Sunday, May 27, 2012

Food Festivals Around the World

No celebration is complete without good food and drink, but sometimes the food or drink itself is the reason for a party. It may be to welcome the coming of spring or harvest time; to rejoice in the arrival of seasonal produce; to pay tribute to a traditional local skill; or simply to celebrate a feast day handed down through the generations. Whatever the reason, the next eight pages give just a taster of the tens of thousands of food festivals that take place each year around the world – the best, the oldest, the most rustic, and the quirkiest. To take part in any one of them is to get a real sense of the place and the people, and is an opportunity not to be missed.

St-Antoni Abat, Andorra 
Perched high in the Pyrenees between France and Spain, Andorra keeps out the cold on St. Anthony’s Day with huge vats of its national dish, escudilla, a meaty stew cooked on an open fire and served in the terra-cotta dish of the same name.
Everyone is welcome to join in the feast.
St-Vincent Tournante, Burgundy, France
At the end of January, when the vines are bare and snow is often on the ground, the villages of the Burgundy region take turns lauding the patron saint of winemakers with colorful processions, solemn ceremony, and a great deal of conviviality and fine wine.
Burns Night, Scotland
The birthday of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, on January 25 is enthusiastically celebrated across the country with readings of his verse, dishes of haggis (see pp22–3), “neeps and tatties” (mashed rutabaga and potato), and, most importantly, a few drams of fine Scottish whiskey.
Auckland Seafood Festival, New Zealand
Auckland honors its fishing heritage with the biggest seafood festival in New Zealand. After a ceremonial blessing of the fleet, the harbor becomes a licensed market where visitors can sample the freshest seafood, matched with local wines and beers.
Blues, Brews and BBQs, Mount Maunganui, Hastings, and Blenheim, New Zealand
Celebrate the Kiwi summer in style at this community-oriented festival, held over three Saturdays in different towns. Top New Zealand blues bands entertain the ear, locally brewed beers, ciders, and wines amuse the palate, and gourmet chefs prepare barbecue to satisfy every taste.
Niagara Icewine Festival, Canada
Over three weekends in January, Canada’s vine-growing region celebrates its famous Ontario Icewine (produced from grapes left to freeze on the vine) with vineyard tours, tastings at alfresco ice bars, warming chestnut roasts, and Cellar Room dinners that pair award-winning wines with mouthwatering dishes and fine local cheeses.

Cayman Cookout, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Not as rustic as it sounds, this festival of food and wine in the idyllic setting of the Cayman Islands is an exercise in contrasts – for example, when a “beach barbecue” is hosted by a world-renowned chef. A once-in-a-lifetime experience – heavenly cuisine in a tropical paradise.
Mendocino County Crab & Wine Days, California, USA
It’s the height of the Dungeness crab season on Mendocino County’s coastline, and these seven seafood-filled days feature everything from an all-you-can-eat Crab Feed to a Crab Cake Cookoff, with tastings to help match local wines to the food.
Fiesta Nacional de Chivo, Mendoza, Argentina
The Feast of the Goat is Argentina’s biggest food festival.
Over 1,000 kid goats are roasted asado-style over open fires in a week-long extravaganza of meat, fire, and folk music. At daily gaucho shows, Argentinian cowboys display remarkable feats of horsemanship.
Costumbrista Chilote, Chiloé, Chile
On this misty, magical archipelago, legend and ceremony come together in the traditional dish curanto, and never more so than during Chiloé’s annual celebration of island life and culture. The earth-oven-baked meat and fish sustained islanders against the lure of mermaids and trolls – folklore performances recount the tales.
Fête du Citron, Menton, France
After the Carnival of Nice, the biggest event on the Riviera is the spectacular Menton Citrus Festival. Over 150 tons of lemons, limes, and oranges are displayed as magnificent creations – from smiling Buddhas to marauding dinosaurs – on parades of gargantuan floats.
Rye Bay Scallop Week, East Sussex, UK
The Cinque Port of Rye yields some of the finest scallops in the country, and this festival combines award-winning wines with music and eight days of events, from scallop-cutting, preparing, cooking, and tasting to the wheelbarrow-pushing “What a Load of Scallops” race.
Fiera del Cioccolato, Florence, Italy
The premier artisan chocolatiers of Tuscany come together once a year in Florence’s historic and beautiful Piazza della Croce to display their skills and their wares. Visitors can watch these masters of their art at work and, of course, sample some of the finest chocolate creations in the world.
Brez’n Angeln, Oberammergau, Germany
Oberammergau is famed for spiritual sustenance in its Passion Play, but for food of a more earthly kind, it goes “Pretzel Fishing.” Townsfolk in traditional dress, accompanied by a marching band, tour the town in a horse-drawn cart from which fresh-baked pretzels are dangled on rod and line.
Everyone has to jump like fish to snatch a savory treat.
Prickly Pear Festival, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Strangely, on South Africa’s famous Garden Route, they make a big fuss about a little fruit once considered an “alien undesirable.” So much so that 16 tons of prickly pears are processed for the festival – into preserves, chutneys, candy, and witblits, a fiery spirit that is only legally distilled right here.
