THE central heating may be on again but autumn doesn't begin until September 23, when the hours of darkness begin to encroach on the days. Harvest festivals are traditionally held around the harvest moon, which happens this Saturday. It's a time to appreciate, to feast and to preserve food for the colder months ahead.

Harvest Food Festival

Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

Master Chef Professionals champion Gary MacLean hosts a demonstration today at the Harvest Food Festival in Castle Douglas, so far the only food town in Scotland, a designation given to mark its more than 50 local food and drinks producers. Many will have stalls at the festival, which also hosts workshops from the likes of artisan chocolatiers In-House Chocolates and a showcase of seasonal produce from local growers and gardeners.

Today, Douglas Arms Hotel, Castle Douglas, 11am to 4pm, £5 food festival only, £10 food and drink festival. Tickets from

Oyster Festival

Stranraer, West Galloway

Moving the ferry terminal for Belfast to nearby Cairnryan in 2011 presented economic challenges for Stranraer, with the town's community-led oyster festival being one passionate and successful response, with last year's festival generating around £1 million for the local economy.

Now in its third year, the weekend festival celebrates the area's local produce and coastal heritage, as well as the famous oysters from Loch Ryan, where oyster fishing dates back for over 300 years. Highlights include demos by top chefs Tony Singh, David Alexander and Nick Morris and an oyster-eating competition.

September 13 to 15, venues in Stranraer, various times, £5 weekend, £3 day, under-12s free.

Scottish Wild Food Festival

Cardross Estate, Stirlingshire

The new one-day festival focuses on learning the skills to make delicious meals from responsibly and safely-sourced wild plants and fungi. The line-up includes forager Rokhsaneh Madeira on the hunt for Scottish superfoods, jamming expert Kate Thornhill and wild cocktail-making with Marysia Paszkowska of boutique hotel Monachyle Mhorwill.

September 14, Cardross Estate, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, 10am to 6pm, £8.50 adult, children free.

Floors Castle Food Festival

Kelso, Roxburghshire

Christopher Lambert and Andie MacDowell were once depicted cavorting around this country house, which featured in 1984 adventure film Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes. 35 years later, its the setting for a two-day food festival featuring local food producers and a schedule of chef demos including Christian Edwardson from Provender Melrose, Great British Bake Off contestant Antony Amourdoux and Chris Weston, head chef at Floors Castle.

September 14 and 15, Floors Castle, Roxburghshire, 10am to 5pm, £8.10 day, £12 weekend, concs available.

Newmilns Food Festival

East Ayrshire

Gary MacLean is also among the chefs appearing at the Newmilns Food Festival giving demonstrations and expert food tips. Now in its third year, the festival will feature up to 80 food and drink producer stalls, outdoor food vendors and activities for children. There's a free shuttle bus to and from the festival from Galston Cross, Loudoun Academy, Newmilns Cross and Darvel Cross.

September 21, Jamieson Park, Newmilns, 11am to 5pm, £3 adult, children free.