Food, glorious food. It’s more than just sensory pleasure, and plays a huge part in the heritage and culture of a country. In recent years, communities around the world have increasingly sought to protect their produce and food festivals are a great way to celebrate local growers and restaurants. A fantastic addition to any vacation, there are now many unique festivals where food is the star of the show in different corners across the globe.
With more than three quarters (78%) of global travelers keen to try local dishes on their next trip, and with 65% enjoying the experience of new cuisine,* we selected four fabulously unique food festivals around the world that are sure to please the palate this fall. From Michelin-starred chefs and street-food stalls, to warming wines and singalongs, these food festivals will be a welcome addition to any bucket list – nudging travelers to experience good food, vibrant atmospheres and inspiring cultures.
Koreans say food in general tastes best in Jeonju, one of the largest cities in South Korea and the capital of North Jeolla Province. With its historic architecture and buzzing food scene, it’s a UNESCO City of Gastronomy and the birthplace of bibimbap, Korea’s well-known culinary delight (a colorful bowl of rice, egg and vegetables with a hot sauce and aromatic flavors). For travelers seeking to embrace all that South Korea’s food scene has to offer, the three-day Jeonju Bibimbap Festival from October 23-26 centers around this popular local dish. Chefs will be mixing an impressive gigantic bibimbap (about 400 servings) and there will be an array of cooking demonstrations and food exhibitions with the chance to sample local delicacies. For the foodie traveler who wants to discover more, opt for a Private Jeonju Hanok Village Culinary Tour to explore this famous region which is said to have the best street food in Korea. At the iconic Nambu Market, travelers will sample specialities such as mung-bean cake, torched beef sushi and bacon-vegetable rolls. Along the foodie trail, they will also get to explore several historical sites such as the Jeondong Catholic Church and the Gyeonggijeon Shrine.
Where to stay: For an authentic experience, opt for a traditional Korean wooden and slate-tile guesthouse. Located in the heart of Hanok Village, the Jungdam homestay is a prime spot for visitors heading to the Jeonju Bibimbap Festival. The property features a traditional courtyard with a beautiful flower garden for guests to relax in. All rooms are accessible via the courtyard and feature underfloor heating and traditional mats to sleep on. Guests can start their day with a colorful breakfast of fresh local fruit (Korean melon, pear, green plums and persimmon), before heading out to enjoy the nearby sights including the Jeonju Korean Traditional Wine Museum and the highly recommended Gyodong Art Center.
Located in the Côte d’Azur area in southeastern France, La Garde-Freinet is a picturesque village known for its unspoilt landscape. It’s also famed for its annual chestnut festival on the last Sundays of October, where travelers can taste an array of local varieties of chestnut in different guises; from roasted chestnuts and chestnut preserves to chestnut cakes and pies. To honor this seasonal nut, celebrations include a market with local produce, guided tours around the village and live music in the streets. It’s also a good opportunity to try one of the Michelin-starred restaurants, browse the art galleries or climb to the Fort Freinet for magnificent views from the Alps to the Mediterranean. There’s even something for those who may be allergic to nuts including an anchoïade sauce (an anchovy sauce mixed with white wine vinegar and olive oil), merguez (North-African sausages), and French country patés. No trip to the Côte d’Azur is complete without tasting the world-famous wines of the region. Embark on a Private Wine Tour in the Côtes de Provence and visit several wineries along the French Riviera, tasting rosé, red and white wines.
Where to stay: Villa Fontane Provence is a boutique, family-run B&B set in two hectares of leafy grounds with a large heated swimming pool. The spacious three-bedroom guesthouse also comes with an independent holiday home cottage that families can rent. For breakfast, guests can feast on freshly baked croissants and a delicious selection of homemade jams and honey from the hills, and then enjoy wonderful views of the French Riviera from one of the many hammocks dotted around the property. The hosts are artists and couldn’t be more welcoming, with recommendations on activities in the area from sandy beaches and bustling markets to hiking trails – and, of course, the fabulous restaurant scene.
It’s easy to see why Hawaii has become synonymous with paradise. The beautiful islands not only offer year-round sunshine, breathtaking natural beauty and crystal-clear waters, they are also renowned for their vibrant cuisine. From the Hawaiian Plate Lunch (white rice, macaroni and fried chicken or teriyaki beef) to sweet delights such as Shave Ice (thinly shaved ice and syrup served in a cup). The best place to experience the flavors of the island is the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, which takes place from October 20 until November 6 on the Hawaiian Islands of Maui, Oahu and Hawai’i and attracts culinary masters and mixologists. With a mission to ‘taste the love of the land,’ the festival highlights the delicious local dishes that can be made using local produce and hosts an array of demonstrations to educate on the field to fork process – ideal for the 64% of global travelers who are now keen to be more conscious about food when traveling**. For passionate foodies, experience the Food Tour of O’ahu, a guided walking tour where travelers will taste local bites from this multi-cultural Hawaiian island including Vietnamese cured pork, Japanese inspired poke dragon fruit and Filipino inspired halo-halo dessert, all whilst learning about the history and heritage of the island.
