Foodies of all ages have been catered for by the Brighton & Hove Food And Drink Festival for the past ten years. Alongside September’s extensive main festival is the shorter but event-packed Spring Harvest (March 30th – April 9th), bringing food markets, cooking demonstrations, taster sessions, games and competitions to the streets of Brighton and Hove. Ticketed events range from £5 to £65 entry (mostly booked in advance, see the festival website), but there are plenty of tasty free celebrations happening too, many of which are in our picks below.
Various restaurants Mon 2nd – Fri 6th
Over five weekdays, 15 of the city’s finest restaurants are offering Food And Drink Festival diners special set menus at an across the board price of £7.50 for lunch, £15 for dinner. From busy pubs like the Hove Place, through popular venues like Moshi Moshi and up to the pastoral Stanmer House Bar & Restaurant, the range of eateries and menus spreads far and wide. It’s essential you phone ahead to check availability and reserve a place, quoting ‘Brighton & Hove Restaurant Week’ when you book.
Churchill Square Weds 4th
There’s a regular Farmers Market every Wednesday (10am – 4pm) on the piazza outside Churchill Square, and for the festival several of the stallholders will be preparing jams and chutneys from local produce. They are joined by a Live Food Kitchen, were chefs from Aguadulce Spanish Restaurant and Sabai Thai Gastrobar will demonstrate some of their cookery techniques, offering up dishes for browsers to sample. Both Market and Kitchen are free to visit.
Hotel du Vin Fri 6th
If you’re near the Lanes on Good Friday (3pm-7pm), pop into Hotel du Vin for a free afternoon of cheese and wine tasting. La Cave a Fromage are bringing along a range of cheeses to sample and buy, while the Hotel du Vin team will be offering tastes of local and international wines from £3.50 a glass. Two additional tutored sessions (£25 – £35) can be booked in advance at the hotel reception.
BIG SUSSEX MARKET
City centre Fri 6th – Sat 7th
The festival’s major free food market spreads along New Road, Jubilee Street and Jubilee Square for two days of the Easter weekend, and previous years have seen around 40,000 people attend. Over 70 stalls demonstrate the full range of the county’s food and drink growers, producers and restaurants. There’s Sussex Beer and Wine Bars too, while guests from France, Italy and Portugal will promote the tastes of their regions as part of a European ‘Discover The Origin’ project.
CHILDREN’S FOOD FESTIVAL
Dome/Corn Exchange Fri 6th – Sat 7th
Following its absence in recent years, it’s great to see the return of the Children’s Food Festival for two days of free events around the Dome. Kids are encouraged to take part in various taste challenges, taking in mystery foods including surprise flavours from around the world. There’s a Live Food Show for kids each morning, and a bundle of hands-on workshops ranging from the tasty to the messy (all free, but some require pre-booking through the festival website).
LIVE FOOD SHOW
Corn Exchange Fri 6th – Sat 7th
This year, the free Live Food Show includes cookery demonstrations from Chilli Pickle and Hotel du Vin chefs and The Great British Bake Off finalist Miranda Gore Browne, as well as the festival’s inaugural International Chef Exchange duo – Drakes’ Andrew McKenzie and his continental counterpart Audrey Essen of the Beaumont, Maastricht. A Community Food Area offers stalls to local charities, allotment growers, healthy eating projects and other community groups.
BRIGHTON FISH FESTIVAL
Bartholomew Square Mon 8th
Bank Holiday Monday brings Brighton’s first ever, free Fish Festival to the Lanes. Spread around outside the Town Hall are seafood cookery demonstrations, sushi workshops and taster dishes (including vegan alternatives from animal-free specialists The Redwood Company), plus representatives from the Marine Stewardship Council, sideshows from Brighton Pier and a marine pool of local creatures from the Sea Life Centre.