Every year, hundreds of food festivals are held around the world. With festivals celebrating the most popular foods (such as pizza and chocolate) to those celebrating lesser known types of foods, there’s something to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. But, which food festivals are worth travelling to or dishing out some cash for? Read on to find out which festivals go above and beyond to provide a sensory explosion for your taste buds, in addition to your other senses.
15 Mooncake Festival, China
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is the second most important festival in China (after the Chinese New Year). It’s an ancient tradition that began as a way to give thanks to the moon and to celebrate the harvest. On the day of the festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth month, according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, people gather to offer sacrifices to the moon. The special food that the Chinese sacrifice to the moon are moon cakes, a round pastry with a sweet filling. The five traditional fillings for moon cakes are: jujube paste, egg yolk, sweet bean paste, lotus seed paste, and five kernel. During the festival, people present moon cakes to their loved ones to express good wishes. They also make beautiful lanterns and do dragon dances.
14 Pizzafest, Italy
Everybody loves pizza, right? There are so many different kinds (Hawaiian, cheese, chicken, vegetarian) that there’s something for everyone. If you want to celebrate the greatness that is pizza, there’s only one place to go—its birthplace. Pizzafest, the world’s largest celebration of pizza, is held every year in Naples, Italy. The event is usually held in September and is about a week long. At this festival, you can taste various kinds of pizzas that come in different sizes and shapes. You can also watch pizza makers showing off their dough-throwing skills while enjoying great music. There’s even a competition to see who the best pizzaiolo (pizza maker) is. What can be better than eating pizza against the gorgeous backdrop of Naples with music in the background?
13 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Australia
Held annually in March, the 10 day Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is a showcase of the best food and wine that Victoria has to offer. There are several fun events that you can participate in, including workshops led by renowned chefs and the highlight of the festival—the Regional World’s Longest Lunch. The Longest Lunch invites people to eat a three-course meal at a 530-meter table that stretches along the beautiful coastline. There’s also free live entertainment, themed food crawls, wine-tasting rooms, dinners prepared by international chefs, and much more.
In 2016, the themed food crawls included “Journey Through The Americas,” “Little Italy” and “Trail of the Orient.” If you ever plan on going to this, you should definitely plan ahead as you’ll need to purchase tickets.
12 Salon du Chocolat, France
Salon du Chocolat is a little taste of heaven for chocolate lovers. The first fair was held in Paris in 1922 and has since expanded to include more events and major cities around the world each year. In 2016, the Salon du Chocolate will be held in Paris in late October. The festival will feature chocolates from across the globe, a chocolate bookshop, chocolate tastings, chocolate-making workshops, a pastry show, chocolate award show, live entertainment, and even a fashion show with clothes made from chocolate! It’s also an educational experience, teaching visitors about chocolate production and rituals from cocoa-producing countries. Some of the exhibitors that you can expect to see at the Salon du Chocolat festival in Paris are: Leonidas, Guylian, Nestle, and many more.
11 Savour, Singapore
Don’t let Singapore’s small size fool you; it’s home to one of the biggest food festivals in the world. Savour is a four-day event featuring over 30 gourmet dishes from world-class restaurants. Some noteworthy dishes include: angel hair lobster pasta, Iberico pork jowl, and citrus-glazed baby octopus. The best part is that these top dishes have reduced prices at the festival, so you don’t need to worry about going broke. You can also meet your favourite celebrity chefs at Savour. In the past, the festival has enjoyed the presence of Alvin Leung, Daniel Chavez, and Michael Caines. There are even celebrity masterchef classes and gourmet tastings. As if that isn’t enough, there are also hundreds of wines from around the world, a signature cheese room, and live music.
10 Bacon Fest, Sacramento
There seems to be an entire subculture dedicated to bacon. Thanks to the internet, novelty bacon dishes (like chocolate-covered bacon and bacon egg muffin cups) rapidly gained popularity. Now, you can take part in a grand celebration of your favorite breakfast food at Bacon Fest Sacramento. The week-long event features bacon treats from over 100 restaurants. Some of the interesting dishes that have been featured at Bacon Fest in the past include: bacon salad, bacon gelato, and bacon ramen. There was even a Kevin Bacon tribute band at the 2016 festival! If that’s not enough bacon to make you happy, sorry, we can’t help you. There’s also a Bacon Fest Chefs Competition, beer, and live music (because no food festival is complete without those three things apparently).
9 Ottawa Poutine Fest, Canada
Poutine is embedded in Canadian culture. The dish originated in Quebec and is made from French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. Almost every fast food restaurant in Canada sells poutine and Canadians turn to it as comfort food. There are so many different types of poutine, too! There’s exotic poutines such as butter chicken, Shawarma, Lobster, Greek, Nachos, and more. There are even gluten-free and vegetarian options. If you’d like to try any of these or just fill up on the traditional poutine, head to the Ottawa Poutine Fest, held annually in May. There’s so much to do including potato-themed games, a potato sack race, poutine eating contest, plus live entertainment and a beer garden. It doesn’t get any better than this for poutine lovers!