Setsubun, Japan
On the last day of winter, people flock to Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines to throw roasted soybeans and chant “Demons out, happiness in.” It’s considered lucky to catch and eat as many beans as your age. These events are supported by entertainers, celebrities, and sumo wrestlers.
Marlborough Wine Festival, New Zealand
The lovely Marlborough wine region of South Island is the largest in New Zealand, and was pivotal in introducing New World Sauvignon Blanc to a grateful Old World. Enjoy tastings and tutorials amid the vines of beautiful Brancott Estate.
Feria del Alegría y el Olivo, Santiago Tulyehualco, Mexico City, Mexico
The sacred Aztec amaranth grain and the Spanish-introduced olive sit side by side in a festival that blends ancient culture with modern ideas. Visitors flock to this historic quarter of the city to taste olives and their oils, munch amaranth cakes and cookies, and watch displays of traditional dance and music.
Portland Seafood and Wine Festival, Oregon, USA
The finest Oregon seafood can be found at this family-oriented event, including lobster, crayfish, and the famous Dungeness crab. There’s also an Oyster Shuck & Swallow Contest, a Celebrity Crab Cracking Contest, cooking demonstrations, and live music. Adults can sample from 50 local wines while the kids enjoy puppet shows and building sandcastles.
Pisco Sour Day, Lima, Peru
Some say that the pisco sour is as Peruvian as Machu Picchu.
Those inclined to agree will lift a glass in Lima on the first Saturday in February and join in the celebrations for this pisco brandy, lime, egg white, and sugar cocktail, with bartender contests, music, and feasts of traditional Peruvian cuisine.
Carnevale di Ivrea, Piedmont, Italy
Imagine thousands of brightly costumed combatants pelting each other with oranges, some in horse-drawn carts, others milling around them in the streets, up to their shins in citrus pulp. Or go to Ivrea on Shrove Tuesday and join in the fun.
Huge pots of beans and sausages, cod, and polenta are all served free. Magnificent.
Beer Day, Reykjavík, Iceland
Prohibition in the US lasted 13 years; in Hungary it was only 133 days; but in Iceland beer was banned for 74 years, until March 1, 1989. Not surprisingly, that day became National Beer Day and is celebrated in style in pubs, clubs, and restaurants across the party town of Reykjavík.
Maslenitsa, Russia
Maslenitsa is a lively week-long festival that blends the pagan farewell to winter with the Orthodox preparation for Lent. The focus of the feast is the blini, a Russian pancake, round and golden like the sun, topped with sour cream, smoked salmon, honey, or caviar and washed down with vodka.
Lamberts Bay Kreeffees, South Africa
Kreeffees is Afrikaans for “crayfish feast,” and crayfish are in abundance at this festival in beautiful Lamberts Bay in the Western Cape. Match your tastings with a glass of Graça, South Africa’s best-selling seafood wine, while watching stunning aerial displays and listening to live music. For the more energetic there is bungee-jumping and even a half-marathon.
Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, Australia Possibly the largest extravaganza of its kind, this event boasts more than 250 gastronomic and wine events over ten days, including “The World’s Longest Lunch” and masterclasses from international chefs with more Michelin stars than you can shake a stick at.
Wildfoods Festival, Hokitika, New Zealand
Judging by the crowds that flock here every year, it seems that everyone wants to try such delicacies as wasp larvae ice cream, huhu grubs, and beer-battered beetles. There’s whitebait, venison sausages, and the like for the less adventurous, and a wide range of entertainment. Costumes are positively encouraged.
Vermont Maple Open House, Vermont, USA
“Sugar-on-Snow” – the pouring of boiling maple syrup onto a fresh snowfall to make taffy – is just the icing on the cake of this special weekend, when the region’s “sugarhouses” open their doors for demonstrations, events, and tastings.
Yuma Lettuce Days, Arizona, USA
Yuma is the “Winter Lettuce Capital of the World,” so it’s no surprise that folks here make a bit of a song and dance about all things green and good, with culinary classes, food tastings, microbrew beers, and local wines, and fun events such as icecarving and hayrides.
Fiesta de la Vendimia, Mendoza, Argentina
As befits the wine capital of Argentina, Mendoza hosts the biggest and most spectacular grape-harvest festival in the land, drawing tens of thousands to the party. They come for horseback gaucho parades, music-and-light shows, fireworks displays, and, of course, delicious, robust local red wine.
From left to right Piping in the haggis at a Burns Night dinner in Edinburgh, Scotland; children throwing beans during Setsubun in Tokyo, Japan; an impressive reconstruction of the Taj Mahal using citrus fruits at the Fête du Citron, Menton, France; the “World’s Longest Lunch” at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival.
Eel Day, Ely, UK
Ellie the Eel, a giant replica of the slippery fish that gave this Fenland city its name, leads a colorful procession from the 7th-century cathedral to the Jubilee Gardens, where everyone joins in the eel-tasting, beer-swilling, hog-roasting, and medieval jollity. There’s even an eel-throwing contest – though these days they use socks!
