Sailing at sunrise to catch your own breakfast. Sampling city cuisine on a Belfast Food Tour. Visiting the Shortcross Gin Distillery before learning how to mix the perfect G & T.
With our outstanding array of fresh local fayre, authentic artisan producers, boundary-pushing chefs and dynamic distillers and brewers, it’s easy to see why Northern Ireland was named Best Food Destination at the International Travel and Tourism Awards.
As part of Taste the Island’s celebration of Irish food and drink, we’re sharing our stories, concocting even more innovative menus, and inviting you to join us on a flavour adventure.
Meet the Maker
With Northern Ireland’s abundance of green space and rich coastline, it’s little wonder we have some of the freshest produce from land and sea.
It’s this, coupled with the warm welcome we bestow on visitors, which makes meeting local producers such a memorable experience.
There are Meet the Maker options to suit all tastes, budgets and timeframes. At Tickety Moo Ice Cream in County Fermanagh, visitors can watch the farm’s Jersey cows being milked, then head to the ice-cream parlour to try anything from balsamic strawberry to bubblegum mallow. (Please check opening times before travelling.)
Walled City Brewery
In Derry-Londonderry’s Walled City Brewery, book in for a Beer Masterclass to meet the brewers, learn about 9000 years of brewing history, and taste 10 ‘Legenderry’ house beers, paired with artisanal local snacks.
If spirits are more your thing, take a tour of the Boatyard Distillery on the banks of Lough Erne, and learn some fascinating facts about its farm-to-bottle process, or soak up the smells, sights, sounds and – most importantly – tastes at the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery in County Antrim.
Meanwhile, at the 500-year-old Tayto Castle in County Armagh, you can observe the famous crisps being made, sample the mouth-watering flavours, and even meet brand mascot Mr Tayto.
Taste and Place
Food and drink in Northern Ireland are firmly entwined with a sense of place.
There’s a magic behind the menus, a pride in our produce, and a passion for local, seasonal ingredients. Not to mention so many stunning backdrops for our cooking and brewing, from the beautiful Rademon Estate in County Down, where Shortcross Gin is made, to the crashing waves of the Antrim Coast, where salty seaweed is handpicked.
Long Meadow Farm, Armagh
Visit the bountiful Orchard County, Armagh, and try its ciders, apple juices, and vinegars. Come during the Food and Cider Festival in September, and enjoy hedgerow foraging, cookery masterclasses, and a Bramley Apple Banquet. Or take a tour of Long Meadow Farm, where you’ll learn all about apple storing, pressing and blending, and sample some craft ciders.
Head to the Causeway Coast, home to multiple Game of Thrones® filming locations, for a Thrones-themed afternoon tea at Ballygally Castle. Treat yourself to Lannister egg rolls, Hodor’s pulled pork brioche and Dothraki trifle with a mini dragon’s egg.
Or visit the vibrant yellow rapeseed fields in Binevenagh, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Limavady, to discover the award-winning Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil and see the field where the Broighter Hoard of Iron Age gold artefacts was discovered.
Make it Yourself
Whether you’re working up a sweat kneading bread dough, watching your own cake rise, or handpicking botanicals to distil gin, there’s little more satisfying than getting immersed in a new skill.
On a Catch and Sea tour in Portrush, County Antrim, you’ll set off by boat just before daybreak to catch breakfast, perhaps spotting a dolphin or basking shark along the way, before your fish is cleaned, prepared, and served with local seasonal produce.
At Wee Buns Cookery School in Dungannon, County Tyrone, you’ll get a hands-on lesson in cake-making and decorating, traditional Irish baking, seasonal cooking or kids’ baking. Or you can knead, bake and wolf down delicious homemade bread with lashings of butter at Tracey’s Farmhouse Kitchen in County Down.
Forestside Cookery School, Belfast
If you want to try something with an exotic twist, head to Forestside Cookery School in Belfast where, alongside more traditional dishes, you can also enjoy classes on tapas, Thai street food, Korean meals, and more.
Fancy yourself as a bit of a mixologist? In County Down you’ll find The StillHouse, Moira, where gin fans can select botanicals, distil, bottle and label a signature creation to take home at the end of the class.
Festivals and Events
Northern Ireland has an exciting range of festivals and events throughout the year to add fun to your flavour adventure.
Head to the Clandeboye Estate and Courtyard near Bangor, County Down for its two-day foodie festival at the end of the summer, or get fruity at the aforementioned Armagh Food and Cider Festival in September.
Also in September, Festival Lough Erne in Enniskillen pays homage to the best of local food and the Fermanagh Lakelands, while October sees Derry-Londonderry’s Slow Food Festival, celebrating local, clean and fair food with a range of talks, demos, tours and tastings.
If you’re visiting Belfast, your trip may coincide with one of St George’s Market’s special Twilight Market evenings – seasonal themed events with great food, fun activities and a wonderful atmosphere.
Trails, Tales and Urban
Whether you fancy a full day of feasting, or a quick, bite-sized rundown, Northern Ireland has the food or drink trail for you.
Taste and Tour NI
Belfast is quickly acquiring a reputation as one of the foodie capitals of Europe, and a Belfast Food Tour is a great way to get acquainted with the city. This four-hour guided walk around the city centre begins in the bustling St George’s Market and ends in a Cathedral Quarter restaurant.
Elsewhere, a Toast the Coast tour of the Antrim Coast Road and Glens includes samples of local delicacies including salty dulse and homely potato bread.
And on Lough Neagh Tours’ Craic’n Food and Drink tour, you’ll meet a local fisherman, try some Lough Neagh eels, and soak up the atmosphere in a traditional thatched pub.
There's lots to choose from - find the full selection on our Taste the Island events and experiences page >
There’s never been a tastier time to visit Northern Ireland, so why not book your foodie short break now?