As seasoned traders and visitors at some of the best foodie events, and general lovers off all things food & drink we give you our shortlist of must visit food festivals taking place across the North East in 2019.
In this blog post discover our tips for a great day out with friends and family where you can pick up some of the very best locally produced food and drink treats. The North East in recent years has become a rapidly emerging hot bed of artisanal food & drink and here are six of our favourite festivals that we think you’ll love too.
Bishop Auckland Food Festival has become the region’s biggest food event, seemingly growing bigger and better every year. Spread across the market place and town centre, not only is there a huge range of stalls selling locally produced food and drink, plus some of the best street food around but also boasting a comprehensive programme of events and activities including celebrity chefs, cookery demo’s, street entertainment and a demonstration kitchen. New for 2019, Actress Jennie McAlpine and BBC MasterChef Champion 2018 Kenny Tutt will demonstrate their favourite recipes alongside Gregg Wallace, while visitors can take part in Beer & Bites – matching delicious local produce with a selection of the regions finest craft beer – or why not give Gingo a go, combining two of the nation’s biggest loves: Gin and Bingo! What’s not to like? A more than worthy event to kick off the 2019 food festival calendar in style.
Look out for: The Screaming Chimp Chilli Sauce Co, Gin School (Gingo), The Clucking Pig Scotch Egg company and a brand new range of pork & spicy piccalilli pies!
There can’t be many food festivals across the UK set in such spectacular surroundings as the Tynemouth Food Festival which takes place in the ruins of Tynemouth Castle & Priory – the moated castle towers, gatehouse and keep overlooking Tynemouth Pier, the River Tyne and North Sea.
Here, you'll find some of the region's best street food, local beers and live music plus an indoor marquee packed with local food producers showcasing their wares. Taking place fairly early in the season, the weather can be a bit iffy, but that shouldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of either the public or traders. We love Tynemouth because it was the first large festival we took part in as we launched in 2015. Our first customer went on to become our first retail stockist so this even will always have a special place in our hearts.
Look out for: The street food here is amazing –The fish stack and chips from The Little Fishy is out of this world. You sometimes have to queue at busy times for the hot food vendors so grab a drink from the bar and take in the music and surroundings while you wait. You won’t be disappointed. Grabbing a hot drink from Tynemouth Coffee is a must here, while If chocolate is your thing make sure you visit award winning Newcastle Chocolatier North Chocolates or Stateside Treat Emporium for chocs inspired by American flavours – think Key Lime Pie in a chocolate bar!
Situated on the seafront at South Shields, Bents Park, next door to Marine Park and close to the fairground opposite is the venue for what we consider to be the jewel in organiser’s The Proper Food and Drink Festival’s crown (this is their second in a series of five food festivals across Tyne & Wear over the summer)
Why do we like it? Well not only for sentimental reasons, although it’s true that our Co-founder Andrew’s Grandad, Charlie –whose original piccalilli recipe inspired the products we make today – was born and spent his life in South Shields. Bents Park was also one of our very early events and has always felt like our ‘home festival’ so will always have a special place in our hearts. But the main reason we love this event is the great range of producers, food & drink on offer. There are some great finds for anyone with a sweet tooth here and plenty of savoury Vegetarian and Vegan offerings too. we’ve tried build your own pizza’s, excellent cheeses, perfect pies, authentic French crepes and gourmet scotch eggs. The beer is always good and we’ve even enjoyed (if enjoy is the right word!) chilli vodka. Quite an experience.
Shields is a family friendly festival, has free entry and live music, rides and a bouncy castle for kids. With the beach, the fairground and marine park within a five minute walk if the weather behaves itself you can easily make a day of it on the South Tyneside coast.
Look out for: The very best of local produce, whether it’s sweet or savoury that does it for you. Check out Le Mini Macaron, Fat Lass Preserves, Pete’s Puddin’ & Simply Cheesecake.
So confession time, Saltburn Food Festival is the only event to make our top six that we have yet to actually visit or trade at, although not for the want of trying having been booked on to trade in 2018 only for mother nature to intervene. So why have we selected it for this article? Well, two reasons: Firstly, since setting up Calder’s Kitchen we’ve heard nothing but glowing reports about Saltburn’s famous farmers market and food festival. Everyone is talking about this event so we can’t wait to see if it lives up to the hype.
