Four boutique village festivals to sink your teeth into this summer

Four boutique village festivals to sink your teeth into this summer

The Year of Food and Drink is in full kick and foodie events can be found left, right and centre this summer across Northern Ireland. With many high-profile events happening in Belfast, we’ve taken a look at key festivals and food events taking place outside our capital. Here’s a round-up of ones to watch in villages across County Down!


Sunflowerfest, 5th – 7th August, Tubby’s Farm, Hillsborough

Known for its support of local music, Sunflowerfest is in its 7th year this year and as part of the Year of Food and Drink will offer more than just a feast of music to enjoy this year.

Festival goers this year will now have a cornucopia of food and drink to tickle the taste buds. Sunflowerfest organisers will tantalise festival goer’s senses through cookery demonstrations, tastings, talks and workshops hosted in the Village Tent.

Foodies will have the chance to see chefs prepare dishes using local produce including locally sourced meat, in keeping with the theme for August Love NI Meat, participate in foraging tours for a plot to plate experience, taste craft beers and ciders, or take part in baking workshops utilising Tubby’s very own brick oven to bake breads and pizzas. Children can also join in the pizza making workshops and get stuck into growing, creating, crafting and learning.

Tickets for Sunflowerfest are now available from, with a range of options available including family deals, weekend passes and day tickets.

Moira speciality food fair 

Speciality Food Fair Moira, 20th August, Moira Demesne, Moira

Following the success of its inaugural year, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, hosts of the Speciality Food Fair, have announced a packed line-up for the fair’s second appearance in Moira Demesne Saturday 20th August.

Featuring a wide range of artisan producers from the Moira and across Northern Ireland, this year’s Fair is expected to be a date not to be missed by food enthusiasts and families across the province.

This year’s festival, held in conjunction with Tourism Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink, will include many award-winning food offerings to suit all tastes.

Fittingly, August has been designated the month of celebrating NI Meat in the Year of Food and Drink calendar. The Speciality Food Fair in Moira could not be more ideally placed with the celebrated Great Taste Supreme Champions, McCartney’s and Hannan Meats located in the town. Products from both will be featured by the chefs in the Kitchen Sessions, with the range and premium quality of Northern Ireland’s meat sector showcased in the artisan food market marquee. Visitors will have the chance to buy directly from the farmers themselves including lamb from Buchanan’s Farm, dry cured bacon from Kennedy Bacon and Dexter Beef from Castlescreen Farm. Whilst in the picnic area, Forthill Farm and Broughgammon Farm – amongst others – will be serving gourmet street food that epitomises the farm to fork ethos.

Alongside these primary producers guests will find organic vegetables, artisan cheese, bread and cakes, jams, chutneys, chocolates, fudge and many other speciality foods – many from multi-award winning producers.

Admission to the Speciality Food Fair Moira is free. For more information visit or and Twitter @FoodFairMoira.

hillsborough oyster festival
Hillsborough International Oyster Festival, Hillsborough, 30th August – 3rd September

The world-famous Hillsborough International Oyster Festival, supported by principal sponsors Turkish Airlines, Phoenix Natural Gas and Quilter Cheviot will return on Tuesday 30th August to Saturday 3rd September with a spectacular showcase of the best in hospitality, local produce, arts and entertainment.

Now in its 24th year, this important event in the Northern Ireland Tourism calendar attracts over 14,000 visitors annually from across the world and this year boasts a packed programme of popular events and activities including;
• Oyster Masters Golf Day, supported by GMcG Chartered Accountants
• The ‘Magic of the Movies’ – Musical Evening in association with Lockton
• The Smeg Pop-up Restaurant
• The Quilter Cheviot Pearl and Oyster Ball
• The Turkish Airlines World Oyster Eating Championship
• The Phoenix Natural Gas Soapbox Derby
• The Flash Harry Live Concert and BBQ, supported by New City Cabs

The Festival’s signature oyster-eating showcase will be returning as challengers take on the reigning champion and Guinness World Record Holder, Colin Shirlow, at the Turkish Airlines World Oyster Eating Championship on Saturday 3rd September 2016.

The Quilter Cheviot Pearl and Oyster Ball is a fabulous evening and a famous element of the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival’s longstanding calendar of events. Community and youth groups are also invited once again to enter the Festival’s renowned Phoenix Natural Gas Soapbox Derby which is staged on Hillsborough’s Main Street on Saturday 3rd September 2016 and will see budding racers go bumper to bumper. This Festival is delighted to announce the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as the beneficiary of this year’s fundraising activities.

For further information and ticketing options for all events visit

killyleagh chocolate festival

Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival
, Killyleagh, 23rd – 25th September

Thousands of chocoholics and enthusiastic foodies from Northern Ireland and beyond are set to descend again this year on Killyleagh town centre to celebrate the 2016 Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival, 23rd – 25th September. Sponsored by artisan producer Finnebrogue, based in nearby Downpatrick and famous for their outstanding quality venison and sausages, this year’s festival will be the largest one yet, with over 15 chocolatiers and nearly 40 local artisan food producers scheduled to set up camp at the historic Killyleagh Castle for the weekend-long festival.

Founded in 2010 to celebrate Killyleagh’s most famous son, Hans Sloane, who was born in the village in 1660 and later became one of the most famous men of his time partially because of his development of milk chocolate, the biennial festival has grown from strength to strength and is now regarded as one of the leading events of its type in the UK and Ireland and a highlight of the summer calendar for locals in Killyleagh.

The festival will kick off on Friday 23rd September with the Chocolate Ball which will take place on the grounds of the stunning Killyleagh Castle, one of Ireland’s longest-inhabited castles. Guests will be treated to a chocolate-rich menu prepared and curated by Chef Simon Dougan of Yellow Door and Finnebrogue consultant development chef Chris Burt, followed by world class entertainment set in a stunning marquee against the backdrop of Killyleagh Castle.

The three-day celebration will continue on Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th September with the Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival, where guests can enjoy the range of chocolatiers’ displays and market stalls, taste and purchase local artisan produce, and be entertained by the activities for the whole family, offering serious fun for all in 2016!

Ticket prices vary, based on events running throughout the Festival. For further information on all events taking place and to book tickets visit or follow the Killyleagh Chocolate Festival on Twitter @KillyleaghChoc or

Post Author: Belfast Times

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