Many of us celebrate NSW’s food and wine every day. And then we come together en masse to pay homage to the state’s most innovative growers, producers, vintners, bakers, makers, brewers and distillers at annual festivals. Whatever the month, and whatever your culinary inclination, there’s a food or wine fete going on somewhere in the state.
Although an unlikely combination, the Lavender, Herb & Chilli Festival is an annual highlight in the petite village of Laggan in the Southern Tablelands. Between the lavender harvesting and distilling, cooking demonstrations and produce tastings, it’s a colourful two-day soiree. Be sure to snap a selfie amid the vast purple fields at Crystal Brook Gardens.
The annual Oysters in the Vines Seafood and Wine festival in Port Macquarie is a kick-back-and-relax kind of affair. Held amid the vines of Cassegrain Wines, the event is a terrific trifecta of oysters, seafood and local vintages.
Country swagger is the order of the day at Tumbafest, a two-day celebration of music, food and wine held in the Snowy Mountains town of Tumbarumba. In between gigs, explore Food Alley or linger in the Wine Courtyard, both of which showcase the talented producers that make this part of the state so tasty.
A highlight on the Sapphire Coast’s culinary calendar, Eat Merimbulais a three day union of oyster farmers, bakers, ice-cream makers, kombucha brewers, vodka distillers… that’s before you enlist in events like sunset oyster cruises and long lunches catered by local chefs.
Orange F.O.O.D Weekis Australia’s longest-running regional food festival, luring gourmands to the wine region since 1991. The annual 10-day event (held during the grape harvest) is a raucous union of events and experiences, from night markets to workshops, long lunches to foraging expeditions.
Align your trip to Tamworth to coincide with the Taste Tamworth Festival, which is a deep dive into regional produce. Think of this as a progressive smorgasbord, with stops at the Taste Pop-up Bar, Taste in the Park, The Long Lunch, and the Farm Gate Trail, the latter of which sees growers fling open their doors to tell tales about life on the land
A Little Bit of Italy in Broke reflects the Hunter Valley region’s diversity and culinary influence over the decades. Immerse yourself in Italian food, wine and festivities – everything from pasta making classes to vineyard tours.
It’s easy to get overly excited at the Narooma Oyster Festival, but you’ll want to pace yourself – there’s a full weekend of slurping to be done. When you’re not eating, learn how to shuck oysters, watch the experts compete in a shucking competition, enjoy cooking demonstrations, take a tour of an oyster lease, meet farmers… and then eat some more.
More than 50 local producers turn up for Moree on A Plate, a festival showcasing the culinary bounty of the New England region of NSW. Snag a spot to watch barbecue cook-offs, sit down to a long lunch, enjoy live entertainment, and meet the makers.
In the Northern Rivers region of NSW, the tiny town of Casino thinks big every May for Casino Beef Week. The self-proclaimed ‘beef capital of Australia’ pulls out all the meaty stops over 10 days, giving visitors the chance to tour farms, learn about the paddock-to-plate process, attend seminars, and enjoy markets, music and competitions. Oh, and get stuck into a juicy steak.
Discover the beauty of the Central Coast hinterland at the Harvest Festival, where bucolic countryside is your backdrop as you follow a carefully curated event trail that loops in local farms, country markets, pick-your-own-produce experiences and bush tucker tours, as well as lively food and wine events.
Say bonjour to Bastille Festival Sydney, which sees a Parisian food village pop up in the forecourt of Customs House at Circular Quay. This is your chance to try everything from stinky cheese to raclette, fondue, crepes and flammkuchen. A few steps away in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art, you can recline on the grass and watch a French flick with a mug of mulled wine in hand.
There’s a lot to love about the Maitland Aroma Coffee & Chocolate Festival, a union of two of the culinary world’s most delicious inventions. Meet local coffee roasters, get tips from baristas and discover the secrets of making chocolate. Make no mistake – this is a gastronomic marriage made in heaven.
The village of Bangalow in northern NSW hosts the annual Sample Food Festival, where the focus is on local farmers, producers and chefs from coast to country. Sample specialty dishes from pop-up restaurant stalls, attend cooking demonstrations, learn how to forage and ferment, and get tips on pairing wine with food.
What began as a small community focused event has blossomed into one of NSW’s most happening celebrations of food and wine. Flavours of Mudgee sees the streets of this country town consumed with stalls doling out samples of cheese, olives and preserves, not to mention glasses of pinot noir and Semillon. You are in one of the state’s finest grape-growing regions, after all.
Flavours of Mudgee Festival, Mudgee
Take a road trip around the Northern Rivers region with a two-day diversion to attend the Ballina Fine Wine and Food Festival. This is the ultimate way to get a taste for the region, whether you’re attending a long lunch, wine tasting or gala dinner.
Farmers, producers and chefs gather in Huskisson for the South Coast Food & Wine Festival, where there are endless opportunities to indulge. Get active and meet the makers or attend a cooking masterclass, or simply chill with a glass of wine and enjoy dreamy ocean views.
The town of Woolgoolga on the mid-North Coast showcases its agricultural bounty at the annual Blues and Berries festival. Expect a stellar line-up of Australian blues artists as well as market stalls selling produce that features berries in just about every form imaginable. Put up your hand to enter the pie-eating competition.
Despite its name, Mudgee Food + Wine Month only lasts for about three weeks. But that’s enough time to experience the dynamic roster of exciting culinary events, including twilight tastings, wine trivia sessions, meet-the-maker sessions and themed meals.
Held at the height of picking season, the National Cherry Festival consumes Young every December. Come for the quirky competitions like pip spitting, cherry-pie eating and speed cherry-picking, and stay to see the crowning of the Cherry King and Queen. In between antics there’s fireworks, live music, and a street parade, plus market stalls selling everything from cherry pickles to cherry jam.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the traditional owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.