Far from a mere excuse to indulge in fresh local produce, the UK’s food festivals are an increasingly important part of the restaurant industry. From keeping up with rising culinary stars to monitoring whether British wine has finally made it to the top table, attending food festivals is becoming a must for serious restaurateurs.
Festivals are becoming key to exhibiting restaurants business strategy, too. Ruth Huxley of Cornwall Food & Drink points out that festivals are “a great opportunity to raise their profile. They’re in front of a huge audience and the PR attached to it is massive.”
1. Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival
Above the surface, the UK’s biggest seafood festival is all champagne sparkle and food in the sun. If you delve beneath this attractive appearance, you will find it is also a golden opportunity to meet some of the best fresh seafood producers in the UK.
Beyond the families and fish fingers at Weymouth Harbour, the July festival explicitly aims to “develop links throughout Dorset with the fishing industry, processors, suppliers, restaurants and hotels”, making it a fabulous networking opportunity – not to mention a great place to be inspired by the new dishes, ingredients and seafood philosophies on show.
We’ve often written about the rise of fast-casual dining among Generation X. One trick many of London’s fast-casual restaurants employ in order to attract this lucrative market is to make sure they have a swiftly rotating craft beer menu at all times – and where better to stay on top of the capital’s fermenting talent than the London Craft Beer Festival.
This year’s festival is in August. The roster of brewers on display is a who’s who of London craft-beer culture, featuring the likes of The Kernel, Beavertown, Partizan and Brew by Numbers. Any London restaurateur serious about their beer repertoire must attend.
While celebrity appearances from chefs like Nathan Outlaw and Monica Galetti ensure the mass popularity of June’s Taste of London festival, this Regent’s Park summer blowout is the perfect way to keep up with a city whose culinary landscape is more exciting, vibrant and shifting than ever before.
Restaurants from all levels of London’s dining scene are taking part, from exciting casual eats like Chick ‘n’ Sours to refined restaurants like Roka and Duck & Waffle, It’s the perfect excuse to see that restaurant that’s been causing all the fuss this year that you never quite had time to visit – an opportunity no serious restaurateur would want to miss out on.
4. Big Indie Wine Fest
With brands like Humble Grape changing the way the public looks at wine, now is the perfect time to brush up on your knowledge of the UK’s small-scale and independent wine importers and producers. Growing all the time, last year’s festival lasted 12 September days, featuring indie retailers like Corks Out as well as some larger industry names such as Oddbins.
There is no website, and details for the festival are usually revealed in mid-summer. It is based in Manchester.
Food festivals provide a fantastic opportunity for restaurants to boost revenue. Just like choosing a restaurant location, the right stall at the right festival can see a fantastic ROI: from the festival sales figures to the post-show marketing boost of being exposed to thousands of new potential customers.
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