Unique Food Festivals From Around The World

Are you a food festival fan? If so, we're not surprised! Food brings people together, and festivals transport us to different culinary worlds. These events are a foodie's paradise, whether sampling dishes you love or trying new foods altogether.

Classic food festivals have cooking competitions, demonstrations, and a host of vendors to tantalize those tastebuds. They're all about walking around with a drink in hand, taking in the sights and smells and, of course, nibbling on delicious bites. Whether you enjoy beer, wine, barbecue, or international cuisine, there's a festival to satisfy your palate. And if you're craving something more offbeat, unique food events are constantly popping up around the world, from insect cafes to chocolate fashion shows.

Chances are, you've experienced your fair share of traditional food festivals and are curious about what else is out there. So, if you're on the hunt for the weird and the wonderful, we've got you covered. Keep reading to learn about several unique food festivals from around the world.

Cooper's Hill Cheese Roll (Gloucester, UK)

If a giant cheese wheel went rolling downhill, would you chase it? That's exactly what a select group of individuals do in Gloucester, England, every spring. In fact, people from around the globe come here to test their skills at this unique world-famous event.

From the top of Cooper's Hill, a 7-pound Double Gloucester cheese wheel is released, rolling downward at speeds of up to 70 mph. A second later, brave competitors race after it — often tumbling head-over-heels to reach the bottom first. The winner of this 200-yard race wins the cheese wheel. However, it's no easy feat, and participants rarely leave unscathed.

Testicle Festival (USA)

Try saying "Testicle Festival" several times in a row. Or better yet, head to one of the many events held annually in the States, where you can taste grilled, fried, and battered dishes. Some previous locations include California, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Texas.

You might not be an adventurous eater. But you might be surprised by how good this unusual ingredient can taste. We recommend starting with Rocky Mountain Oysters, aka bull testicles, which can taste a bit like calamari when breaded and deep fried. And if you're feeling particularly hungry, enter a Testicle Festival eating competition. If one thing's for certain, you'll have a ball at this niche food fair.

Monkey Buffet Festival (Lopburi, Thailand)

Don't worry, nobody eats monkeys at this festival. Instead, monkeys are the guest of honor and treated to a bountiful buffet. These primates are thought to bring prosperity and good luck to the town of Lopburi, Thailand. As a token of appreciation, locals celebrate this festival annually.

On the last Sunday of November, people gather at the ruins of the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple. Dressed like monkeys, locals perform dances to lure these primates in. Although it sounds strange, the monkeys have actually learned to associate these performances with their annual feast. Shortly after the song and dance, roughly 3,000 macaques descend upon the town, and as towers of fruits and sweets are unveiled, the monkeys go absolutely bananas.

Olney Pancake Race (Olney, UK)

The Olney Pancake Race brings a whole new meaning to "breakfast on the run." Every Shrove Tuesday, the women of Olney, England, race with frying pans of pancakes from a starting line to the foot of a church. In an interview with the BBC, Ruth Martin explains, "You have to wear a skirt, and you are provided with an apron and headscarf and a pancake pan, but you need to bring your own pancake. You toss it at the start — and you have to be able to toss it at the end."

It's not certain how this race began, but legend has it that a harassed housewife heard the shriving bell. Without thinking, she dashed for the church — frying pan in hand – and unknowingly spurred on this centuries-old tradition. 

La Tomatina (Buñol, Spain)

A group of rowdy children in Buñol, Spain knocked someone over during a parade back in 1945, sparking a quarrel. It escalated, and villagers began hurling nearby produce at one another. Little did they know this simple act would turn into one of the world's biggest food fights. But unlike its origin story, La Tomatina is a happy event, and the only red people see is from overly ripe tomatoes.

On the last Wednesday of August, people flock to Buñol to literally paint the town red. This underrated Spanish destination might be small, but it sees thousands of visitors during this period. These festival-goers crowd the streets, waiting for trucks to roll by and release over 100 tons of tomato ammo. Revelers spend an hour hurling the soft fruit at one another, and by the end, they're swimming through streets of tomato sauce.

Bugfest (Raleigh, North Carolina, USA)

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences hosts an annual bug festival dedicated to educating the public about insects and the natural world. While not exclusively a food fest, the venue has a special bug cafe and critter cook-off for adventurous eaters and chefs. The insect delicacies include Krunchy Cricket Mac 'n' Cheese and Bugnana Pudding, among others.

Not many Americans are fans of bug bites. However, entomophagy (the practice of eating insects) is a worldwide phenomenon. Silkworm larvae are sold by street vendors across Korea, and maguey worms are a savory staple of some Mexican dishes. Perhaps this festival can convince the average American that bugs aren't all that bad. Not only are they a sustainable food source, but they can actually be delicious.

