10 Food Festivals You Should Add to Your Bucket List
April 27, 2015
Here are some of the best occasions to eat delicious food — or throw it at the people next to you
10 Food Festivals You Should Add to Your Bucket List
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.
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?
La Tomatina (Buñol, Spain)
Held on the last Wednesday of August in the Valencian town of Buñol, Spain, La Tomatina is often called the World’s Biggest Food Fight — as more than one hundred metric tons (more than 220,000 pounds) of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown around the streets at this unique festival. Tickets are sold for a maximum of 20,000 attendees, which is quite a change for Buñol’s regular population of 9,000. There is a process to this festival that makes it more like a game: The fight cannot begin until a brave soul climbs up a greasy, two-story high pole and grabs a coveted ham that sits atop it. When the ham is taken, people have exactly one hour to go bananas — or tomatoes, rather.
Maine Lobster Festival (Rockland, Maine)
The Maine Lobster Festival, which takes place mid-summer, gained an extra level of notoriety when David Foster Wallace wrote about it in his essay “Consider the Lobster,” which is also the title of one of his most famous books. It home to not only is some of the best lobster dishes you’ll ever taste, but also some of the best family entertainment. The best-known example is their “Great International Lobster Crate Race,” in which brave participants try to walk a straight line on floating lobster crates without falling into the chilly ocean.
Mango Festival (New Delhi)
There’s no better place to try mangos a hundred different ways than in the country that cultivates half of the world’s supply. This festival, which has been held since 1987, features over 500 kinds of mangoes, and acclaimed chefs from around the country demonstrate and sample dishes that incorporate fresh mangoes. Contests include an all-female mango eating competition, mango slogan writing, mango carving demonstrations, and a mango-themed magic show.
Night of the Radishes (Oaxaca, Mexico)
The oldest food festival on this list, this annual event has taken place in Oaxaca since 1897, when friars and farmers carved oversized radishes into elaborate figures to attract people to the annual Christmas market. It worked: ornate radish figures are often the centerpiece of Christmas dinner tables in Oaxaca. As radishes wilt quickly once their insides are exposed, the festival is a fantastic, ephemeral sight that will take your breath away for both its quirkiness and magnificent displays.
Super Barquette (Paris)
Paris is not well-known for its street food, but young Parisian gourmands are trying to introduce it into the Paris dining scene. The main event for this is Super Barquette, a spring festival that takes place on a 1,600-square-meter (1,900-square-yard) terrace by the Seine. Why should you add this young festival to your bucket list? Because it’s an amazing thing to see a culinary scene discover itself. If you’re curious to try the food at Yam’tcha, which would be on our list of world’s toughest tables if their main space weren’t undergoing renovations, you can try their Bao Stilton Cheese at the Yam’tcha outpost at Super Barquette in the meantime.
Truffle Festival (Alba, Italy)
The Italian city of Alba is famous for peaches, red wine, and, of course, white truffles. Their world-famous annual truffle festival lets you enjoy all three. Food industry professionals and food lovers alike have the opportunity to touch, learn about, and talk to truffle farmers, as well as participate in tastings and tours. Moreover, the Truffle Festival is a window into the other, less-publicized cultural offerings of this beautiful, hilly city, which is rich in poetry readings and art shows.
Tunarama Festival (Port Lincoln, Australia)
Enjoy Australia’s Eyre Peninsula’s best local produce, seafood, and wines at their annual Tunarama Festival. The festival celebrates Port Lincoln’s number-one export, tuna, by throwing tuna-themed street parades, slippery pole competitions, a non-tuna-related charity beauty pageant, and, literally, tuna. At the tuna toss, participants compete to see who can toss a large tuna the farthest. The record at the moment is 37 meters (121 feet).
World Gourmet Summit (Singapore)
Lovers of fine dining will feel at home at Singapore’s annual World Gourmet Summit, which encompasses events like the gourmet golf experience, vintner dinners, and themed and celebrity dinners that take place at various establishments and venues across Singapore, mainly its five-star hotels and top-rated restaurants. International master chefs like Yannick Alléno, Sanjeev Kapoor, and Jean-François Piège have cooked the festival’s famous charity dinners, which have raised more than two million Singapore dollars (1.5 million USD) for charity over the course of 10 years. The event won 13 Pinnacle Awards from the International Festivals & Events Association in 2013 alone.