5 Best Food Festivals in the World
Since the beginning of time, food is something that has be used to bring people together. Whether it be an intimate family dinner, holiday gathering with extended family, or sporting events with friends, gathering together to prepare and eat food has been a part of nearly every culture in the world. Food festivals are special because they bring strangers together from all walks of life throughout many different parts of the world to enjoy food, drink and entertainment, with a common theme or purpose.
Here are the five best food festivals in the world that I have experienced:
Krakow Christmas Market
Krakow, Poland is known for their extravagant holiday celebrations. The Krakow Christmas Market is looked forward to every year by people all over the world, but especially Eastern Europe. Starting the last week of November, the market typically lasts through December 26th, but has been extended into January several times to officially kick off the Yuletide season. The market takes places in the capital city’s downtown square from 10am to 8pm daily.
Not only are the streets of Krakow lined with vendors serving locally sourced and prepared food that is traditional to Poland, the festival focuses on handcrafted and artisanal good and wares. Pottery, embroidery, quilting, painted and blown glass as well as the traditional arts are all featured in the Kray Christmas Market. There are also musical performances, dances, and nativity scenes that are for the enjoyment of visitors while shopping and drinking wine and beer. If there is snow, the town turns into a magical Christmas wonderland complete with decorations and lights.
Zanzibar Food Festival
Stone Town, Zanzibar in Africa has become a steadily growing culinary hotspot for international flavours and cuisine from classical French and home style Italian to traditional Ethiopian, African and Middle East delicacies. The Zanzibar Food Festival is put on every year to highlight Zanzibaran recipes that have been thought lost. Festival organisers scoured the country looking for home cooks that still cooked these traditional and ancient recipes and brought them to the festival to pass down these recipes and traditions
The food festival is held in conjunction with the Zanzibar International Film Festival every June and draws thousands of visitors from Africa and around the world. While the food festival focuses on food and African spices, the film festival brings art, music and movies to town as well. This is one of the only food festivals that happens in Africa and draws crowds from around the world.
Kilmore Quay Seafood Festival
Kilmore County in Wexford, Ireland is host to one of the largest locally sourced seafood festivals in the world. The festival has been a tradition looked forward to throughout all of Ireland and Europe for over 30 years now with all festival proceeds directly benefiting the local community.
The four-day festival kicks off on a Thursday every year with delicious seafood platters served from 12:30pm through 9pm and a grand parade to lead off the event. There is live music and other performances throughout the entire weekend for visitors to enjoy. The marque will be lined with vendors starting Friday with locally fished and sourced seafood caught right off the banks of Ireland. Cooking demonstrations, competitions and presentations will be happening all day, as well.
Yoga, Puppet shows, a huge sand castle building competition, dances, boat and kayak races and many other activities take place over the weekend. Saturday and Sunday vendors selling handmade and collectible items will be selling their goods. There are also many art installations and exhibits set up by local artists throughout the festival.
There are several raffles throughout the weekend as well where visitors can win some great prizes such as overnight stays in castles, vacations on Saltee Island and ferry trips. There are many games on the beach for both children and adults to play making this festival very family friendly.
Wilderness Food Festival
Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire, England. This festival is award winning and one of the most acclaimed food festivals in the world. Wilderness is the American Woodstock of the culinary world where visitors spend a weekend camping, enjoying hot tubs, saunas, the lake and food prepared by world renowned chefs.
Live theatrical performances, lectures, debates, philosophical conversations, live music and food dominate the festival for those that do not participate in the outdoors sporting events. The event is billed as family friendly and hosts many different children’s activities and provides special children play areas. The woods come alive late at night for adult only bonfire celebrations complete with alcohol and adult themed activities.
The Wilderness Festival is able to host 20,000 people with nearly 10,000 opting to camp for the weekend. The stage shows are huge events that would take place in a coliseum with huge special effects and extravagant performances. Many people wear costumes and celebrate nature, even enjoying nudity. The food is the best of the best from around the country when it comes to street food. There are also several acclaimed chefs that set pop up restaurants and bars.
Taste of Chicago
Every summer in Chicago Illinois, USA, the country comes together to celebrate the Taste of Chicago, one of the most attended food festivals in The United States and is the world’s largest food festival. Held over 5 days in July, in Grant Park, this festival draws over 3 million people every year.
Amusement park rides as well as prominent musical acts are available for entertainment when visitors need to take a break from eating. Famous acts such as Jennifer Hudson, Death Cab for Cutie, Robin Thicke, John Mayer and Cheap Trick have all performed at Taste of Chicago.Last year 36 restaurants took part in the festival, setting up serving stations in the park, and 15 pop up restaurants were introduced for the first time. The festival also hosts vendors that sell their handcrafted, collectible and direct sales goods. Cooking demonstrations and food tents where guests can get served a three course meal out of the heat of the hot Chicago sun. This event has inspired several other national food festivals throughout The United States in other major cities.
Derek is an Irish travel blogger and loves marketing & advertising. Has travelled all around the world including Australia & New Zealand.