Food festivals are far from fringe events these days. What used to be random gatherings of passionate veggie-lovers or truffle aficionados are now star-studded lineups that are harder to get into than the Vatican at Christmas. Indeed, at these events, food becomes a religion and attendees are its devoted acolytes.
Here’s a few of the tastiest and most decadent festivals from around the world to add to your bucket list.
Alba White Truffle Festival
The tiny town of Alba in Italy’s north is famous for its autumn celebration of all things truffle. The Alba White Truffle Festival also features a market with outdoor entertainment; a white truffle walk for tourists; cooking demonstrations; and culinary delights for all.
Madrid Fusion is the Coachella of the food world—an affair to celebrate the very best in Spanish (and international) cuisine and to essentially preview the future of gastronomy. Each year more than 100 of the world’s best chefs, producers and food writers come together to explore the hottest food topics of the moment.
South Beach Food and Wine Festival
Now more than 14 years old, this beachside festival began as a small extravaganza in Florida before it grew to feature America’s most talented food and wine producers, chefs and food personalities. The South Beach Food and Wine Festival now attracts more than 60,000 guests annually and boasts more than 75 events spread over four sun-filled Miami days.
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
It hurts to include the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival over Sydney’s beloved CRAVE International Food Festival, but the Melbourne edition brings together some of the biggest global names in the food industry and puts on events like a long lunch for 1,500 people, popup bakeries in the heart of the city, and some fabulous wine and dine shindigs in regional Victoria.
Taking place on the last Wednesday in August in the Spanish town of Brunol, La Tomatina is possibly the world’s largest and fastest food fight. Over the course of just one hour, one hundred metric tones of overripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets. The event is rumoured to have begun in 1945 when a brawl amongst young people turned into a town-wide battle involving vegetables from local carts and, eventually, a festival representing freedom and liberty.
San Francisco Street Food Festival
More than 100 food businesses from around the Bay Area and 50,000 people from around the world will come together for this super casual, rather hippy dippy outdoor event. Highlights at San Francisco Street Food Festival include a spit roast for 300 people and plenty of legalised marijuana.
Ivrea Orange Festival (Battle of the Oranges)
As its name implies, this is a festival to honour the largest food fight in Italy and takes place in the northern town of Ivrea. During the event, more than three thousand people are organised into nine different gangs in a citrus version of Westside Story. The Ivrea Orange Festival has roots in a legendary people’s revolt against the tyrant Count Ranieri and still features quite a bit of violence, so tread with care.
MAD Symposium is the ultimate culinary congress spearheaded by NOMA superstar Rene Redzepi. This three-day event brings together some of the world’s top chefs to debate a range of issues affecting the food world. Past topics have included entomophagy (the practice of eating insects) and eliminating waste in the kitchen.
Image credit: Melbourne Food and Wine Festival