Best Craft Beer Festivals 2021
Posted on March 23 2021
For beer lovers, 2020 was the year of the cancelled craft beer festival. The Independent Manchester Beer Convention was cancelled; The London Craft Beer Festival was cancelled; The Leeds International Beer Festival was cancelled. Pretty much anything after BeerX in Liverpool in early March was wiped out due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Beer drinkers said goodbye to fun times at festivals, and hello to drinking on their own at home, possibly in their PJs.
But in 2021, we’re all going to need to get dressed again. News that the vaccine is being given to adults is more than enough reason to get your diaries out and start inking in events to look forward to, all over the country.
Like you, we're looking forward to visiting these craft beer festival to sample the best of British craft beer. Be aware that with the fluid Covid-19 situation, festival dates may change, so check with the organisers before making plans.
While you wait for these glorious celebrations of craft beer, why not get some sampling in early with our specially curated mixed cases featuring craft beer from the best independent breweries in the UK.
Craft beer festivals 2021
But which are the best craft beer festivals to attend? There are so many great experiences planned for the year ahead that it's impossible to list them all – so here's a section of some of the best.
Best craft beer festivals in Scotland
If you were to imagine the perfect festival for punters emerging from an enforced year spent at home, it would be FyneFest. Set in a verdant Highland valley in the shadow of Glen Fyne, this festival has welcomed the best breweries from the UK and beyond since 2010 for a weekend of excellent music, food and, of course, beer. 2021’s dates are 4-7 June; you’ll need a tent or caravan/campervan.
For committed Urbanites, meanwhile, the Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival is expected to return to the city in July. Expect to find everyone from The Kernel to Northern Monk and local heroes Newbarns on the bar.
Best craft beer festivals in Manchester and the North West
If there’s one festival that has defined how craft beer festivals in the UK look, it’s IndyManBeerCon. Launched in 2012, it takes place in early October at Manchester's Victoria Baths, a venue as charismatic as the festival itself. There’s no greater joy than navigating the old place’s nooks and crannies in search of the UK’s best breweries, from Cloudwater to Burning Sky.
Best craft beer festivals in Newcastle and the North East
Wylam can lay claim to perhaps the most elegant brewery building in Britain, The Palace of Arts in Newcastle’s Exhibition Park. It’s so lovely, in fact, they open the doors every year to share it with drinkers during Craft Beer Calling, which will take place over the weekend of 21-23 October in 2021. Tickets start at £10 per session (excluding beer), with £33 buying you a weekend pass.
Best craft beer festivals in Leeds and Yorkshire
Leeds has been one of the centres of the British craft-beer boom, so it’s perhaps no surprise that it boasts not one but two excellent festivals. First and foremost, there’s the Leeds International Beer Festival, which has occupied the city’s imposing Town Hall for a weekend in early September for the past nine years; in 2021, the dates are 2-5 September, with single-session tickets starting at £10 (excluding beer). Look out for local legends North, Kirkstall and Northern Monk.
The latter brewery, meanwhile, is responsible for Hop City, a festival focused exclusively on hop-charged ales and lagers. Taking place 9-10 July 2021, bringing together a diverse bunch of breweries – from Hartlepool lager merchants Donzoko to Cheltenham’s IPA specialists Deya – under the roof of the Northern Monk Refectory, just south of the City Centre.
Sheffield, of course, has its own proud beer tradition. Its major craft festival, Indie Beer Feast, takes over the Abbeydale Picturehouse and boasts a host of the North’s best breweries, including local heroes St Mars of the Desert, whose name is as much of a mouthful as their delicious beer. Indie Beer Feast normally takes place in March but is expected to be later in the year in 2021.
Best craft beer festivals in the South West and Wales
Bristol boasts more than its fair share of excellent breweries, from Moor to Lost & Grounded and Wiper and True. June brings the Bristol Craft Beer Festival to town when those local heroes are joined by the cream of the UK’s brewing crop. This year’s event will take place on 11-12 June.
A bit further west is St Austell, home of one of the most progressive family breweries in the country (yes, we know that’s not saying very much). Every November it plays host to the Celtic Beer Festival, where you can find a host of limited-edition ales alongside better-known beers, like the mighty Proper Job.
Best beer festivals in the Midlands
Few breweries have played such a pivotal role in the evolution of modern British beer as Thornbridge, based in the rolling hills of the Peak District just south of Sheffield. Every August (13-15 in 2021) the creators of Jaipur, Britain’s first iconic modern IPA, host Peakender at The Showground in Bakewell, a three-day cornucopia of music, beer and, it must be said, a fair amount of mud. Weekend camping passes – taking in a camping space, festival passes and a car parking space for two people – are £90.10. 2021 should see the entry of an exhilarating new festival onto the scene: Bigfoot. Scheduled for 18-20 June, it’ll take place at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire, with high-end beer, cider, wine and spirits on offer. Its big selling point is a genuinely impressive musical line-up spread across five different stages; like Glastonbury, then, but with much better beer. Weekend tickets (which includes access and a spot for your tent) are £132 for adults.
Best craft beer festivals in London and the South East
The capital sometimes feels like a year-round beer jamboree, but that doesn’t mean it’s short on genuine craft beer festivals. Perhaps the most notable is the London Craft Beer Festival, which will take place at Tobacco Dock from 13-15 August. Expect excellent music and food, and for London’s brewers to pull out all the stops: in 2019, Beavertown brought a dancefloor, while Five Points’ quirky offering was a cask that illuminated and played ‘Hallelujah’ whenever anyone stood in front of it.
Earlier in the year, there are two more festivals worth checking out: Cask 2021, which takes place 14-16 May at Copeland Park & Bussey Building in Peckham, and BrewLDN, which normally lands at the old Truman Brewery in February – but which is currently up in the air, date-wise, and looks likely to be pushed back in the year. We’re assured, though, that it will happen at some point in 2021.