With 250 events at A Taste of West Cork we're spoiled for choice! Here's what to do and see
Brought to you by Discover Ireland
Yep, we're preparing for Ireland's longest-running food festival and there's plenty of reason to get yourselves there too, friends!
A Taste of West Cork takes place from September 6 to September 15 and during the nine days of foodie feasts, over 250 events will take place across West Cork throughout 50 towns and villages, and even eight islands!
It's the perfect opportunity to come face-to-face with the local producers, indulge the senses with superb and delicious food from award-winning restaurants and local suppliers, enjoy plenty of exhibitions and talks, and even escape to some stunning islands and local attractions that only reinstate just how incredible (and beautiful) West Cork really is.
Being a unique hub along the Wild Atlantic Way — one that continues to cultivate excellent food and seafood and create exceptional art and craft — we'll be spoiled for choice during our visit.
It's most definitely worth taking a peek at this year's A Taste of West Cork Programme so you can see exactly what food markets, cooking demos, foods tastings, competitions, brunches, dinners and banquets might tickle your fancy most.
Forty-three guest chefs will be taking part this year from all over the globe. Guest chefs include Tom Flavin (he has worked at Raffles Hotel in Singapore, The Dorchester in London, and in Australia) and you'll catch him cooking on September 9 at Chistin Beag. There's Derry Clarke who we know from various programmes on RTÉ (and proprietor of L’Ecrivain restaurant) who'll be cooking up a storm once more. Joshua Moore, an Australian Chef from the Kunja and Barkindji people of Western NSW has lent his culinary skills to Inish Beg, Fields, The Church, Glebe, The Eccles, and now A Taste of West Cork. Niamh Shields who, through her London based blog — Eat Like a Girl — will focus primarily on cooking and exploring the new flavours she has found throughout her travels.
There are simply too many fantastic and talented people sharing their stories and cooking skills at the festival, so be sure to mark your favourites in the programme and book the experiences you want to see well in advance!
The first day, Friday, September 6, will kick off with the likes of the Clonakilty Farmers' Market (there is nothing in this world like home-baked goods). There's also the chance to learn how to traditionally smoke fish at Castlehaven, Skibbereen, indulge in some Forest Bathing at Caherbeg Free Range Farm, where you'll mosey through the most beautiful, enchanting woodland, then take part in a guided meditation and create a bespoke sandwich from a whole host of delicious West Cork produce! (Divine.)
There's everything in the schedule! There's the Clonakilty Food Tour, a Pop-Up Vegan Supper, a Hidden Edibles experiences, tours through an old copper mine, food from the largest whitefish port in Ireland, the Famine to Feast Experience (learning how abundant West Cork has become since the famine is really quite inspirational and extraordinary!), talks like Helping the Honey Bee, a Celebration of Australian Food and Wine, a Taste of Tuscany, a Seafood Surprise, Burgers at Their Best, the Bantry Town Walk, Garnish Island, Minke Gin School AND a whole host of free events!
It's about so much more than just the world of food, however (although, we'd be perfectly satisfied with just that!). It's about showcasing and experiencing the truly unique aspects of West Cork — the people, the activities, the landscape and the history, all along this part of the Wild Atlantic Way.
To add some extra adventure to your time spent in West Cork, we suggest taking to the likes of the Beara Peninsula (join the walking route of the Alihies Copper Mines — a perfect mix of incredible history and stunning landscapes), and two more rugged and westerly peninsulas — Mizen Head and Sheep's Head.
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Hop in a kayak and paddle through Lough Hyne which you can do at night. It's entirely suitable for first-time kayakers and being surrounded by such a beautiful scene and the quiet of night makes for a super calming experience too.
For even more exceptional views (this time during the day) take a cruise down Ilen River from Old Court into the Atlantic Ocean and out to Sherkin Island. You'll visit the ruins of an old Franciscan Abbey, the Fastnet Lighthouse (just beyond Cape Clear and what become known as Ireland's Tear), plus you'll get to enjoy a barbecue at Islanders Rest before returning to the mainland.
You could also head to Woodfield, where historian Tim Crowley will take you through the life of 'The Big Fella' himself, Michael Collins, telling stories from this very spot that was his birthplace to where he died at Béal na Bláth.
West Cork is filled to the brim with excellent accommodation suited to an array of budgets. Even so, considering it's such a busy season, be sure to get your search underway soon. But between hotels, B&Bs and hostels, rest assured you'll find someplace just right to nestle down in during the night.
The West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen offers 49 ensuite bedrooms many of them with views over the River Ilen. It's the perfect base for those wanting to explore Ireland's most scenic coastline. Don't forget, wine and dine at Kennedy's Restaurant while you're here for the most delicious fresh-caught seafood, seasonal game and delicious veggies.
The Maritime Hotel is another exceptional option. Set on Bantry Bay amid the three rugged peninsulas of Mizen Head, Sheep’s Head and Beara. Check out The Ocean Restaurant for a world of flavours and the Club Maritime Leisure Centre for a worthy spa treatment.
If you're looking for a few little spots that offer a range of divine food options, try The Stuffed Olive in Bantry, Taste at the Beara Peninsula, The Berehaven Lodge, Afternoon Tea at the Seaview House & Hotel Bantry. All offer an exceptional menu with a particular focus on ensuring food produce is sourced from the local area. So, undoubtedly, we'd highly recommend.
Don't miss out on a true highlight of the festival calendar! With interactive workshops, themed nights in local restaurants, traditional music sessions, superb hospitality and the most stunning, scenic landscape, it might just be the best festival we get to!
Brought to you by Discover Ireland
A festival makes your break, so click on the image below to discover even more things to do that'll make your break in Ireland something really special. Go to our festival hub here on Her to see more of what's happening too!