Even the most seasoned traveler may not have ticked the world’s most delicious food festivals off their bucket list. These international celebrations go above and beyond the run of the mill food events. From edible runway shows to the longest lunch table ever, check out these incredible food festivals around the world.
Mid-Autumn Festival, China
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Mooncake Festival, is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar (this year falling on September 27th). Families gather to celebrate the year’s harvest and make offerings to the Goddess of the Moon, Chang’e. Sweet mooncakes made from lotus paste with an egg yolk centre are commonly eaten and children carry lanterns to commemorate the event. This grand festival is celebrated across Asia, including China, Vietnam, Singapore and Taiwan.
Pahiyas Festival, Philippines
Every May, the Philippine town of Lucban is awash in colour as citizens and tourists celebrate Pahiyas to give thanks to Saint Isidro de Labrador, the patron saint of farmers, for a bountiful harvest. Residents engage in friendly competition to out-decorate their neighbours, covering every square inch of their home’s facade in colourful produce. Common decorations include fruits and vegetables strung together into garlands, strings of local sausages called loganiza and kiping, a mixture of ground rice flour that’s dyed bright and steamed on banana leaves.
Maslenitsa Pancake Festival, Russia
The Maslenitsa Festival is a traditional Russian holiday and possibly the yummiest way to celebrate the end of winter and usher in the beginning of spring. Thin golden pancakes or crepes are made to symbolize the sun in shape and colour and are eaten all week with an assortment of jams, butter, fruits and even caviar. Sweet rounds of bread called sushki are also on the menu and are commonly strung together to form a delicious edible necklace.
La Tomatina, Spain
Every August, thousands upon thousands of people from across the globe make their way to the Spanish town of Bunol to take part in the “World’s Biggest Food Fight.” Participants quite literally paint the town red as over one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are flung at each other. The festival apparently started over a squabble in 1945; the vegetables of a unlucky market stall nearby became convenient ammunition as people embroiled in the argument started to pelt each other with tomatoes until the police stepped in. Over the years, the tomato-throwing event grew in popularity and was officially declared a festival in 1975.
Thousands head to Germany yearly to take part in this Bavarian celebration. Visitors in Munich can sample the regions finest brews, which help to wash down the festival’s many food options. From bratwurst to pretzels and roasted meats, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Don’t let Singapore’s size fool you. This tiny multicultural island is bursting with big flavours from around the world. Savour is a four-day event celebrating gourmet flavours and featuring over 50 signature dishes from world-class restaurants. Over 18,000 foodies took part in last year’s festivities that included Michelin star and award-winning cuisine, gourmet tastings and celebrity chef masterclasses.
Despite it’s name, Thai Pongal isn’t a festival in Thailand. It’s actually a Tamil harvest festival celebrated in places like India, Sri Lanka, South Africa and parts of Southeast Asia. Festivities last four days but the main event takes place on the second day, also known as Uttarayanam, the day of the Indic solstice. As per tradition, households cook up a big batch of pongal or rice that is cooked in a large vessel of milk and served alongside savoury and sweet dishes.
Isle of Wight Garlic Festival
With over 250 stalls selling delights such as garlic seafood, garlic beer and even garlic ice cream, this festival is a garlic lover’s dream come true. The two-day event takes place on the Isle of Wight, just off the southern coast of Hampshire, to celebrate the island’s booming garlic industry. Dig into a plethora of garlic delicacies, watch cooking demonstrations and enjoy the live music. Just remember to bring along a pack of gum or two.
Maine Lobster Festival
At the Maine Lobster Festival, you’ll enjoy freshly caught lobster in salads, on warm rolls or simply boiled and covered in a rich buttery sauce. During the five-day event, over 20,000 pounds of lobster and more than 1,700 pounds of butter is served! The festival also features live music, art shows and stand-up comedy.
International Alba White Truffle Fair, Italy
OK, so this festival isn’t really all that big, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. The small, quiet town of Piedmontese in Alba, Italy is not a place you’d regularly see in travel guides, yet it’s a chef hotspot to which hundreds flock to taste the town’s prized white truffles. From early October to mid-November, a festival showcasing the pungent ingredient takes place beginning with gastronomic stands that dish out savoury and sweet dishes laced with truffles and ending with an invitation-only truffle auction, which only the who’s who of the food world can attend.