Fiestas del Bollo, Avilés, Spain
On Easter Monday, Avilés’ historic downtown pulsates with traditional music, decorated floats, folk dancers, and throngs of people in vivid costumes. Rows of tables, hundreds of place-settings long, are covered with a communal feast of mouthwatering Asturian dishes, the focus of which is the bollo, a multi-tiered, star-shaped extravaganza of an iced bun.
Fête de la Coquille, Côtes d’Armor, France
Three ancient fishing ports on the Côtes d’Armor take turns to host this celebration of the scallop. Up to 80,000 seafoodlovers come to see the boats unload their day’s catch, watch the waterside auctions, and sample Brittany’s legendary coquilles St-Jacques against a background of Celtic music.
Ikeji, Arondizuogu, Nigeria
Ikeji isn’t just a yam festival, it’s a centuries-old veneration of the Aro tribal culture. The yam isn’t just a vegetable, either: it is revered as the very essence of the Aro economy and way of life. As revelers enjoy a sumptuous feast, masked gods dance among them, dispelling evil spirits to the delirious rhythms of traditional drums, bells, and flutes.
Prince Albert Olive Festival, South Africa
High in the Swartbergs in the Western Cape, on the edge of the Great Karoo, the climate is perfect for growing olives.
Village farms offer tastings of fresh and marinated olives and their oils, Karoo lamb stews, award-winning cheeses, and delicious local wines. Fire-dancers, folk music, fun runs, stargazing, ghost walks, and even a pit-spitting contest make this a great family experience.
Hanshi, Xiamen, China
This festival dates to 2,500 years ago, when, once a year, cooking fires were extinguished and allowed to rest before relighting with new-season firewood. The custom is honored with cold food feasts of rice porridge, pickled vegetables, fish paste, bamboo shoots, tofu, date cakes, and preserved eggs.
World Gourmet Summit, Singapore
Singapore is always a gastronomic paradise, but never more so than in April, when some of the world’s most renowned chefs come together to share their secrets with eager gourmets. Events include culinary masterclasses, intimate Chef’s Table dinners, tutored tastings, and in-depth workshops.
Every serious foodie should make the pilgrimage at least once.
World Grits Festival, St. George, South Carolina, USA
It’s over 25 years since St. George discovered it was the world’s biggest consumer of grits – a dish made of coarsely ground corn – and the town hasn’t stopped celebrating yet.
Tens of thousands join in the fun and games – tossing corn cobs, rolling in vats of gooey grits, and chowing down in an all-you-can-eat contest.
Oistins Fish Festival, Barbados
Beautiful Barbados honors its fishermen and celebrates the spectacular harvest of its waters at this Easter event. Visitors can choose from a vast array of seafood and dine in the sunshine or under the stars to a calypso beat. If that’s too laid-back, games and competitions include a fish-boning challenge and even a greasy pole contest.
Le Pince d’Or, Grand’Rivière, near Fort-de- France, Martinique
The tiny fishing village of Grand’Rivière brings together the island’s French and Caribbean flavors in its Pince d’Or (Golden Pincer) competition, held each Easter Sunday. The aim is to cook the best matoutou, a rich crab stew flavored with lime, cinnamon, chili pepper, and garlic. Join the locals along the palm-fringed riverside for a day of feasting and music.
Spargelfest, Schwetzingen, Germany
Historic Schwetzingen is Europe’s white asparagus capital. At the spring harvest festival, this “Royal Vegetable” is sold in the castle square, fresh or cooked in many different recipes.
A favorite is with hollandaise sauce and smoked ham, but there’s even asparagus ice cream. There are colorful parades, banquets, and the triumphant crowning of the festival’s Asparagus King or Queen.
Fête des Fromages, Rocamadour, France
One of the most beautiful villages in France hosts the largest cheese festival in the south. It begins with a blessing of the herds of sheep and goats, which are then paraded through the streets, and continues with an outdoor festive lunch, a farmers’ market, and performances of traditional regional music. Be sure to try Rocamadour’s own esteemed Cabécou goat cheese.
Watercress Festival, Alresford, UK
Mineral-rich spring water is the secret behind Alresford’s success as the UK’s largest producer of this versatile and delectable superfood. The Watercress King and Queen lead a parade of jazz bands and morris dancers, handing out the new season’s watercress to thousands of revelers. There’s a huge street market, cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs, and the World Watercress Eating Championship.
European Beer Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark
The best beer festival in the world? Who knows, but brewing giant Carlsberg opens its historic cellars and stables to host this intoxicating extravaganza that offers visitors the opportunity to taste hundreds of Danish and international beers, ales, and lagers. The festival is hosted in various venues across the city. Book events early to avoid disappointment.

South African Cheese Festival, Stellenbosch
This is South Africa’s biggest cheese festival, with over 200 palate-tingling varieties and a veritable cornucopia of accompaniments. Meander through the story of milk from the udder to the plate while the kids try their hand at milking, then relax by the waterfront with a tasting plate and unforgettable views of a Table Mountain sunset.
Taam Hair (A Taste of Tel Aviv), Israel
Indulge all of your senses at this explosion of sounds, sights, smells, and superb samplings from top Israeli chefs and vintners. Tour the culinary booths and take your pick of the tastes, eat while strolling through Hayarkon Park or sitting on the grass, or simply dance with thousands of party-goers.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival, Hong Kong
In one of the world’s most exciting festivals, residents of Cheung Chau dress in colorful costumes and parade through the streets to commemorate the sea god Pak Tai. At midnight on the last day, teams race up 60-ft (18-m) towers to collect buns, which are then handed out to revelers.
Castroville Artichoke Festival, Monterey County, California, USA
In 1948, Marilyn Monroe was crowned Castroville’s first Artichoke Queen – what finer pedigree could a festival have than that? Try this delicious edible bud fried, pickled, marinated, sautéed, griddled, or creamed, and sip silky California wines, all in this quaint little town at the heart of artichoke country.
Maui Onion Festival, Lahaina, Hawaii, USA
Sweet, juicy Maui onions are prized by chefs and they’re the star of the show here at Whaler’s Village in a full day and evening of events, including chef demonstrations, a Best Onion Recipe contest, a Raw Onion Eating challenge, island music, and fine dining.

Toledo Cacao-Fest, Belize
True chocoholics should make a pilgrimage to the land where cocoa ripens in the tropical sun, to see it being grown, harvested, and processed the traditional, handmade way into the food of the (Mayan) gods. It’s all possible in this idyllic reef-and-rain forest setting, along with a gourmet Wine and Chocolate dinner, cultural events, and a spectacular festival finale of music and fireworks.
Vlaggetjesdag, Scheveningen, Netherlands
“Flag Day” is named for the bright pennants that flutter from the rigging of the herring boats as they race the first of the new season’s catch back to Scheveningen to be auctioned.
Thousands line the quay to watch them arrive, listen to sea shanties, and, most importantly, eat herring – pickled, smoked, or even raw.
La Grande Bufala, Eboli, Italy
Everyone agrees that buffalo-milk mozzarella is the best, and Eboli believes its Mozzarella di Bufala Campagna is the best of all. Leafy Piazza della Repubblica is the showcase for everything to do with this unctuously soft and milky cheese, offering tastings, workshops, and other events lauding all things deliciously Mediterranean.
Batalla del Vino, Haro, Spain
Every June 29, the normally sedate town of Haro, in La Rioja, goes wine-crazy. Revelers armed with buckets, bottles, and even water pistols full of wine launch into pitched battles during which everyone ends up soaking wet and purple from head to toe. It’s all good-natured and ends with uproarious feasting and a lot more wine – quaffed, rather than thrown.
V&A Waterfront Wine Affair, Cape Town, South Africa
Over 70 of the Western Cape’s top wineries come together in this gorgeous water’s-edge setting. Gourmet food is on hand as well, so visitors can match the perfect Pinotage to charcuterie or grilled ostrich fillet, or sip Sauvignon Blanc with ocean-fresh oysters. No need to fret over which wine route to drive – you can tour them all here in one place.
Feria Oramena, Taolagnaro, Madagascar Beautiful Fort-Dauphin Bay is the backdrop to this culinary carnival in honor of the delicious and abundant seafood of Madagascar – notably the spiny lobster (oramena), which is the heart of the banquet. Enjoy the best of the fun down on the Esplanade by the Town Hall.
Fête des Goyaviers, La Plaine des Palmistes, Réunion
Perched high on Réunion’s lush slopes, La Plaine des Palmistes may be the smallest community but it has the biggest presence during this island-wide celebration of the fragrant and versatile guava. It’s a lively time of tastings, music, dance, and stories, and it’s almost impossible to come away without at least one jar of delicious guava jam.

Chanthaburi Fruit Festival, Thailand
An exotic and mouthwatering celebration of “the fruit bowl of Thailand.” Pluck rambutan, mangosteen, and longan fresh from the trees. Taste the ripest mangos, zalaccas, and custard apples and savor the “king of fruits,” the soft and creamy durian. Parades of multicolored fruit floats, regional music, and beauty pageants are all part of the experience.
A Taste of Manly, Sydney, Australia
Manly was once described as “seven miles from Sydney and a thousand miles from care.” With stands serving high-quality Australian, Indian, Malaysian, Thai, African, and Mediterranean cuisine, supported by popular New South Wales wines, this seaside festival attracts over 30,000 visitors, with world music, jazz, street performers, and beach games for the whole family.
Taste of Chicago, Illinois, USA
Lovely lakeside Grant Park is the venue for the “World’s Biggest Food Festival,” a ten-day event that takes place in the run-up to Independence Day. All the city’s top restaurants are represented, offering “taster” plates so that the 3-million-plus visitors can try as many dishes as possible, from classic Chicago deep-pan pizza to iconic Eli’s cheesecake.
Arcata Main Street Oyster Festival, California, USA
Arcata Bay, a stunning, almost landlocked circle of blue water in northern California, provides 70 percent of the state’s oysters. The citizens of Arcata are proud of their tasty mollusks and love to show them off at this friendly festival, when local chefs serve them every which way, from raw to barbecued, and fearless gourmets compete in the “Shuck and Swallow” contest.
