This year is set to be the year of the foodie. With food pop-ups and festivals opening globally, there has never been a better time to explore and discover the delicious offerings from all corners of the world.
Some festivals are more than just a quick bite to eat. They can also represent an innate love of the culinary arts, with many festivals featuring top chefs, cooking demonstrations, and curated meals. Wondering what food festivals to add to your bucket list this year? CF has curated the perfect list of the best foodie festivals in 2023.
1. Pizzafest, Naples, Italy
Thousands of Neapolitans gather in the centre of Naples to make and enjoy more than 100,000 pizzas. Considered to be the birthplace of pizza, Naples in Italy has been hosting this annual pizza festival for years, celebrating Neapolitan-style pizza and its cultural significance. The most famous pizzerie from all over the world compete against renowned local pizzaioli, who set up stands where people can taste different varieties of pizzas. Attracting both locals and tourists, the festival hosts pizza-making competitions, masterclasses, food tasting and live music.
2. Wing Fest, UK
Around the UK, stadiums will be taken over by 200,000 wings, showcasing the best chicken wings the UK has to offer. The competition is split into two categories: the best buffalo wing – the battle for who can execute the perfect classic spicy sauce, and the best wild wing – where the traders can let their creativity run wild with flavours and toppings to transform a humble chicken wing into a flavour explosion. Apart from serving the best wings, the festival also has live music, a wing tasting contest and other games and attractions. You could call it the ultimate chicken wing showdown.
3. Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany
World-renowned folk festival Oktoberfest is annually hosted in Munich, Germany featuring music, carnival rides, food and beer. The largest celebration of Bavarian culture, it attracts millions of people over the last two weeks in September. Presenting some of the finest brews, you’ll also be spoiled with traditional German culinary delights including bratwurst, pretzels, roasted meats and more. The Beer Tents are the heart and soul of Oktoberfest and it is there where true Bavarian cultures shines. Each tent has its own theme and each is more spectacular then the last. This is one for the whole family to dress up in lederhosen and dirndland.
4. Salon du Chocolat, Paris, France
All things chocolate are celebrated for five days in Paris at the Salon du Chocolat Festival, where more than 500 chocolate-makers, representing 60 countries, provide delicious products for chocolate lovers to sample. Chocolate and pastries are the focus, with chefs providing demos, exhibiting chocolate sculptures, tastings and talks, and giving pastry how-to’s during workshops. Kids have their own family area to enjoy during the event. The fashion capital even turns chocolate into fashion at the Chocolate Fashion Show, where models walk the runway in chocolate dresses, hats and jewellery.
5. Dumpling Festival, Hong Kong
Also known as the Dragon Boat Festival, this festival is a traditional Chinese holiday which occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar, which corresponds to late May or June in the Gregorian calendar. It is a one-day national holiday where the shores are crowded with visitors, both locals and tourists who come to enjoy the dumplings. With an electric atmosphere, many food markets, live music and entertainment, people wait for this day all year to enjoy traditional sticky rice dumplings calling “zongzi.”
6. Pub in the Park
Nothing short of the UK’s largest food festival and music festival tour, Pub in the Park will take place this year in 10 cities across the UK. Conceived by Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge, you can enjoy and celebrate world-famous chefs, award-winning restaurants and Michelin-starred dishes. Music acts to accompany the dining are just as spicy, making it ideal for a British summer’s day out.
7. Maine Lobster Festival, USA
Maine Lobster Festival is a celebration of the state’s famous crustacean held each August in Rockland, Maine. Besides mouthwatering lobster dinners, plenty of vendors serve up an array of other delectable foods. The five-day festival also features art shows, carnival rides, races, cooking and eating contests, a parade, and live entertainment.
8. Niku Fes, Tokyo, Japan
“Niku” in Japanese translates to “meat.” Calling all meat-lovers, head to one of Japan’s largest culinary events ever, set to take place in the Tokyo Bay Area where visitors will have the chance to taste all kinds of different meat dishes packed with flavour. You’ll find the highest quality of meat from beef steaks, beef bowls, wagyu sushi and burgers, served with craft beer to wash it down. To avoid the crowds and skip the lines, opt for a seat in the VIP area (¥12,000 for a table that seats four people, reservations required). Entry to the festival is free, but to get your meat fix, buy meal tickets for ¥700 each. Download the Niku Fes app (iOS/Android) to buy meal tickets, check the menu and reserve a seat.
9. Vegetarian Festival, Phuket, Thailand
Whether you’re a vegetarian or simply interested in sampling plant-based foods, added to a desire to visit Thailand, it’s worth coinciding your travels with a trip to Phuket for The Vegetarian Festival. ABeginning as a way to purify the body by eliminating all meat from one’s diet for nine days whilst praying to the Nine Emperor Gods, the festival has grown over time into a global attraction. The annual nine-day event, celebrated by the Chinese Hokkien descendants across the island for physical well-being, spiritual cleansing, merit-making, conferring good luck in the future, and ensuring prosperity and long life, it presents striking visuals including body piercing and fire-walking, and religious rituals to purify body and mind.
10. St. Moritz Gourmet Festival, St. Moritz, Switzerland
The popular ski destination is also known for its culinary scene, so it only makes sense that the city hosts its very own Gourmet Festival. Drawing in some of the top talents from around the globe, each year they present a new theme. In 2023, the theme was Middle Eastern Cuisine, all set against a magnificent winter backdrop. Not a competition, rather a presentation of the height of haute-cuisine, over 80,000 food lovers travel to enjoy the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival since the festival was first established. Watch out for the 2024 theme and dates.