Talisker whisky is just one of the many  foods and drinks celebrated during the festival
Talisker whisky is just one of the many foods and drinks celebrated during the festival

What a boost for Skye’s food and drink event

A £5000 cash boost will help place the Isle of Skye on Scotland’s culinary tourism map.

The Skye Food & Drink Festival was one of 23 projects across Scotland to share £104,500 of the Connect Local Regional Food Fund, backed by the Scottish Government.

The award will go towards extending the number of festival days and venues to become a six-day Island-wide foodie event with the aim of attracting culinary visitors to Skye in the tourism shoulder season.

Now in its third year, the festival, which takes place for 2019 between 24 and 29 June, is an annual celebration of food and drink from across the Isle of Skye. The project aims to raise awareness of Skye’s unique position as a gourmet island and provide a showcase for the diverse range of premium produce grown, harvested, landed, produced and served on Skye, focusing on its artisan producers, the quality of its food and drink offer, its heritage and its rich natural harvest.

Building on the past years’ successes, 2019 will feature a four-day festival trail during the week days between 24 and 28 June, which aims to encourage visitors to the Island who are seeking a unique and authentic culinary experience and who wish to immerse themselves in the local culture. The food trail is designed to drive consumers to local businesses, some of which are situated in remote rural townships.

Ceri Ritchie, chair, Regional Food Fund Panel said: ‘Connect Local is pleased to be supporting the Skye Food & Drink Festival through the Regional Food Fund.

‘This project is a great example of collaboration across the Isle of Skye food and drink network. The project promotes a real sense of community and will benefit multiple businesses. We wish all involved a successful festival.’

Events for 2019 include masterclasses, celebrity chef Ready Steady Cook, cookery demonstrations, local artisan producers, forage and feast, live music, culminating in the popular two-day festival market in Broadford Hall on 28 and 29 June where local and visiting producers and consumers come together under one roof. The week ends with a community ceilidh dance on Saturday 29 June in the hall. This year’s festival will focus on the theme of natural harvest and will include events in local foraging, Scottish heritage and the herb garden.

Talisker whisky is just one of the many foods and drinks celebrated during the festival

Originally based in the Aros Centre, Portree, the festival has expanded its reach for 2019 to put on foodie events at venues in Sleat, Broadford, Glendale and Portree, and involves around 50 organisations in the Island’s food and drink sector as well as a number of community groups and schools.

Festival director Pam Allan said: ‘We are so delighted to have received this prestigious award from the Connect Local Regional Food Fund and to be endorsed by the Scottish Government for our work in raising awareness of the exceptional quality of Skye’s fabulous food and drink sector. We will use the funds to extend the festival days and venues across the Island to support our growing food and drink industry.

‘The Skye Food & Drink Festival is very much a collaborative project with communities and businesses across the Island. We are very fortunate to have the backing of some of our leading businesses such as Talisker, NFU Mutual, Williamson Foodservices and the Aros Centre whose generosity have helped to make the festival grow.

‘Our Festival Market will showcase the diversity and quality of our artisan producers as well as welcome visiting producers from across the Highlands. Around 46 organisations in Skye’s food and drink industry have joined the food and drink trail this year and we hope to extend this in future years to cover the entire length and breadth of the Island and put the trail on Scotland’s year-round culinary tourism calendar.

‘By extending the festival’s reach across the Island over a longer period of time, we aim to encourage visitors to stay on Skye for more days and, not only explore the iconic scenery and the many places of historical and cultural interest, but meet and share a conversation with our artisan food producers, distillers, cafés, restaurants, vegetable growers, fishermen and all those in our flourishing food and drink industry.

‘We hope the festival will gather momentum to soon establish the Isle of Skye as Scotland’s Gourmet Island. We certainly have the talent for the title.”

For more information on the 2019 Skye Food & Drink Festival, event details, tickets and to download a programme, visit www.skyefoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk