Food is something that truly brings out unity in the diversity of the people, countries, customs, across different countries in the world. This gives us a reason to celebrate food.
Different countries have different food festivals, showcasing how food is such an integral part of our life. These bring to the surface the fact that food and culture are complementary to each other, and deeply interwoven.
Here are a few of the food festivals that you should attend:
As eloquently described in the movie ‘Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara’ it is like playing holi with tomatoes. It takes place in Buñol, Valencia, Spain.
It started in 1945 in Spain, when a fight erupted between a few strangers and they started pelting each other with tomatoes from a nearby fruit stall. It slowly became a tradition of sorts to have tomato fight on that date, a tradition which the authorities could not stop.
The magnitude of the festival is such that more than 1.5 lakh tomatoes are used. The festival starts at ten in the morning (in the last week of August) with “palo jabón”, which is marked by some people trying to climb a greased pole with a ham on top.
To make the dask more indimidating, water is sprayed on the participants using hoses. Once someone is able to drop the ham off the pole, the main part of the festival starts- the tomato fight, with tomatoes being thrown out from trucks.
The tomatoes come from Extremadura, an area where they are specifically grown for this festival. These tomatoes are cheap and inferior in quality.
Once the festival gets over, the streets get washed with water from huge hoses. Well, this festival literally aims to ‘paint the town red!’
Maine Lobster Festival
This year’s festival, officially opens on Wednesday, July 30th and runs through Sunday, August 3rd, 2014. It is generally held in Downtown Rockland, Maine, in Harbor Park, which overlooks Penobscot Bay along Maine’s Midcoast region.
With different varieties of lobsters on display (try 20,000 pounds!), this festival is sure a treat for sea food lovers. The festival also has a ‘Big parade’ at the end of which the sea prince and the sea princess are announced.
This festival also witnesses variety of bands, floats, marching units etc. The festiva;l also has an entertainment section. This year, they have Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, Vanilla Fudge, Peter Rivera , and Savoy Brown’s Kim Simmonds as the all-star cast.
Erfoud Date Festival, Morocco
Erfoud is the centre of date production in Morocco, hence a centre of the festival celebrated to thank for the bountiful harvest of dates.
This production has a very important role in the Moroccon economy. This festival is generally celebrated in late September/early October, since that is when the dates are harvested.
There is a display put on by companies wanting to promote their products manufactured using dates, It is essentially a three day carnival in which the farmers enjoy, and the tourists get to witness something simple and refreshing.
Other uses of the palm tree are also highlighted during the course of these three days. To cite an example, products made out of palm tree trunks are also displayed. A fashion parade also takes place as a part of the carnival and the winner is names ‘Miss Date’!
The White Truffle Festival, Alba, Italy
It is a month long celebration that starts in the month of October. White truffles are a rare kind of mushrooms, which grow only in certain parts of Italy. They are astoundingly exorbitantly priced, one 1.6-lb. white truffle sold for $150,000 in 2009.
As shocking as it sounds, it is true. Truffles are found primarily in the regions of Piedmont, Tuscany, Umbria, and Le Marche. The truffle festival, now running its 84th year, has vendors selling these in all shapes and sizes.
Every possible product from truffles, be it truffle oil or truffle cheese is sold here. There is also an invite-only truffle auction, in which the best of the truffles are auctioned and sold.
Top chefs from across the world fly in to the small town of Piedmont to view the truffles on display, and choose the best from among them.
Gilroy Garlic Festival, Christmas Hill Park, Gilroy, California
Garlic is one ingredient that enhances almost every dish that is made, and is taken for granted. Celebrating a festival dedicated to garlic is indeed a novel and an intriguing idea. This year it is being held from July 25 to July 27.
It has cooking competitions, live entertainment, and is replete with garlicky food. Last year, a few dishes made out of garlic even included garlic ice cream and garlic French fries.
Over the last 35 years, The Gildroy Garlic festival has given back over $10 million to local charities and non-profit groups. It is a great food fair to attend, the money collected is used for a good cause.
These were few of the food festivals that are on my bucket list. If you are a die-hard foodie like I am, make a mental note of where these festivals are held, and plan your next vacation accordingly!
Tunarama Port Lincoln, Australia
As you can guess from the name of this festival, it has to do with seafood. However, other than serving cold fresh seafood, one of the most famous events of the tunarama festival is the Tuna Toss Championship.
Here, real frozen tuna fishes will be tossed by finalists, and there will be a winner determined by the furthest tuna toss. You can try your luck at claiming the tuna toss championship title or take part in other events such as boat making, prawn peeling, and the slippery pole!
This event takes place on the closest weekend to the Australia Day holiday, and it lasts 4 days. This often happens in January.
Chinchilla Melon Festival, Chinchilla, Australia
Producing up to a quarter of Australia’s melons, the town of Chinchilla held the very first melon festival in 1994. The purpose of the first festival was to cheer the town up after a long period of severe droughts.
Expect to see a bit of a fun mess as the game contestants get dressed in their watermelon skis and smoothly glide through the juicy rink during a Melon Ski race. Asides from the race, there are other activities in the Chinchilla Melon Festival , such as Melon Bungee and Pit Spitting!
This is an event for mid-February, and it lasts 4 days.
Ivrea Orange Festival, Ivrea, Italy
There’s never such a thing as too many food fights, and the Ivrea Orange Festival proves that. Started from 1808, the fierce and fun battle of oranges became a yearly reenactment of rebellion by the citizens.
Participants form organized teams will get together and attack one another with fresh oranges during the festival. All you need to do is pick your side and attacccckkkkk!!
This is a festival for 6 March.
The Pancake Race, Olney, Buckinghamshire
The Olney Pancake Race isn’t a new one; it’s a tradition that dates as far back as 1445. The first time it happens, a housewife brought a pancake in a rush to church.
Now, housewives and young ladies of Olney are required to engage in a timed race of 415 yards in a scarf and apron. The highlight will most likely be watching the ladies flip the pancake during the race!
This takes place 47 days before Easter Sunday
Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling Festival, Cooper’s Hill, Brockworth, England
If looking at a bunch of people happily tumbling down the hill behind a big round of cheese is something that amuses you, you may want to mark down the dates for the Brockworth cheese rolling festival on your calendar.
This is an annual event that starts with the rolling of a 7-pound cheese all the way down the hill. Despite several high injury counts, such as broken bones and sprains, hundreds of people every year still go ahead with their hill dive to catch the 7-pound cheese circle.
This holds on the last Monday of May.
Haro Wine Festival, Haro Spain
Who wouldn’t like to be drenched pink from head to toe? If you want to try that, then Haro Wine Festival is likely the only time you can get someone’s clothes ruined for fun.
Head to Haro, Spain, on 29th June next year to experience the toughest food and drink dilemma ever.
Monkey Buffet Festival, Lopburi, Thailand
No, we do not like eating monkeys, so this festival is not one that provides you with an unlimited supply of monkeys for food.
This can easily be considered one of the world’s most amazing and amusing food festivals. Here, animals are allowed to eat, and the humans get to watch!
With our sneaky little jumpy friends going wild amidst the 400 kg mountain of food laid out before the temples of great Thailand, the scenario can become even crazier than the Hatter’s tea party!
Giant Omelet Celebration, Bessieres, France
Do you prefer omelets for breakfast? We do too. How about we all share one that’s bigger than your houses? According to French legend, Napoleon had once ordered that every egg in town be gathered and broken to make a giant omelet after he had eaten his own!
To this day, the people of Bessieres carry on the tradition where professional chefs gather together to make a 15,000-egg omelet for the good people of Bessieres, on Easter.
Bugfest, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Have you ever had bugs served on your lunch plate? Here’s a fun festival that is entirely dedicated to bug-dishes, and they do well to exhibit a variety of both the bugs and the dishes they make with them. Oh yes!
This one is exactly what you think it is! If you would like to attend the Bugfest, you can do so on the 28th & 29th February 2020
New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Slowly turning into one of the world’s most incredible culinary events, the Wine & Food Experience in New Orleans attracts more than 7,000 gourmands as well as excited connoisseurs from around the globe to share the stage and shock foodies with their skills!
Asides from finding food experts and chefs, you’ll also see art and music lovers at the event owing to the numerous small-scale but fabulous music shows that take place at the same time to keep the guests always entertained while they munch on delicious delicacies and the best wine.
You’ll be surprised to see hundreds of restaurants and wineries participating in this mega food fiesta, especially as it is set to break the records of becoming the finest food festivals in the globe in 2020.
The Grape Throwing Festival, Mallorca, Spain
The Grape Throwing Festival is one of the oldest food festivals, and it originally began in the 1930s as a fun way to get rid of grapes not healthy enough to make wine.
If you’re a big fan of paintball, here is a fun alternative. You can sprint your way to the grape fields and begin firing grapes at any person you see. It’s a choice if you wish to apologize later or never.
If you’re not set to get all pulpy and sticky, you may try out the grape-threading competitions or even the grape-stomping events that all happen at the same time! This is festive for September
Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany
Giant pretzels will be complemented with huge glasses of delicious alcohol in the Oktoberfest food festival.
This is one event that attracts millions of party lovers and their families on a yearly basis. It’s never too early for some glasses of alcohol in Munich.
This is evident as drinking begins as early as 10 am in the morning. You get a chance to unleash your true self (there is absolutely no one to judge you here), and dance to the good music by the various live bands.
The Oktoberfest event takes place in Mid September and lasts for 16 days
The Night of the Radishes, Oaxaca, Mexico
Otherwise called the time of the year when people carve and create interesting scenes out of oversized radishes, this one is an annual folk-art competition that has become one of the most anticipated food festivals in Mexico.
Amateurs and artisans will have to make works of art, and you will be able to watch and get inspired by their workmanship and creativity!
This event takes place from 23rd December to 1st January.
Bole Festival, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
The Bole festival is the largest food festival in Nigeria’s south and east. The event at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, is a food-meet-fun event.
The festival is a reflection of urban culture which, through food, and it creates a guide to the rich heritage of rivers state, attracting food lovers from around the world.
In addition to the food show, the Bole Festival has a good urban appeal that cuts through populations of all ages. We have an environment that sets the tone for people to chat with friends and share an enjoyable meal experience.
These interactions are shared and debated, allowing us to create an engaged online community and becoming one of the social media’s most engaging topics each year.
New Yam festival, Eastern Nigeria
The Igbo People’s New Yam Festival is an annual cultural festival held by the Igbo people of Nigeria at the end of each rainy season in the early part of August.
In West Africa (mostly in Nigeria and Ghana) and many African countries, the Iri ji festival (meaning ‘new-yam eating’) is performed, symbolizing the end of a harvest and the start of the next farming cycle. The festival is a very cultural affair, linking different Igbo communities together as basically agrarian and relying on yam, the crop king.
Usually, the yams are given first to the ancestors and gods at the beginning of the festival before they are distributed to the villagers. The rite is carried out either by the society’s oldest man or by the monarch or eminent titleholder.
GTBank food and drink festival, Lagos Nigeria
The annual food sales and display event called the GTBank Food & Drink Festival attempts to project the various angles of the food industry by linking different companies engaged in the manufacture and sales of food-related products to a cosmopolitan community of food enthusiasts.
Street food festival, South Africa
This is one of Cape Town’s leading food festivals in South Africa and runs for 10 days. It is a yearly food festival and also has a pop-up stall, food trucks, various cuisines, street food choices of all kinds, and a tremendous fun environment for music.
At this food festival, popular dishes such as bunny chow, vetkoek, bobotie, and several other local cuisines play an integral role in South Africa.
This street food fest also has a range of food choices from around the world, such as pizza, cheese balls, tacos, and many other popular street meals from around the world.
This happens to be one of the best food events in the world, and during this street festival, tourists mainly visit Cape Town to experience this city’s musical food festival.
Shisanyama Food Festival, South Africa
Wine is a popular South African commodity as the country makes some of the world’s finest wines. The Stellenbosch Wine Fest is one of the oldest wine festivals worldwide.
This celebration is organized every year in February and is one of the country’s best wine festivals. It is a three-day event where individuals can taste wine combined with a range of foods and purchase some of the country’s greatest wines as well.
At the wine festival, there is a dedicated food section, and it is truly a nice event in South Africa.
South Africa Cheese Festival, South Africa
The South Africa Cheese Fest is one of the most notable food festivals in South Africa. The iconic and famous wines of South Africa and globally are exhibited at this festival in Cape Town.
Wines, beers, and several food products that blend well with different alcoholic drinks are part of this food festival.
This three-day festival occurs in April and prominent performers, food auditoriums with famous top chefs, tournaments, as well as a cheese carving competition, offer entertainment.
This is an award-winning cheese festival that has many delicious cheese dishes and many kinds of preserves, jams, and bread on show.
Fruit Festivals, South Africa
In South Africa, there are several food festivals that are devoted to fruits grown in the region. The Cherry Festival in Ficksburg, Kiwi Festival in Limpopo, the Uitenhage Prickly Pear Festival, the Strawberry Festival in George, and the Olive Festival in Cape Town are fruit-focused food festivals in South Africa.
These fruit festivals are vital for the nation’s fruit industry as they present the region’s best products to the target market and buyers from around the world.
West African Food Festival, Ghana
Every September since 2017, the West African Food Festival has been an annual food festival held in Ghana. The event attracts top West African chefs to cook food from their homelands and showcase it for public review and eating, of course.
Via food, the event aims to foster peace and unity. Chefs from various participating nations are engaged in a safe cooking war, and it’s a perfect time to taste separate bits of West Africa for tourists in Ghana.
Nairobi Restaurant Week, Kenya
The annual Nairobi Restaurant Week is an event that occurs at the end of January and lasts into parts of February. Food lovers are offered the best of foods at reduced rates for 10 -12 days a year.
Nearly 80 three-star to five-star kitchens participate in the celebration, treating their clients to exclusive menus that are only accessible once a year at a competitive price even during festival.
At some of the fanciest restaurants in Kenya, the festival offers a great opportunity for budget-friendly meals and activities. Visitors get to chat with the chefs, workers and hotel managers during the fest and enjoy free or subsidized drinks.
Do let us know in the comment box below if we missed anyone, you can also share your experiences if you attended any of the above food festival.