20 amazing outdoor feasts to book this summer (2023)

Stinging nettle cupcakes and mugwort seed focaccia were not things I had eaten before, but in a setting so wildly beautiful, the menu made sense. In a copse surrounded by tangles of bluebells, specially printed menus were set out on a long table laid with heavy-cut wine glasses, napkins tied with sprigs of lavender, brushed brass cutlery and vases spilling over with blooms.

Chloe Newcomb Hodgetts, our chef, was tending to a nearby fire pit, grilling salmon basted in wild garlic and carefully turning sticks of wild boar pinchitos.

This was food that she had either sourced from local farmers or had painstakingly gathered herself in the woods of Monmouthshire. The dinner was designed both to spoil us and ­educate us about wild food. Some of the mushrooms in the wild mushroom, miso and brandy soup had come from woods on the Penhein Estate, where we were staying as guests on their glamping site.

Set behind a working farm, ­Penhein’s cluster of Persian alachigh tents (like yurts but with a beamed ­structure) have stove-warmed interiors and are dotted about a copse thick with wild garlic and wood anemones.

For our foraged feast, we enjoyed vodka cocktails sprinkled with edible wildflowers, before tucking into canapes and then three generous courses. Throughout, chef Chloe, from Gourmet Gatherings, was a mine of information.

She told us that the muntjac venison in our burgers was the UK’s most sustainable meat and that she obtains licences that give her a limited window to collect sap from certain trees, such as the silver birch sap that became the heavenly tasting syrup in our sweet woodruff creme caramels.

It was an afternoon of beauty, ­sunshine and laughter, and an ­experience that is, thankfully, not hard to arrange these days. On the back of trends for glamping and wild swimming, outdoor feasting experiences have been cropping up all over the countryside.

Idyllic locations are key – you can feast in wildflower meadows, on the beach or even in a Scottish wilderness reached only by 4x4. There are wild cooking courses to try too, where the feast is the end result of hands-on learning that combines cookery with foraging or firecraft.

The excitement of sitting down to eat with strangers was a big part of the ­supper club trend. When dining ­outdoors, there is more space to mingle, plus a beautifully dressed setting is a conversation starter. If you’d rather, you can hire a private chef to whip up a special outdoor meal for friends and family. It’s like an exclusive garden party hosted by talented, passionate people and, best of all, no washing-up.

Here we select 20 of the best outdoor feasting experiences in the UK …

Private feasts

Foraged and Persian feasts


Penhein’s luxury glamping site offers two types of private dining experience, and tables can be set under a stretch canopy in case of bad weather. Chloe Newcomb Hodgetts, from Gourmet Gatherings, takes guests on a foraging walk to collect ingredients, then prepares a colourful, prettily plated feast. Indian, Persian and Welsh food is also available from a ­different chef, who specialises in fire pitcooking.

Michelin-standard woodland chefs

The Chilterns

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Not far from London, in the bucolic Chiltern Hills, Nomadic can supply Michelin-standard guest chefs to cook in its “restaurant without walls”. In the woods, private celebrations are set around a long table made from a fallen tree. Everything from foraging to live music can be added to the feasting experience. Nomadic also runs popular one-off dinners, with tickets available for anniversary feasts in July, cooked by past winners of MasterChef.

Remote dinners for two

West Highlands

Stay at one of Inverlonan’s off-grid, ­architecturally splendid eco-cabins and a private chef can take you, by boat or buggy, to an even more remote ­location. There, a trained chef will whip you up an eight-course dinner in what promises to be a thoroughly wild and romantic experience just for two. The food, made from ethically-sourced ­ingredients, will be cooked over a fire and within view of Loch Nell. Dishes might include langoustine with pine butter, and beef tartare with aged Mull cheddar.

Coastal forage and feast


The golden dunes of Studland Bay are the ideal location for a summer foraging adventure, exploring what might be ­edible along our coastline. Activity ­company Fore Adventure invites people to enjoy nature’s own larder by identifying wild ingredients on a walk, before sitting down to a three-course meal, with wine, beside a campfire. Dates in June are available, as are private events.

Mad March Hare Wild Dining


For an elaborate private feast, Amanda Farnese Heath, who cooks and is also a stylist and photographer, brings a theatrical aspect to her sustainable, immersive food experiences. With striking floral arrangements and festoon lights strung from trees, she creates memorable, atmospheric settings for exclusive dinners in the Scottish countryside. All feasts are arranged on a bespoke basis.

Fire feasts


Outdoor feasting comes with fire shows at the Wilderness Reserve, home to a collection of revitalised period buildings on the 8,000-acre Sibton Park estate. Hire a private chef for a fire feast and guests can watch the chef cooking over flames while enjoying a champagne reception and a bonfire at sunset. Fire performers join the party amid the trees as dinner is served in an open-sided tent. Food might include a marinated leg of Suffolk lamb or mackerel nailed to the boards.

Feasting events

Garden Gathering Lunch Parties


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Pythouse Kitchen Garden has been praised for offering fine food in a ­picturesque garden setting, and its lunch parties are a celebration of that. Imagine a fabulous garden party, with live music, games and ethically grown and sourced food. Guests sit down to dine on a three-course supper at a long table, with an example of a ­forthcoming main being old Herdwick lamb slow-cooked on the fire and served with whipped pickled ewe’s cheese. There is even a shepherd’s hut to roll into afterwards.

