Pigeon plucking, competitive haggis eating and local ale trails – you'll be too busy to care what the weather's doing at these awesome food festivals

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Eating and drinking in the shadow of the castle, Ludlow. If you only go to one food festival this year, go to this one

Pack your bags and your appetite! Here's a roundup of the best autumn food festivals 2014.

Loch Lomond food and drink festival (Balloch, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland)

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When: 6-7 September 2014

 

Good for: Kids. From meeting birds of prey to milking cows, there's loads of child-focused fun. Enter the infamous haggis-eating competition and find out who can clear their plates the fastest. 

 

Do say: Hey mukker! (Scots for 'alright mate')

 

Don't say: Can I get a deep-fried Mars bar?

 

Where to stay: Cameron House, Loch Lomond. A 30-minute walk from the festival (through the gorgeous national park) takes you to this Scottish Baronial mansion and spa surrounded by 100 acres of woodland. Don't mind if we do.

 

Last word: Breathtaking views, scrumptious suppliers and foot-tapping folk music – prepare to get swept away on this highland fling.

Ludlow food festival (Shropshire)

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When: 12-14 September 2014

 

Good for: Free talks and demos from Michelin-starred chefs and top food writers, all within the impressive castle grounds, (who's attending is all kept hush-hush until just before the festival). There's also over 160 local food and drink producers exhibiting, so you're bound to find that ultimate gourmet sausage or artisan ale.

 

Do say: Happy Birthday! Ludlow Food Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year

 

Don't say: But Waitrose is so convenient … 

 

Where to stay: The Feathers, Ludlow. This handsome timber-framed building has a fancy four-poster with your name on it

 

Last word: If you go to one festival this year, make it this one

Liverpool food and drink festival (Sefton Park, Liverpool)

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Image: Tom Kerridge's apple tart

Photo: Jan Baldwin

When: 19-21 September 2014

 

Good for: Celebrity chefs: Tom Kerridge and Yotam Ottolenghi headline. There's also a heavenly chocolate area for chocoholics, an edible garden for the green fingered and a pop-up 'Pub in the Park'. 

 

Do say: I always triple-fry my chips

 

Don't say: Can I have mayonnaise with that?

 

Where to stay: Sefton Park Hotel, Liverpool. Previously home to one of the original members of the Beatles, Stuart Sutcliffe, (okay, we hadn't heard of him either), this Victorian villa overlooking Sefton park is walking distance from the festival, so you can stagger to bed.

 

Last word: City location, local vibe and Tom Kerridge is bringing the food. What's not to like?

York food festival (Yorkshire)

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When: 19-28 September 2014

 

Good for: Taste trails. Scattered across the historic city, York's independent shops will be offering free food tasters, as well as discounts for purchases made on the day – a great way to see York and fill your belly. Oz Clarke, Olly Smith and Tim Atkin, (aka the '3 wine men') are hosting wine tastings next to the Minster, too.

 

Do say: Yes, I can taste the fresh berries in the Beaujolais

 

Don't say: ithunkineedsomethinktodrink

 

Where to stay: Coach House Hotel, York. Just 300 yards from York Minster, this old coaching inn is the perfect place to flop

 

Last word: This not-for-profit foodie festival gives back to the local community, so you can feel good and still stuff your face

Abergavenny food festival (Monmouthshire, Wales)

 

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When: 20-21 September 2014

 

Good for: Booze! Sup on specialist talks about everything from seasonal fruit liqueurs to brewing your own sake

 

Do say: Iechyd da! (cheers!) – everyone will love you if you try to speak a little Welsh

 

Don't say: New Zealand lamb's better though, right?

 

Where to stay: The Hardwick, Abergavenny. Michel Roux Jr's favourite place to eat in Wales

 

Last word: This is the festival for name-dropping, as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Sam & Sam Clark and Thomasina Miers will all be there

Great Cornish food festival (Lemon Quay, Truro, Cornwall )

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When: 26-28 September 2014

 

Good for: Producers. Try not to empty your wallet too fast as you meander between stalls offering mouthwatering gems: orange and gin marmalade from Cornish Meadow Preserves, honey mead from Ninemaidens and Cornish yarg from the Lynher Dairies Cheese Co to name but a few.

 

Do say: Fancy a bit of croust? (Cornish expression – drink and bite to eat)

 

Don't say: It's just clotted cream and pasties, innit?

 

Where to stay: The Alverton, Truro. Retreat to this historic Grade II listed manor house built by John Loughborough Pearson (the same guy who designed Truro cathedral).

 

Last word: A food lover's haven and a real Cornish celebration

Aldeburgh food and drink festival (Snape Maltings, Suffolk)

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When: 27 September - 12 October 2014

 

Good for: Masterclasses. Learn how to bake using alternative grains with the uber-cool E5 bakehouse or go on a wild food foray, discovering useful plants and their traditional medicinal uses. Feeling competitive? Get involved with the International Pigeon-plucking Championship or World Pickled Egg Championships, judged by Valentine Warner.

 

Do say: Wheat is so passé 

 

Don't say: Qui-no-a? Keen-wat ha?

 

Where to stay: White Lion Hotel, Aldeburgh. Soak up sea views and wander up and down the shingle beach just outside the hotel

 

Last word: Not even rain will dampen the parade here with a planned indoor street party and shelter at Snape Maltings.