The Best Food Festivals To Try This Year!
Whenever you are in need of culinary inspiration you are bound to find it by visiting a food festival or market. From humble farmers markets to food festivals around the world you are destined to discover a wealth of gastronomic delights to be savoured.
Here are some noteworthy food festivals around the world. If one of them is near you, then you have no excuse not to go. Some people spend all their holidays travelling from one food festival to the next.
The United States
1. Strawberry Festival (Garden Grove, CA – Late May)
California is well known for producing some of the best fruits in the world, and their annual Strawberry Festival is probably the best strawberry festival in the world. You can taste strawberries in every different variant you could imagine, enjoy carnival rides, and hang out with some Hollywood celebrities. Chocolate-covered strawberries and strawberry shortcake anyone?
2. Georgia Peach Festival (Fort Valley, GA – Mid June)
This festival is held every year in Fort Valley, Georgia. Fort Valley is the county seat of Peach County, GA. True to its name, some of the best peaches in the world are grown here. After filling up on peaches and watching the family-friendly shows, you can claim a slice from the world’s largest peach cobbler.
3. Copper River Wild Salmon Festival (Cordova, AK – Early July)
This annual festival is always held right in the middle of Salmon season. It also doubles as a music festival. You won’t find many places where you can eat fresher Salmon than in this scenic Alaskan fishing village.
4. Cheese Curd Festival (Ellsworth, WI – Late July)
You’re not going to find better cheese than in the cheese capitol of the world. Cheesecake, cheese balls, cheese-on-a-stick, fried cheese: you name it, they’ve got it. There is also live country music and a traditional water fight to keep the day exciting.
5. National Baby Food Festival (Fremont, MI – Late July)
Who says baby food is only for babies? This annual festival is held in Gerber’s hometown and features blind baby food tastings and lots of contests. It’s also the best festival for young couples to bring their baby to. Needless to say, this is the food festival that wins the record for most strollers!
6. Maine Lobster Festival (Rockland, ME – Late July/Early August)
This annual festival is located right next to the water and features mussels, shrimp and clams, in addition to 20,000 lbs of lobster. It is hard to find any fresher lobster than here; you can literally watch a fresh lobster get cooked to death in their massive cooker.
7. National Buffalo Wings Festival (Buffalo, NY – Early September)
If you enjoy Buffalo wings, there is absolutely no better festival than this. For only $5 per day, you can eat to your heart’s content. The most astonishing thing is how many Buffalo wings are consumed here every year: almost 30 tons!
8. Hatch Chile Festival (Hatch, NM – Early September)
If you ever go to New Mexico, you will soon learn to love the question you get asked every time you order food: “red or green?” The question refers to which type of chili you’d like, and the popularity of red vs. green chile among residents is about a 50/50 split. Over 30,000 people trek annually to the small town of Hatch, NM to enjoy their latest harvest of both red and green chilies. If you have sensitive taste buds, this is not the festival for you.
It is no secret that Italians love their food. But beyond the time spent in the kitchen and around the dining room table you will also find another Italian tradition through the country – sagre. Sagre are Italian food festivals. Unlike religious festivals that include special foods, like Easter, Shrove Tuesday, and Carnival of Ivrea, these festivals are centered on the local cuisine.
The events are usually held annually and the entire community gets involved. If you happen upon one of these festivals during your stay, you should take advantage of it. You will often have the opportunity to taste local fare and seasonal foods that you might otherwise miss out on during your travels.
Fruit Festivals (May)
As the different fruits come into season throughout the year, you are sure to find Italian food festivals that center around them in different cities. There are many festivals for fruits and vegetables, including artichokes, cherries, lemons, peaches and strawberries. If you are in Apulia in September, Palmariggi even has a festival for pomegranates. One of the most popular fruit festivals occurs in the village of Monterosso al Mare, found in Liguria. This beautiful little village is surrounded by lemon groves, making a truly picturesque scene. The Lemon Festival usually takes place in May, on the third Saturday before Ascension Day.
