For some, Scotland is unknown in the world of global cuisine. Sure, our warming whiskies, hearty haggis and shortbread are familiar, but there’s much more to Scottish produce than these unwitting icons.
Spanish writer Josep Pla once said “a country’s cuisine is its landscape in a cooking pot”. Dig deeper beyond the familiar, and you’ll find this is absolutely the case in Scotland. Our fertile fields are simply the best for growing tasty fruit and vegetables and rearing livestock. And our waters are full of the finest fish and shellfish – did you know two thirds of the world’s langoustines are landed in Scotland?
Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, running from 31 August – 15 September, is a celebration of Scotland’s world-class produce and those who grow, make, cook and sell it. This year we’re celebrating the tenth anniversary of the ‘Fortnight’, so why not visit and discover how delicious our produce really is?
Here are just a few Food & Drink Fortnight highlights to whet your appetite:
Five regions across Scotland, 31 August – 15 September
A basket full of natural goodness – Foraging Fortnight
This brand-new festival is a feast for the senses and will feature coastal exploration and herbal wellness experiences, wild food feasts, fireside evenings and foraging talks. Events will take place throughout the fortnight in Lanarkshire, Fife, Moray Speyside, Forth Valley and Loch Lomond and on Orkney. As part of the programme, get along to the Scottish Wild Food Festival taking place on Cardross Estate, which will feature a one-table feast from Buck & Birch’s Rupert Waites and renowned head chef Marysia Paszkowska from Monachyle Mhor. Orkney International Science Festival will also feature foraging walks and food workshops.
Black Isle Brewery, 6 – 7 September
Here’s a beer festival with a difference! For a kick off, it takes place in September not October! And the organisers also love a theme. This year their worthy theme is ‘Beers & Bands, Below the Sea!’ with £1.50 from every adult ticket sold going to Whale and Dolphin Conservation. Some outstanding beers will be on offer alongside delicious local food, and amazing live music and dancing will mean partying into the wee small hours! Weekend festival camping is also available.
SPIRIT OF SPEYSIDE: DISTILLED
Elgin, 6 – 7 September
You might be familiar with the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival held each spring, but whisky is something to savour all year round! Taking place at Elgin Town Hall, #distilled19 will bring together some of the best whiskies, gins, beers and food from Moray Speyside. Why not stay over for a few nights before or after and explore Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail?
DUNDEE FLOWER & FOOD FESTIVAL
Dundee, 6 – 8 September
Taking place in idyllic Camperdown Country Park on the outskirts of the city, this long-established festival effortlessly combines the best in food, horticulture and live entertainment. There’s cookery demonstrations from chefs, BBC TV’s Beechgrove Garden presenters Carole Baxter and George Anderson will share their gardening expertise and there’s a fine range of tempting local foods, including Arbroath smokies and buffalo burgers, to enjoy. Don’t miss the craft fair, fantastic floral displays and the open-to-all Scotch Broth Championships.
HUNTLY HAIRST FOOD & FARMING FESTIVAL
Huntly, Aberdeenshire, 7 September
Rural Aberdeenshire is regarded by many as the larder of Scotland and the pretty town of Huntly lies right at its heart. The Hairst, or Harvest Festival, is a big community event in the regional calendar that celebrates the outstanding produce from Aberdeenshire and beyond. From a fabulous farmers’ market featuring over 50 stalls, to the World Stovies Championships and with Huntly’s Room to Run also taking place, this is one festival not to miss.
GREAT PERTHSHIRE PICNIC
Various venues, September (dates TBC)
Cairn o’ Mohr wines, Errol, Perthshire
Perthshire is a veritable nirvana for foodies and it won’t be difficult to find enough to fill this festival, even if it is a month long! Over 60 events, taking place across Big Tree Country, make up the Great Perthshire Picnic and in the past have included foraging forays with Errol wine producer Cairn o’ Mohr and POW Pizza from Cultybraggan Prisoner of War Camp near Comrie.
STRANRAER OYSTER FESTIVAL
Dumfries & Galloway, 13 – 15 September
Scotland’s seafood is amongst the best in the world and Loch Ryan oysters have to be tasted to be believed. This is the third year Stranraer Oyster Festival has taken place in this seafaring town. There’s live music, lots of fun family events planned, a makers’ craft market, cooking demos, the Scottish Oyster Shucking Championships, fireworks and of course the finest and freshest oysters and seafood you can imagine.
THE NATIONAL WHISKY FESTIVAL
Aberdeen Music Hall, 14 September
The organisers of the National Whisky Festival have successfully run events in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Paisley over the last three years and this year they’re bringing their unique blend of whisky tastings, live music (programmed by Celtic Connections), whisky-related crafts and yummy ‘scran’ to Aberdeen. Featuring over 30 exhibitors, 100 different whiskies to try, tasting masterclasses and a spirit shop, this popular event is sure to sell out, so don’t miss out!
EXCLUSIVELY HIGHLANDS AUTUMN FOOD & CRAFT FESTIVAL
Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire, 14 – 15 September
Stunning Drum Castle and Aberdeenshire countryside
Call into one of Aberdeenshire’s oldest and most striking castles and browse the produce and wares of a wide range of exhibitors. The food fair is held in the castle courtyard and there’s more tempting treats to peruse in the Brewhouse. See crafters at work, try some tasty street food and enjoy the delights of the castle and its walled garden.
THE GREAT BRITISH FOOD FESTIVAL
Floors Castle, by Kelso, 14 – 15 September
An aerial view of magnificent Floors Castle, Scottish Borders © Skyscan
The Great British Food Festival calls again at magnificent Floors Castle near Kelso with a packed programme for all the family. Try some tasty street food, watch cookery demonstrations from celebrity and local chefs and bakers, and there’s children’s activities, entertainment and live music all day. Browse over 75 food, drink and gift stalls and entry to Floors Castle itself, Scotland’s longest inhabited castle, is just £5 per person for festival ticket holders.
DEESIDE LOCAL FOOD FESTIVAL
Cults, Aberdeenshire, 15 September
This one day, Connect Local sponsored festival celebrates the best in Royal Deeside food with a produce market, street café, chef demos and more for the grown-ups and loads of foodie fun, workshops and activities for the kids. Entry is a modest £3 per adult and under 16s go free. Don’t miss it if you’re in Aberdeenshire in September.
NEWMILNS FOOD FESTIVAL
Ayrshire, 21 September
Although it’s outwith Food & Drink Fortnight, we thought we should mention this festival, as it’s a real treat for both foodies and those who just love tasty food and drink. With up to 80 producers showcasing their wares in the marquee, there’s also a packed programme of demonstrations taking place throughout the day, with much-loved celebrity chef Tony Singh MBE doing two fantastic demos. Why not stay on for Sunday’s Newmilns Arts & Crafts Festival?
These are just a few of the events taking place during Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight. There are lots more to browse on VisitScotland.com and remember to share your food and drink fortnight highlights using #ScotFoodFort.