From left to right Crowds armed with “wine-pistols” at La Batalla del Vino in Haro, Spain; contestants scramble for buns up a 60-ft (18-m) tower at the Cheung Chau Bun Festival in Hong Kong; sidewalks are taken over by hundreds of food stands at the Taste of Chicago food festival; bunting decorates stands preparing and selling herring during Vlaggetjesdag in the Netherlands.
Rapujuhlat, Finland
From late July for the next two months, Finland is simply smitten with the crayfish. Festivals and parties involve special plates, table linen, cutlery, bibs, lanterns, and even songs – and mounds of crayfish, of course. The feast is best enjoyed outdoors on a long summer evening, during which noisy, messy eating is actively encouraged.
Whitstable Oyster Festival, Kent, UK
Every aspect of Whitstable shouts tradition, and none more so than the oysters at the center of this exciting week-long festival. Entertainment abounds, with shanty singers, crab-catching, kite-flying, seashore safaris, and a very muddy tug-of-war. Don’t miss the oyster-eating competition and the masked parade finale.
Pichelsteinerfest, Regen, Germany
This colorful festival is an encounter with all things Bavarian.
Celebrating the delicious Pichelsteiner (a local stew of beef, pork, lamb, and vegetables in gravy), the whole town enjoys six days of marching bands, flag parades, music, dancing, giant fountains, fireworks, and lantern-lit boats on the Regen River.
Fête des Fruits Rouges, Noyon, France
Noyon’s soft fruit has been renowned for 1,000 years and, for one day every July, the lovely cathedral square is filled with a mouthwatering aroma, as market stands are loaded with ripe, juicy currants, berries, and cherries. After a blessing of the harvest, the festivities begin, with cooking demonstrations and tastings, medieval games, and a huge communal feast.
Knysna Oyster Festival, South Africa
They call it “the 10 best days of your winter” and, if you love oysters, they’re probably right. Not even the South African Navy can stay away, sailing their huge minesweepers into Knysna’s beautiful bay for the event. There are countless oyster stylings to sample, perfect with local microbrewery Mitchell’s Raven Stout.
Singapore Food Festival
It’s all about the delicious diversity of local cuisine at this month-long festival, which sees events all around the island, from tasting cruises and hands-on masterclasses to the lively Singapore River market. Best of all, Clarke Quay is transformed into Food Street, where street food and fine dining come together.
National Cherry Festival, Traverse City, Michigan, USA
For eight packed days in the heart of “Cherry Country” on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay, over half a million cherry-lovers gather for pie-eating, pit-spitting, road-racing, beach volleyball, and even Cherryopoly contests. And, if you can win the hole-in-one competition, the real cherry is the million-dollar prize!
Copper River Wild! Salmon Festival, Cordova, Alaska, USA
Copper River salmon are prized the world over as simply the best you can eat. The unique flavor comes from extra oils they need to survive the freezing glacial waters of their spawning grounds. So it’s worth the effort to seek out remote Cordova in Prince William Sound and join in the festivities with music, art fairs, road races, and plenty of tasty salmon.
Bagelfest, Mattoon, Illinois, USA
Americans love bagels so much that they have two national bagel days. The best way to celebrate this scrumptious twice-cooked Polish bread is in Mattoon, Illinois, where they bake a billion bagels a year. A giant Bagel Parade opens the festival, with a street market, pageants, dancing, a rock concert, and, best of all, free bagels.
La Tomatina, Buñol, Spain
This is probably the most famous food festival of them all, and yet it’s not about eating so much as painting the town red with tomatoes – around 100 tons of them. The battle only lasts an hour, but by the end, the 30,000 or so participants are soaked in scarlet juice and slipping and squelching in a sea of tomato pulp.

Isle of Wight Garlic Festival, Newchurch, UK
England’s largest island, on the south coast, is perhaps more famous for its music festival held every June, but its annual celebration of “the stinking rose” draws equally enthusiastic crowds for garlic beer, garlic ice cream, and other fragrant delicacies. Non-garlic produce is also showcased. “Best of British” entertainment is on hand and visitors can be sure of a nice cup of (non-garlic) tea.
La Pourcailhade, Trie-sur-Baïse, France
Trie-sur-Baïse is in France’s prime pork-producing region, so it should be no surprise that there is a Brotherhood of the Pig here. Competitions at their annual Pig Festival include piglet races, sausage-eating, best pig outfit, and the National Pig Squealing Competition (for people, not pigs). There is also music and dancing in the evening.
Skala Kalloni Sardine Festival, Lesvos, Greece
The stunning Gulf of Kalloni is almost an inland sea, and is famed for the quality of its sardines. The fishing port of Skala Kalloni gives thanks for its catch one weekend of the year with a feast of barbecued sardines and ouzo, along with traditional Greek music and dancing. It’s an utterly charming experience.
Imouzzer Honey Festival, Morocco
Jimi Hendrix reputedly named the “Paradise Valley” where Imouzzer sits, in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Here the Berbers keep bees in hives made of reeds and clay, and harvest exquisite honey flavored with mountain herbs and flowers. The Honey Festival celebrates this taste of paradise.
