Europe is a continent that is brimming with history and culture. A huge part of that cultural heritage comes from the culinary scene. Each European country has its own distinctive food culture. We’ve picked out a few of the top European food fairs for you to go out and tantalise your taste buds.
Istanbul: Gastronomy Food Festival (Turkey)
Every February for the past 14 years Istanbul has celebrated its International Gastronomy Festival. The Festival aims to create a different image of Turkish Gastronomy by bringing together traditional Turkish cuisine and mixing it with international cuisines, forging new links. The International Istanbul Gastronomy Festival serves as a showcase of exquisite tastes where world-class and Turkish chefs share their knowledge and expertise in the culinary art, where participants compete while demonstrating the best of their culinary skills. The 14th International Gastronomy Festival sees thousands of Turkish and International chefs from over 25 countries competing in 52 different categories, demonstrating their ability to create delicious dishes in front of more than 25,000 guests from all over the world.
Sicily: Almond Blossom Festival (Italy)
The Sagra del mandorlo in fiore has been taking place in Agrigento (Sicily, Italy) for almost 72 years. It’s an international folk festival aiming to spread the message of peace, integration and cooperation between people. Every year in February, Agrigento celebrates the first almond blossoms of the season in its Sagra del Mandorlo in Fiore. The Almond Blossom Festival, Agrigento’s most important event of the year, began in the nearby village of Naro to greet the early blossom of almond trees’ delicate flowers. It was moved to the Valley of the Temples around 1935. The highlight of the festival, which continues for ten days, is on the closing Sunday. A parade, accompanied by songs and dances, winds through the streets of Agrigento, celebrating peace, joy and fraternity.
Catalonia: Priorat Wine Fair (Spain)
Priorat county celebrates its annual Wine Fair during the first weekend of May. It is dedicated to the two wine appellations of the county, the DOQ Priorat and the DO Montsant. The DOQ Priorat is the elder of the two and was established in 1954, grouping together the territory that used to belong to the Prior of the Carthusian monastery of Santa Maria d’Escaladei. Nowadays, the DOQ Priorat has a place amongst the great wine growing regions of the world. The DO Montsant, the younger of the two, was founded in 2001. In a short time, the wines of the DO Montsant have gained the respect and admiration of the finest experts all around the world for their quality and strong personality.
The Fair is held in Falset, the capital town of the Priorat. It provides a unique opportunity to get to know the region’s dense, highly extracted, powerfully aromatic wines better. As well as the fair there are a number of wine-related events held in restaurants, shops and other venues in Falset and in the surrounding villages; events such as conferences, talks, wine-tasting courses, cooking contests, wineries opening up for visitors, guided olive oil tastings, wine and food pairings.
Bratislava: Slovak Food Festival (Slovakia)
This Slovak Food Festival is a four-day long event that takes place annually in the picturesque setting of Bratislava Castle. Situated on a hill above the old town, the castle dominates the Slovakian capital city and offers amazing panoramic views over the River Danube. It’s undoubtedly a unique place to enjoy any event. During the Festival, the spotlight is on traditional Slovakian food, but visitors can also taste dishes from other countries such as Austria or Hungary. Caterers and restaurateurs come from all across Slovakia and neighbouring countries to showcase their culinary delights and prepare food in front of you. You can choose from a wide variety of meats, cheeses, home-baked breads, cakes and pies all washed down with a wide selection of beer, wine and traditional spirits.
The festival is in its 7th year and has become a real tourist attraction now. With its free entry it is billed as the biggest picnic in Bratislava; the Slovaks exceed all expectations with this food festival. Last year it was noted that 5,500 pancakes and 600kg of crispy chicken were consumed, 125 pounds of chocolate sold and almost 2,300 litres of draft beer were drank.
Baja: Fish Soup Festival (Hungary)
Baja is one of the most characteristic Hungarian towns on the banks of River Danube. Due to its climate, the proximity of the rivers, the lovely main square and the friendly nature of the inhabitants, this small town in the Bácska region welcomes guests with an almost Mediterranean atmosphere. Baja is the capital of fish soup: a special dish made from freshwater fish, onions, ground red pepper, cherry-pepper and water, accompanied by so-called “matchstick noodles”. This local speciality is celebrated with a fabulous festival every July. It all began in 1996 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the town status of Baja, when instead of cooking in 300 kettles, nearly 400 kettles of fish soup were prepared. In 2000, 2000 kettles were lined up in the town centre and the fervour has not diminished since. Every year approximately 2000 cooks (local and non-local) entertain guests with the delicious soup. To date, the festival has evolved into a four-day series of events but the highlight is the cooking held on Saturday.
Aarhus: Tangkrogen Food Festival (Denmark)
This food festival is an innovative food festival held every year in the city of Aarhus, Denmark. They aim to create noise and garner interest in Nordic food. They gather together some of the most significant Nordic food growers, chefs and producers and try, through them, to create exciting gastronomic experiences. It is their goal to be Nordik food advocates and to publicise Nordic ingredients both nationally and internationally.
Certaldo Alto: Boccaccesca Food and Wine Festival (Italy)
Boccaccesca is a showcase of everything to do with food, supply chains, sustainability and recognising the value of traditional dishes. This festival is held in the beautiful medieval town of Certaldo Alto. Local producers come together from all over Italy and abroad and along with the most important Tuscan chefs and alumni from the hospitality schools, they work together to create a feast. The event is a combination of quality Tuscan food, with traditional dishes and wine, cooking lessons, labs and food and nutrition education for families and children. There are also Slow Food accredited products and dishes, including the famous Cipolla (onion) from Certaldo.
You will find numerous stalls run by local sellers offering the best and freshest products of the region. Not to be missed foods include the most important element of Tuscan cuisine: the bread, especially the ones made with raisins or rosemary. Try ribolleta, a delicious soup made from bread, beans, cabbage and vegetables and the various antipasti including salami and prosciutto. Be tempted with dishes of hare, deer or even wild boar or a thick T-bone steak, followed by almond cakes and other typical Italian sweets. You won’t be disappointed.