Where to stay: The elegant beachfront Halekulani Hotel is stylishly decorated with all but a handful of rooms enjoying views of the tropical blue-green sea. The hotel is conveniently located on Waikiki Beach, and actually hosts the food festival in Oahu where wine tastings and cooking demonstrations led by local celebrity chefs will be on guests’ doorstep. A foodie’s paradise, the hotel’s three onsite restaurants all serve fresh, local ingredients. Dress up for award-winning French cuisine at La Mer or head to Orchid’s veranda which serves afternoon tea from 3pm and is the place to go for sundowners overlooking the ocean. Offering unmatched luxury, the resort features a tropical interior lawn, Italian-glass tiled swimming pool and live jazz lounge. An indulgent spa offers whirlpools and steam rooms and an impressive menu of services including a must-try Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage.
The picturesque city of Bern, nestled within the banks of the Aare River, is known for its UNESCO protected old town, sightseeing and history. The well-preserved medieval buildings and its surrounding hills give the Swiss capital picture-postcard character. Head there in November, when the air in Bern’s lanes is filled with the heady scent of caramelized onions and mulled wine as the city hosts its annual Onion Market. Farmers from the neighboring areas head into Bern on the last Monday of the month with around 50 tons of onions and garlic in a beautiful braided woven fashion for this traditional farmers market and folk festival. Travelers can chow down on an array of onion-based dishes, from warming onion soup to onion tarts, onion pizzas and sausage with onions – all washed down with a refreshing mug of Glühwein. For those left wanting a sweet delight, try the Magenbrot cookies, a sweet glazed biscuit similar to a gingerbread cookie and cotton candy. Visitors can learn more about the fascinating history of this city on a Walking Tour, to discover its iconic landmarks including the Cathedral of Bern and Kindlifresserbrunnen brightly painted-stone fountains.
Where to stay: The Bed and Breakfast Wildrose is a quaint villa situated in the heart of the city, just a short stroll from the Onion Market. Offering spacious rooms that are traditionally decorated throughout and a lovely sun terrace, this relaxed B&B provides a charming home-away-from-home feel. Guests can begin their day with a complimentary hearty breakfast, before asking the welcoming hosts for local tips on where to visit. The old town of Bern can be reached in 10 minutes by tram, with a convenient stop close to the villa.
* Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 48,413 respondents across 31 markets (2,000 from USA, 1,864 from Canada, 1,999 from Mexico, 2,003 from Colombia, 2,005 from Brazil, 2,002 from Argentina, 1,020 from Chile, 1,777 from Australia, 818 from New Zealand, 1,999 from Spain, 2,002 from Italy, 1,998 from France, 1,990 from UK, 2,005 from Germany, 2,003 from Netherlands, 985 from Denmark, 999 from Sweden, 910 from Croatia, 918 from Switzerland, 1,986 from Belgium, 998 from Russia, 953 from Israel, 1,999 from India, 1,990 from China, 901 from Hong Kong, 1,775 from Thailand, 1,001 from Singapore, 975 from Taiwan, 1,800 from Vietnam, 1,757 from South Korea, 1,001 from Japan). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once for business or leisure in the past 12 months, and planning to travel in 2022 and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in January 2022.
**Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 30,314 respondents across 32 countries and territories (1,000 from USA, 958 from Canada, 1,009 from Mexico, 1,001 from Colombia, 1,003 from Brazil, 1,017 from Argentina, 1,000 from Australia, 486 from New Zealand, 998 from Spain, 1,003 from Italy, 996 from France, 495 from Switzerland, 980 from the UK, 998 from Germany, 1,014 from the Netherlands, 991 from Belgium, 985 from Denmark, 984 from Sweden, 964 from Croatia, 976 from Russia, 1,008 from Israel, 1,002 from India, 1,004 from China, 925 from Hong Kong, 1,006 from Thailand, 988 from Singapore, 1,002 from Taiwan, 1,004 from Vietnam, 1,004 from South Korea, 1,003 from Japan, 1,006 from South Africa and 504 from Kenya ). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months and must be planning to travel in 2022, and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in February 2022.
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