Blog - Food and drink

The best of the West's food festivals

Food and drink

To feast on the West Country’s fabulous produce, the region’s food festivals are not to be missed...

The South West, with our fertile soils, mild climate and bountiful seas, is renowned for producing delicious food and drink. Fragrant artisan bakeries, traditional patchwork moorland farms, timeless harbours of bobbing colourful fishing boats, orchards of regimented cider apple trees and golden copper gin stills are where the magic happens. To sample the delights of the West Country in one glorious destination, visit one of our many year-round food festivals to be tempted, sip and savour – and return laden to your cottage with sumptuous goodies. Here are just a few of our tastiest annual events:


For the seventh year running, the welcoming town of Ashburton will be holding its illustrious food festival on 9th September 2017. Ashburton is transformed from an historic Dartmoor town into a thriving festival of stalls and divine foodie delicacies, along with many happy customers. Last year’s event saw visitors, locals and traders alike flocking to this great event. This year, it promises to be even bigger and better, with the addition of cookery classes to help you brush up on your culinary skills. It’s hard to know which of the 50 stalls to choose from, so take your time to savour the locally grown food and produce. If a mixture of music, food, drink and comedy sounds like your cup of tea, don’t hesitate to head on down; it’s definitely worth a visit. 
Stay at Hay Tor Cottage, Widecombe-in-the-Moor


The annual crab festival in Salcombe will be held next year on 6th May 2018. The unique festival will give you a new-found knowledge of crabs, seafood and local tourism as this event incorporates all that Salcombe holds dearest into one joyous day. The reason this is such a success is due to the involvement of the locals and activities such as crab pot making and crab picking tuition. There were figures of around 2,500 in attendance at the recent event, and many listened into the interview between David Fitzgerald from BBC Radio Devon and top chef Matt Tebbutt, who gave onlookers and listeners a real insight into his career and the enjoyment he gets from it. Their next festival will have a lot to live up to, but with its ever-expanding audience and celebrity appearances, Salcombe’s Crabfest will be the place to be.
Stay at Anchor View, Salcombe


The self-proclaimed West Country’s ‘ultimate foodie event’, which is hard to argue with, will be held next year on 5th, 6th and 7th May 2018. Established over 14 years ago, the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink has grown from a small local festival to a three-day event attracting some 20,000 visitors. Held in the courtyard of Exeter Castle and the surrounding Northernhay Gardens, it now boasts an After Dark Music Festival which features live music and chef demonstrations. This event brings together top chefs from the region, as well as including workshops and food-themed activities for everyone to enjoy. This event has received a Devon Tourism Award and also collected Bronze for ‘Tourism Event of the Year’, which is an outstanding achievement and gives you an idea of how good this event really is.
Stay at Mallard Cottage, Poltimore


[Image: Reading Tom]

The springtime Porthleven Food and Music Festival transforms this fishing village into a place of food and music galore! This year’s event saw a record attendance and the festival really has put Porthleven on the foodie map. The festival kicks off with a live music tent on Friday night, which is just a warm up for the weekend ahead. Local restaurant owners and chefs take to the stage to show off their culinary skills, alongside other top chefs. This is a great day out for all the family, with a huge selection of street food and stalls, plus activities and live theatre shows taking place in the dedicated children’s arena for the younger festivalgoer. Live music stages are set up all around the harbour with music to suit every taste. Dates for next year’s event are still to be confirmed, so keep an eye on the website for more details - you won’t want to miss it!
Stay at 2 Cobbled Ope, Helston


Powderham Food Festival, sponsored by Helpful Holidays, takes place in the breathtaking surroundings of Powderham Castle. The festival runs for two days, 7th and 8th of October 2017, and is an established event on the Devon foodie calendar, showcasing the West Country’s best food and drink producers. New and innovative themes are introduced each year to keep the festival fresh and unique. You won’t want to miss the Theatre Of Fire And Smoke, a festival favourite which sees chefs demonstrate culinary skills using fire pits. Enriched with music, activities, speakers and cooking demonstrations, this mouth-watering event is definitely one to visit and the uniqueness of the event really shows Powderham at its very best.
Stay at The Apple House, Cockwood


The River Cottage Festival is back on 26th and 27th August 2017. It returns with fresh activities and a brand new array of music line-ups. The weekend includes masterclasses, demonstrations by well-known chefs, yoga workshops and many activities for children as well. The River Cottage team pride themselves on this being a family-friendly event. On offer for the festival are weekend tickets and day and gig night tickets, so you can choose to dip into the festival or experience the whole weekend. The idyllic area in which the festival is set really brings to life the vibrant atmosphere which attracts thousands of new visitors every year to enjoy a weekend of music, dancing and food.
Stay at Marlborough Cottage, Combpyne

Fri, 15th Dec 2017

West Country Christmas traditions

Christmas is a celebration of good old-fashioned tradition and every family has its own special festive formula. There’s glorious nostalgia in th...

Fri, 8th Dec 2017

Family friendly Dorset attractions in the footsteps of the Famous Five

For anyone who sneaked a torch under the blankets after lights-out for the next thrilling instalment of the exploits of Julian, Dick,...

Mon, 4th Dec 2017

Winter walks on dog friendly beaches

The West Country is heaven for pets. It’s no coincidence that dogs of the South West are reported to enjoy longer wa...

Fri, 1st Dec 2017

Helpful Holidays wins British Travel Award

Jubilations and hurrahs! Helpful Holidays has been confirmed as one of the best cottage holiday providers in the UK - it’s of...