Autumn harvest holidays

Take advantage of some fine seasonal delights

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Ronnie McCluskey

Ronnie McCluskey
HomeAway travel expert



Festa!While many of us lament the passing of summer, it is worth turning our attention instead to the perks thrown up by autumn’s arrival. The sun dissipates, the wind strengthens, and crisp brown leaves unhook from the trees, but the transformation doesn’t stop there: regional harvests in the production of wine, olives, pomegranates, wild berries and all manner of seasonal produce - not to mention flowers – in turn provide no end of opportunities to get out and explore the natural scenery. Autumn is a time for feasts and festivals, whether you chose to spend the season in the UK or further afield.

You may celebrate good food and drink all-year round, but the harvest festivals that take place during autumn give you ample opportunity to sample produce directly from the source; and to mingle with the people who made it possible. Marvel at the splendour of the fall foliage as you venture into the vineyards of the French countryside, or head for Italy in time for truffle season! Wherever you end up, you can be sure there’s a HomeAway property to fit your specifications. Our extensive catalogue of holiday rentals enables you to enjoy the harvest-time in style. Read on for a rundown of our five favourite harvest holiday destinations.


 

Top five harvest holiday destinations


   

Olivagando, Magione, Italy Olivagando, Magione, Italy

The local olive harvest in the township of Magione, 15 miles west of Perugia, unites those involved in the production and consumption of olive oil; and everyone else is invited, too. A concatenation of workshops, food markets, antiques exhibitions and entertainment, the festivities culminate in a Mass where a priest blesses the new oil, followed by a lavish medieval banquet in a 12th century castle. This is one shindig you won’t want to miss. Olivagando has been going strong since 2001, and is celebrated in concomitance with the St Clemen’s feast day. Sampling some of the best extra-virgin olive oil known to man, sipping a fine Italian wine and listening to theatre actors spin stories of history and magic - it’s all part of the package at the Castle of the Knights of Malta - you’ll be glad you took a chance.

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Grape harvest, Burgundy, France Grape harvest, Burgundy, France

How best to combat the post-summer blues? Why, with a dreamy autumn getaway during the grape harvest in charming Burgundy, of course. Hire a bike and ride through the groves, tour the world-famous vineyards - Nuits-Saint-Georges, Pouilly-Fuisse and Chablis among them - and sample sumptuous gourmet cuisine in villages throughout the region. Burgundy comes alive during this season, its landscape awash with verdant green and dark red. The harvest itself gets underway in September, and the medieval market towns begin to fill with connoisseurs of wine from Dijon right down to Macon from early in the month. For the first time in 2013, Maison Joseph Drouhin, one of Burgundy’s most lauded winemaking houses, opens its cellars to the public - a tasting tour is a must; the cellars themselves date back to the 13th century.

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Bardolino Wine Festival, Lake Garda, Italy Bardolino Wine Festival, Lake Garda, Italy

Mediterranean microclimate? Check. Lots of wine? Check. Do you wish to book your flights now or later? Watch the sun set over a dazzling landscape of colour - the yellows of lemons, the ripe red of grapes, and the eye-wateringly bright tones of a thousand blooming sunflowers. There’s no shortage of olive groves or vineyards in the heart of Bardolino, and what better way to sample the produce than by attending the Bartolini wine festival in early October? As well as the obvious and professionally necessary business of wine tasting, visitors can expect musical performances from local choirs and small orchestras, fireworks and plenty of food. Oh, and the town’s proximity to Verona is another bonus.

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Truffle Festival, Istria, Croatia Truffle Festival, Istria, Croatia

This modest mountain peninsula in northwest Croatia is hiding a pretty cool secret: it’s teeming with truffles. OK, so it’s not such a secret: but compared to Italy’s Piedmont region, it’s not nearly as famous as it should be where truffles are concerned. Kicking off in mid September, the small towns that constitute the Istria region celebrate their famous export by - what else? - throwing a round of parties. Elsewhere, there’s truffle exhibitions, truffle fairs, truffle omelettes, truffle auctions; yep, if you like truffles you are in for a treat. And while you’d spend a fortune munching on such haute cuisine in France or Italy, the humble kuna means you can dine here without breaking the bank. 

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Autumn festivals, Various Locations, UK Autumn festivals, Various Locations, UK

Something of a cop-out, but it’d be a shame to highlight just one UK event or harvest for you to enjoy. Given the modest dimensions of our island, you can should experience a few events this autumn; in London, the October Plenty harvest celebration in Southwark is great fun, mixing age-old seasonal customs and plenty of food and drink - anyone for soul cake and cider at the Borough Market? It’s free, too. Derbyshire’s Chesterfield Market Festival is also good craic - held in early November - while the two-day Hereford Food Festival, in late October, lets you taste a selection of locally-produced specialties; foodies rub shoulders with farmers, restaurateurs and retailers, and the atmosphere is wonderful. If beer festivals are more your thing, you can fruity beers and hoppy brews up and down the country; ciders and perries come into their own in autumn.

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