From Abergavenny to Australia and from crab to chocolate: Your ultimate guide to the world’s finest food festivals
- Expect tacos and tequila parties, lavish barbecues, and dessert soirees at New York Wine And Food Festival
- Hawaii’s sprawling Food and Wine Festival draws 150 world-renowned chefs and culinary personalities
- Blur bassist turned cheesemaker Alex James opens his stunning Cotswolds farm for a food and music bash
Food at festivals used to be there to mop up the alcohol – but now we’re crossing oceans for parties dedicated to filling our plates.
From truffle vendors taking over picturesque squares in Italy to lobster rolls being cobbled together on rugged shores in Canada, festivals showcase the best of a country’s food culture.
While some celebrate just one dish, others offer a dizzying variety of cuisines. Ranging from one-day affairs to month-long extravaganzas, they can be part of a trip or a holiday in themselves. So with the season for al fresco feasting in full swing, here is our pick of the best in the world.
Hawaii Food And Wine Festival, Hawaii
Hot stuff: Fireworks at the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, which is held over three weeks and spans a trio of islands
Hot ticket: 150 world-renowned chefs and culinary personalities converge at this sprawling festival held over three weeks and spanning a trio of islands.
Don’t miss: Al fresco dining and cocktail masterclasses.
Taste: Sashimi, seared tuna and intricately presented desserts.
October 5-27, across Hawaii. hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com. Tickets: From £64.85.
Boston Seafood Festival, Massachusetts
Hot ticket: The Boston Fish Pier is transformed for a day into a crustacean lover’s dream, with fish cutting contests and family activities.
Taste: Lobster rolls, salmon burritos and Louisiana-style crawfish boil.
Don’t miss: Talks about Boston’s maritime heritage.
Aug 4, Boston Fish Pier. bostonseafoodfestival.org. Tickets: From £10.
Beignet Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana
Hot ticket: More than 30 different versions of the deep-fried Louisianan pastries, from favourite New Orleans restaurants and food trucks.
Taste: As many varieties of beignet as you can stomach – from the sugar-heaped standard iteration to savoury offerings with crayfish and fried chicken.
Don’t miss: The brass bands.
Oct 5, City Park Festival Grounds.beignetfest.com. Tickets: Free.
New York Wine And Food Festival, New York
Expect tacos and tequila parties as well as lavish barbecues at New York Wine And Food Festival. Pictured are some sizzling New York steaks
Hot ticket: With 100 or so events at locations varying from Big Apple restaurants to rooftops, and studded with American TV food personalities, the festival is the heavyweight of city food bashes.
Taste: Spectacular cakes and marshmallow-smothered sweet potato.
Don’t miss: Tacos and tequila parties, lavish barbecues and late-night dessert soirees.
Oct 10-13, citywide. nycwff.org. Tickets: From £26.78.
Taste of Colorado, Denver
Hot ticket: Denver’s music and food weekend has a kids’ zone and an arts and crafts market along with streets lined with pop-up restaurants.
Taste: Food from more than 50 local eateries, from wild boar sandwiches to gourmet mac and cheese.
Don’t miss: Free entertainment from 25 local bands.
Aug 31-Sept 2, Civic Centre Park. atasteofcolorado.com. Tickets: Free.
Napoli Pizza Village, Naples
Hot ticket: Some 500 pizza masters from around the world compete in the pizza championships at this mega festival, where the 50 stalls lining the waterfront serve up more than 100,000 pizzas.
Taste: Traditional Neapolitan pizza: baked in a wood-fired oven and topped with tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil.
Don’t miss: Magnificent views over the Gulf of Naples.
September 13-22, Lungomare Caracciolo promenade. pizzavillage.it Tickets: £10.36 for entry, including pizza, a drink, dessert and coffee.
Cous Cous Fest, Sicily
Chefs at Sicily’s Cous Cous are invited to take part in a cook-off between Italy and teams from ten other countries
Hot ticket: Tunisia is less than 100 miles from the western corner of Sicily, and the North African influence shows in the area’s dishes. The most famous – fish cous cous – is honoured as chefs from across the world spend ten days cooking up more than 40 varieties of the grain.
Taste: Cous cous alla trapanese, with fish, tomatoes, saffron and almonds.
Don’t miss: Cous cous cook-offs between Italy and teams from ten other countries.
Sept 20-29, San Vito lo Capo. couscousfest.it. Tickets: £8.36.
Hot ticket: Bologna’s feted variety of the pink Italian sausage is so popular that around 130,000 people descend on the country’s culinary capital to sing its praises.
Taste: The sausage is sliced and served with fizzy wine in the streets.
Don’t miss: Tastings, demonstrations and competitions.
October 20-23, Piazza Maggiore. mortadellabologna.com. Tickets: Entry is free.
Salon du Chocolat, Paris
Hot ticket: The world’s premier chocolate festival channels all that’s chic about the French capital. Where else would you find a chocolate fashion show with cocoa-based couture? Plus 500 chefs host demos, talks and tastings.
Taste: Sample chocolate from 60 countries.
Don’t miss: Chocolate sculptures and pastry competitions.
Oct 30-Nov 2, Porte de Versailles. salon-du-chocolat.com. Tickets: £12.96.
Taste Svalbard, Longyearbyen
Hot ticket: The world’s most northerly culinary festival celebrates the cuisine of the Norwegian archipelago, with salmon, Arctic char and crab washed down with beer from local breweries.
Taste: Adventurous foodies can sample Svalbard reindeer, seal and whale.
