Local cuisine is one of the better ways to experience and explore a new destination. With several food festivals happening across the world every year, find plenty of motivation here to help you pack your bags and go on a global culinary expedition.
Menton Lemon Festival, France (Feb. 15 – March 3, 2020)
Taking place since 1896, this festival is held in Menton on the French Riviera. This is the second largest event on the Riviera after the Carnival of Nice. It attracts over 200,000 visitors every year. Based on a new theme each year, impressive sculptures and floats are decorated with 140 tonnes of citrus fruits. In 2020, the festival will be held on the theme “Parties Around the World.”
Chinchilla Melon Festival, Australia (Feb. 18-21, 2020)
Chinchilla in Queensland is known as the melon capital of Australia and biennially, in February, its residents celebrate the glorious red and juicy stickiness of watermelons with this four-day fest, which includes melon races, melon skiing, spit pip competitions, a giant melon food fight and, of course, having your fill of melons.
South Beach Wine & Food Festival, US (Feb. 19-23, 2020)
Started in 1997, the four-day food festival spanning Miami-Dade and Broward counties in Florida is one of the largest in the country. With over 100 events, the festival draws over 65,000 visitors and 450 talents. Every year, the festival showcases the talents of the world’s most renowned chefs and alcohol producers.
Maslenitsa Pancake Festival, Russia (Feb. 24-March 1, 2020)
Also known as Butter Week, Pancake Week or Crepe Week, Maslenitsa is a Russian holiday that marks the end of winter in February-March and is celebrated by dancing, drinking and dressing in traditional attire. During the week-long festival, thin pancakes or crepes, symbolizing the sun, are eaten with an assortment of jams, butter and even caviar.
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Australia (March 19-29, 2020)
Since 1993, this festival has been promoting the culinary culture of Victoria. Apart from the “World’s Longest Lunch” (pictured), an outdoor feast for over 1,600 people, the festival features over 200 events, including regional food and wine tasting sessions, live cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs and guided tours to some of the best restaurants.
NC Herring Festival, US (April 10-12, 2020)
The three-day Easter weekend festival, which started in 1949, is held on the banks of Roanoke River in Jamesville, North Carolina, to celebrate the arrival of spring with lots of good fish. From a pancake breakfast to events like egg hunt, musical performances, street dance and fireworks, there are endless things to explore here.
Waikiki SPAM Jam, US (April 25, 2020)
The annual festival celebrates Hormel Foods’ wildly popular meat product SPAM. Celebrated in Hawaii, the festival is open to all age groups. During the festival, restaurants serve the product in different forms and stalls sell SPAM merchandise. Entry to the event is free.
Vegas Uncork’d, US (2020 dates yet to be announced)
The four-day food and wine festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, usually held in April, has emerged as a premier culinary event in the United States since its inception 13 years ago. Offering a one-of-a-kind experience, the event features renowned chefs, who prepare exquisite meals in live demonstrations, master sommeliers, who share their extensive knowledge of perfect pairings, and mixologists who come up with innovative and fun cocktails.
Austin Food & Wine Festival, US (April 24-26, 2020)
Started in 2012 in Texas, the three-day festival in April benefits the non-profit Austin Food and Wine Alliance. It is a celebration of Texan cuisine and spirits, with innovative culinary artisans and wine producers setting up stalls.
Watercress Festival, England (May 17, 2020)
Held in Alresford, Hampshire, on the third Sunday of May each year, the festival celebrates the locally grown and versatile crop of watercress. The highlight is a street cavalcade that has the Watercress King and Queen handing out fresh produce. This is followed by a World Watercress Eating Championship, which features in the Guinness Book of World Records. There are over 80 food stalls, street performances, art stalls and all sorts of entertainment for people of all ages.
Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, England (May 25, 2020)
Held on Cooper’s Hill, Gloucester, the festival involves rolling an eight pound (3.6 kilograms) wheel of double Gloucester cheese down a steep hill. Thousands gather to witness people chasing the wheel. Whoever retrieves it first is allowed to keep it as a reward.
Napoli Pizza Village Festival, Italy (May 29 – June 7, 2020)
One of Europe’s greatest and most popular festival is annually held in Naples. During the celebration, over 100,000 pizzas are prepared and served by hundreds of the most refined chefs. Other highlights include music concerts and pizza workshops for both kids and adults.
Maine Lobster Festival, US (July 29-Aug. 2, 2020)
The festival in Rockland, Maine, is a delight for seafood lovers. Celebrated for five days, it offers top-notch entertainment, crate races, fine art, cooking contests, a marine tent and more. Last year an estimated 19,000 pounds (8,618 kilograms) of lobsters were prepared during the course of the festival. Fun part is any local or visitor can volunteer at the event by filling out a simple form, so if you are looking for a behind-the-scene experience this is your chance.
Music City Food + Wine Festival, US (2020 dates yet to be announced)
Celebrated in Nashville, Tennessee, this festival is an annual celebration that allows you to indulge in artisan food and alcohol, and mingle with chefs over a weekend. It brings together stars of Nashville’s culinary scene with acclaimed regional and national chefs, and wine and spirits experts. There are also cooking demonstrations, panel discussions, tasting sessions and a rousing Sunday morning gospel brunch.
Oktoberfest, Germany (Sept. 19 – Oct. 4, 2020)
The 16-day traditional beer festival organized in Munich is the largest of its kind in the world. Held in September and October, the 2019 edition saw 6.3 million people attending and 1.92 million gallons (7.3 million liters) of beer consumed. A wide variety of traditional German dishes, including bratwurst (sausage), pretzels, and knödel (potato or bread dumplings), are available. Entry is free.