Foodies, here is your plan for the year ahead – cancel everything else…
Kangaroo Island Feastival 24-28 April
The ‘Island’ has been described as ‘Aussie bush meets the Mediterranean’ and, with its similarly crystal waters, excellent food culture and laidback lifestyle, we can understand why – especially when the island’s annual food celebration, FEASTival rolls around. With 30 events to choose, make sure you set aside at least one early morning to watch the sun rise at one of the island’s many beaches.
Noosa International Food & Wine Festival: 15–18 May
There’d be a fair few people willing to rank Noosa Food & Wine Festival as a top food and wine event in the country. And fair enough – it features a staggering line-up of more than 200 top national and international chefs (many of the celebrity variety) imparting their collective wisdom. The impressively comprehensive, four-day itinerary allows dedicated followers of food to eat and drink their way through long lunches, live concerts, wine tastings, degustation menus, cooking demonstrations, high teas and food trails through the divine Sunshine Coast and Hinterland scenery.
Port Douglas Carnivale: 16–25 May
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Port Douglas Carnivale makes the most of the divine tropical climate and produce that the city – and the region – is famous for. Culinary highlights this year will include Taste Port Douglas (featuring the likes of MasterChef and MKR alum Colin Fassnidge, The European Melbourne’s Ian Curley, and Pete Evans’ executive chef Massimo Mele); the Sheraton Mirage Longest Lunch, and Palates of Port, an eight-course degustation dinner at Sugar Wharf showcasing eight of the areas most talented chefs.
Savour Tasmania: May to June
In the five short years since its inception in 2009, Savour Tasmania has become a headlining Australian food festival, beloved by producers and foodies alike. Its basic aim is to raise the profile of the Tasmanian food and beverage industry, by promoting the state as a destination for unique food and wine experiences. How? By inviting a line-up of internationally recognised chefs to present a range of degustation dinners focusing on natural Tasmanian ingredients in world-class restaurants and venues. Good idea, right? The event also includes the Tasmanian Red Wine Weekend, featuring a range of master classes and wine tastings.
Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, Darwin: May to October
While not strictly a food festival, the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets are a Northern Territory institution held each Thursday and Sunday evening at sunset from May to October. The real drawcard are the myriad stalls offering up a multicultural feast of cuisines. The best way to enjoy the colour and atmosphere is to decide on a dish, then take up position on the sand to and watch the sun set into the Indian Ocean.
Canberra & Capital Region Truffle Festival: Late June to early August
The arrival of the brisk winter weather signals the start of truffle season, and the Canberra region is one of the country’s premier truffle growing areas. As a result, the pungent fungus (including the highly prized French Black Truffle) is feted by growers, chefs, restaurants and food lovers at the Canberra and Capital Region Truffle Festival. In addition to truffle hunts, master classes, cooking demonstrations, dining experiences and the launch of a limited edition black/purple Citroën DS5 (appropriately named ‘the Truffle’), this year’s big news is that Antonio Carluccio, the Godfather of all celebrity chefs, has been confirmed as the Festival Patron.
Good Food Month: Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane: October to November
It’s the largest food festival in the nation, taking place across Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane, and it’s called Good Food Month. Events run the gamut, from fine-dining banquets whipped up by leading local and international chefs to the hugely popular night noodle markets, to family-friendly outdoor festivals. And, somewhat confusingly, it’s held across two months: October for Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and regional Queensland; and November for Melbourne and regional Victoria. Dig in.
Margaret River Gourmet Escape: 21–23 November
Margaret River has earned an enviable worldwide reputation for its wine growing and making prowess, and its buzzy, convivial annual food and wine gathering isn’t far behind in esteem. Making the most of the stunning surrounds, the region is swarmed by chefs, vintners and foodies for three days of beach barbecues, long table lunches, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and Q&A sessions with the chefs.