They say good things come to those who wait. It’s been a long wait for food lovers, but Sheffield city centre’s biggest free to attend event is finally back.
Yes, Sheffield Food Festival returns at last this summer after a two year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only that, but this year’s special tenth anniversary edition is even taking place on the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend (Thursday June 2 to Monday June 5, 2022)
A royal feast of fun will be on offer, including top cookery demonstrations and children’s activities, as well as delicious food inspired by global cuisines. The festival – which attracts around 50,000 visitors each year – is a bustling exhibition of Sheffield’s flourishing food and drink scene. Around 90 per cent of the traders who take part are based in the city.
Event manager Ellie Murphy, of festival organiser Events Collective, said: “I think it is really beneficial that our tenth anniversary falls on the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend, prior to that it was supposed to be in 2020.
“It’s great for us as this means the whole city can all get together and celebrate not only amazing local food but that our Queen is marking 70 years on the throne.”
Those with long memories will recall the first year Events Collective took over the festival, in 2016, and it has grown exponentially since then. It is now a key part of the city events calendar and is known as one of the best things to do in Sheffield each year.
Ellie added: “From day one we wanted Sheffield Food Festival to be a place where not only people from the city but from the surrounding towns, such as Chesterfield and as far away as Wakefield, could come along and sample the local produce, taste food from local traders, drink, shop and dine all in one place.
“It is a showcase for all of Sheffield and South Yorkshire’s food scene which we know is changing constantly with all the latest trends.”
This year’s festival includes four key sections to visit, starting with the traditional market. There you can expect food producers and businesses sharing their expertise and tasters of everything from home-made preserves to unusual gins, olives, pies, decadent brownies or toffee vodka.
No self-respecting dining event would be without a street food section in 2022. At this year’s Sheffield Food Festival there will be a spectacular selection of ready-to-eat treats, from paella to Pakistani cuisine, cooked live for diners. Some of the well-known Sheffield food traders signed up to take part include Neepsend vegan favourite Icarus and Apollo, who will be dishing out their popular plant based options. Moss Valley Fine Meats, famed for their premium bacon and sausages, are also expected to host one of the most popular stalls.
Another Sheffield name involved in the festival this year is Justin Rowntree, the former owner of city restaurant Silversmiths. Now a hospitality consultant and a key player at Blend Kitchen, he will be coordinating the programme for the festival’s chef demonstrations. These are always an entertaining way to discover new recipes and cooking tips from some of the best chefs, local celebrities and food-lovers working in Sheffield.
This year for the first time the demo stage will be located in the Eats, Beats and Treats village, inside the Peace Gardens. Music from bands and DJs, including many home-grown creatives, are to rock the village stage and local breweries will serve up their brews. The festival team have secured another coup for the village this year with an exclusive offering from Mexican artisan brand Devino Maguey. Festival visitors will be able to sample their range of specialist spirits and even take them home.
Sustainability is one of the biggest challenges facing the food industry today.
In the festival’s Green Village, anchored by Heeley City Farm, there will be a collection of local organisations working on sustainable, organic and environmentally friendly products or techniques. Visitors will be able to discover how to use up leftover produce thanks to the farm’s expertise and with help from city allotment groups.
The entire festival will take place across Sheffield’s Peace Gardens, St Paul’s Parade, Millennium Square, Town Hall Square and Pinstone Street with a kids’ activity hub based in the Winter Gardens. This central location means the event will take place adjacent to the city’s ambitious Heart of the City regeneration project. A later opening for the Eats, Beats and Treats village until 10pm also taps into efforts to refresh the city centre as an after-hours destination.
While some of the details of the festival will remain under wraps until closer to the date, it goes without saying there will be a special nod to our Queen Elizabeth II. A selection of puddings fit for a queen – scone with jam and cream, anyone? – and activities that tie in with the national The Big Jubilee Lunch are already confirmed.
It is hoped this year’s festival will inspire not just adult food lovers but also the next generation. Ellie added: “We want to appeal to people who are interested in different foods – we are an extremely diverse city.
“We have such a huge variety of different cuisines lined up but also we have catered to families so they can not only come and try different foods but there will be a huge range of activities they can try.
“I am hoping this creates a close knit camaraderie between everyone who does attend.”
The festival will run from 10am until 6pm between June 2-5 2022, with the Eats, Beats and Treats festival village open until 10pm each day.