Great sources of national pride, a country’s culinary talents and homegrown produce are as much a cause for celebration as its culture and history. Not a month goes by without an homage to food and drink somewhere in the world, so check out our selection of events encouraging you to kick up your heels, eat, drink and be merry, all recommended by our local experts from whl.travel and Urban Adventures.
Peru, a True Culinary Crossroads
September sees Peru‘s grand culinary fiesta, Mistura, take place in the Parque de la Exposición in central Lima. This weeklong extravaganza features renowned local and international chefs celebrating the country’s cultural and culinary melting pot, which boasts influences from Africa, China, Japan, Spain, Italy and the Middle East. One of the highlights is the ‘Traditions’ section, which is dedicated to the versatility and endless variety of Peruvian street food with stalls selling much-loved goodies such as anticuchos, tamales, sandwiches and sweets.
Prickly and Fruity in Baja Mexico
Every summer, the coastal area of Los Cabos at the southern tip of Mexico‘s Baja California Sur, likes to show its appreciation for the pitahaya (dragon fruit) harvest, during the famous Feria de la Pitahaya. Held in the charming village of Miraflores, just 30 minutes from Cabo San Lucas, this festival is, as one might suspect, all about this succulent fruit of the cardon cactus, with homemade pitahaya ice cream and candy, as well as fresh fruit and a crowning ceremony for the pitahaya queen, as well as the less fruit-focused pursuits of donkey racing and arts and crafts contests, all accompanied by the mellifluous strains of music from a mariachi band.
A Belizean Fishy Fiesta
With 198 miles of Caribbean coastline and the longest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, Belize can always be counted on to feature its fresh fish and shellfish cooking. To celebrate the start of lobster season (in June), there are annual summer lobster fests that kick off in Placencia Village before moving on to the island of Caye Caulker and wrapping up at the San Pedro Lobsterfest in the main town on the island of Ambergris Caye. The towns slip into lobster lunacy, as stalls selling all manner of lobster dishes set up along the streets and beaches, bands play day and night, and the rum and beer shacks are in full swing. With most restaurants offering all-you-can-eat lobster buffets as well, this two-week party is guaranteed to satisfy your king-of-crustaceans urges until next season.
Cooking and Culture in Australia and Portugal
Australia has a large Greek population, so it is only fitting that there be celebrations of Hellenic hospitality. The city of Brisbane has its own in the form of the Paniyiri Greek Festival in late May. This largest cultural festival in the state of Queensland is in its 34th year and is a three-day extravaganza of food, drink, fashion, fireworks, music, eating contests, grape stomping, dancing and cooking demonstrations, all adding up to more than 50 hours of non-stop entertainment. Zorba would be proud!
The Portuguese island of Madeira celebrates Machico Gastronomy Week at the beginning of August. Visitors and locals descend on the seaside town of Machico, famous for being the landing point of Madeira’s first settlers, to enjoy a vast array of local dishes and delicacies. Although there are a few other food fests on the island, this one draws the biggest crowds and culinary talents and acts as a showcase of traditional Madeiran cuisine and produce with the aim of widening its appeal beyond the island. Food is of course the rich principal attraction, but the addition of sports tournaments, live concerts featuring local bands and artists, and even a cocktail festival adds to the fun.
Wet Your Whistle in India (wine), Malta (beer) and South Africa (whisky)
Proudly billed as Malta‘s largest free outdoor festival, the Farsons Great Beer Festival has celebrated the humble ale annually in since 1981. The 10-day mid-summer festival boasts over 300 hours of music, 40 live performances from local bands, 15 bars, two stages, a daily beer drinking competition and a variety of international cuisines complemented by a large selection of beers produced and imported by Farsons. The bars and souvenir stalls also sell the official festival beer mug, which has become quite a collector’s item!
The beginning of every year sees wine fever hit India’s small, southwest state of Goa with the Grape Escapade Wine and Haute Cuisine Festival. Going strong since 2005, it attracts India’s biggest wine makers, guaranteeing some great local nectar. In addition to some traditional grape crushing, which lures in participants eager to dance barefoot in a vast tub of grapes, the event features free wine tastings, top-notch nosh in the food courts, dancers, fire-breathers, artists, fashion shows, live music and the crowning of the Grape Escapade Queen. Started by the Goa Tourism Development Organisation as a fun platform to promote Goan lifestyle, culture, food and drink, the event has certainly done that and more and regularly attracts between four and five thousand visitors a day.
South Africa pays its respects to the aqua vitae with both Cape Town and Johannesburg playing host to a three-day FNB Whisky Live Festival every November. With the Scotch Whisky Association confirming the spirit is fast becoming a tipple of choice to young, upwardly mobile South Africans, it’s little wonder that this is the largest whisky and lifestyle event of its kind, attracting more visitors and brands than any other whisky festival globally. Divided into zones, the display area is definitely not short of attractions, including a chance to sample over 180 whisky varieties in the tasting hall, expert workshops and tutorials on whisky jargon, distillation and cocktail making, guided tours and food and whisky pairing. The event is capped off with a big party, where everyone still standing can indulge further before heading home to sleep it off.