When you think “festival,” you’re most likely picturing rows of sunburnt teenagers flailing about to impossibly loud music. But there are plenty of festivals across Europe where people congregate for love of food and drink. When the cast is finally off and we can move freely again, many of us will be itching to do something, to go somewhere different. Look no further than these upcoming European food and drink festivals this year.
Bordeaux Fête le Vin, Garonne, France
17th-20th June 2021
For those with no intention of going up a waist size, Bordeaux’s own wine festival may be more up your avenue. Once every two years, the city organizes a huge festival to celebrate a deep-rooted tradition of wine cultivation and appreciation, attracting visitors worldwide. If you’re interested in exploring the flavor palette that wine has to offer, or simply want an excuse to explore the French southwest, this is the event for you.
Taste Florence, Florence, Italy
28th-30th June 2021
Having two Italian mentions in this list does not reveal a deep-seated nationalist Italian bias on my part. It rather indicates how rich the culinary tradition of Italy is. In an Italian city today, you can find all the commercial chains and processed food that you’d find in any other western city. But outside the urban areas, the local produce is incredible. There are products that, particularly when in season and fresh, are unmatched in quality by any equivalent you’re likely to find elsewhere. But getting the local culinary experience is not always easy as a tourist.
In comes the Taste Florence Festival at the end of June. Voted Best Food Tour by the Culinary Travel Guide, this is the best place to experience the breadth of produce Italian rural culture has to offer. From mangoes and oranges to olive oil and cured meats, there will be something for every eater. Look for the simplest foods, as close to having just been pulled out of the ground or picked off the tree.
Copenhagen Cooking, Copenhagen, Denmark
20th-29th August 2021
This may be one of the most esteemed culinary events on this list. While not a city steeped in ancient food tradition, Copenhagen has become in recent years a mecca for restaurateurs serving every cuisine under the sun, with a particular focus on minimalist, ‘New Nordic’ food, a movement that started in Copenhagen itself. Visitors can expect extremely high-quality ingredients, treated with the diligence and care of a Michelin-starred chef for a fresh, sharp sensory experience.
Lyon Street Food Festival, Lyon, France
16th-19th September 2021
A relatively recent addition to the French food festival roster, the Lyon Street Food Festival caters to a modern palette, moving somewhat away from the format of haute cuisine and fine dining that characterizes much of France’s food tradition. Food stalls at the Lyon festival will be unpretentious, reasonably priced and very high-quality. The event organizers describe it as a ‘temple of gastronomy’ — so book yourself a ticket and head over to pay homage.
International Oyster and Seafood Festival, Galway, Ireland
24th-26th September 2021
Anyone who knows their seafood knows that Ireland has some of the freshest, best produce the world has to offer. The only reason Ireland is sometimes neglected in the ‘best seafood’ conversation is the taste palette of its inhabitants — Irish people haven’t historically been mad about seafood, but that is starting to change. More and more restaurants are starting to make use of the wealth of aquatic produce that surrounds the island, as the Irish develop a taste for fish and seafood. The annual Oyster and Seafood Festival is the place to experience this natural abundance, curated by expert chefs to accentuate the seafood’s natural flavors.
Pizza Village, Naples, Italy
Early 2022 (TBC)
This may sound like yet another high-street conglomerate chain, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Held in the birthplace of pizza, Naples, Pizza Village is the largest food festival happening in Italy, and for good reason. Neapolitans may be relaxed about many things, including speed limits, punctuality and rules, but they do not fool around when it comes to the baked combination of tomato, cheese and bread. Pizza is a worldwide cult, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a city that rivals Naples in quality and consistency. Really, I’m not sure why I’m trying to convince you — it’s literally called Pizza Village, isn’t that enough?
Open For Travel: Organizing European Food and Drink Festivals Safely
Some of us are busy frantically planning our year to have somewhere to go when restrictions lift. Others are more resigned, having grown accustomed to a suppressed social life. Whatever the case, there will be no shortage of events across Europe later on in the year as organizers are finally allowed to host the festivals and occasions that have been stymied for over a year now.
Alan Jenkins of Quadrant2Design comments, “It may not be on the forefront of everyone’s minds right now, but organizers are busy at work setting up events to attract as many visitors as possible when restrictions lift. 2021-2022 may see a surge in the events industry beyond anything we’ve seen before.”
Organizers are certainly not having an easy time at the moment, and they will have to work extra hard to put on an impressive show. So, consider beating the crowd and getting an early ticket — you may not want to miss what 2021 has to offer.
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-All photos as credited. Cover photo by 奥尼尔 孙 on Pexels.com.