And secondly, Saltburn itself! Described by the Sunday Times as “one of the best places to live in the UK”, and as recent discoverers of this coastal Tees Valley town (we moved into the Tees Valley around this time last year) we can understand why. In short, Saltburn is beautiful and a great location to bring together foodies and a fine array of artisan producers from across the north east and North Yorkshire. With food demonstrations, art and crafts, fantastic local café’s fish & chips and pubs, and of course the beach, there’s loads to see and do while transport links make it easily accessible by car, train (change at Darlington/Middlesbrough) or bus make it accessible to all.
We quite like the fact Saltburn is a one-day event too, and, hopefully with better luck on the weather front this year, FREE admission and over 100 stalls there’s no better way to spend a Sunday by the sea in late July.
Look out for: Armenian Family Street Bar, Parm Star (while in the Tees Valley it would be rude not to try a street Parmo!), The numerous fish & chip restaurants won’t disappoint and meat free options include The Green Guerrilla (Hot Veggie & Vegan specials). In fact, over half the stalls at this event are apparently Vegetarian and Vegan friendly!
Now in its 12th year the Berwick Food and Beer Festival is a must for anyone interested in great tasting food and beer. The event is held in the magnificent surroundings of the towns 18th Century Barracks in the centre of town. What makes this event quite unique is that it very much a beer and food festival in equal measure - beer (and other alcoholic beverages) only on the Friday night with the food stalls joining the action over the weekend.
We’d heard so much about Berwick we booked on to trade last year so we could see for ourselves what all the fuss was about and we weren’t disappointed. Our first observation once we’d had a chance to have a look around was the atmosphere – a real festival vibe with live music rocking the beer tent and a fantastic array of street food vendors located just outside. The large courtyard inside the barracks is packed with around 80 food and drink stalls from north east England, Scotland and the borders with some fantastic wines, gins and whiskies, plus, showcasing at their ‘home event’, Lindisfarne Mead. Among the highlights for me was the superb award-winning Cullen Skink pie from locally based (Eyemouth) Jarvis Pickle followed by the time spent in the beer tent after a day’s trading. Great atmosphere, excellent beer and lovely people. We had a cracking curry in the town centre to round things off and it’s no surprise that we are already booked to return this September!
Look out for: The animal corner in the smaller courtyard if you are taking the kids
Entrance fee to the festival also grants you access to the museums, many informative exhibits if you’re after a bit of local culture during your visit.
Jarvis Pickle Pies (meats, seafood and vegetarian options) need to be tasted to be believed while trying the world renowned Lindisfarne Mead (trading at their local event being based on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne 10 miles down the road) is also a must.
Last but my no means least a food and drink festival celebrating its seventh year in 2019 and another event going from strength to strength with each passing year. Situated 14 miles north of Newcastle and, until recently a one day event, Morpeth Food & Drink now runs across Saturday & Sunday and features not only the best of the regions food and drink, but a programme packed with a weekends worth of entertainment. The event takes place in the picturesque market town’s Bridge Street and marketplace with over 100 traders showcasing their local produce in 2018. Visitors flock from all over Northumberland and further afield and last year’s event welcomed Masterchef finalist Lorna Robertson backed up with a series of chef’s demonstrations, talks, tasters and a ‘Posh Pen’ for people to take in a drink or two while enjoying the delicious street food offerings.
For Calder’s Kitchen, who’s co-founder Andrew grew up in Morpeth, it’s a homecoming event and in 2018 was the busiest trading weekend in the business short lifetime. Here’s hoping for an equally successful renewal in the autumn.
Look out for: Screaming Chimp Chilli Sauce Company, Kitty’s Ginger Wine, the Muckle Brewing Company, Mad Jam Women and, of course, Calder’s Kitchen Piccalilli
http://www.moreinmorpeth.co.uk/food-drink-festival (2019 event page coming soon)
Find Calder's Kitchen at food festivals across the north east and Yorkshire this summer, beginning with Bishop Auckland Food Festival later this month.
full list of events can be found here