Food & Drink

The Best Food Festivals Around the World

The Best Food Festivals Around the World

Taste is an essential ingredient in the smorgasbord of sensory immersion that allows you to really get under the skin of another culture. Effortlessly capturing the essence of a country, food has the power to bring people together and is a means of maintaining a sense of cultural identity. If perusing menus, reading restaurant reviews and planning foodie pitstops are some of your favourite pre-departure rituals, then adding a food festival to the itinerary is guaranteed to satisfy your cravings. Whether you wish to sample ramen straight from the source in Tokyo or try traditional Thai food in Phuket, whet your appetite with our list of the best food festivals around the world…


  1. BaconFest, California
  2. Salon Du Chocolat, France
  3. Taste Food Festival, Italy
  4. Phuket Vegetarian Festival, Thailand
  5. Tokyo Ramen Show, Japan
  6. Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling, UK
  7. International Paella Competition, Spain


BaconFest, California

Calling all hardcore carnivores (vegans may wish to skip ahead), this quintessentially American celebration is the one for you. With a number of BaconFests taking place throughout California during the summer months, you can choose to head to Sacramento, San Diego or Monterey for your dose of salt-cured pork. The meat-themed event sees local chefs competing to create the best bacon-based dish and if you thought the event couldn’t get any more extravagant, Sacramento’s BaconFest also involves a cocktail-making contest for budding mixologists.


Salon Du Chocolat, France

Go crazy for cocoa at Paris’ Salon Du Chocolat, the world’s largest event dedicated to the delectable confectionary. The festival takes place over five days at the end of October, with 60 countries represented, 280 exhibitors present and participants numbering up to 500. Chocoholics will be in sugar-coated heaven while attending the workshops, tastings and demonstrations by top chefs. Once you’ve maxed out your sweet tooth, take a seat in the front row for the fashion show, which features models walking the runway in dresses made out of chocolate.


Taste Food Festival, Italy

Italian cuisine has been replicated world over, but as the saying goes ‘often imitated, never duplicated’ and nowhere else is the pizza as doughy or the pasta as pillowy as its homeland. Given the gallery of gastronomic delights, it’s no wonder that a food event takes place here every month, in different regions. Tuscany’s ‘Taste’ Food Festival is held in Florence’s Fortezza da Basso and features a three-day gourmand celebration dedicated to the finest regional cuisine, bringing a whole new meaning to la dolce vita and placing it firmly on our list of the best food festivals around the world.


Phuket Vegetarian Festival, Thailand

Proving that dishes can be just as tasty without the addition of animal products, Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival is one of the island’s most propitious events. Also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, the Taoist tradition sees the population adopt a vegan diet for the duration of the celebration. The belief behind this is that by abstaining from eating animals, participants will be blessed with good health and peace of mind. The festivities mainly occur around Phuket’s six Chinese temples, which locals flock to with food offerings, although you’ll also find rows of vendors selling dishes along the streets of Bangkok.


Tokyo Ramen Show, Japan

With its delicate blend of flavourful broth, wheat-flour noodles and rainbow of toppings, ramen is a delight for the tastebuds so a whole festival dedicated to the authentic Japanese dish promises a whole new level of culinary discovery for the epicurious among us. Travel to Tokyo’s Komazawa Park to take part in the 12-day event celebrating all things ramen; over 30 different varieties are served at the festival, so you’ll be able to sample everything from classic spicy shoyu (soy sauce-based) ramen to more adventurous regional recipes such as okinawa soba (commonly topped with pig trotters).


Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling, UK

One of the more wacky additions to our list of the best food festivals around the world, this Gloucestershire-based cheese event has made quite a name for itself over the years. The tradition is believed to date back some 600 years, and such is its popularity that ‘Cheese Rolling’ has now been officially designated as an extreme sport. In 1948, Charles March Gere immortalised the event in his painting ‘Cheese Rolling on Cooper’s Hill’ and today you can still watch competitors racing down Cooper’s Hill in pursuit of a round of Double Gloucester cheese.


International Paella Competition, Spain

Spain is synonymous with exceptional food (and drink, in the form of sangria), and with so many Hispanic gastronomic traditions, you’ll be spoilt for choice when selecting a food festival. One in particular which oozes charm and authenticity, is the International Paella Competition, hosted by the Basque town of Getxo in Biscay. Despite being home to only 80,000 residents, the pint-sized town welcomes as many as 30,000 visitors every year for the festival. A competition takes place between the paella-making pros, and plates of the fragrant saffron-flavoured rice dish are then sold for a euro each.


Written by Luisa Watts