Night of the Radishes (Oaxaca, Mexico)

Night of the Radishes, or Noche de Rábanos, is a quintessential Oaxacan festival. It's deeply rooted in tradition and stems from the colonial period in Mexico. It's said that one harvest season in Oaxaca, Mexico, led to a particular bountiful radish crop. Farmers got creative, selling radish carvings at the local Christmas market to offload their supply. In 1897, the mayor caught wind of this unique art form and created an annual competition.       

In the days leading up to this competition, participants harvest and carve oversized radishes. Those entered in the open theme category can carve anything they please, while carvings in the traditional category must represent Oaxacan culture. Think scenes of traditional pastries, the Day of the Dead, or patron saints. The vegetable masterpieces are displayed for all on December 23, when judges score each entry. Although winners take home cash prizes, this event is more about Oaxacan pride than anything else.

Maine Lobster Festival (Rockland, Maine, USA)

The people of New England go cray-cray for lobster; so much so that they created the Maine Lobster Festival in 1947. This annual crustacean celebration lasts for five days over the first weekend in August. Menu options include full lobster-based dinners, chowders, bisque, and mac 'n' cheese. The festival also features a parade, road race, arts and crafts, and a seafood cooking competition. 

However, one of the celebration's most unique events is the International Great Crate Race. Participants race across a string of 50 wooden lobster crates floating in the bay. Speed is of the utmost importance, but it also requires serious coordination to make it to the end and back without falling into the chilly Maine waters.

Roadkill Cook-Off (Marlinton, West Virginia, USA)

Nobody enjoys happening upon — or even worse, causing — roadkill. But if do find yourself with roadkill, you may as well put it to good use. That's precisely the inspiration behind this unique festival in Marlinton, West Virginia. The Roadkill Cook-Off has chefs roasting up the best wild game dishes they can, including everything from possums to raccoons. 

Contestants are judged based on taste, originality, presentation, and showmanship. Teams develop themes and costumes to get into the spirit of it all. In 2017, one team named their dish "drive-thru stew" with the tagline "Y'all drive-thru 'em; we'll stew 'em." Other dishes have included "asphalt-blackened venison bruschetta," "road trash chili," and a stirfry dubbed "Bambi's revenge."

Battle of Oranges (Ivrea, Italy)

Legend has it the Battle of Oranges stems from a citywide rebellion. As the story goes, back in medieval times, the town of Ivrea revolted against a harsh ruler. To commemorate their triumph, they relive this battle annually.

On the Sunday before Lent, two teams (representing the Ivrean people and their tyrannical oppressors) head into battle. Armed with oranges, nine teams of "townspeople" are on foot while the "feudal army" rolls in on horse-drawn carriages ... and thus begins the three-day Battle of Oranges.

While it sounds brutal, there's a level of comradery among all participants. The horses are treated with respect, and the over 4 million oranges used aren't commercially viable. However, orange-induced injuries do occur, including everything from black eyes and bloody noses to rolled ankles.

Chinchilla Melon Festival (Chinchilla, Australia)

The Chinchilla Melon Festival is a giant slice of silliness. This event occurs every other summer in Australia's "melon capital" and centers around everything watermelon-related. It has markets, parades, parties, and games for the whole family. Go melon skiing, try melon tossing, or compete in the melon Iron Man race.

The watermelon madness began in 1994 to celebrate the town's agriculture industry. Chinchilla produces 25% of Australia's melons and consistently grows the world's largest. But that's not the only world record this town — or this event — has seen. In 2011, John Allwood made a Guinness World record for smashing 40 watermelons within one minute using only his head.

Wildfoods Festival (Hokitika, New Zealand)

The Wildfoods Festival opens the doors to the wildest, most bizarre natural foods you'll ever see. Although you'll find unusual items like possum kebabs and mountain oysters, most of this cuisine comes straight from the earth. The huhu grubs stall is a prime example. The vendor chops the wood, plucks larvae out, and barbecues it right before your eyes. One of these woodchoppers even encouraged daring foodies to eat the larva live — with an important disclaimer: "You've got to bite it before it bites you." 

This New Zealand festival also hosts a Feral Fashion competition where contestants forage for their own garments. If you're a resourceful fashionista, you can show off your wild style at this annual event in early March.

Giant Omelet Celebration (Bessieres, France)

In the town of Bessieres, everyone comes together to celebrate the three days leading up to Easter. The festival has Easter egg hunts, parades, and performances. But the main event occurs on Easter Monday, when chefs whip up a 15,000-egg omelet that can feed thousands of spectators. It is quite the spectacle, with a 13-foot frying pan over a giant bonfire. As whipped eggs are poured in, volunteers stir using huge wooden paddles.