Yugambeh Corroboree, Southport, Queensland, Australia
What could be more Australian than a bush tucker feast after a walkabout? OK, the four-day Drumley Walk is optional, but the Yugambeh Corroboree Festival welcomes the walkers with traditional bush food, Aboriginal songs, arts and crafts exhibitions, and plenty of activities for jarjums (kids). Yau yilnanbaugull – or “yes, please!”
Onam, Kerala, India
For Kerala’s Malayali people, and for this lovely state as a whole, the ten-day harvest festival of Onam is the most important event of the year. Featuring snake-boat races, traditional Kaikottikali story-dances, and intricate flower carpets, the festivities culminate with the Thiruonam feast of Onasadya, a nine-course banquet of exquisite vegetarian dishes, served on banana leaves.
Howell Melon Festival, Michigan, USA
The delicious variety of cantaloupe melon found only in these parts was brought to Howell in seed form by a hobo during the Depression. His gift is honored every August with parades and parties, tastings of melon wine and ice cream, art exhibits and face painting (look like a melon!), and the sale of over 20,000 fine, ripe fruits.
Fête des Cuisinières, Point-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe
Where better for a festival of women cooks than this lovely French-Caribbean island? On the feast day of St-Laurent, the patron saint of chefs, over 200 cuisinières from all over the West Indies, in gorgeous Creole costumes, parade their dishes through the streets to the church to be blessed. The free five-hour gourmet banquet that follows is open to all.
Fête de la Poutine, Drummondville, Quebec, Canada
This lively weekend of music and family fun permits everyone to indulge in a little too much of the unofficial Quebecois national dish, poutine – a mushy but irresistible concoction of French fries, cheese curds, and rich brown gravy. Infinite varieties exist, many of which can be sampled here for as long as your appetite holds out.
Otro Sabor, Medellín, Colombia
In the beautiful setting of Medellín’s Botanical Gardens, chefs and gourmets from Colombia, Latin America, and the world come together for this celebration of food and flavors. From the simple cornbread arepa to the 13-element paisa platter (ranging from avocado to pork rind), there’s plenty to sample.
Galway Oyster Fest, Ireland
Follow the colorful parade through the streets, then dig in to new-season oysters with smoked salmon, crab claws, seafood chowder, and chilled white wine. Not to mention the Guinness World Oyster Opening Championship finals, a gala ball, and the Saturday Oyster Trail, when 40 hostelries offer free oysters and live music.
Pizzafest, Naples, Italy
Naples’ tantalizing ten-day festival honors their most famous culinary creation. But even before you get your hands on a pizza, the teasing aroma of freshly-baked marinara, Margherita, calzone, and quattro stagioni, wafting from wood-fired ovens all over the city, will have your mouth watering. Events include music, theater, and workshops.
Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany
Biggest? Oldest? Best? Superlatives can’t describe this 200-year-old extravaganza, where over 6 million revelers consume 2 million gallons of beer. But don’t forget the roast meats, fish, dumplings, pretzels, and, of course, sauerkraut and sausages, all served by energetic waiting staff wearing those famous dirndls and lederhosen.
Brick Lane Curry Festival, London, UK
Every year, Brick Lane, London’s world-famous “Curry Mile,” explodes with color and aromas as Bangla Town’s fabulous feast inspires tens of thousands to savor every tongue-tingling spicy taste imaginable. Over 40 restaurants display their very best dishes to be tasted and enjoyed, to the vibrant sounds of the music festival.
Soweto Wine Festival, Johannesburg, South Africa
What began in 2004 as a crazy dream around a braai in Pretoria has matured into South Africa’s most up-and-coming, trendsetting wine event. Three nights of tutored wine and food tastings, featuring over 800 wines, might sound like any other show, but this is Soweto-style, with spicy food and cool jazz.
Mooncake Festival, China
Also called the Mid-Autumn or Moon Festival, this nationwide event is honored with music, dancing, and mooncakes. These beautifully decorated pastry pies are on sale in every bakery. They’re filled with a sweet bean or lotus seed paste, wrapped around a salted duck egg yolk representing the moon. Cut into small wedges, they’re eaten while watching the full moon rise.
Posen Potato Festival, Michigan, USA
On the first weekend after Labor Day, the tiny town of Posen goes back to its Polish roots with traditional costumes, crafts, music, polka dancing, and potatoes. Entrants to the Potato Cooking Competition have no chance of beating Beatrice Richard’s record – she notched up her 47th win with her Cheeseburger Soup recipe (secret ingredient: potatoes).
Feast of San Gennaro, New York City, USA
New York’s Little Italy may be a shadow of its former self, but not when New York’s biggest, oldest, and most revered festival bursts on to the streets. Processions, feasts, and festivities last 11 days, during which religious devotion and good eating go hand in hand. Don’t miss the statue of San Gennaro being paraded through the streets – or the Cannoli Eating Competition.
Mistura, Lima, Peru
Mistura is a showcase for 7,000 years of Peruvian cuisine and produce. Hand-picked representatives, from street vendors and country cooks to gourmet chefs, demonstrate and serve every style of cooking. Adventurous diners can even sample roast cuy (guinea pig). Traditional and modern Peruvian music and a lively market and bazaar add to the unique flavor of the event.

