Food is life. Whether you're a quick and easy takeaway pizza lover, or a three-course roast kinda guy or gal, nothing can quite compare to when you get that winning combination of ingredients that come together to form the perfect meal, snack, or beverage.
Great food really does make the world go around, and as any foodie knows, for the best-tasting food around the world, you have to go straight to the source. Especially when it comes to junk food, chucking something together at home is never going to be the same as having a professional with all the right regional knowledge create a masterpiece for you.
If you don't happen to have a couple of spare round-the-world plane tickets, don't despair! We've collected together 10 of the weirdest, wildest, and darn right delicious food festivals from across the entire planet - prepare to salivate:
10. Pizzafest, Naples, Italy
This one doesn’t need too much explanation - it's Italy, it's pizza, it'll almost definitely put your Friday night take-out spot to shame. So, where better to have a festival celebrating one of the world’s most loved fast-food dishes (unless, of course, you’re lactose intolerant) than the birthplace of pizza itself – Naples, Italy!
This festival is a solid nine days of expert pizza throwing, topping, baking, and, of course, eating, all to the backdrop of live music and performances. The city of Naples is the place in which the first pizza was ever made - Raffaele Esposito created the “Pizza Margherita” to honour the Queen consort of Italy, and the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil were used to represent the colours of the Italian flag!
The festival typically makes and sells over 100,000 pizzas over the course of the nine days and also includes a series of exhibitions, conferences, seminars, and workshops so you can up your own pizza game.
9. Chicago Hot Dog Fest, U.S.A.
The humble hot dog is probably the simplest of the foods on this list, but it is certainly one that should be celebrated, and Chicago does this brilliantly. The 3-day festival crams a whole ton of hot dogs in and promises fun for the whole family.
With the fast food staple available in its simplest form - the wiener in a bun, all the way up to some pretty lavish variations on toppings and serving styles, from the best vendors across the entire city, if you’re looking for a new way to enjoy hot dogs, this is the festival for you!
All the usual extras for a food festival are also included, with live music, a beer tent, and plenty of other activities around the site to be enjoyed too!
8. Tokyo Ramen Show, Japan
Every year in late October, Japan’s capital city hosts the country’s biggest outdoor event dedicated to the delicious noodle dish eaten by millions around the world. Your student days of eating Cup Ramen in the library are nothing compared to what this insane festival offers up!
Regions from all across Japan come together to present their variation of the dish – with local twists in the toppings, the broth, or the noodles themselves. The festival was created to educate both tourists and locals on Japan’s food culture through ramen, and it draws thousands over the course of the 11 days.
Entry to the festival is free - you just pay for the ramen you eat. Plus, their mascot is a giant personified Naruto – a fish paste pink and white ‘flower’ that is a staple in any traditional ramen, and is weirdly cute…
7. Garlic Festival, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom
This food festival takes the pungent-tasting bulb to some pretty weird heights – they serve garlic beer, garlic ice-cream, and the more normal garlicky delicacies with all the garlic bread you could ever wish for. Over the course of the weekend, they also have cooking demonstrations and contests – just be sure to pack some mints!
6. PoutineFest, Ottawa, Canada
For those unlucky enough to never have been introduced to poutine, this festival is the place to go to blow your culinary mind! This fast food is pretty much Canada’s national dish and consists of potato fries, topped with cheese curds, and drizzled in gravy. It might sound a bit weird, but it tastes amazing – and this 4-day festival celebrates that fact.
Not only can you eat traditional poutine to your heart’s content, but you can try one of the hundreds of variations on offer as the goal of the festival, according to its organisers, is to show people the “World of Poutine” featuring twists on the dish from Thailand to Poland, Lebanon to Germany, and everywhere in between! Or you can jump straight in at the deep end with deep-fried, bacon-wrapped poutine (cue Homer Simpon drooling noises)!
The festival also features the world record attempt for the biggest ever poutine (weighing in at over 3,000 lbs, and growing every year), poutine eating contests (sign me up. Now.), and all the usual live music entertainment.
5. The National Buffalo Wing Festival, New York, U.S.A.
Where else could play host to this festival than Buffalo itself? The weekend festival regularly draws over 70,000 attendees, so is one of the biggest to feature on or list!
With over 100 different varieties of wings, whether you can eat chili peppers like candy, or you tend to avoid anything even remotely spicy, you’ll still find your groove here and leave feeling totally satisfied.
The National Buffalo Wing Festival also has some pretty weird and wonderful wing-themed events that you won't find anywhere else in the world including bobbing for wings (fishing them out from blue cheese dressing using just your mouth), The Miss Buffalo Wing Beauty Pageant, and The United States Wing Eating Championship.
This is one festival you are definitely going to need those little lemon-scented wipes for!
4. Salon du Chocolat Festival, Paris, France
Chocoholics of the world unite – and head to this five-day event in France’s capital city, Paris which celebrates everything "chocolat". The sweetest festival on our list, this one brings over 200 chocolatiers, confectioners, and pastry chefs together, to celebrate and indulge guests in the treat that has become synonymous with love and romance.
In addition to eating all the chocolate you could ever want, the festival features a world-famous fashion show, where models strut the catwalk in clothes made entirely from chocolate. Otherwise, why not attend their Chocolate Awards where the best chocolatiers in the world are given recognition for their work – we appreciate you chocolate makers, you bring us so much joy ?
3. Bacon Fest, California, U.S.A.
Vegetarian readers, avert your eyes!
You know when you wake up to the smell of bacon in the morning, and that pretty much sets you up for the rest of the day, and you know it's going to be great no matter what? Now imagine going to a place where you are surrounded by that smell all day, for seven days straight.
Sacramento’s Bacon Fest is one of the newer food festivals on our list, with its first iteration in 2012. The week-long festival celebrates everything bacon – you can chow down on bacon sandwiches, or go for something a little more adventurous like bacon ice-cream, all washed down with bacon cocktails, garnished with fried bacon. I'm going to say bacon some more - bacon, bacon, bacon.
The meat is cooked right on the street by chefs, and the festival rules mean they only use organic, grain-fed pigs, so it'll pretty much the best-tasting bacon you'll ever eat!
2. Vegetarian Festival, Phuket, Thailand
For those of you who prefer to consume a plant-based diet, Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival is the ultimate food fest for you. The nine-day long festival celebrates the detoxification of body and mind through natural nourishment provided by the earth.
As much a spiritual celebration as this is a food festival, the island of Phuket plays host to the largest event of the festival, as islanders hang lanterns outside temples and ward off evil spirits by banging drums in a procession through the streets.
The festival also includes fire-walking, extreme body piercing, and various other feats by people who believe they are being protected from pain by the gods – best not to look if you are enjoying a delicious veggie meal - the event organisers even warn that people of a nervous disposition should avoid attending if they can!
When it comes to the dishes on offer, many vendors offer traditional foods that appear similar to the usual carnivorous fare, however, soybean and protein substitute products are used in place of the meat.
1. Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Australia
The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival takes a “Go hard or go home” approach with a solid ten days of gourmet indulgence. Spread out across the city on the southern coast of Australia, there are close to 300 events for attendees to take part in.
From classy Michelin Star celebrations of the best of the country's food, paired with wine from award-winning Australian vineyards, to the Food Truck Stop which brings together the city’s best quick-n-easy grub, there is literally something for everyone.
One thing that brings people back year after year is their “World’s Longest Lunch” event, with a lunch of multiple courses, served to over 1,000 attendees seated together at a 600-metre-long dining table (which grows every year!).
So what are you waiting for? Renew that passport, pack a knife, fork, and spoon, and eat to your heart's content!