A food festival is to a food lover what a treehouse is to an imaginative child: somewhere safe and fun, a home away from home, full of adventure and invention. Whether it involves throwing food at one another or sitting down to a large charity dinner with food industry professionals, you are guaranteed to taste some of the world’s most delicious food at these amazing events. Fun or informative (oftentimes both), here are 10 food festivals you have to attend before you kick the bucket.
To choose the items on this list, we looked through our list of the World’s Most Unusual Food Festivals and selected a few that we thought had a deeper cultural element to them — or ones that were so wacky that you’d have to see them in person and take part in the rollicking good time. We also wanted to include a few food festivals that do not involve getting covered head-to-toe in vegetables or wine, so we researched some of the most renowned food festivals amongst industry professionals. Not surprisingly, the Truffle Festival in Alba, Italy, is one of them. Additionally, we wanted to include festivals on this list that have a heavy component of local involvement, be it festivals that have been around for a long time, like Hawaii’s Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, or new contenders, like Paris’s Super Barquette, which explores Paris’s burgeoning street food scene. In other words, the food festivals you need to add to your bucket list are quite a diverse bunch.
Interestingly enough, one of these festivals, New Delhi’s Mango Festival, began in 1987, while another — which you’ll just have to wait to find out about — began in 1897. We were tempted to include Italy’s Orange Battle in Ivrea, but figured you probably don’t want to peel sticky oranges off your body after an intense — albeit fun — food fight. However, you’ll enjoy washing all the tomato juice off of yourself at Spain’s La Tomatina festival, as tomatoes are much easier to rinse away (and their high levels of acidity might actually leave your skin glowing). This sounds contradictory, considering the other Spanish food festival on this list consists of throwing around red wine, which is not at all easy to rinse away — but who hasn’t dreamed of bathing in red wine?
So start planning your next vacations around these festivals, and book early — tickets and accommodations sell out far in advance.
Batalla del Vino (Haro, Spain)
If you’ve ever freaked out about a red wine stain during an office party, here’s your once-in-a-lifetime chance to actually embrace your fear. At Batalla del Vino, people of all ages, from children to grandparents, gather on a mountain near the otherwise sleepy streets of Haro, in Spain's La Rioja region (famous for its vino) to dance, kiss, and squirt/spray/pour wine on one another with gadgets handed to them by festival organizers.
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival (Kona, Hawaii)
The annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is much more than a bunch of samples of world-famous Kona coffee — though even if it were just that, it would make it onto this list. It is one of the best festivals celebrating Hawaiian culture, and it takes place right by the beautiful Kona coffee plantations. Starbucks actually sells Kona coffee now, but trust us — it's better in Hawaii. Why not plan your trip to coincide with this early winter festival, when Kona is most abundant?