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World’s best food festivals
Plan your travel diary according to this calendar of food festivals
Lobster love-in, garlic galore or a good ole tomato fight? You decide.
Mark your diaries and prepare your stomach -- the best food festivals for the next 12 months are waiting for you.
Maine Lobster Festival: Rockland, United States
August 1-5, 2012
One of the most popular food festivals in the world, the Maine Lobster Festival is to seafood what Hollywood is to divorce -- even the ones you never heard of are worth talking about.
Maine Lobster Festival has been running for more than 60 years. These delicious crustaceans pull in the crowds with thousands of boiled lobsters cooked in the world’s largest steamer.
The festival ends with the famed Great International Lobster Crate Race, where contestants speed across lobster crates in the harbor, for a crustacean cup.
Garlic Festival: Isle of Wight, England
August 18-19, 2012
The Garlic Festival is a celebration of all things garlicky. If you enjoy a pungent bulb or two of the strong stuff, try some garlic beer, garlic fudge or if it’s a scorching day, some garlic ice cream.
And, there’s a human jukebox and "Star Wars" storm troopers for entertainment.
Located in the wild beauty of the Isle of Wight in summer, this fun festival raises money for more than 65 charities; so you’re doing some good with your garlic breath.
San Francisco Street Food Festival: San Francisco, United States
August 18, 2012
La Cocina’s San Francisco Street Food Festival helms all of the bay area's best food and music, in one street, once a year and it attracts around 50,000 people.
It’s a celebration of entrepreneurship and passionate local producers and restaurants, with a hippy vibe thrown in. La Cocina is a non-profit incubator kitchen offered to low-income and immigrant entrepreneurs who are keen to start their own businesses.
Don’t expect polished waiters and cutlery. All the vendors started by cooking street food and, as street food should be eaten on the street, that’s where the party starts.
With street food making a comeback once more, this cosmopolitan festival has a lovely bohemian feel and is unique to the San Francisco area. And, it’s free, man. Well, free entry. Be sure to wear a flower in your hair.
La Tomatina: Valencia, Spain
August 29, 2012
Having a bunch of tomatoes thrown at you isn’t most people’s idea of a good time.
But the harvest surplus has to be put to some use. La Tomatina hails back to the 1940s, where it kicked off as a food fight in a local eatery.
The food fight grew and grew, and now around 30,000 visitors home in on the village Bunol each year to lob kilos of squishy fruit at each other.
Galway Oyster Festival: Galway, Ireland
September 28-30, 2012
Serious shellfish lovers listen up -- The Galway Oyster Festival's highlights include the World Oyster Opening Championships and the "Elegant Lady" competition -- all for the "craic," of course.
Galway is situated on the windswept West Coast of Ireland, and it’s considered by many to be the cultural capital of Ireland, where gaelgoiri (Irish speakers) love to debate anything from poetry to economics.
It’s a fitting location for this oyster celebration then, given the little mollusk’s association with what we consider to be the more discerning or cultured palate.
The festival itself has been running since 1954, earning it a place among the world’s oldest food festivals.
The Crave Sydney International Food Festival: Sydney, Australia
October 1-31, 2012
Mention food festivals in Australia and you’ll most likely get a discussion about the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. And, yes, we know it’s fabulous.
But here is where that Melbourne and Sydney rivalry comes in. We all know Melbourne is the foodie city, but Sydney is giving it a run for its money -- and with a little glamour added for good measure.
Crave is a foodie month in October which draws top international chefs. Visitors taste the best of Aussie fine dining and watch famous chefs mix it up in the kitchen at the World Chef Showcase.
The location is a huge pull too, with Sydney’s stunning harbor as a backdrop.
Truffle Festival: Alba, Italy
October 6- November 18, 2012
The cute and rather petite town of Piedmontese in Alba is the epicenter of foodie heaven come October. The opening of the white truffle season is enough to make any epicure begin to salivate.
There’s an invitation-only truffle auction, which only the who’s who of the food world can attend. There’s the Truffle Market and visitors can buy a truffle and ask local cafés or restaurants to put the finishing touches on their meal for the evening.
Clientele with deep pockets also get chance to purchase rare types of truffles -- at around US$2,000 a kilo.
Hokitika Wild Food Festival: locations throughout New Zealand
March 9, 2013
Walk on the wild side and live life on the edge -- this festival deserves a date in your diary.
New Zealand’s bravest foodies sample treats on the South Island’s rugged west coast. Not for the faint hearted, highlights included magpie pies, "mountain oysters" -- otherwise known as sheep’s testicles -- and chocolate-covered huhu grubs.
If that’s all a bit too wild for you, there are delicious treats such as home-cured bacon and rhubarb sparkling wine for the rest of us boring/smart folk.
The World Gourmet Summit in Singapore is a popular festival -- but this year's Savour added another fest to the calendar making its debut with a bang. Next year it'll be back.
Similar to the Taste festivals in London and Dublin, Savour showcases different Singapore fine-dining restaurant specialties. But it brings a lot more too -- including an al fresco Gourmet Village, an indoor Gourmet Auditorium and a 5,000 square meter Gourmet Market.
The festival will welcome 16 award-winning chefs, including entries from the world’s top 100 restaurants and Michelin star recipients. Dishes cost from S$6-21 (US$4.70-16.50) and there will be more than 50 signature dishes and free wine tasting.
Tickets are from S$40 (with S$21 to spend at the event).
The Good Food and Wine Show: South Africa
Showcased all over South Africa, this is a culinary industry expo, and will take place in Cape Town (May), Durban (July) and Johannesburg (November).
International chefs are the order of the day here, and in the Chef in Action theaters, spectators can watch them work their magic and do tastings afterwards.
Gelato competitions and a coffee theater with baristas competing for a place in the National Barista Championships are additional highlights.