Situated on the river Alde in a landscape of open skies, marshland, and reedbeds, the historic Victorian maltings are the best-preserved brick malt kilns in Britain and are home to the world-famous concert halls of the Aldeburgh Festival of Music as well as a collection of shops selling food, kitchen-ware, crafts, art, books and much else. In this uniquely beautiful setting, the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival has become established as one of the foremost food festivals in Britain, while the whole area has become a food destination.
The Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival was started in 2006 to celebrate and publicise the abundance of our local produce and also to help people reconnect with the countryside and the food it provides. One of the objectives of the festival is to demonstrate the strong connection between food and the market towns, the villages, the countryside, the rivers and the sea.
The aim of the Festival is to:
- Help people understand the connection between food and the people, the farming and the landscape that produced it
- Celebrate and publicise the amazing variety, quality and abundance of food and drink produced in the Alde Valley and along the coast of East Suffolk
- Encourage people to support the local economy and reduce ‘food miles’ by buying local produce in the shops, farm shops, farmers markets, pubs, restaurants, hotels and bed-and-breakfasts
- Work with local schools to bring back growing food and cooking it as part of the curriculum
- Encourage people to grow and cook their own food – Grow It! Cook It! Eat It!
- To publicise East Suffolk as a food destination
- To encourage people to visit the Suffolk countryside, wildlife reserves, market towns and villages
- To publicise Suffolk County Council’s Greenest Suffolk initiative
A joyful celebration of quality provenance and flavour
by Lucas Hollweg
“A few years back, an impromptu weekend camping trip brought me to the Suffolk coast. I fell in love. It was partly the quiet beauty of the landscape, the long, empty beaches, swaying reed beds and infinite skies. But it was also the food. Here were oyster beds and smokehouses, farm shops and butchers filled with local vegetables, meat and game, fishermen selling their morning catch from wooden huts on the shingle. Even on that short visit, this corner of England struck me as a glorious repository of good things and good ideas. I went home with a singing heart and a bag full of new discoveries.
For the past eight years, the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival has provided a unique hub and showcase for this thriving food culture, a coming together of the committed farmers, bakers, millers and other artisan producers who have helped put Suffolk firmly on Britain’s edible map. For food lovers, it is a joyful celebration of quality, provenance and flavour. From the sausages to the cider, the bread to the beans, everything you’ll find here has the undeniable added savour that comes from food produced with integrity and care by real people with big characters and stories to tell. But, just as importantly, the festival is a reminder, in its own gentle way, of all the other reasons that local food really matters: the low food miles, the benefits for the regional economy, the wider need to find sustainable ways of putting food on the table.
Aldeburgh pulls off the clever trick of making its point while also making it fun. And make no mistake: it is huge fun. This is my third year at the festival – three blissful early-autumn weekends of good food and good times. It’s no wonder that so many of the cooks, chefs and food writers you’ll see shaking their pots and pan on the festival stages come back again and again. Like me, they are here for the simple reason that they love it. Aldeburgh may not be the biggest food festival in the world, but it is undoubtedly the most intimate, friendly and warm. I can feel my heart singing already.”
Lucas Hollweg is a self-taught cook who gave up life as a food editor and features journalist and his popular recipe column in The Sunday Times Style magazine, to spend more time in the kitchen.
His first book Good Things to Eat was published in 2011.