Mushrooms (Late October – Early November)
If you like mushrooms, then you have definitely heard about what delicacy woodland truffles are. Famous throughout Italy, both the white and black varieties have their own festival. For the black truffle, the most famous festival occurs in Norcia, Umbria. However if you miss that one, you could also visit the villages in Marche and Lazio for other black truffle fairs. If the white truffle is what you desire, you should be in Tuscany in late October and early November. The white truffle festival is held in Voltera, and you will find many street vendors selling this high prized fungus during this Italian food festival.
Chocolate And Chestnuts (Late October)
If desserts are more to your liking, then you will want to visit Turin. Known unofficially as the chocolate capital of the country, this city holds a famous chocolate festival each year where you can taste a wide variety of delicious foods combined with the rich flavor of chocolate. Definitely not the time for dieting if you are visiting this Italian food festival!
A lesser known festival is the Chestnut festival. Held in Castiglione d’Orcia, Tuscany, this festival features the chestnut that grows abundantly in the surrounding area and gives visitors a chance to sample numerous dishes. Campiglia and Vivo are two small towns that are particularly devoted to the festival, and should be included on your itinerary if you are in the area in late October.
Seafood (July – Agust)
With so many miles of coastline, it is no wonder that Italy also has its own seafood festivals that you can take a part in. In July you can visit Calabria for the swordfish festival, or if you are visiting later in the summer take a part in the salt cod festival at Avigliano, Basilicata in August. There is also the Sagra del Pesce, another lively fish festival at Camogli in Liguria.
Explore Authentic Jamaica through a food festival. Jamaica has many interesting foods and several annual food festivals. The Portland Jerk Festival is one of the most well-known festivals because it involves one of Jamaica’s most popular ways of cooking – jerk!
Jerk is the process of spicing and grilling. Meat is rubbed with a mixture of herbs and spices. The main ingredients in the mixture are scotch bonnet pepper and pimento. The meat is then grilled over charcoal or pimento wood. Jerk at its best has a hot, juicy, spicy and tender flavour.
At the festival, anything that can be jerked will be jerked, and over the years, new additions such as jerked lobster have added to the “tastiness” of the festival. Considered the home of jerk, the village of Boston in the parish of Portland draws jerk-lovers from all over the island, who spend hours sampling chicken, pork, fish, sausages, lobster, and accompaniments such as bread, festival, and breadfruit.
The food festival includes performances from local artistes and community dance groups, arts and craft displays, a bounce-about, a merry-go-round, and face painting appropriate for all age groups.
Yet another culinary event which is growing in popularity is the Yallahs Chicken Festival held in the parish of St. Thomas. In the summer months, a wide variety of chicken dishes from vendors across Jamaica are showcased. Cultural and musical entertainment is also featured, and chicken-lovers flock to the area to get their “belly full.”
The Westmoreland Curry Festival is one of Jamaica’s leading community food festivals, growing in the number of attendees from 2,000 persons to over 10,000 in seven years. The festival is the largest of its kind and continues to be the major fundraiser for the Mannings School, a high school located in the parish of Westmoreland.
Other festivals held locally include a Bussu Festival in Portland, which features the Bussu meat taken from the shelled creatures of that name in local rivers; and the Fish Festival at Little Ochi in Alligator Pond, Manchester, where one can eat fish cooked in every style, hear good music, and enjoy the beach as well.
In Jamaica, you will never be hungry, but a food festival may be just the thing you need to really appreciate the variety of food which makes Jamaica such a unique place. Be sure to explore authentic Jamaica through a food festival.
The Algarve is home to many festivals and events that celebrate the local cuisine, vineyards, traditions and all the undiscovered beauty Portugal offers. This region offers the quintessential Mediterranean experience with traditional cuisine, warm climate, and crystal clear waters. For this reason, the Algarve was named the top travel destination of 2012 by the New York Times. Each town in this region has its own food festivals where guests can enjoy the finest Portuguese specialties.
