Being a foodie and digital nomad for most of my adult life comes with one big benefit — I get to see a lot of food festivals.
For those who enjoy their food, festivals offer a bit of a 'kid in the big toy shop' experience. You tend to get a bit of everything, whether it's fine dining, street food, or new inventions and wacky combinations.
Gordon Ramsay would eat his heart out if he knew about all these delicious eats! In fact, he probably does.
There are a lot of great food festivals in my home in Scotland, but you'll find celebrations for food lovers worldwide. Best of all, unlike most other festivals, they're not super expensive.
Below, I'll tell you about the best food festivals in the world, why you should visit them, and what to expect. If you're wanting to get involved with food festivals yourself, I'll tell you a bit more about that too.
Top Famous Food Festivals Around the World
There are some famous food festivals and some just plain weird food festivals around the world. I'll mention a few of each, with a focus on the scrumptious ones.
The German Oktoberfest goes back to the 18th century. It's essentially a beer festival that also features live entertainment and German food.
I'll offer an unpopular opinion and recommend you avoid the official one in Munich. It's expensive and overly crowded. Instead, try to visit one of the many smaller local Oktoberfests of the season.
You may not even need to travel far! As long as you get some German beer and delicious sausages, Oktoberfest is a fun way to celebrate German food and fun. Just look for 'German food festivals near me' and you're sure to find one for you.
4. New Orleans Wine & Food Experience
New Orleans is well-known for its beautiful, diverse food culture. The event website boasts that it's all about what New Orleans does best — eat and drink.
Hundreds of different local restaurants and wineries participate each year, attracting top chefs and sommeliers. New Orleans is such a culturally rich, interesting city. You'll love both the event itself and exploring before and after.
To top it off, this food festival was named one of the best in America, as well as the best wine festival overall.
3. National Street Food Festival
This one will certainly take you further afield — the National Street Food Festival is a magical experience held annually in India. If you love Indian food and the rich, colorful culture that comes along with it, you'll adore this.
About 500 of the most renowned street food vendors in the country travel to New Delhi to present their delicacies. So you'll have lots to taste when you go!
The aim of this festival is to preserve India's diverse food culture. There are also always lots of culinary art presentations and colorful displays. Essentially, if you're a real foodie, you'll have mouthwatering dreams about the National Street Food Festival for the rest of your days.
2. Maine Lobster Festival
If you haven't heard of Maine lobsters, I'm pretty sure you haven't lived at all. Sorry, not sorry. The Maine Lobster Festival celebrates the most delicious seafood that is, well, lobster.
You'll find this a kind of retro, fun festival with lots of scrumptious food. There are giant plastic lobsters, colorful banners, and an array of seafood.
There's even an annual Seafood Cooking Competition, where amateur chefs compete to win. Enjoy some lively Maine entertainment before you sit down to eat your lobster. There's lobster crate racing — which is as crazy as it sounds — as well as live music and a 'Maine Sea Goddess' coronation.
1. Loch Lomond Food and Drink
I adore Scotland, so the number one place has to be Loch Lomond Food and Drink Festival. It's held annually by, you guessed it, the shores of famed Loch Lomond.
The Loch Lomond Food and Drink show isn't the biggest food fair you can attend, but it's one of the loveliest. Here, you'll find a variety of gourmet food vendors, meat vendors, artisan bakers, and of course, whisky and gin distillers.
It's a delightful food fair for those who want to wrap a holiday around their visit too. Loch Lomond isn't very far from Glasgow and is just at the edge of the Highlands.
If you're wanting to see a little of Scotland's most breathtaking landscapes all while enjoying scrumptious food, this is the one.
Bonus: Scottish Wild Food Festival
If wild food is your thing, this one shouldn't be missed! The Scottish Wild Food Festival celebrates foraging and wild food in Scotland.
It's celebrated annually in the amazing Tír na nÓg Holistic Centre at the edge of the Trossachs National Park. Just that alone will entice those who love both food and mythology. Tír na nÓg means 'land of the young' and is a mythical paradise.
You'll find your foodie paradise here! There are plenty of workshops, a long table lunch, a wild food market, and free activities for kids and grown-ups.
Runners-up include Pizzafest, which I think is self-explanatory, and pretty much any dumpling festival, with a special nod to this mouthwatering one in London.
Famously Unique Food Festivals
As for the slightly 'weirder' food festivals, here is a small selection:
3. Frawli Festa Strawberry Festival
Malta's annual Strawberry Festival is not the strangest of the bunch and certainly isn't weird if you love strawberries. Plus, Malta is a gorgeous setting with plenty of sunshine and stunning beaches.
It's advertised as a wander through the quaint Mġarr village as you enjoy the juiciest berries. Really, what more could you ask for?
2. Cheese-Rolling Festival
This one is properly weird. The annual Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake event in Gloucester, England is pretty strange.
Essentially large wheels of cheese are sent rolling down a hill, with competitors racing after them. The first person who crosses the finish line wins the cheese. It's good if you like cheese, not so much if you're lactose intolerant.
1. La Tomatina
I don't love the idea of this festival whatsoever, but it certainly tops the list for "weirdest food festival."
La Tomatina is the annual tomato-throwing competition in Spain. It's described as the 'World's Biggest Food Fight,' so it's pretty wasteful and messy. Up to 20,000 people come and throw tomatoes at each other. Sound fun? No, I didn't think so either.
Catering a Food Festival
How to Become a Food Vendor at Festivals
If you're wondering how food festivals work for vendors or even how to become a food vendor at fairs and festivals, let me tell you:
First, you do need to look into what food sells best at festivals. Any kind of fries tends to do super well, as does street food. Popcorn, roasted nuts of any kind, and cotton candy are also good staple foods.
With that said, anything new, innovative, and — most importantly — delicious, should do ok. Obviously don't sell pulled pork at a vegan food fair, but you know, that goes without saying.
How Much Do Food Trucks Make at Festivals?
It's actually reasonably easy to make money selling food at festivals. The key thing is to come prepared and know your numbers. So you'll want to research your pitch or stall fees, and the number of potential attendees. You'll also want to know exactly what type of customers you're catering to and what they're into.
In general, food vendors should expect at least $1000-2000 of net income from their sales. Food vendors at a specific food festival will likely make more than that, just on the basis of their audience.
Whether you're catering at a festival or just going yourself, do make sure you stay hydrated.
Plan Your Global Food Festival Exploration With Pilot!
Food festivals all have one thing in common: they're a global phenomenon because people always love to eat. Regardless of which festival — or festivals — you're planning to visit this year, make sure you download the Pilot app!