Nestled in the dark of our homes, many of us have been quietly brooding, nursing a desire for escape and adventure. And it’s an itch that a trip to the high street McDonald’s just won’t scratch. Indulgence, consumption in excess — these things are on many people’s minds. But where to go to entertain these libertine impulses? Look no further than the following list of food and wine festivals across Europe which are taking place over the next year or so. Many events have been canceled or postponed, but those that are still running will be full to the brim with people that want to let their hair down and have a good time, so don’t waste any time grabbing yourself a ticket!
I Primi d’Italia – Perugia
23-26 September 2021
Food festivals are great and so is an indulgence, but there is a limit to even a millennial’s capacity to engorge. It’s a hot day, you’re on your fourth plate, sweat pouring out, and you’re starting to look like the roast pork you just ate a few minutes ago. Enter I Primi d’Italia. This festival is dedicated to first courses, something the Italians take very seriously. For the uninitiated, pasta is a ‘primo’ in Italy – never the main course – so this event held in the Perugian town of Foligno is an ideal place to experience how real Italian pasta is made. Of course, there will also be rice, gnocchi, polenta, and soup dishes as well, so the breadth of Italian cuisine will be on full display. Whilst you’re there, why not take part in a cooking lesson, watch demonstrations by great chefs or kick back and relax with a glass of wine whilst taking in the show and entertainment.
Honfleur Shrimp Festival – Normandy
2-3 October 2022
We could easily make a list of food festivals in France alone. Hell, we could do three more lists, just covering all the wine festivals the country also boasts. As far as national food cultures go, French cuisine is among the most celebrated in the world. Hardly a single country hasn’t at least in some way copied the French model of cuisine (there’s a reason we use the French word ‘restaurant’ — the French practically invented it).
The French know their seafood. Lobster, prawns, mussels, crab, and langoustine — these are all mainstays of French cooking. The Shrimp Festival is one of the best places to conduct research into this area. During the festival, the streets come alive with anything and everything to do with shrimps; stroll around the fish markets, listen to or join in with the local musicians who belt out renditions of the seafaring songs and why not take part in the shrimp peeling competition!
What’s more, the festival is hosted in the town of Normandy (named after the Vikings that raided in medieval times), which happens to be one of the most picturesque old towns in France. All in all, not one to be overlooked.
Baltic Herring Festival – Helsinki
3-8 October 2022
Scandinavia doesn’t instantly spring to mind when most think ‘good food’. And this reputation isn’t wholly unwarranted — there is a Norwegian dish called ‘Rakfisk’, which is a plate of uncooked, rotten trout. However, allow me to explain why Finland’s Herring Festival is worth giving a chance. It’s the country’s oldest traditional festival, and it’s where any fisherman worth his/her salt will be this October. This event is a chance to taste some of the freshest fish you can ever have, straight off the boat and into the fryer/saucepan of Finland’s finest chefs. It’s steeped in Finnish history, and a great opportunity to eat your way through Finnish culture.
Fiesta del Marisco – Galicia, Spain
6-16 Oct 2022
With summer rapidly approaching, many of us aren’t looking to wolf down vast quantities of meat. Summer awakens our desire to be beach-bound, and to enjoy lighter, fresher culinary delights. Spain’s annual seafood festival is one of Europe’s largest, drawing over 200,000 visitors over a 10-day period. The small town of O Grove in Galicia on the Atlantic coast fills to the brim with cooks, chefs, seafood vendors, and enthusiasts from all over the world, who gather for the shared purpose of eating delicious seafood. Being a festival in Spain, there’s also a lot of music and dancing, so in the evening you can dance away some of the calories you ingested moments prior.
Feira dos Enchidos, Portugal
4-6 March 2022
This Portuguese festival was set up to celebrate Algarve’s culinary history of sausage craft. The word ‘sausage’ isn’t quite correct — we’re talking more about chorizo, not the brown and gray sausages you’re likely to see in a British supermarket. Portugal and Spain are renowned for having some of the best-quality pork in the world, and they make good use of it. If you do decide to attend, look out for the special Iberian black pig — it is heralded by chefs worldwide as the pinnacle of high-quality pork.
We’re all watching the clock, waiting for the countdown to signal a return to our former freedom. Alan Jenkins of Quadrant2Design comments, ‘The thwarted events’ industry isn’t just bad for business — it’s also an issue for mental health. Many people didn’t realize how much they appreciated the ability to participate in large events, and I think we’ll be seeing a surge in attendance at all kinds of gatherings and festivals this summer/autumn.’ Of course, we’re not quite out from under the rock we’ve grown so accustomed to. That’s why we’re giving you these suggestions early, so you can look ahead and think of all the exciting events you’ll once again be able to visit, once the government turns off our nation’s child-lock.
Theo Reilly is an independent writer and multilingual translator whose goal is to counteract stale writing in business blogs. Theo has particular interest in business and marketing-related matters surrounding the online world, web design, exhibitions and events.