World's top food festivals

From street snacks to crafted dishes, delicious food and drink enjoyed on your travels can make you purr contentedly. At gastronomic festivals around the planet you can savour culinary pleasure while gaining cultural understanding. Here is our guide to the world’s best food and drink festivals.
Fresh seafood platter. Photo: Shutterstock
Fresh seafood platter. Photo: Shutterstock

As the San Pedro Lobsterfest kicks off in Belize, we take a look at some of the best celebrations of food and drink in 2019 around the planet, bringing people together in honour of culinary delights with parties, parades, competitions and, of course, oodles of delicious treats.

1. San Pedro Lobsterfest, Ambergis Caye, Belize

Held each year in the laid-back town of San Pedro, Lobsterfest celebrates the start of lobster season in Belize. Nightly events in beach bars and restaurants feature numerous opportunities to sample the meat of the highly prized Caribbean spiny lobsters, prepared in a variety of ways from barbecued and marinated to topping crispy tacos served with chilli and lime juice. And all accompanied by rum punch, ice cold beers and the sunny rhythms of dancehall and reggae. The festival climaxes with a block party featuring live music and fire dancers and, of course, more tempting lobster dishes.

2. Knysna Oyster Festival, Knysna, South Africa

Attracting thousands of seafood gastronomes each day, Knysna Oyster Festival takes place annually during peak oyster season, making it the best time to savour the exquisite molluscs for which this West Cape Province coastal town is so well known. Sporty locals, kids and visitors take part in daytime cycle tours, mountain biking, hiking, snorkelling trips and football tournaments, while for the seriously athletic there’s the Knysna Forest Marathon. Cocktail evenings, wine tastings and buffet lunches offer the opportunity to relish fresh, baked and marinated oysters to your heart’s content.

Fresh oysters with lemon slices. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Boston Chowderfest, Boston, USA

Part of the annual Boston Harborfest celebrations, Chowderfest is a salute to the hearty white clam chowder soup that is much-loved in New England. Up to a dozen of Boston’s most enterprising restaurants ladle out their own creamy seafood broth, whether from a traditional recipe or with an innovative new twist, to the discerning public, who sample them all and get to cast votes on which chowder wears the crown.

4. Singapore Food Festival, Singapore

Coinciding in 2019, with the island nation’s bicentennial celebrations, the Singapore Food Festival brings together some of the most thrilling multi-ethnic gastronomic experiences out there in this vibrant capital’s dining scene. With influences from China, India and Malaysia, chefs draw on a rich pool of flavours to create innovative new recipes that complement the mouthwatering range of traditional Singaporean dishes, from chilli crab and fish-head curry to Hainanese chicken rice and spicy Katong laksa rice noodles. Top chefs whip up enticing menus at pop-up restaurants, burgeoning hawker centre cooks showcase the nation’s favourite street food dishes, and local delis create innovative locally inspired drinks and sandwiches as part of this culinary carnival's spirited programme of events.

Hainanese chicken rice. Photo: Shutterstock

5. O Grove Fiesta del Marisco (Seafood Festival), Galicia, Spain

Galicia’s long-established O Grove Seafood Festival (3–13 Oct, 2019) provides a wonderful opportunity to relish the delectable fresh fish and seafood that is abundantly available in this normally sleepy coastal town perched on a peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic. Warm the cockles of your heart with steaming bowls of fish stew, clams, baked scallps and juicy mussels served with saffron rice, complemented by copious amounts of crisp, refreshing albariño white wine, before enjoying any number of Galician folk dance performances.

6. Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany

Oktoberfest (21 Sep–6 Oct) can trace its roots back to the early 19th century, since when it has grown into a major event on Bavaria’s festival calendar as the biggest celebration of beer in the world. Tradition holds sway in the 16 largest tents each of which has its own particular ambience and crowd, who enthusiastically drink beer from selected Munich breweries by the litre fuelling a party like no other. The most Bavarian of all the brews, Weissbier, an amber-coloured wheat beer with a splendid foaming head is not to be missed. The aroma of spit-roasted oxen, suckling pig and a multitude of frying sausages fills the air, along with the sound of roisterous German songs. Marching bands, parades and numerous regional costumes stoke up the carnival atmosphere, while traditional fairground rides and amusements ensure that families have just as much fun as everyone else. 

Oktoberfest food and drink – bavarian beer, white sausage and pretzel. Photo: hlphoto/Shutterstock

7. Helsinki Baltic Herring Fair

As one of the longest running events in Finland, the Helsinki Baltic Herring Market (6–12 Oct, 2019) offers the chance to experience a festival tradition that dates from the mid-18th century. Crowds of locals browse for the choicest strong-smelling fish that the boats bring in. Visitors can try herring prepared in various different ways – salted, pickled and served on slices of chewy rye bread. Or sit down to a lunch of fresh fish in one of the heated marquees set up alongside the handicrafts stalls in the harbourside Market Square. 

Ready to visit food and drink festivals around the globe? 

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