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Food Festivals Around the World

November 10, 2016

Food Festivals Around the World

“Food, glorious food!” so go the words of a song from the musical Oliver, based on the book Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. This much-loved classic is about a young orphan who famously asked “Please Sir, can I have some more?” when given just a bowl of porridge at his orphanage. We may be fortunate to have enough to feast upon and be able to enjoy food from all over the world in the city where we live, but there’s nothing quite like savoring the flavors of a cuisine in its own native place. If one is an actual or armchair traveler with an interest in gormandizing, read on to find out more about food festivals around the world and the “Food, glorious food!” that they offer.

Best Food Festivals Around the World

Each country in the world has unique culinary treasures and food traditions. These are celebrated in delicious and colorful food festivals around the world. Discover the delights of the world’s food festivals for more finger-licking fun!

Ivrea Orange Festival – Ivrea, Italy (held in February)

Maslenitsa Festival (Pancake Festival) – Moscow, Russia (held in February or March)

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival – Melbourne, Australia (held in February–March)

International Mango Festival – New Delhi, India (held in July)

Maine Lobster Festival – Harbor Park, Rockland, Maine, USA (held in July–August)

San Francisco Street Food Festival – San Francisco, USA (held in August)

Mistura Food Festival – Lima, Peru (held in September)

Oktoberfest – Munich, Germany (held in October)

Baltic Herring Festival – Helsinki, Finland (held in October)

Alba White Truffle Festival – Alba, Italy (held in October-November)

Monkey Buffet Festival – Lopburi Province, Thailand (held in November)

Chocolate Festival – London, UK (held in December)

Ivrea Orange Festival

Place: Ivrea, Italy

Date(s): Held every year in February, for three days on the weekend before Lent. The next festival will be held from February 25 to 28, 2017.

The Ivrea Orange Festival, also called the Battle of the Oranges, is held annually in Ivrea, a north Italian city with a long history. The festival commemorates the bravery of a young woman, Violetta, the Mugnaia or Miller’s daughter, who resisted the advances of a local duke and cut off his head, after which the local people attacked the duke’s palace. Later, when Italy was under French occupation, the festival became a symbolic re-enactment of a local uprising against the French army. Every year a young woman is selected to represent Violetta, and officials such as the General and the Magnifico Podestà (or guarantor of the city’s freedom).

Oranges came to represent the stones thrown by the protestors and this festival is today the largest food fight in Italy, with nine teams some on foot (representing the townsfolk) and some in carts (representing the French army or local tyrants) indulging in throwing oranges against each other. Strangely oranges are not locally grown in the area and have to be imported into the city for the festival.

During this visually and gastronomically delightful festival, visitors and participants can also enjoy the local cuisine, which includes boiled sausages, pork rind, cod with polenta, and beans. Spectators are required to wear a red hat (Berretto Frigio), which indicates membership of the revolutionary team and might save them from being hit by oranges.

The city’s buildings are draped with nets, so if one is traveling with children, it’s safest to stay behind the nets for protection.

Maslenitsa Festival (Pancake Festival)

Place: Celebrated throughout Russia, with the biggest events in Moscow, Russia. The festival is also observed in Kazakhi, Ukrainian, and Bulgarian communities.

Date(s): Held every year in February or March for seven days.

A traditional Russian holiday, celebrates the end of winter and the coming of spring. Also known as Butter week or Pancake Week, the festival spread over several days has festivities that include the preparation and consumption of pancakes. The golden-brown round-shaped pancakes are said to represent the round yellow sun that has emerged after the cold wintry days. The piping hot, crisp, golden-brown pancakes are eaten along with butter, jam, fruit preserves, and – for those with expensive tastes – caviar!

Other festivities on Maslenistsa, include bonfires, traditional Russian songs and dances, fireworks, puppet shows, riding on swings, sledding, etc.

The last day of the festival is called “Forgiveness Sunday” – asking for the forgiveness of God to be liberated from wrongdoings before Lent.

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival

Place: Melbourne, Australia

Date(s): Held every year in February–March. The next festival will be held from 31 March to 9 April, 2017.

The Melbourne food festival celebrates the culinary traditions of Australia, its fresh farm produce, its meat, and its wine. With more than 200 events spread over a fortnight the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival is a food lover’s delight. Events are held across Melbourne city and in Victoria to celebrate the highlights of Australian food. The food festival consists of Regional World’s Longest Lunch, a signature event that exhibits the strength and diversity of the state’s wine and food to its audience. It manifests the spirit of the festival’s initiative – Put Victoria on Your Table!

The festival has been held for more than 20 years now, and the celebrations just keep getting bigger.

International Mango Festival

Place: New Delhi, India

Date(s): Held every year in July. In 2017, the festival would be held on July 9-10.

The International Mango festival is a celebration of this “King of fruits.” The delicious mango is seen at the festival in all its glory. Started in 1987, the festival attracts more visitors with every passing year, who come to see the range of delicious and succulent mangoes on offer. Prizes are awarded in various categories to mango growers and producers at the conclusion of the event.

More than 550 varieties of mango are exhibited at the festival. Various mango-based products such as mango juice, mango ice-cream, and mango-based desserts are also on offer for visitors. A mango-eating contest, where contestants try to eat as many mangoes as they can in a limited time is another highlight of the event.

Also, chefs from five star hotels, such as, Marriott India, Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Maurya Sheraton, Qutub Hotel and Claridges, etc. reveal the assorted recipes of mango. It is an international, though an informal platform, for the promotion of mango export as well as tourism.

Maine Lobster Festival

Place: Harbor Park, Rockland, Maine, USA

Date(s): Held every year in July–August. The next festival will be from August 2 to 6, 2017.