Don’t miss: Cooking classes and pop-up dinners with top chefs.
October 3-6, across Longyearbyen. en.visitsvalbard.com/whats-on/smak-svalbard-festival. Tickets: From £9 per session.
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
Hot ticket: More than 200 events led by the city’s chefs, with food trucks, pop-up bars, cooking demonstrations and talks.
Taste: Nose-to-tail banquets, gin-inspired afternoon teas and vegan barbecues.
Don’t miss: The pop-up fermentation bar and urban winery, where you can try your hand at winemaking.
March, citywide. melbournefoodandwine.com.au. Tickets: From free.
Roots, Rants and Roars, Elliston, Newfoundland
Hot ticket: The highlight of the three-day festival is The Food Hike, a three-mile walk along a craggy shore, with stop-offs at food stalls where top Canadian chefs serve up their spin on culinary traditions.
Taste: Crab rolls, clam chowder and giant potato gnocchi stuffed with salt beef.
Don’t miss: Performances from local musicians.
Sept 20-21, Elliston. rootsrantsandroars.ca. Tickets: From £40
The Big Festival, Cotswolds
Blur bassist turned cheesemaker Alex James opens his stunning Cotswolds farm every year for this food and music bash
Hot ticket: Blur bassist turned cheesemaker Alex James opens his stunning Cotswolds farm every year for this food and music bash, with a cheese hub, vegetable patch and talks from chefs including Prue Leith and Raymond Blanc.
Taste: More than 35 different street-food brands proffer everything from luscious cheese toasties to gourmet kebabs.
Don’t miss: Music headliners Jess Glynne, Elbow and Rudimental.
August 23-25, Alex James’ Farm, The Cotswolds. thebigfeastival.com. Tickets: Adult day passes from £62.
Abergavenny Food Festival, South Wales
Hot ticket: Blending country fete cosiness with top-drawer guests – which this year include food writer Bee Wilson and Danish cook Trine Hahnemann – the Black Mountains shindig has markets with 220 food producers across eight sites.
Taste: Stalls offer everything from cheese and vegetables to Japanese street food and Ghanaian cuisine.
Don’t miss: Free cookery classes for children.
Sept 21-22, Abergavenny town centre. abergavennyfoodfestival.com. Tickets: Day tickets from £11.
Falmouth Oyster Festival, Cornwall
Hot ticket: The oyster dredging season sparks this celebration of the Fal oyster and Cornish seafood, with a Grand Oyster Parade and shucking competition.
Taste: There are also wine bars, real ale and a creperie if you’re not mad on molluscs.
Don’t miss: Cooking demos, live music and craft stalls.
Oct 10-13, Events Square. falmouthoysterfestival.co.uk. Tickets: Free for the day, £5 for evenings.
Calcotada Spring Onion Festival, Valls
Hot ticket: This winter food festival is devoted to a variety of spring onion, and while it takes place over one day in January, you can attend a calcotada – the name for the barbecue meal devoted to the allium – in restaurants throughout the Catalan countryside from the start of the year to April.
Taste: Onions are blackened on the barbecue, dipped in romesco sauce and eaten in one go.
Don’t miss: The fiercely fought calcots-eating contest.
January, various locations. festadelacalsotada.com. Tickets: Between £20 and £30 for a calcotada.
The Feast of St Anthony, Lisbon
Hot ticket: During June the city is overtaken by raucous street parties known as arraiais, with grilled sardines, dancing and sangria-selling stalls.
Taste: Sardines cooked over hot coals and finished with a squirt of lemon and olive oil.
Don’t miss: A Portuguese custard tart to perk you up in the morning.
June 12-14, across the city. visitlisboa.com. Tickets: Free, but expect to pay around £15 to £20 for a meal and wine.
Miyajima Oyster Festival, Miyajima Island
Miyajima Island serves up its famed oysters at bargain prices during the February festival
Hot ticket: The island serves up its famed oysters at bargain prices during the February festival. It’s based on the island’s beautiful pier, with traditional Japanese plays and music going on in the background.
Taste: Miso oyster hot-pots, fried oysters and oyster stew.
Don’t miss: The Unesco World Heritage site’s star attraction: the ‘floating’, tomato-red torii gate of the Itsukushima shrine.
Second week of February each year, Miyajima Pier. miyajima.or.jp/english/event/event_kaki. Tickets: Free entry, around £1 to £2 for an oyster dish.
A Taste Of Stockholm
Hot ticket: Join the 350,000-strong crowd who indulge their scandi-mania at the city’s annual food bonanza. Situated in a leafy square in Stockholm’s centre, 40 restaurants join forces to produce around 200 dishes, from local fare to plates from further afield.
Taste: A traditional Swedish fika, or a cup of coffee with something sweet.
Don’t miss: Talks on how technology will affect the future of food.
June 5-9, Kungstradgarden. smakapastockholm.se/in-english. Tickets: Entry is free.
Ubud Food Festival
Smoking hot: Pictured are some barbecued prawns in Bali where Indonesia’s leading culinary event is held
Hot ticket: Ubud is renowned for reviving traditional Balinese cuisine, so it’s fitting that it hosts Indonesia’s leading culinary event, with picnics, tastings, cook-offs and demos.
Taste: Deeply flavoured rice and meat dishes, suckling pig and superfood brunches.
Don’t miss: Food tours, masterclasses and film screenings.
April 26-28, Jl. Raya Sanggingan. ubudfoodfestival.com. Tickets: Day tickets from £20.