Gastronomic festivals

Food, glorious food. One of the great wonders of travel is undoubtedly sampling the traditional cuisine at the heart of the countries we know and love. Whether it's sampling seafood in Iceland, tucking into unusual pizza toppings in Naples or sipping on a glass of Malbec in Argentina, food and drink sits top of the menu while visiting far flung corners of the globe. We’ve chosen our top festivals for gastro gurus to whet your appetite for a foodie inspired adventure.

Gastronomic festivals
Baltic Herring
Baltic Herring Festival, Finland - October

The Baltic Herring Festival is the oldest traditional event in Helsinki, having been held in the city for over 275 years. The fishermen bring ashore their haul from the Baltic Sea, bringing with them the Finnish delicacy salted herring (and the array of marinades which come with it). Alongside picking up a taster, there is a range of locally made handicrafts and artisan wares on offer to browse too. Coined the ultimate Nordic food festival, the festival is quite unique as visitors have the opportunity to buy directly from the moored boats of fisherman. Our top tip is to pick up a loaf of saaristoleipä, a delicious bread native to the archipelago.

Wine Press
Festa des Vermar, Mallorca - September

La Festa des Vermar takes place in Binissalem, on the island of Mallorca. Alongside grape crushing and wine tasting competitions, expect heritage parades featuring historical themed floats and the pièce de résistance, an enormous grape battle. Mid-festival, revellers take to the streets to throw grapes at one another, soaking everything in sight with grape juice. A truly unique tradition which isn't found anywhere else in the world.

Restaurant overlooking the port in Reikjavik, Iceland
Food and Fun Festival, Iceland - March

Offering a line up of critically acclaimed chefs and Reykjavik's finest restaurants, the Food and Fun festival is a well renowned celebration of Icelandic cuisine. By combining the techniques of culinary powerhouses from across the globe with local restaurants and regionally sourced ingredients, Food and Fun festival really embraces the community spirit of the Icelandic capital and its brimming gastronomic talent.

Franschhoek Wine
Franschhoek Bastille Festival, South Africa - July

Celebrations for Bastille Day stretch far and wide outside of France itself. In South Africa's Franschhoek, you will find a vibrant foodie celebration which embraces the joie de vivre of French National Day. Food, wine and French fever are all hailed in equal measure and merrymakers are draped in tricolor to ring in the celebrations. Against the backdrop of the Huguenot Monument, the food and wine marquee offers produce from some of the well known wineries of the region, including artisan food stalls which serve up authentic South African cuisine such as biltong. The entire village throngs with activity, from street artists to musicians and friendly games of boules; the perfect spot for a taste of la belle vie.

Galway Oyster Festival, Republic of Ireland - September

As the oldest oyster festival in the world, the Galway International Oyster Festival has long been recognised as a stalwart of the festival calendar in Ireland. With the World Oyster Opening Championships taking place during the festival, punters can be guaranteed a fantastic line up of traditional entertainment, street parades, seafood trails, all washed down with a glass of Irish stout.

Hofn Lobster
Hofn Lobster Festival, Iceland - June

Known as the lobster capital of Iceland, Höfn Lobster Festival offers visitors a real taste of this local delicacy. It is a great chance to immerse yourself in the local culture of South East Iceland too, getting to grips with the customs of this little known part of the world. For seafood fans, there is perhaps no better place to sample the delicious cuisine than on the harbor, a promenade which constantly bustles in a nod to the booming fishing industry there.

Knysna Oyster Festival, South Africa - June or July

With over a 100 activities taking place across 10 days, the annual Knysna Oyster Festival is a date for the diary for foodies, fitness gurus and families alike. Experience some of the very best of South Africa's scenery, tuck into its delicious cuisine and soak up its vibrant culture while indulging in all things seafood. With comedy events, fashion shows and theater on the agenda, there is something for young and old to get involved with and the perfect stop off along the Garden Route.

Lobsters in Lambert's Bay, South Africa
Lamberts Bay Crayfish Festival, South Africa - April or May

Each year, Lambert's Bay in South Africa hosts the Crayfish and Culture festival, a celebration of the country's cuisine and culture. Browse an array of carefully selected stalls, stands and shops which boast the very best of the region's cuisine, crafts and handmade clothing to find the perfect souvenir from South Africa. Feast on fresh crayfish while enjoying performances from some of South Africa's favorite musicians.

Grape fesitval in Mendoza, Argentina
Mendoza Grape Festival, Argentina - March

The origins of the Grape Harvest Festival date back as far as 1936, and it has now affirmed itself as a firm feature on the Argentine calendar. Considered one of the most popular festivals in the country, the gathering of winemakers and wine lovers alike makes for a truly unforgettable occasion. While ultimately, the festival is focused around the many wine growers of the region, you can expect a catalogue of events incorporating traditional song and dance alongside the hotly anticipated beauty pageant to crown the Queen of Vendimia. Mendoza's annual festival is a fantastic display of revelry, all in the name of Malbec.

Naples Pizza
Pizza Village Naples, Italy - June

All hail pizza! The Pizza Village in Naples comes around once a year in homage to the city's most famous dish, the beloved pizza. Pizza professionals descend from across Italy and further afield to compete, contribute to seminars and of course, to create the greatest pizzas on the planet. The festival shot to fame for creating the world's largest pizza and it continues to go from strength to strength, enticing visitors to its shores for lip smackingly good pizza year in, year out.

Stellenbosch Grapes
Stellenbosch Wine Festival, South Africa - February

South Africa is world renowned for its wine and the Stellenbosch Wine Festival, held each February, is a real treat for the taste buds. Celebrating the region's top restaurants while showcasing the 148 wineries which make up the Stellenbosch Wine Route, this festival is a must-do for foodies and wine lovers alike. There, you will find award winning producers, small boutique wineries and everything in between, all under one roof.

Napa Wine Festival
Taste of Napa Festival, California - July

Celebrating the very best of Napa's food and wine, the Taste of Napa showcases the wineries, restaurants and artisans of Napa Valley. Preceding the Festival Napa Valley, the Taste of Napa is quite literally a taster of the very best of Napa's produce, enough to tempt the taste buds in the build up to the region's main festival. Food and wine enthusiasts come together from all over the world to celebrate what is known as one of the best wine growing regions in North America. We can't think of many better ways to while away a sunny afternoon sampling local delicacies.

Cocoa in Belize
Toledo Chocolate Festival, Belize - May

For three days, Belizean chocolate is the star of the show at the Toledo Chocolate Festival. Expect chocolate in all its delicious forms served up with a healthy portion of cultural events too. This is the perfect way to get under the skin of this fascinating region, learning about the chocolate making process, and celebrating the conditions give Belizean chocolate such a unique flavor. With a range of chocolatiers selling their wares, it is the perfect event to satisfy any sweet tooths.

Maple syrup and pancakes
Vermont Maple Festival, USA - April

The Vermont Maple Festival is held annually in St. Albans, taking place to coincide with the first harvest of the year. Drinks tastings, street stall sampling, exhibitions, demonstrations and entertainment are all maple syrup themed so sweet tooths will be more than satisfied! The pancake breakfast has, unsurprisingly, become one of the festival's highlights as well as the hotly anticipated crowning of the town's Maple King and Queen.

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