The Maine Lobster Festival is a celebration of the cuisine that has developed around the succulent lobsters found off the coast of Maine. Located a few hours from Boston, Rockland Maine has been hosting this festival for more than 60 years and describes it as “Five Days of Feasting and Fun on the Fabulous Coast of Maine!”

Some of the highlights of the festival are cooking contests, involving lobsters as the main ingredient, which serve a variety of dishes, including Lobster Caesar salad, Lobster wraps, and Lobster rolls. At the lobster dinners, visitors can also enjoy other local seafood specialities such as crab cakes, shrimp, calamari, haddock, and steamed clams.

The festival has the Grand Parade, the Great International Lobster Crate Race and the Beauty Pageant that ends with the coronation of the Maine Lobster Festival Sea Goddess, the Crown Princess and Miss Congeniality. More than 1,000 volunteers help the organizers to conduct this annual festival.

San Francisco Street Food Festival

Place: San Francisco, USA

Date(s): Held every year in August.

San Francisco’s street food festival held annually in August reflects the changing tastes and openness to experimentation of the people of this great city. Born out of the entrepreneurial spirit of La Cocina, a venture that provided training and funding to immigrant women to set up their food-based businesses, the festival has grown immensely since its start in 2009.

Around 50,000 people visit the festival to enjoy the cuisine on offer by over 80 street food vendors and local producers.

There are no entry fees, no sit down dinners, and no waiters to serve, and everyone enjoys the informal ambiance, and a variety of delicious cuisine on offer.

Mistura Food Festival

Place: Lima, Peru

Date(s): Held every year in September. In 2016, the festival was held from September 2 to 11.

Mistura (which means mixture) is the largest food festival in Latin America. The upcoming festival offers a range of cuisines, including traditional Peruvian, Andean, Amazonian, Creole, Ceviche (a popular seafood dish), Barbeque, Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian cuisine), and Nikkei (Japanese-Peruvian cuisine). Some of the specialities of the festival are food stands, the Grand Market, live music and performances. Renowned chefs from Peru and other countries also give speeches. The festival is held in the Costa Verde of Madgalena del Mar in Lima.


Place: Munich, Germany

Date(s): Usually held every year from the last week of September to the first week of October. In 2017, Oktoberfest will be held from September 16 to October 3.

If one is looking for a fortnight and more of beer, bratwurst, and traditional German sausages, then one must head to Munich for the Oktoberfest.

Started in 1810 (to grace the wedding of the then Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen) and now held for 16 days every year in Theresienwiese, in the city center of Munich, the Oktoberfest celebrates the best of German brewing traditions. Every year millions of people attend the festival. The festival begins with a 12-gun salute and tapping of a beer keg. Almost seven million liters of beer were drunk at the last Oktoberfest. Visitors dress in Bavarian hats and traditional trousers or lederhosen and the waitresses serving the beer wear traditional Bavarian peasant costumes or dirndl.

Apart from numerous varieties of beer on offer, visitors can feast on traditional Bavarian cuisine and enjoy the local music.

Baltic Herring Festival

Place: Helsinki, Finland

Date(s): Held every year in early October.

Originally started in 1743 the Baltic Herring Festival is a celebration of this delicious fish. Held annually in the Market Square in the center of Helsinki, in Finland, the festival is a forum for the exhibition and promotion of the Herring and various Herring-based products.

If one is a fish lover do not miss the opportunity to taste different varieties of Herring as well as the chance to purchase fresh, pickled, or salted Herring at very reasonable prices.

Highlights of the festival include competitions for Pickled Fish of the Year and Baltic Herring Surprise of the Year.

Visitors can also purchase hand knitted woolen clothing or go for a cruise on a ship in Helsinki harbor.

Alba White Truffle Festival

Place: Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Date(s): Held every year from early October to mid-November.

The Alba White Truffle Festival held annually in the picturesque town of Alba in the province of Piedmont, Italy, is an ‘invitation-only’ event that has been held for more than 83 years.

The Alba Truffle Festival showcases the delicate taste of the ‘tartufo bianco’ white truffles – a highly prized edible fungus, which grows underground in the region. These truffles are sold in the local market for as much as $2,000 per kilo.

Leading chefs from around the world come to Piedmont to attend the Alba Truffle Festival and savor the delights of the local cuisine, as well as to take part in the world’s largest, but private truffle auction that takes place amidst the lively atmosphere of the festival.

Monkey Buffet Festival

Place: Phra Prang Sam Yot Temple, Lopburi Province, Thailand

Date(s): Held every year on the last Sunday of November.

The first Monkey Buffet Festival was held on November 25, 1989, was started by Yongyuth Kitwatananusont, the owner of a local inn, the Lopburi Inn. He recognized that the presence of over 2,000 Macaque monkeys in the province was a major tourist attraction.

He had an image of a large monkey in front of his inn and felt it had proved lucky for him. He started the festival as a way of giving thanks to the monkeys as well as attracting more tourists to see this unique sight of a grand feast provided free for the monkeys!

Every year buffet tables are set up around the Phra Prang Sam Yot Temple in Lopburi Province, which are laden with goodies for the monkeys. The food, includes thousands of kilos of fresh vegetables and fruit often stacked in visually appealing displays or frozen within blocks of ice. The monkeys have a field day, enjoying their treats, oblivious to the tourists and photographers clicking away around them.

Of course visitors can enjoy their fill of Thai cuisine too, but it is really a day for the monkeys to have all the fun and food they can consume.

London Chocolate Festival

Place: Islington, London

Date(s): Held every year in mid-December.

Started in 2009, the London Chocolate Festival has grown to become the largest chocolate event in Britain and is now held at an indoor venue in the Business Design Center at Islington.

Also, please check out our take on La Tomatina Festival at Colorful festivals around the World




Media reports


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