The Frenchie food stand

A food lover’s paradise is anywhere one can enjoy fancy fast food, see Michelin star chefs at work and sample the newest culinary curiosities. While London’s street food has been thriving, it isn’t only those in the capital with a taste for new flavours.

There are now hundreds of food festivals each year, taking place across the country, from touring and flash-in-the-pan weekend events to week-long extravaganzas. Most take place around the summer months, starting in May and finishing in September.

For food businesses, pubs and restaurants, choosing the right events to partake in is key to making the most of these brand awareness opportunities. The UK is home to many wonderful food festivals, bringing together international and local culinary creators and beverage aficionados. However, the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown and even socially distant re-opening in some places, has meant that many 2020 food festivals aren’t able to go ahead.

We’ve compiled a list of the planned food festivals for 2020 in the UK, in chronological order, their current status and details of how to get involved with the next event that takes place.


Food Festivals In 2020: Have They Been Cancelled Or Postponed?

Events that were planned for the start of the food festival season were cancelled quickly, since the UK entered lockdown at the end of March 2020 and the first festivals were in early May. Over time, depending on what food festival planners are able to do with their spaces, and based on the latest government guidance, some have had to be cancelled, while others have been postponed for a few months or until 2021.

Online Food Festivals

Some events have switched to online offerings, using video and online ticketed events, to support some of the vendors of events. Additionally, a number of new, virtual food festivals have popped up as a result of the numerous cancellations of in-person events, with more likely to appear.

The two new, completely online food festivals to be aware of are:

  1. The Food & Drink Festival Online – Conceived by Nauteas tea company’s founder Katia Sokolskaya and run by Richard Reeves, of food and drink marketing agency Slice & Dice, this online market stall aims to showcase the best local producers. Customers can browse by categories and read about products, with links to provider websites. Providers can submit to be included and join the online community on Facebook.
  2. The Virtual Food Festival – A combined virtual food festival and virtual food market, it aims to connect suppliers with buyers. Created by Jack Stein of Rick Stein restaurants and Ross Geach of Padstow Kitchen Garden, with Lawrence Harmer of Solve Web Media, they have put on discussions, live demonstrations via video and cook alongs. Many events have taken place with more to come.

2020 Food Festivals: Status, Next Event & Vendor Info

Here, we’ve summarised what you need to know about each food festival, when it was due to take place, its status for 2020 and vendor info for the next expected event.

Pub in the Park – Postponed to 2021, except Marlow

  • Location: Various locations – Marlow event is going ahead in socially distant format from 25th to 27th September 2020.
  • Dates: Fridays to Sundays between May and September.
  • Vendor costs: You’ll need to enquire about availability and pricing.

British fusion and Michelin star chef Tom Kerridge brings his touring food festival to places around the UK, including: Marlow, Roundhay, Knutsford, Bath, Warwick, Tunbridge Wells, Chiswick and St Albans.

Attendees enjoy a beautiful countryside backdrop and a soundtrack of live bands (with the likes of Gabrielle, Tom Odell and Texas performing in 2018) while you cater to the flocks of visitors. Although the festival isn’t open to hot food catering, there are plenty of opportunities to dazzle with your pop-up and exhibition kitchens.

The Drive & Dine Theatre

The team behind Pub in the Park are putting on an alternate event to their food festival, called The Drive & Dine Theatre. It is a ticketed, garden party style event with comedy, “classic movies and great food”. These drive-in foodie events are taking place in Cornwall, Warwick, Chichester, West London and South London. Check out the website for more details.

Clitheroe Food Festival – Cancelled

  • Location: Clitheroe in Lancashire.
  • Dates: 2021 to be announced, typically August each year.
  • Vendor costs: Between £90 and £420.
  • Date for applications: Applications open early in the year and close in April.
Lancashire cheese wedge

Clitheroe Food Festival is a one-day event and has been hailed as one of the best by Conde Nast Traveller and Eventbrite. The catch for any hopeful vendors looking to be included in 2021 is that all products have to be made with raw ingredients from Lancashire, and be able to prove it.

Depending on the size of your space, you can expect to pay anything from £90 to £420 (plus VAT). Smaller market stands of 1.4m by 3m are on the lower end of that scale at £90, with 3m by 3m marquees and gazebos from £180 to £330. All applications are dealt with through EventOwl, not their main website.

There is no current information on a 2021 event, but they state that Clithertoe Food Festivals is committed to supporting the businesses and people of Ribble Valley and “will be for the foreseeable future”.

River Cottage Festival – Cancelled, New Events Planned

Person holding two bubble cone ice creams

Described as a “weekend of music, food and fun on the farm”, River Cottage Festival comes to salivating taste buds from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s company. Held in Axminster each year, this country food festival encourages overnight camping for visitors who spend their days wandering the stalls and fields working up a hearty appetite.

