Festivals are a great way to bring people together to celebrate almost any occasion. While there are lots of festival types including music festivals, food festivals are some of the most popular. They take place all over the world and there are festivals for just about any type of food including pizza, seafood, bacon, chocolate, and even fruits.
Many food festivals feature foods local to the region such as the Poutine Fest in Ottawa or the Taste of Chicago festival. While some festivals are all about the foods in that area, other festivals focus on one type of food and you'll find several different ways to enjoy it.
Alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine are often heavily featured at food festivals as well. Some even include those beverages in the name of the festivals such as the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival. Other staples you'll likely find at food festivals include cooking demonstrations, workshops, contests, music, and things to entertain the kids.
There are lots of annual food festivals that take place in the United States, but there are also a good number of them that take place across the world. There are probably hundreds if not thousands of food festivals that take place but many of them are small regional events that most people wouldn't consider traveling to get to.
The food festivals on this list include some of the bigger and more well known festivals that you would want to consider when making your travel plans. Many of them are in great locations that feature lots of things to do so the festival makes for a great reason to check them out.
20 Herring Festival
If you travel to Hvide Sande, Denmark you can attend the annual Herring Festival. This festival celebrates schools of herring which migrate to the Ringkobing fjord and includes the herring fishing world championship. Whether you like your herring fried, filleted, pickled, or fish-caked you're in luck. There are workshops that teach you how to pickle fried herring or you can leave it to the professionals and watch them do it. You can even enter the Herring Recipe of the Year contest and children can attend the Herring fishing school or join the Junior Fishing Contest. If you don't like fish you may want to head somewhere else.
19 Chinchilla Melon Festival
At first you may be put off by the name of this festival, but you won't find any dishes with rodents in them. The festival is held in Chinchilla, Australia and only happens every other year. All things melon are celebrated including plenty of dishes, a melon chariot race, a celebrity melon eating contest, and even melon skiing. One of the most interesting aspects is the melon weigh-in to find out which local farmer can grow the biggest melon. You can even take part in a free melon feast, beach part, concerts, and street parade. This is a great experience you won't want to miss.
18 La Tomatina
If you like having fun and aren't afraid to get dirty, the La Tomatina festival may be the place for you. This even takes place in Bunol, Spain and is one of the country's most popular festivals. You'll find plenty of tomato dishes to try but the highlight of the event is the world's biggest food fight which features more than 100 hundred metric tons of tomatoes which are over-ripe. You'll be able to throw tomatoes at random strangers while ducking and trying to avoid getting hit yourself, almost like you're playing a massive game of dodge ball but only with bright red fruits.
17 Boston Local Food Fest
Boston, Massachusetts is a great place to visit, especially if you want to enjoy some local food. The Boston Local Food Fest takes place in September and takes a closer look at how your food ends up on your table. The event features local farmers and gives you the chances to interact with them because most of us never actually meet the people who grow our food. There are lots of local vendors and food trucks to choose from and the festival focuses on health and sustainable local foods. This festival has a bit of a different vibe than the other more party-like atmospheres, but it may become more popular as time goes on.
16 Street Eats Food Truck Festival
Food trucks are more popular than ever before, but usually you just have to go with whichever one or two are at a location near you. The Street Eats Food Truck Festival in Scottsdale, Arizona brings them all together. Imagine more than 50 food trucks lined up for you and parked there all weekend. You'll find food trucks for all types of foods including entrees, desserts, and drinks. There are cooking demonstrations and other festivities and music as well. You'll see long lines at some trucks while others are a lot shorter. Try as many food trucks as you can without having to track them down.
15 Taste of Charlotte
If you haven't been to Charlotte, North Carolina you might not think of it as a great culinary city. This festival takes place on six city blocks and is free. There are more than 100 vendors and this is a coin style event where you buy your tokens up front. The event includes the Best of the Taste Awards and all types of foods including steak, barbecue, and much more. There are cooking demonstrations and lots to see and do as well even for the kids. The weather in June is great in Charlotte and you'll certainly enjoy sampling everything.
14 Baltimore Seafood Fest
Most people think of Baltimore for crab cakes, but the truth is that all types of seafood are popular there. At the Baltimore Seafood Fest in September you can sample everything from crab to oysters and even shrimp. The event takes place at Canton Waterfront Park and overlooks the Northwest Harbor. You can buy special entry passes that will come with treats like a bucket of crabs. There are more than 30 local vendors as well as food trucks so you can have fish tacos, lobster rolls, and everything else in between. There are also the standard cooking demonstrations and live entertainment.
13 Sacramento Bacon Fest
Almost everyone loves bacon, so attending a whole festival dedicated to the cured meat seems reasonable. This is a week long event that takes bacon to a whole new level. You can enjoy almost everything with bacon including bacon salad, bacon pizza, bacon ramen, bacon tater tots, and even a bacon milkshake. Bacon goes well with craft beer and more than 100 restaurants participate in this festival with their own bacon dishes. There's also live music and the humorous Kevin Bacon Soundtrack Tribute Show has become a favorite among festival goers over the years. Sacramento is a good place to visit anyway so scheduling your trip during Bacon Fest is a good way to go.
12 Ottawa Poutine Fest
Poutine has become quite trendy in recent years and if you enjoy it you'll want to travel to Ottawa, Canada for this festival. It takes place annually in May in its home country and thousands celebrate the delicious dish which features french fries, gravy, and cheese curds. You'll be able to visit several local restaurants which offer their unique takes on poutine such as churro poutine, butter chicken poutine, or Pad Thai poutine. If you can't get enough you can enter a poutine eating contest or learn how to make your own in a workshop. The event is family friendly and has activities for kids like face painting.