Fiera del Tartufo, Alba, Italy
Historic Alba’s White Truffle Festival is an unforgettable experience for lovers of the “white diamond,” with its truffle fair, market, and (for top chefs and gourmet millionaires only) auction. Many of Alba’s restaurants have special menus, or will simply shave the truffle over risotto or pasta – perfect with a glass or two of delicious Barolo wine.
Fiesta de Exaltación del Marisco, O Grove, Spain
Over ten days of seafood heaven, the small fishing community of O Grove becomes an aromatic market teeming with mussels, oysters, scallops, crabs, clams, octopus, hake, sea bass, turbot, and sole. Sample them, fresh or cooked, with a glass of the local Rías Baixas wine, while enjoying Galician- Portuguese folk dancing and Celtic gaita bagpipes.
Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre, Paris, France
In 1933, the citizens of Montmartre resurrected a tiny vineyard only streets away from Sacré-Coeur. Ever since, they’ve rejoiced in the harvest and auctioned the wine off for charity.
The festival is now so popular that hundreds of thousands of celebrants fill the streets to revel in the vintners’ parades, live music, theater, and poetry, and buy wines from all over France.
Salone del Gusto, Turin, Italy
Showcase of the Slow Food Movement, the biennial Salon of Taste attracts exhibitors from around the world. Seasonality, locale, and quality are essential criteria for the cured meats, fish, vegetables, cheeses, fruits, and breads on display here.
Fête des Dattes, Erfoud, Morocco
With nearly a million date palms to harvest, it’s not surprising that the people of Erfoud celebrate the year’s sweet, sticky harvest with such zeal. For three days they feast and dance to traditional music; then comes the climax, a thrilling camel race into the dunes of the Sahara.
Crave Sydney, Australia
With a whole month of over 600 diverse gastronomic events across the city, Sydney is the place to be in October, with gourmet dinners, night noodle markets, pop-up barbecues, and bush tucker experiences. But the showpiece is Breakfast on the Bridge, when the traffic stops and the Harbour Bridge is grassed over for a grand picnic.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival, Thailand
In this extraordinary but energetic and colorful festival, participants abstain from meat and other stimulants to expunge evil spirits and bring good luck. Vegetarian dishes are eaten, but not everyone will have the stomach for the fire-walking and outlandish body piercing displays by entranced Ma Song devotees.
American Royal Barbecue, Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Claiming to be the largest barbecue competition in the world, the American Royal attracts hundreds of tongs-bearing, apron-wearing, grill-firing teams from across the US. To the rhythms of live bands they cook brisket, pork ribs, pork, and chicken for the title, with a sauce competition as a bonus. Most important, though, it’s all tastable.
World Championship Gumbo Cook-Off, New Iberia, Louisiana, USA
On the banks of the Bayou Teche, picturesque Bouligny Plaza is filled with makeshift kitchens, and tantalizing aromas waft into the sultry air. Saturday begins with traditional jambalaya, étouffée, boudin, and fried fish; then, on Sunday, the great Cook-Off gets under way. Around 12,000 lb (5,500 kg) of chicken and sausage, seafood, game, and even alligator gumbo make this a truly jumbo event.
New York City Wine and Food Festival, USA
To get an idea of the pace, excitement, and ground covered in this crammed foodie weekend, think “New York Marathon meets Woodstock meets Iron Chef.” From meatballs to master chefs, fizzy drinks to finest New World wines, Blumenthal to Bourdain, there is something for everyone of every age. Book early.
Oktoberfest, Blumenau, Brazil
Founded in 1850 by Herman Otto Blumenau, his namesake city is a mini-Germany in the south of Brazil, but there’s nothing small about their Oktoberfest. Over two weeks, a million party-lovers crowd the streets for the brightly costumed parades, marching bands, folk dancing, authentic German cuisine, and, of course, the local brews.
Les Trois Glorieuses, Beaune, France
It’s been called “the greatest eating and drinking experience on the face of the planet,” and certainly the Three Glorious Days, centered on Burgundy’s famed charity wine auction, live up to their name. Tickets for Monday’s eight-hour lunch at Château Meursault are beyond the reach of most, but everyone can enjoy the open-house tastings and the festive atmosphere that pervades noble Beaune and its vineyard villages.
Olioliva, Imperia, Liguria, Italy
Liguria’s tiny purple Taggiasca olive is said to produce the finest olive oil in the world – mellow, woody, peppery, and utterly delicious. Imperia welcomes the new season’s oil with a huge street market, and visitors from all over northern Italy and nearby Provence come to sample and buy – not just oils but Liguria’s famed pesto, focaccia, and Cinque Terre wines too.
Ziebel Märit, Bern, Switzerland
Bern’s medieval Onion Market begins as you would expect. Hundreds of stands are laden with every kind of allium – braided, bouqueted, decorated, and turned into all sorts of tasty onion-flavored products – as well as lots of other hearty winter food. Later, though, the carnival kicks off, with jesters, singers, onion-costumed locals, and wild confetti battles long into the winter night.
Guangzhou International Food Festival, China
Guangzhou is rightly proud of being said to have the best food in all of China. People flock from nearby Hong Kong and Macau to dine here, and never more so than during this annual exhibition of its culinary prowess. Lots of different cuisines are on display, but don’t miss the Cantonese delicacies.
