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Autumn’s best harvest festivals

The end of September is upon us and despite our desperate attempts to cling on to summer, it’ll soon be time to let it go for another year. But fear not dear sun worshipper; there’s plenty to look forward to in the coming months as the enchanting autumn colours spread through the UK’s gardens, parks and forests. Not only does it make for a spectacular autumn drive, but the change in season also happens to be celebrated with a series of food festivals up and down the country.

So make the most of the autumn harvest season with our guide to foodie events around the UK, many of which include live music and entertainment suitable for the entire family. Check out the best spots when you hire a car and hit the road with Europcar.

Manchester Food and Drink Festival

Image by Wendy Mann
Image by Wendy Mann


Ah, Manchester. The breeding ground of some of the most influential bands in UK music history, and home to world class shopping facilities, two leading football teams and a vibrant nightlife. The fun doesn’t stop there, however, as this northern city has a habit of throwing up some fascinating events throughout the year. The Manchester Food and Drink Festival just so happens to be one of those and features the perfect mix of culinary delights, craft beers and music.

The events are free to attend and run from 18-28 September just outside the Town Hall in the beautiful Albert Square. For easy access to the festival and all the other attractions in and around the city, why not book a car hire in Manchester and explore it all at your own pace?

Browse hundreds of food and beer stalls in Albert Square, featuring traders from up and down the country dishing up pretty much every type of grub imaginable. A host of live cooking demonstrations will also take place, one of which will see ex-Manchester United footballer Gary Neville partake in a live cook-off at the newly opened Hotel Football. Live bands and other acts will also be on hand to keep you entertained both day and night.

Canterbury Food and Drink Festival

Image by Javi Vte Rejas
Image by Javi Vte Rejas


The Canterbury Food and Drink Festival takes place on the final weekend of September in the luscious surroundings of the Dane John Gardens. Sample quality street food from around the globe in one of the many stalls populating the green embankments, as well as real ales and local delicacies.This family friendly festival is ideal for those travelling with young food connoisseurs in the back seat, with an array of workshops, face painting, entertainers and funfair rides sure to keep them occupied.

If you’re browsing the stalls without the company of young ones, however, then stroll along to the Festival Bar and catch local bands, buskers and a few surprise guests performing on The Band Stand throughout the day and into the evening.

Dartmouth Food Festival

Image by Stephen Jones
Image by Stephen Jones


Now in its 11th year, the Dartmouth Food Festival is widely regarded as one of the finest in the land. Not only does it give you an excuse to take a leisurely drive along the splendid Devon coast, but you can also rub shoulders with celebrity chefs while treating your taste buds to some heavenly flavours.

The festival takes centre stage over the weekend of 26-28 October and features cooking demonstrations, tasting events, classes and the ever-popular Dartmouth Food Festival Quiz. If you’re after some family fun, or simply fancy equipping your kids with some basic kitchen skills, then sign up for the ‘Wake up and Cook’ workshop which enables the whole family to get stuck into some fun-filled cooking action.

The majority of events take place at The Flavel Arts Centre, although you’ll also find street stalls and tastings throughout the town centre.

October Plenty

Image by Bernt Rostad
Image by Bernt Rostad


Let’s face it, you never really need an excuse to visit London, but the 19th annual October Plenty festival does provide you with another great reason to hit up the Big Smoke this autumn. Kick things off by picking up a car hire in London so you can explore some of the city’s best spots in your own time, such as the historic Borough Market in Southwark where many of the festival stalls are located.

This colourful autumn harvest celebration offers an eclectic mix of food and theatre, including a carnival-like procession from Bankside to Borough Market in honour of the latter’s Apple Day festivities. From delicious ciders to hearty apple pies and some good old fashioned apple bobbing competitions, there’s plenty to get your teeth stuck into. Theatre performances include The True Tales of Robin Hood, whilst kids can enjoy special harvet-themed storytelling sessions.

Got your mind set on some autumn food festival action? Check out some of our other posts for extra inspiration:






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