefair.com/flavourFoodFestival.asp
Flavours of the Foyle Seafood Festival - Derry~Londonderry, July - this major 2 day Seafood festival will comprise a major boulevard of chefs with 15-20 restaurant-kitchens cooking high quality seafood. http://derryvisitor.com
Dalriada Festival - Glenarm Castle, Co Antrim, July - Highlighting the unique historic Sporting, Music and Food cultures of both Ireland and Scotland, there will be a fine food courtyard at this event showcasing lots of high quality local producers. http://dalriadafestival.co.uk
Auld Lammas Fair, Ballycastle, Co Antrim, August – Ireland’s oldest traditional market fair. Sample the local specialities, ‘dulse’ a dried edible seaweed, and the deliciously sweet chewy ‘yellow man’, made from a closely guarded secret recipe. http://www.heartofthecausewaycoastandglens.com
Hilden Beer Festival, Lisburn, Co Antrim, August – With more than 30 international beers on offer, this weekend event should whet the whistle http://www.hildenbrewery.co.uk/
The Festival of Fish, Co Down, August – Seafood tasting, competitions and festive menus, the four fishing villages of Kilkeel, Annalong, Ardglass, Portavogie celebrate seafood over the bank holiday weekend in August http://www.visitnewryandmourne.com/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=382
Hillsborough International Oyster Festival, Hillsborough, Co Down, September – Held every first weekend in September in the historic village of Hillsborough, the festival features local food and light hearted events such as the World Oyster Eating Championships www.hillsboroughoysterfestival.com
The Hans Sloane Chocolate and Fine Food Festival, Killyleagh, Co Down,September (bi-annual) - A selection of the finest food producers from County Down and many of the best Chocolatiers from Ireland will be participating at the event. So browse the many stalls, enjoy the cookery demonstrations, taste, nibble and buy from a wonderful array of goodies. http://www.hanssloane.com/2012/07/hans-sloane-festival-announced/
Larne Loves Food, on the Causeway Coast, Co Antrim, September - Come along to this weekend festival and enjoy food demonstrations by chefs from Taste of Ulster and the 'Focus on Food' Stall with samples from local food retailers as well as family entertainment.
The Taste of Tyrone Food Festival, Dungannon, Co Tyrone, September - Local Producers will be laying out their wares with taste kitchens and cookery demonstrations. Visitors will experience a range of food crafts including butter churning and apple pressing, at this two day festival, which also boasts kids fund activities and live music http://www.dungannon.info/
The Bushmills Salmon & Whiskey Festival, Bushmills, Co Antrim, September - Boasts a full programme of events. With culinary displays, stage performances, market stalls, history talks and tours, family entertainment, fancy dress, traditional games, community competitions as well as a stunning fireworks display http://www.bushmillsvillage.co.uk/index.php/festival-a-events/salmon-a-whiskey-heritage-festival
'Good Food doesn't cost the earth!' Event, Crawfordsburn Country Park, Co Antrim, - October - will showcase local and organic produce, as well as home grown food with a focus on sustainable choices. The day promises tasty treats and helpful hints about how to manage your food budget. http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/downloads/NIEAWonderfulDaysOut.pdf
Apple Day at Peatlands Park, Dungannon, Co Tyrone, October - Celebrate the humble apple and its wonderful diversity at this already well-loved annual event. There will be apple crafts, cooking and all manner of apple products and produce for sale. With free rides on the 'Orchard Express' train, and much more for the whole family to enjoy. http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/downloads/NIEAWonderfulDaysOut.pdf
Belfast Restaurant Week, returns in October 2013 for the 2nd year of this event, which will see the city's top restaurants coming together to celebrate the richness and diversity of the city's food. With special menus, promotions and competitions throughout the week, there will be something for everyone. More on Belfast Restaurant Week.
Food & Drink Show Northern Ireland - Belfast, Co Antrim, October - Returning to the King's Hall Complex, The Food and Drink Show NI is the first large scale, indoor consumer event of its kind to be staged in NI. Get your ticked booked along with your seat in the Moy Park Celebrity Chef Theatre to ensure you see one of your favourite celebrity chefs. http://foodanddrinkshowni.com
Belfast Beer Festival, Belfast November - a 3 day celebration of great beer and cider. But it's not all about the beer & cider, two food stalls & a great selection of live music featuring a variety of local artists will give real atmosphere. Pub games are fun, and the tutored tasting sessions very popular. http://www.belfastbeerfestival.co.uk
Continental Market at Belfast City Hall, Co Antrim, November and December – This vibrant market offers a fusion of tempting continental and speciality foods as well as some local delights www.belfastcity.gov.uk/events
St George's Christmas Fair and Market, Belfast, Co Antrim, December – Enjoy the best seasonal food, tastes and smells brought by local producers in Northern Ireland’s best food market www.belfastcity.gov.uk/stgeorgesmarket/events