The Chorizo Festival in Querença is held in January. This event celebrates St. Luis, the protector of animals. Traditionally the families in this region offer their best homemade chorizo to thank the saint for keeping them in good health. The festival boasts lots of homemade sausages, live entertainment, and great music. A similar event is the Traditional Sausage fair in the Serra de Monchique, which celebrates the taste of the traditional mountain sausage.
Make sure you attend the Tribute to Claudia food festival in the Algarve. This feast of magnificent cuisine is served by the best Michelin-starred chefs. Visitors can choose from a wide range of exotic dishes such as fillet of turbot with white truffle and barley, eggs in mushroom crust with parmesan and truffle, and poached fillet of wagyu beef in jelly. This annual event takes place every January and gives visitors the chance to sample cuisine from all around the world. The festival runs for nine days.
Another popular event is the International Gourmet Festival. It celebrates Portuguese wines, food, artists, and designers, attracting visitors from the United States and Europe. The festival gathers over 20 of the world’s most famous chefs from Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Canada, and Sweden, each presenting his tasting menu combined with several wine pairings. The event attracts Hollywood stars and acclaimed chefs.
The Annual Seafood Festival in Tavira takes place in May. The best restaurants in the region serve outstanding seafood dishes at this gastronomic event. If you love grilled sardines, be sure to attend the Portimao Sardine Festival and the Olhao Seafood Festival in August. These events feature live concerts, street theatre, live entertainment, and delicious seafood dishes.
Sweet Potato Festival of Aljezur Algarve is one of the most popular events in the region, with a focus on traditional dishes made from sweet potatoes. The Portuguese Gastronomy Week in June promoters the national cuisine, featuring national dishes served by the best restaurants. It also includes live shows and a crafts fair.
Every year in October, Sydney celebrates its unmatched and unique food lifestyle with a month of fabulous food events around the city. And this year promises to be no different. The Crave Sydney International Food Festival took over from the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Month last year, and the line up for this year’s festival showcases and celebrates the best of Australian and international cuisine, with events for food connoisseurs and novices alike. With visiting world class chefs, talks and classes, restaurant specials and organised dining events, there’s something for all tastebuds at this month long celebration of food. Here’s a run-down of some of the events that will make up the Crave Sydney International Food Festival program in 2010.
- Breakfast on the Bridge. Giving the public the opportunity to picnic on one of the Sydney’s most iconic landmarks, Breakfast on the Bridge is the centerpiece of the food festival. On October 10, 6,000 NSW residents (picked from those who registered) are given the unique opportunity to enjoy their morning coffee and breakfast on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
- World Chef Showcase. On Saturday October 9 and Sunday October 10, a collection of some of the world’s most celebrated culinary stars will showcase their skills and share their recipes at Sydney’s Star City Harbour Ballroom. The World Chef Showcase allows you intimate insight into the dishes that given these chefs their big names.
- René Redzepi. To kick off the event on October 1, the world’s number one chef René Redzepi will share his culinary vision and launch his first cookbook – Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine – at the Sydney Opera House. Redzepii is head chef of Noma Restaurant in Copenhagen, which recently won the Number One spot at this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Redzepi is celebrated for his unique and imaginative approach to Nordic cuisine.
- Night noodle markets. The Night Noodle Markets in Hyde Park are a mainstay of October’s celebration of food. Open from October 11-15 & 18 -22, these hawker style markets buzz with activity as Sydneysiders and visitors alike enjoy this open air dining experience.
Sydney is renowned for its love affair with food, and is home to a diverse, multicultural and thriving food culture. The Sydney International Food Festival is a great way for visitors to taste all of Sydney’s culinary flavours.
Well, if you’ve made it through this list, then you’ve probably noticed that summer is almost over! But don’t worry, there is always next year. So if you’re looking for a fun experience that you won’t soon forget, consider one of the above food festivals to spice up your holidays. Happy food festivals!
Visit information about festivals section to explore a full list of festivals happening around the world yearly!