11 San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival
At most food festivals alcohol is everywhere, so some of them don't try to hide that fact. Each November in San Diego the Bay Wine and Food Festival takes place. San Diego is a great place to visit in the first place but you'll want a jacket because it can be a bit cool later in the year. This festival is very popular and attracts chefs from all over the country as well as winemakers and brew masters. There are plenty of delicious things to eat and drink and the weather during the day should be delightful as well with plenty of sunshine.
10 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
What makes this food festival extra special is its location in Orlando, Florida. This festival spans six weeks so chances are you won't be able to experience the whole thing unless you live there or can afford to take a lot of time off. You'll be able to enjoy food and wine from more than 25 countries. There is lots of entertainment and plenty of interactive experiences such as cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and mixology classes. Don't forget to spend some time at Disney World and all the other fun attractions in the area. There's plenty of food to be enjoyed inside the theme park if you don't get enough at the festival.
9 Nugget Rib Cook-Off
This festival takes place toward the end of summer and happens in Sparks, Nevada. If you love barbecue and ribs this is the place for you. Almost a quarter of a million pounds of ribs will be cooked to be enjoyed for hundreds of thousands of attendees. This festival bills itself as the biggest and best free-entry barbecue festival in America. While there might be some chicken nuggets, the name comes from the location which is the Nugget Casino Resort. There's also plenty to do including a concert series which have included national acts such as 10,000 Maniacs and Mark McGrath.
8 Taste of Dallas
Dallas, Texas is a great city for food lovers. The annual Taste of Dallas festival has been going on for more than 30 years. Make sure you find the Backyard Bites section to try some delicious barbecue as well as craft beer and burgers with lawn games to keep you entertained. Don't forget the Taste Curbside area with food trucks and if you prefer to eat healthy check out the Fuel area. For some extra dough you can attend the Foodie Experience which features an unlimited tasting of more than 30 chefs and restaurants and that also includes drinks so get your ticket early.
7 Hawaii Food and Wine Festival
Most people don't need a good excuse to take a vacation to Hawaii, but if you're looking for one the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival could be it. This event takes place in Honolulu in September. It was founded by chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong who are both James Beard Award winners. It spans four days and features several leading chefs, wine and spirit producers, and culinary personalities. You can attend the festival and enjoy delicious foods and drinks and still enjoy all the natural beauty Hawaii has to offer. Many people aren't familiar with Hawaiian foods and this is a great way to try various dishes.
6 New Orleans Wine and Food Experience
New Orleans, Louisiana is a great place to visit to experience local culture and festivals. One of the most popular festivals is the Wine and Food Experience which celebrated its 26th year in 2018. This festival is a great time and delicious but it also helps out various nonprofit organizations in New Orleans and has raised more than $1 million over the years. There are some great local chefs and some amazing national and international wines featured as well. You certainly won't get bored in New Orleans where you can take in all that the famous and historic city has to offer.
5 Taste of Vail
Vail, Colorado is a great place to visit and travelers enjoy the small town feel paired with the great locations to ski and snowboard. This festival happens each year and has many of the best local chefs. Winemakers and vineyard owners from all around the country gather in Vail for this festival every year. You may run into some celebrities trying to fit in with the crowd so keep an eye out. Find a quaint lodge to stay in and enjoy the crisp and cool air while having some great local food and some delicious wine. This festival typically takes place around the first day of fall.
4 NYC Wine and Food Festival
New York City is another great location to have a food festival because there is plenty to see and do in addition to enjoying the festivities. This festival benefits the NYC Food Bank and the nonprofit Share Out Strength so it's for a good cause. It happens every year and you'll have a chance to see some celebrity chefs as well as known personalities in the culinary field. You'll want to plan on spending some time here but make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the city so nice they named it twice while you're there.
3 Taste of Chicago
Cuisine from Chicago has made its way all across America, but the best place to enjoy it is where it actually came from. This event is billed as the world's largest food festival and spans five days each year with more than two million people visiting. You'll find all the foods you would expect including Chicago dogs, Chicago-style pizza, and other regional foods you might not know about. Make sure to save room for dessert from the famous Eli's Cheesecake. This festival takes place each year in July which is a great time to be in the Windy City. Be sure to check out some of the Chicago area attractions if you've never been before.
Pizza is one of the most popular foods in the world and comes in all types and flavors. This annual food festival takes place in Naples, Italy in September and goes for a whole week. If you travel to Italy to celebrate pizza you'll be in for a real treat if all you know is American pies. There will be plenty of pizza to eat but the entertainment and education makes it worthwhile. The World Pizza-Making Championship takes place and you can also take a pizza-making workshop. Try a slice of several different types of pizza including Neapolitan, marinara, and margherita.
1 Salon du Chocolat
When it comes to food festivals, any festival celebrating chocolate is going to be very popular. This festival is actually a trade fair for the international chocolate industry. More than 500 participants take part in the annual event and come from more than 60 countries. You can sample chocolates from five continents and attend workshops. This festival has plenty of entertainment in addition to satisfying your sweet tooth. It has a chocolate sculpture contest and an interesting chocolate fashion show. If you love chocolate this is certainly a festival you'll want to visit and you'll actually be encouraged to overindulge.