Nabanna, Dhaka, Bangladesh
The name Nabanna means “new food” and, in the Bangladeshi countryside, it’s one of the most important events of the year.
The rice harvest is celebrated with symbolic foods such as payesh (rice pudding) and pitha (rice flour cakes), as well as traditional music and dances, and offerings to the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.
Kona Coffee Festival, Big Island, Hawaii, USA Wake up and smell the coffee at Hawaii’s oldest food festival. It’s the rich volcanic soil that’s said to give this pure arabica its rare depth of flavor and aroma, prized by connoisseurs the world over. No wonder the people of the Kona district choose to honor it with pageants, parades, competitions, cultural events, and plantation tastings.
Chitlin’ Strut, Salley, South Carolina, USA
Some say that, for a true taste of the south, nothing quite beats a chitlin’. Others prefer the fried chicken or barbecued ribs to deep-fried pig’s intestines, but everyone’s in agreement that a great time is to be had at the Salley Chitlin’ Strut, with parades, a pancake breakfast, carnival rides, dancing, and the great Hawg Call competition.
Festival Gourmet International, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
Drawing culinary superstars from around the world to host events such as Chef’s Table and Winemaker’s Night dinners, Gourmet Safaris, and even a Chefs’ Hell Raising Party, it’s not difficult to see why this festival on Mexico’s Pacific Riviera has made its mark.
Cornucopia, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
With snow already thick on the slopes, it’s hard to imagine anyone is in town for anything else. But now’s the time that serious foodies make a pilgrimage to Whistler for one of the most exciting and informative gastronomic events of the year – this is a wining and dining experience to beat any off-piste adventure.
Les Glorieuses de Bresse, France
6 With its red comb, white body, and blue legs, the Bresse chicken is the tricouleur emblem of France – and rightly so, since it is often judged the finest poultry in the land. Four towns in this Burgundian region each host a day of this fête in its honor, with gourmet markets, tastings, culinary demonstrations, and dinners at which the coq is king.
Sagra del Singhiale, Suvereto, Italy
The narrow streets, squares, and cloisters of this ancient Tuscan town take on a medieval flavor for the Wild Boar Festival. Pageants, archery, fencing, jesters, and even human chess games all contribute to the magical atmosphere. The focus of the feasting is, of course, roast wild boar, served with grilled polenta and wild mushrooms and plenty of local wine.
Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg, Germany
The Christmas Angel opens Nuremberg’s magical old-world market, when the city square sparkles and the air is filled with the delicious aromas of mulled wine, hot chestnuts, roast sausages, gingerbread, fruit loaves, and marzipan candies.
Hundreds of decorated stands form a “Little Town of Wood and Cloth.”
Fiera dia Castagna, Bocognano, Corsica, France
Corsicans call the chestnut the “tree of life,” and its flour is used in bread, polenta, cakes, and even beer. Chestnut jelly, honey, and liqueurs are highly prized, as is charcuterie from the local boars that feed on the nuts. As the island’s most important crop it truly deserves this annual celebration, which involves competitions, demonstrations, and market stands piled high with chestnut products.
Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, South Africa
With a French heritage going back over 300 years, Franschhoek is understandably proud of its reputation as the gourmet capital of South Africa. Set in “the most beautiful wine valley in the world,” it celebrates its good fortune, presenting its own Cap Classique bubbly alongside the great names of Champagne. Mouthwatering French delicacies are served to complement the wine.
Taste Festival, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Charming Sullivan’s Cove, in Tasmania’s capital city, plays host to ten days of feasts and fun, culminating on New Year’s Eve with a grand fireworks display over the tranquil harbor waters.
Circus acts, buskers, stilt-walkers, and street theater entertain the kids, while the grown-ups can enjoy artisan beers, fine Tasmanian wines, and Tasting Tours of local gourmet cuisine.
Night of the Radishes, Oaxaca, Mexico
Leave radishes in the ground for months until they grow up to two feet long. Then dig them up and carve them into fantastic sculptures of Nativity scenes, dancers, warriors, folk heroes, trees, and buildings. Sounds crazy, but that’s what happens at this extraordinary one-of-a-kind Christmas festival in Oaxaca.
Inn-to-Inn Cookie and Candy Tour, White Mountains, New Hampshire, USA
What better way to get into the holiday spirit than to make a snowy tour around the quaint inns of New Hampshire, all decked out in their Christmas finery? Visitors are welcomed with handmade cookies, candy canes, and other festive treats, and can vote on stunning gingerbread sculptures, collect family recipes, and depart with visions of sugarplums to last a lifetime.
Santuranticuy, Cusco, Peru
Plaza del Armas becomes a vast, illuminated Nativity scene in the days before Christmas Eve’s breathtaking Santuranticuy (“saints for sale”) market. Country people flock into town with ceramic manger figures to sell, including the Andean baby Jesus, El Niño Manuelito. There’s sweet rum punch, roast corn, and panetón cake for those who can afford it, while hot chocolate and fruited biscuits are given to the poor.

No comments:

Post a Comment