Signature Feasts


These popular woodland feasts won a Taste of the West Gold Award in 2022. Guests arrive to smoked pine negronis and firepit snacks – a Devon eel and horseradish toastie, perhaps – and are given time to admire the forest’s uplit trees, with branches draped in fairy lights, or to take in views across the sea to Seaton. Five courses then follow, savoured from a vast oak table, all cooked over fire. Dishes might include smoked pork belly with flat peach ketchup and burnt heritage tomato salad. Barbecue cooking classes can be booked also.

Mackerel fishing feast


Take a private boat out from the ­Jurassic Coast and try your hand at mackerel fishing, before bringing your catch back to be grilled and eaten on Beer beach. Chilled aperitivos and a table for seaside feasting are provided by nearby Glebe House, whose stylish interiors offer a great excuse to stay the night. Menus take into account what is currently available but, along with fresh ­mackerel, expect Lyme Bay scallops, homemade bread, dessert and ­locally-sourced wine.

Ben Quinn’s Woodfired Canteen


Chef Ben Quinn has been running wild dining events at Home Farm’s glamping site, reachable on the Tube from ­London, for a couple of years now. Every seat at the banqueting table – which stretches through long grass across the middle of a field – is filled, meaning odd-numbered groups are slotted in beside others, like a sort of social Tetris. Part of the At Home Farm events calendar, upcoming chefs include Sabrina Gidda, Sarah Turner and Josh Katz.

Woodland Feasts

The Chilterns

It’s a short walk through the woods (forgo the heels, perhaps) to reach this “secret” glade, which, despite its ­lushness, is easily reached from ­Reading. Natural place settings line the tables and diners sit along wooden benches. They are greeted with ­botanical cocktails, after which follows a three-course woodland feast. It ends around the campfire, roasting ­marshmallows, drinking cups of herbal tea or sipping on hip flasks of port.

Cocktails in a clearing


Bringing some of nature’s magic to the outskirts of Milton Keynes, Wyld ­Dining’s feasts feature a ring of tables laden with wildflowers, set up in a clearing in the woods. Expect fruity libations by the campfire and a sociable bunch of fellow diners, who come to watch local chefs like James Carr plate up modern venison dishes, among other delights.

Dinner with nightingales


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Green Farm is a farm and wellbeing centre that hosts various retreats. Among them are nightingale-inspired dinners, with food from resident chef Ian Waghorn. Drinks and canapes are served in flickering light beside a ­campfire, then guests sit down for a five-course meal in the woods. Once plates have been licked clean, it’s time to head deeper into the trees to listen out for nightingale song, with a talk about the birds and a tour of their ­habitat included.

Under the Nut Tree


Since the pandemic, Australian owner Simon Morley has been hosting ­barbecue supper clubs under the ­canopy of his hazelnut tree. As you can imagine from a man who catered for Bez from the Happy Mondays’ wedding, they are relaxed affairs. Morley collects fresh produce from local farmers and grills up feasts of pork loin with roasted vegetables and fresh asparagus, for example. He can section off part of the garden for large private groups. Bring your own drinks.

Be gardener and chef


There is plenty to see among the Newt’sgardens, but those wanting to dine al fresco might like to try the ­luxury hotel’s “Gardener and Chef” experience. After taking a tour of the edible garden area, guests can pick theirown lunch, with the help of the estate’s head chef and head gardener. They can then take their produce-laden baskets up to a spot above the ­wildflower meadow, where their findswill be cooked over a fire for a ­picnic lunch.

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Fire and Wild

East Sussex

Only sustainably harvested wood is burnt in the open kitchen at this off-grid feasting location, in a private wood near Lewes. Amid the fire smoke and in dappled sunlight, diners are invited to try a string of hyper-seasonal tasting dishes and given the option of a ­vegetarian menu, should they prefer one. Smoked venison tartare and grilled wood pigeon might be among the gamey dishes served, and each course is paired with wine or wild cocktails. ­Foraging and butchery classes are ­available, too.

Outdoor cooking

Asado masterclasses


Run by chef Ana Ortiz, who grew up on the Galapagos Islands, Country Fire Kitchen’s asado masterclasses are set in a walled garden (on most dates). As a child, Ana and her family would cook nose-to-tail meals over fire, and her workshops use an array of meat, fish, fruit and vegetables. With tools such as a flambadou (a long-handled steel cone) to play with, students prepare dishes such as whole lamb “a la cruz”, hung beef ribs and chimichurri. There is a lot of eating expected, with a wood-fired brunch, lunch and dinner all included in the experience.

Global cooking techniques


At Campwell’s two rewilded camps, in valleys not far from Bath, workshops for private groups are run by Ubuntu Food, a fire-cooking collective from Bristol. Students spend time in a woodland kitchen cooking with fire and exploring different techniques that are used around the world. ­Methods of fire building and planning a feast will be explored too, with live cooking demonstrations to watch that culminate in a feast with everyone sat around a long table. Accommodation is in rustic-chic cabins or yurts.

Fish over fire


This fish-focused course is new for 2023 and comes from We Are the Salt Box, which also offers workshops in wild game butchery and cookery on the Priory Farm Estate. The fish-over-fire course includes a multi-course feast in the woodland kitchen, as ­students learn how to infuse fire and smoke into fish and seafood, creating various dishes. Advice on gutting and filleting is given, with recipes and ­seasoning packs also included.

Summer seasonal with butchery


If you want to embrace all the culinary experiences the new season has in store, Hunter, Gather, Cook has you covered. This thorough, day-long experience starts in butchery field camp, learning to skin, gut and joint wild meat. Students will prep dishes to eat later, then join a foraging walk through woods and meadows. A two-course lunch follows, before more workshops, a wild cocktail master class and a final cook-off.

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