For those thinking about attending in 2021, there are some restrictions on the quality of the products vendors should be supplying, as one would expect from the cook who advocates locally sourced meats and high-quality vegetables.

Since the summer food festival has been cancelled, a number of new socially distant events have been planned with limited capacity for attendees. There may be opportunities for local vendors to take part or supply goods.

Nantwich Food Festival – Cancelled

  • Location: Nantwich, Cheshire.
  • Dates: 2021 to be announced, typically at the end of August, start of September.
  • Vendor costs: £260 per space (plus extras).
  • Date for applications: Applications open early in the year and places are allocated by April each year.
Person handing over a street food sandwich

Typically a three-day food event, Nantwich Food Festival has a monumental 40,000 visitors, in part because it is one of the few free food festivals for visitors. Previous planned speakers include celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager.

As one of the most popular food festivals in England, spaces book up quickly so if you are thinking of being one of the lucky few then it’s worth keeping an eye out for when applications open for 2021. Space is at a premium in Nantwich with a price tag of £130 per metre of stand space, a minimum of two metres required, and an expectation that you might need to book more.

Lockdown Awards

Since the 2020 Nantwich Food Festival was cancelled, they are encouraging their planned attendees to support their local food and drink businesses. They have also switched their usual awards for the Lockdown Awards in order to “thank the organisations and individuals who have stepped up to support local residents during this pandemic, as well as promote the businesses who have adapted and gone above and beyond to satisfy customer needs during this difficult time”.

Nominations opened on the 11th July 2020, close 30th August 2020 with winners announced the following week. Check out the submission categories to get those businesses and people who have helped out during COVID-19 to be recognised.

Meatopia – Postponed to 2021, Online Events Available

  • Location: Tobacco Dock in London.
  • Dates: 3rd – 5th September 2021.
  • Vendor costs: Contact the team at Meatopia if you would like to take a stand or stall space. They can supply costs based on your needs.
Meat display in a butchers

Meatopia is championing high-quality and ethically sourced ingredients, namely, meat. In 2018, numerous renowned chefs exhibited including Yotam Ottolenghi, Sam Bryant of Coal Rooms, Matt Thompson from Patty & Bun and Jeremy Chan of Ikoyi.

London is a hub for foodies and food startups so you need to be getting involved with this food festival if you can. You’ll also need to find the right place to have your prep kitchen if you are going to take part.

The good news for those who hoped to attend in 2020 is that their tickets will automatically roll-over into 2021. For vendors, the event is contacting those involved to discuss options. In the meantime, they’ve started Meatopia At Home.

Meatopia At Home

Switching to the digital space to give the food festival attendees a visual taste of what they could be enjoying, #meatopiaathome is a cross-platform set of tutorials, cook-a-longs and more from the Meatopia team. You can find their social profiles via their website.

York Food & Drink Festival – Pending Cancellation

  • Location: Parliament Street in York.
  • Date: 20th to 29th September 2019, 2021 dates to be announced.
  • Vendor costs: Between £1000 and £2100.
  • Date for applications: Applications open early in the year and close mid-May.
Small town street sign reading: Ye Olde Starre Inne

Two parts of this festival have been cancelled, the York Chocolate Festival (9th–13th April 2020) and Taster Festival (13th & 14th June). However, the main food festival in September has not officially been cancelled – though it seems highly likely.

Some 450,000 visitors are expected for this 10-day food and drink event so places are competitive. Take-home producers, cookware suppliers and street food vendors are the bread and butter of this event. Priority is given to York-based food and drinks brands, which aims to be a celebration of locally sourced and regional food. However, they are open to companies that have a unique offering not available locally.

You can find a detailed list of prices in the application form for the York Food & Drink Festival, with about a £1000 difference depending on the location of your stand. All prices are based on a single 3m pitch.

Abergavenny Food Festival – Cancelled

  • Location: Abergavenny in Wales.
  • Date: 2021 not yet announced, typically mid-June.
  • Vendor costs: £105 to £500 depending on stall location.
  • Date for applications: Application open in January and close in March.
Mushroom poutine in a takeaway box

Last but not least, and heading into its 23rd year (2020 would have been the 22nd), Abergavenny Food Festival. Like many others, this food festival is encouraging those who would have been attendees to support local shops, caterers and brands by ordering online.

Hosted across the town of Abergavenny, this food festival encourages visitors to walk around and watch chefs cooking up a storm, rather than sitting at exhibition stands. It also has a focus on local Welsh cuisine, producers and brands, so if you’re local then this is definitely one to get involved in.

Prices vary widely based on how many days you plan to show at this food festival, stall locations (as there are numerous sites across the market town) and based on your table and power needs. To secure your place, you will need a £50 deposit, with the rest of your payments made in installments before the festival takes place.

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