Sunshine, friends and good food, everyone loves a food festival. There’s a huge range to choose from around the world, and it’s easier than ever to make a food festival part of your travel plans. Here then, is our round up of the best food festivals you cannot miss this summer and autumn.
Maine Lobster Festival, USA
Five days in August dedicated to all things lobster. As well as slurping down delicious seafood, there’s also a sea goddess pageant, a parade, live music, local crafts, and lobster bloody Marys.
www.mainelobsterfestival.com, August 2–6, 2017
Le Salon du Chocolat, France
Experience chocolate from the world’s most gastronomic of countries – France. Over 500 stalls, chefs and producers gather to celebrate chocolate from bean to bar. Expect recipes, seminars, talks, demonstrations, and lots of quality chocolate.
www.salon-du-chocolat.com, October 28–November 1, 2017
National Cherry Festival, USA
The origins of this festival are thought to be at the turn of the last century, when cherry growers would hold simple ‘blessing of the blossoms’ events. Fast forward a hundred years and it’s become a huge day out for all the family, complete with live bands, an air show, car cruise, beach volleyball tournament, farmers’ market and lots of cherry-related food and drink. Finally don’t miss the traditional cherry-stone spitting contest! The current record is 95 feet and 6.5 inches (29.12m).
www.cherryfestival.org, July 1–8, 2017
Oktoberfests are held in cities all around the world these days, from Nashville to London, but if you’re a fan of beer (and sausage), you really can’t beat the original, held confusingly in September, in the city of Munich, Germany. Now in its 183rd year, the festival goes from strength to strength, and if you’re planning on going, here’s 10 phrases you need to know.
www.oktoberfest.de/en/, September 16–October 03, 2017
Pizza Festival, Italy
Considering it was invented in Naples, it seems only right that if you want to try the best pizza in the world, you have to come to Napoli Pizza Village. Some of the best pizzerias in the region take over the waterfront for the eight-day festival dedicated to the humble slice. There, they’ll make around 100,000 pizzas for hungry fans to enjoy. Don’t miss the World Pizza Maker Championship too.
www.pizzavillage.it, June 17–25, 2017
Onion Festival, Switzerland
This one-day zibelemärit (onion market) celebrates all things oniony; from soups to savoury tarts, washed down with mulled wine. Festivities begin early in the morning, around 4 or 5am, and go on all day. Farmers and growers from the wider region bring in over 50 tonnes of onions and garlic to sell. Later on in the day, a confetti fight marks the end of the festival.
www.bern.com/en/detail/onion-market-zibelemaerit, November 27, 2017
Galway Oyster Festival, Ireland
Shuck and slurp the beautiful bivalve at this popular festival. Oysters harvested from the cool, clear waters of the Irish Sea washed down with a drop of the black stuff. A highlight of the festival is the World Oyster Opening Championship, as well as the masquerade Mardi Gras ball.
www.galwayoysterfestival.com, September 22–24, 2017
World Chicken Festival, USA
For lovers of fried chicken, you can’t get better than the World Chicken Festival, held in Kentucky, USA. Here, the legendary culinary creation of of Col. Harland Sanders is celebrated. Over the four days, 7,000 pieces of fried chicken cooked in a giant 10.5-foot-wide skillet (3.2m), it’s finger lickin’ good.
www.chickenfestival.com, September 21–14, 2017
Bristol’s annual festival of meat, music and mayhem has rapidly become something of a summer ‘must do’. As well as listening to the bands with a brew in hand, there’s also plenty of ‘low and slow’ cooked meat slathered in tangy barbecue sauce. One unmissable thing is the chilli-eating contest – ouch.
www.grillstock.co.uk/festival, July 1–2, 2017
La Tomatina, Spain
The world’s most famous food fight takes place each August, where 20,000 people pelt each other with hundreds of over-ripe tomatoes. Due to crowd safety concerns, places are now ticketed, so book early. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also the Palo Jabon. This is a ham, placed at the top of a greased pole and whoever makes it to the top gets to keep it.
www.latomatinatours.com, August 30, 2017
Audley End Apple Festival, UK
Pass a lazy weekend in the orchard and gardens of this splendid English-Heritage-managed stately home. There’s plenty to see and do, from apple bobbing competitions and cider pressing, to falconry.
www.english-heritage.org.uk, September 23–24, 2017
Truffle Kerfuffle, Australia
It maybe summer in the northern hemisphere, but down under its autumn, which is the best time for truffle hunters. Truffle Kerfuffle sees some of the countries best chefs, as well as guest chefs from the UK, host talks, recipe demonstrations, and feasts. There’s also the option to take part in a forest forage and find your own truffles.
www.trufflekerfuffle.com.au, June 23–25, 2017
Key Lime Pie festival, USA
Despite being native to South East Asia, key limes are synonymous with Florida and its most famous creation, the key lime pie. So it’s only right that the sunshine state holds an annual festival celebrating the dish. Events include a ‘no hands’ pie eating contest, as well as a ‘sip and stroll’, which lets you sample and judge cocktails from a range of bartenders.
www.keylimefestival.com, July 1 – 4, 2017
Saffron Festival, Spain
The Fiesta de la Rosa del Azafrán near Toledo, Spain, takes place every autumn and celebrates the most expensive of spices, saffron. Expect food, music and dancing.
www.consuegra.es/fiestas/fiesta-de-la-rosa-del-azafrán, October 28–29, 2017
Isle of Wight Garlic Festival, UK
Celebrate the pungent bulb at this popular festival on the island. Expect gardening tips, cookery demonstrations from former Great British Bake Off contestants, a well-stocked beer tent, and lots and lots of garlic products – there’s even garlic fudge.
www.garlicfestival.co.uk, August 19–20, 2017
Dutch Chili Festival, Holland
Heat lovers in Holland should head to the Dutch Chili Festival for all the heat they can eat. If you really like it hot, sign up for the hottest-burger-eating competition, made with chilli-extract sauce, fresh Carolina Reaper chillies, jalapeños, pickles, and lettuce.
www.dutchchilifest.nl, September 10, 2017
The Kodiak Crab Festival, USA
This five-day community festival in Kodiak, Alaska, celebrates the king crab harvest and has been running for over 50 years. As well as food and drink, there’s plenty of things to see and do, including a parade, sporting tournaments, arts and craft market, live music, as well as an air and sea display from the US Coast Guard.
https://www.facebook.com/kodiakcrabfestival/, May 25–29, 2017
The Phuket Vegetarian Festival, Thailand
This isn’t your average veggie festival, but rather an almost semi-religious rite of devotion. As well as abstaining from meat, some attendees perform acts such as firewalking and razor-blade ladder-climbing. Not for the faint-hearted!
www.phuket.com/festival/vegetarian, October 20–28, 2017
Mooncake Festival, China
The Mid-Autumn or Mooncake Festival is celebrated across China and is second only in importance to Chinese New Year. Traditionally held to celebrate a good harvest, it’s now a public holiday complete with firework displays and family gatherings. Mooncakes – small round cakes, often printed with a design on – are shared and eaten, along with other treats and sweets.
October 4, 2017