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Even the most seasoned traveller may not have ticked off all these delicious must do food festivals from around the world from their bucket list. These international celebrations go above and beyond the run of the mill food events. It not only about the food, but also the local festivities that are part of the action. Below are some of the world’s best food festivals from around the world for anyone hungry for something special:
Mid-Autumn Festival – China
Held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar. Also known as the Mooncake Festival. Families gather to celebrate the year’s harvest and make offerings to the Goddess of the Moon, Chang’e. Sweet mooncakes made from lotus paste with an egg yolk centre are commonly eaten. Children carry lanterns to commemorate the event. Celebrated across Asia, including China, Vietnam, Singapore and Taiwan.
Pizza Festival – Naples, Italy
This extremely popular festival is held in the birthplace of pizza in Naples; in an atmosphere of Italian music and sun. Millions of pizza fans visit the festival to taste the natural Italian pizza of all types and sizes. During the first two days of the festival is the international competition for the best pizzaiolo, to which pizza professionals from all over Italy will arrive. The guests can also learn the history of pizza’s creation. Learn the best recipes and cooking secrets, chance to participate in master classes, and of course to taste all kinds of pizza before choosing the best one.
Salon de Chocolate – Quito, Ecuador
Ecuador produces some of the best chocolate anywhere in the world. Celebrated every year at the annual Salon de Chocolate festival, held in the Ecuadorean capital, Quito. 15,000 visitors are expected at the mid-June event. The climax occurs on the final day – the winners of the various awards are announced. This include the chocolate sculpture competition, which needs to be seen to be believed!
La Tomatina – Bunol, Spain
Every August, thousands upon thousands of people from across the globe make their way to the Spanish town of Bunol to take part in the “World’s Biggest Food Fight.” Using over 100 metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes, makes for the messiest food fight ever! With just one hour to throw as many squished tomatoes as you can, there’s no better way to let off steam.
Mistura Food Festival – Lima, Peru
The Mistura food festival is the largest in Latin America. A walk through Mistura is like a backpacking trip through Peru eating any food that crosses your path. The Lima food festival—which began in 2008 and attracts hundreds of thousands of people—is a melting pot of Peruvian cuisine. Self-described as “La feria gastronómica más importante de Latinoamérica”, (the most important gastronomic festival of Latin America). The food here comes from every nook and cranny within the country, whether served from a food truck or a ritzy restaurant. Alongside the smells of tamales and ceviche are the farmers’ market goods, which can be anything from quinoa to coffee.
The Onion Market – Bern, Switzerland
The Onion Market is the biggest folk festival on the Switzerland’s capital’s calendar, held on the fourth Monday of November. Yes, there are 50-tons of onion braids, rings and single bulbs on display, but textiles, jewellery, ceramics and children’s toys are also on sale. A highlight is the confetti war, which, this being Switzerland, starts at 4 p.m. sharp. Officially the festival begins at 6 am; but the city centre fills with that distinctly pungent smell from 5 am; when the first onion soup start boiling and onion tarts are put in the oven.
Oktoberfest – Munich, German
Oktoberfest: known as the world’s greatest celebration of beer, held annually in Munich. It’s a 16 – 18 day folk festival running from mid or late September to the first weekend in October, with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. Visitors can sample the regions finest brews, which help to wash down the festival’s many food options. From bratwurst to pretzels and roasted meats, so many choices!
Thai Pongal, Sri Lanka
Despite it’s name, Thai Pongal isn’t a festival in Thailand. Celebrated in places like India, Sri Lanka, South Africa and parts of Southeast Asia. Festivities last four days but the main event takes place on the second day, also known as Uttarayanam, the day of the Indic solstice. As per tradition, households cook up a big batch of pongal or rice cooked in a large vessel of milk and served alongside savoury and sweet dishes.
Dumpling Festival – Hong Kong, China
Celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth Chinese lunar month. This is when many Chinese families worldwide will feast on dumplings. The zongzi dumplings consumed on this day in June consist of glutinous rice with different fillings wrapped in bamboo, lotus or banana leaves. The day is a national holiday in Hong Kong and Macau. By far the most spectacular activity that takes place is the dragon boat race — a sport now so popular that it has its own international federation.
Pahiyas Festival – Lucban, Phillipines
Every May, the Philippine town of Lucban is awash in colour as citizens and tourists celebrate Pahiyas. This is to give thanks to Saint Isidro de Labrador, the patron saint of farmers, for a bountiful harvest. Residents engage in friendly competition to out-decorate their neighbours, covering every square inch of their home’s facade in colourful produce. Common decorations include fruits and vegetables strung together into garlands. The visual and culinary feast has gained national and international recognition.