Best food festivals in regional NSW
From cherry harvests to curry festivals, the NSW festival calendar is stacked with food-focused offerings. Whatever the season and culinary inclination, meet the state’s most innovative growers, bakers, makers and cooks at these annual food festivals.
Once a small community event, Mudgee’s streets are adorned with stalls doling out samples of cheese, olives and preserves and the region’s pinot noir and semillons. Then in November, the town comes to life again with Mudgee Wine + Food Month, three weeks of feasts, markets and wine tastings.is now one of NSW’s most happening celebrations of food and wine. Every September
Southern Highlands Food and Wine Festival is a culinary highlight in the region’s calendar. The festival celebrates all of the local growers and makers when their produce is at its best, as well as bringing in celebrity chefs and field experts for talks and tastes.
On the North Coast, spring is an explosion of flavour. The village of Bangalow hosts the annual Sample Food Festival in September, where you’ll try specialty dishes from pop-up restaurant stalls, attend cooking demonstrations, learn how to forage and ferment, and get tips on pairing wine with food. In the same month Woolgoolga celebrates its local Punjabi community with more than 100 stalls at Curryfest, then in November it welcomes Blues and Berries, a festival that delivers exactly what the name says. Further north transforms the region into a sustainability-led hub of music, food and art.
The South Coast shows off its quality seafood, wines and distilleries atand Waterfront Food and Wine on Shell Cove Marina. At the former, spend two days meeting makers, attending cooking masterclasses or chilling with a glass of wine and enjoy dreamy ocean views. At the latter join in on workshop, snack at the markets and relax on the grass while listening to live music or watching a celebrity chef demonstration.
In the Riverina, the Griffith Spring Fest celebrates all things citrus in October. Check out the unique fruit sculptures, either on foot or on a bus tour, then find out what else the festival has to offer, including workshops, live music, wine tastings and plenty of food trucks.
Held at the height of the Southern Tablelands’ picking season in December, the National Cherry Festival takes over Young. Go for food and quirky competitions like pip spitting and speed cherry-picking, and stay to see the parade, fireworks, music and the crowning of the Cherry King and Queen.
In the New England area, the Guyra Lamb and Potato Festival celebrates exactly what it promises in addition to live music, antiques and a craft market in the new year – stop by on the way to the Country Music Festival Tamworth.
A highlight on the Sapphire Coast’s culinary calendar is Eat Merimbula, a three-day festival featuring oyster farmers, bakers, ice-cream makers, chefs, kombucha brewers, vodka distillers and more. Join in March for sunset oyster cruises by kayak, long lunches and picnics. Just a little to north, the South Coast hosts
Orange F.O.O.D Week is Australia’s longest-running regional food festival, celebrating the wine region since 1991. The 10-day event (held during the autumn grape harvest) is a raucous mix of night markets, workshops, long lunches to foraging expeditions.
One of NSW’s biggest autumn festivals is Newcastle Food Month, a 30-day calendar of pop-up restaurants, masterclasses, street food markets and restaurant deals. Further north, the New England area hosts two autumn festivals, Taste Tamworth Festival and . The former is a progressive smorgasbord seeing you go between events and venues in the regional capital. The latter sees 50 local producers showcase their best during a long lunch and a festival marketplace.
Head north for the warmth of Casino, the self-proclaimed ‘beef capital of Australia’. For 10 days in May they pull out all the stops for Casino Beef Week – tour farms and learn about the paddock-to-plate process; enjoy markets, music and competitions; and get stuck into a juicy steak.
Discover the bucolic countryside of the Central Coast hinterland at the in June, where you follow a carefully curated event trail that loops in local farms, country markets, pick-your-own-produce experiences, bush tucker tours and more.
Winter hosts two of NSW’s best barbecue festivals – the epic two-day barbecue competition and celebration that is MudgeeQue, a huge low-and-slow meat feast served alongside local brews and live music., and
One of NSW’s most unique festivals is the South Coast’s Fungi Feastival, a month-long exploration of science, education, truffle hunting, tastings and art (make your own mushroom pottery). While the south is celebrating a cool mushroom season the north coast takes on the heat with the Sawtell Chilli Festival on the first Saturday of July.
Matiland’s contribution to the winter line-up is a marriage of two of the culinary world’s most delicious inventions with thein August. Between tastings, meet local producers and learn about making your own.
Griffith celebrates its 90 years of Italian migrant history with two winter festivals. Taste of Italy is a week-long exploration of traditional Italian cooking and eating, ending in the lively salami competition and banquet Festa delle Salicce (Festival of the Sausage).
Inspired by the age-old tradition of bonfires,delivers an authentic country experience under the August stars, catered by the region’s best producers and chefs.