We’re taking you on an unusual journey through some of the world’s most unique culinary games. All you need is an empty stomach and a willingness to have fun – you don’t even have to know how to cook, just be ready to eat well, discover new flavors and go a little crazy. Read on to discover the best and most original food festivals in the world.
La Tomatina, Bunol, Spain
Everyone has dreamed of throwing a tomato at someone, but in the Spanish town of Bunol, near Valencia, you’re invited to throw them at will and without fear of reprimand! La Tomatina, the world’s biggest tomato fight, takes place every year on the last Wednesday in August at the Plaza Mayor, Bunol’s local market. And if you’re worried about food waste then let us set your mind at ease – participants throw over-ripe fruits that are unfit for consumption, meaning that, even if you take a direct hit, you won’t be harmed, even if your clothes will!
The fight begins and ends with a bang. It lasts an hour and is attended by up to 20,000 people, meaning that if you’d like to try your aim then you’ll need to book your place in advance. The reward for taking part is a delicious Spanish ham. However, you will have to make an effort to claim your prize as it is usually hung somewhere inaccessible. After the battle, festival-goers party long into the night in the local pubs and clubs… after first changing their clothes, of course!
Visit Bunol during La Tomatina
Noche de Rábanos, Oaxaca, Mexico
Bored of chocolate sculptures and pasta portraits? Had enough of gingerbread houses? How about radish men? Or Christmas decorations carved entirely from this crunchy veggie? This unusual Christmas tradition hails from Oaxaca, Mexico and has plenty to appeal to everyone, not just vegans! Every year on 23 December, the entire city celebrates Radish Night, when local artists use the surplus of this red vegetable to carve anything they can imagine.
There are stalls selling radish figures from Mexican history and culture, animals, houses and even Christmas scenes, including the baby Jesus himself, all carved from radishes. If you like, you too can try your hand at vegetable art. The best artists compete for prizes, and the Night of Radishes is accompanied by fireworks and concerts.
Fly on Noche de rábanos
Giant omelette feast, Bessieres, France
In many countries, Easter is celebrated with eggs. However, in one French town, they celebrate Holy Week by frying the world’s biggest omelette. Every year in the French town of Bessieres, the Brotherhood of the Giant Omelette breaks 15,000 eggs and gets to work. Using wooden spoons as big as oars, they fry the world’s largest omelette, divided into thousands of portions.
This Easter tradition harks back to Napoleon when the emperor is said to have enjoyed the local eggs so much that he asked for a giant omelette to be made for him and his soldiers. Since then, local cooks have made it a point of honor to prepare the world’s largest egg dish. Embrace this alternative Easter celebration and enjoy your omelette in the company of thousands of other gourmands.
Make a giant omelette in Bessières
Potato Days Festival, Barnesville, Minnesota, USA
Any self-respecting potato fan should make a point of visiting Minnesota’s renowned Potato Days festival. The small town of Barnesville is famous for growing potatoes and every year, on the last weekend in August, it celebrates the humble spud with the best potato festival in the world. Imagine participating in a mashed potato wrestling contest or a potato eating competition. There are also Miss Potato Miss pageants and vegetable picking contests.
The festival begins with a traditional parade of residents, tourists, local organisations and exhibitors. But Barnesville does not live on potatoes alone. During the festival, you can feast your ears on local bands while sampling some of the (non-potato) local dishes.
Head to Minnesota for Potato Days
Olney pancake race, Buckinghamshire, Anglia
In the English town of Olney in Buckinghamshire, you can burn calories instead of just eating them. All you need is a love of pancakes and a willingness to run, as well as a local address – to take part in the Olney Pancake Race, you must have lived in Buckinghamshire for at least three months. Interestingly, the race is for women only and at the start, racers don special aprons and are given a frying pan with a pancake in it. The race is around 415 meters, with the winner crossing the line in the shortest time possible. Once you reach the finish line, you can eat your pancake to replenish your energy reserves 😊.
This event dates back to 1445, making it one of the oldest races in the world. Interestingly, the race has also become popular in the United States with a similar pancake run held in Liberal, Kansas. At the end of the day, a live link between the US and the UK compares times and decides which town has come out on top.
Take part in the Olney pancake race
Eat, play and travel
Whether you’d like to taste, play or even throw your food, you can find interesting festivals all over the world. Unforgettable experiences and the discovery of culinary traditions from different corners of the world are all part of the adventure. The five festivals we have selected are just the beginning – in almost every corner of the world you will find events where food is the star of the show. Meanwhile, we hope we have whetted your appetite for travel!