The event is put on by the Brotherhood of the Giant Omelet. This volunteer organization has inspired six other omelet festivals internationally. One of which is in Abbeville, Louisiana, involving a significantly smaller but still substantial 5,000-egg omelet.

Pizzafest (Naples, Italy)

Naples, Italy, isn't only the birthplace of pizza. It's also home to Pizzafest, the world's largest pizza celebration. Over the course of five to 11 days every summer, the city converts into a Pizza Village, taking over the gorgeous promenade with pizza-making presentations, competitions, workshops, concerts, and more.

Passionate pizza chefs flock here from all over the world to cook up the best pies, from the city's famous and traditional Neapolitan to modern gluten-free styles. You'll have plenty of opportunities to indulge in pizza, with plenty of styles to choose from. So, if you're a fan of this iconic Italian dish, visit this festival for a slice of pizza paradise.

Waikiki Spam Jam (Honolulu, Hawaii, USA)

SPAM was a '50s favorite, and in some places, it's never gone out of style. It's cheap, easy, and has a long shelf life. As such, it became a household staple during the Depression and an obvious choice for military rations. Wherever the U.S. military went, Spam followed — and often stayed far longer. Although soldiers were probably tired of the stuff, Hawaiian locals embraced it, and its popularity has held steadfast over the years.

Hawaiians love this "Specially Processed American Meat" so much that every spring, they dedicate two full weeks to celebrating the Waikiki Spam Jam. The Waikiki Beach sees Spam merch, musicians, and performances. Restaurants also feature limited-edition Spam menu items, like burgers, pizzas, and bao buns.

Salon du Chocolat (Paris, France)

Are you a chocolate fan? Well, add the Salon du Chocolate to your festival bucket list. It's the world's largest chocolate event and takes place in Paris every fall. Taste designer desserts made by some of the best chocolatiers and pastry chefs from around the world.

Here, it's not just your tastebuds that are delighted. You'll see life-sized chocolate sculptures, live chef demos, and even a cacao catwalk. That's right — at this event, people don't just eat chocolate; they wear it. And with Paris' reputation as a fashion powerhouse, you can expect haute couture.

Thorrablot (Iceland)

Intrepid foodies should head to Iceland for Thorrablot. The name derives from the old Icelandic month of "þorri" combined with "blót," referring to a feast honoring a Norse god. This winter festival celebrates Iceland's rich culinary heritage, and you can definitely expect a feast fit for a king with many salty staples.

You might be familiar with salmon, smoked lamb, brisket, or rye flatbread, but more unique dishes include ram testicles, fermented shark, whale blubber, and boiled sheep head. To wash it all down, many enjoy the national spirit, Brennivín, a clear liquor made from grain and caraway.

Thorrablot isn't just about feasting on fine Icelandic foods — it's an excuse to bring people together for a good time. Entertainment and laughs abound, with songs, dance, and comedic performances. 

Herring Festival (Hvide Sande, Denmark)

The Herring Festival in Hvide Sande is the largest of its kind in Denmark. It takes place the last week of April when herring migrate through this region to spawn. The inlet is full of them, and what better way to celebrate this time than with a fish festival?

Venues across town sell the just-caught herring in all forms. You can try it fried, fresh, on rye bread, or in fish cakes. However, this festival's biggest claim to fame might be its fishing competition. Fishers from all over Denmark and the surrounding countries battle it out to see who can catch the most; the record stands at 313 herring in one hour.

Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival (Fellsmere, Florida, USA)

France isn't the only place where people love frog legs. Fellsmere, Florida, hosts an annual Frog Leg Festival over four days in January. This event is hopping with rides, food trucks, and live entertainment. And, of course, this is the place to feast on your favorite amphibian. Get your frog legs on a stick or enjoy a full pound next to traditional Floridian dishes like grits and gator.

If you've never had frog legs, you might be surprised. The flavor compares to freshwater fish and the meat has a distinct chicken-like texture. Ultimately, if you're not sure you'll like them, there's only one way to find out.

St. Moritz Gourmet Festival (St. Moritz, Switzerland)

Are you looking for your next winter getaway? St. Moritz has it all. This resort town is a winter wonderland with snow-capped mountains, world-famous skiing, and decadent spas. The St. Moritz Gourmet Festival is just the icing on the cake. This event brings Michelin-star chefs together to produce the finest of haute cuisine. It's less of a competition and more of a collaborative culinary experience.

At this fancy food fair, you'll truly feel on top of the world. The festival has even provided Porsche limousines to transport guests between courses at local hotel venues. The event draws foodies from all over the world, and the menu is a creative culmination of the chefs' expertise, and often follows a set theme.