8 Ribfest Toronto, Canada
Toronto Ribfest is the way to kick off summer in Canada. Each year, the event is held during the Canada Day long weekend at Centennial Park and draws a crowd of over 150,000 people. There are numerous 'ribbers' who come from all across North America to show off their ribs, in hopes of being crowned the people’s favorite. Even if you don’t like ribs, there are plenty of other foods to choose from: kettle corn, pulled pork, blooming onions, and more. There’s also lots of beer and live entertainment! But Ribfest isn’t just for adults; there are also child-friendly activities like carnival games, magic shows, face painting, and midway rides. It’s a great celebration for all ages that ends with a beautiful display of Canada Day fireworks.
7 Taste of Chicago, United States
Taste of Chicago is the world’s largest food festival, so that automatically makes it a must-visit. The event draws over a million people each year—and with good reason. The festival features a diverse lineup of restaurants, which offer burgers, noodles, gelato, churros, hot dogs, crêpes, pizza, jerk chicken, and more. There are also pop-up restaurants, food trucks, and really awesome entertainment gigs, including rides and concerts (The Roots and Billy Idol were both headliners at the 2016 event and Carlos Santana and Moby were past headliners). Though admission to the festival is free, there are ticketed events, such as the Celebrity Chef du Jour, where you can sit inside a decorated tent and enjoy a delicious three-course meal by one of the city’s celebrity chefs.
6 Foodies Festival, England
Calling all foodies! There’s a festival with your name on it and it’s the UK’s biggest food festival. Held annually in April or May in Brighton, the Foodies Festival makes for a great day out with your friends, with endless things to do and dishes to try. You’ll have the opportunity to meet celebrity chefs, learn to bake, learn to barbecue from the experts, buy local produce, participate in a chili-eating contest, and enjoy live music. And of course, nothing says British like a good cup of tea, so it’s only fitting that this festival features a vintage tea tent where you can sit down and enjoy some tea. On top of all that, you can brew your own beer or test your senses with a blindfolded tasting challenge.
5 Spain Seafood Festival, Spain
The Spain Seafood Festival is the place to be if you love seafood (and what’s not to love about the tasty and healthy foods?). The festival, which has taken place every October since 1963, claims to have the best seafood in Europe. It’s no wonder, then, that it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year! In 2013, it was even declared an official Celebration of National Touristic Importance. This seafood lover’s paradise is held in O Grove, a beautiful but tiny fishing community that’s almost completely surrounded by water. During the festival, you can enjoy seafood rice dishes, clams, oysters and baked scallops in addition to bagpipe music and folk dances. The festival also holds Best Crab and Best Mussel Dish competitions and features a shellfish parade.
4 Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival, United States
Most of us can agree that cheese is at the top of the list of yummy foods, right along with chocolate and pizza. That’s why the three-day Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival is one of the best festivals to visit. Not only is there a delicious assortment of cheese to sample from (cheddar, brie, feta, and just about any other type you could imagine), but there’s also almost every type of food that you can put cheese on. In addition, the festival has a ton of activities and great entertainment, too! There’s a parade of cheesy floats, a cheese carving competition, a Cheddar Chase (a one mile run/walk), musical guests, and the opportunity to pair your favorite cheese with wines. There’s also entertainment for kids, including magicians, jugglers, carnival rides, and a petting zoo.
3 Vegetarian Festival, Bangkok
Food festivals aren’t always about the meat. In Bangkok every October, the Vegetarian Festival is held for nine days, in honor of the nine Emperor Gods. Here, you can find stalls upon stalls selling a wide variety of vegetarian dishes, including noodles, cakes, and more. One of the weirdest parts of the festival is the fake meat. Some of it looks like the real thing and some of it couldn’t be more obvious. There are tofu sausages and a lot of simple food, since strong-smelling foods aren’t allowed during the festival. Every night during the festival, you will see lanterns, candles, and incense as well as a Chinese Opera performance giving thanks to the Gods. The opera performance is a must-see, as the costumes are elaborate and the painted faces are beautiful.
2 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, United States
If travelling to all of the world’s amazing countries just to have a taste of their food is too expensive for you, there’s a one-stop solution: Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. The two-month long event is held annually at the Walt Disney World park, Epcot. In case you’re not familiar with the park, it features a “World Showcase” area, where there are 11 countries represented—including Italy, Japan, and Morocco.
In each pavilion, you can find candy, clothing, and souvenirs unique to the specific country. During the International Food and Wine Festival, which is appropriately set at the World Showcase, you can sample food and beverages from all over the world. In addition to the good food, there’s also an “Eat to the Beat” concert series, workshops and celebrity chefs (this year’s special guests include “Cake Boss”).
1 The Good Food and Wine Show, South Africa
The Good Food and Wine Show, held annually in South Africa features around 200 exhibitors, each showcasing the latest trends in food and drinks and innovative home gadgets. There are also two hour masterclass sessions with renowned chefs, as many of the top festivals also seem to have. But, one really cool and unique thing about this festival is that there are talks and demos about living a healthy lifestyle. Some of this year’s topics included, “Stress and How it Affects Your Digestion” and “Fermented Foods and Their Health Benefits.” If you’re into baking, the Baking Theatre at the festival has demos such as making sugar flowers and croissants. There’s even a Kids Theatre, where kids can make healthy, but simple, recipes and take them home.
Sources: ottawapoutinefest.ca , lifeinitaly.com, salonduchocolat.fr , torontoribfest.com, travelchinaguide.com , melbournefoodandwine.com.au, savour.sg, sactownmag.com, foodiesfestival.com , turismogrove.es , littlechutewi.org, blog.wdwinfo.com, bangkok.com, capetown.goodfoodandwineshow.co.za