1. American Royal World Series of Barbecue, United States
With more than 100 barbecue restaurants, Kansas City is the barbecue capital of America, renowned for its slow-smoked and sauce-covered barbecue and burnt ends, the crusty tips of a brisket.
The World Series of Barbecue, which takes place over the Labour Day weekend on the Kansas Speedway racetrack, is the largest barbecue competition in the world. The US Labour Day is on the first Monday of September.
Racing teams travel from across the US and more than 10 countries to compete for the amateur and professional titles of Open and Invitational Grand Champion.
2. Beaujolais Nouveau Day, France
On the third Thursday in November, Beaujolais Nouveau Day is celebrated in France to salute the year’s first wine as it is released at 12.01am.
Beaujolais is a light-bodied, low-tannin red wine typically made from the Gamay grape in the Beaujolais region, north of Lyon.
The wine is fermented for just a few weeks before being released to celebrate the end of the grape harvest.
3. Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival, Ireland
The Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival, which had about three dozen guests when it launched in 1954, is now one of the biggest events on Ireland’s social calendar, attracting more than 20,000 visitors every year.
Visitors travel from all over the country to join the seafood trail, with visits to the best restaurants and pubs throughout the city. They join oyster-cooking workshops, listen to talks about fisheries and frolic at a masquerade ball. For children, there is a carnival with face painting, games and circus acts.
Of course, the oyster is the hero of the day. The World Oyster Opening Championship, where participants try to shuck the most oysters in the shortest time, is a highlight, as is the chance to indulge in plate after plate of fresh Atlantic oysters, washed down with Guinness.
Photo: Boyd Challenger
4. Herring Festival, Denmark
Whether simply smoked, fried or cured – or served on brown bread or in a curry sauce with potatoes – herring forms a cornerstone of Danish cuisine.
Every spring, when the herring swim into locks at Hvide Sande on their way to spawn in the nearby Ringkobing Fjord, the town becomes an angler’s paradise when virtually every line lands a fish.
To celebrate, the village holds Sildefestival, a herring festival attracting hundreds of anglers from Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, who come to hook, cook and eat as much herring as they can over the last weekend in April.
5. Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, New Zealand
This festival, held at the end of the southern hemisphere summer, attracts more than 6,000 people every year. There are carnival games and rides, live music, costume competitions, concerts and, of course, the roughly 50 stalls selling food.
Picky eaters will enjoy the festival’s more traditional fare, such as marinated tuna, smoked salmon, game meats and a Maori hangi (pit barbecue).
The adventurous will delight in the wild foods – like Huhu grubs (the finger-sized larvae of the huhu beetle, which is the largest endemic beetle found in New Zealand), which are said to taste like peanut butter.
6. International Alba White Truffle Fair, Italy
They may look like lumpy, dirty potatoes, but the scent of fresh truffles can elevate any dish.
And every year, the world’s top chefs and food buyers flock to Alba, a city in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, to buy the world’s best truffles at the International Alba White Truffle Fair.
The fair is an opportunity for the hunters to showcase and sell their white treasures, which fetch prices anywhere from €50 (S$79) to tens of thousands of euros apiece.
7. Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland, Maine
Every year, thousands of people from all over the world gather on the coast of Maine in the United States to indulge in sweet, freshly caught lobster, the region’s prized delicacy.
Last year, the Lobster Festival cooked and served more than 8,000kg of the crustacean, along with steamed and fried clams, fried Maine shrimp, shrimp cocktail and steamed mussels slathered in fresh Cabot butter, the traditional Maine way.
8. Mango Festival, Iba, Zambales, Philippines
Zambales, on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, may be best known for its pristine sand beaches, but it is also home to the sweetest mangoes in the world. Savour them during the Mango Festival, a celebration with dances, parades and mango-eating contests, held during their peak season in April.
9. Napoli Pizza Village, Naples, Italy
Tens of thousands gather in a 30,000 sq m venue in Naples, the birthplace of pizza, to celebrate one of the most enduring symbols of Italy.
More than 50 of the most renowned pizzerias globally are represented at the event, churning out more than 100,000 pizzas over nine days.
This is a cultural festival more than anything and visitors come for the delicious pizzas, seminars, workshops and concerts.
10. Ottawa Poutinefest, Ottawa, Canada
Poutine, a French-Canadian classic that is arguably Canada’s national dish, is a plate of French fries doused in cheese curds and brown gravy and has won fans the world over.
Thousands of people gather in one of Ottawa’s main squares to gorge on its many iterations, including shawarma, lobster, Greek-style, sausage and nachos poutine, at the Ottawa PoutineFest every year.
Photo: Ottawa Poutinefest
11. Rose of Saffron Festival, Spain
Saffron is a rich spice used as a dye and food flavouring in many Spanish dishes, including paella, and is worth its weight in gold.
Spain is one of the main producers of saffron, which is the dried stigma of the saffron crocus flower.
Spain’s cultivation of saffron is almost exclusively in the central Castilla-La Mancha region and, every year at the end of October, the town of Consuegra holds the Fiesta de la Rosa del Azafran (Rose of Saffron Festival) to celebrate the harvest and promote the region’s cultural and gastronomic crafts and traditions.
12. Tokyo Ramen Show, Japan
The dreams of noodle lovers come true at the Tokyo Ramen Show, an 11-day annual event gathering the best ramen-makers from all over Japan in Komazawa Olympic Park.
Visitors can sample different types of ramen, from classic varieties to regional specialities and flavour combinations created specially for the show by 36 ramen shops across the country.
Eighteen ramen shops will set up stalls during the first half of the show from Oct 26 to 31 this year. They will be replaced by another 18 ramen shops from Nov 1 to 5.
Admission is free.
13. Waikiki Spam Jam, Hawaii, United States
Hawaiians love Spam, a type of canned meat that is found in homes and restaurants across the state.
They are so serious about Spam – almost seven million cans are consumed every year – that they hold an annual festival in its honour. More than 25,000 people attended last year.
A main street in the Waikiki neighbourhood turns into a street carnival of games, concerts, and food stalls, where restaurants, including some of Honolulu’s finest, serve their interpretations of Spam.
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(Text by Lydia Vasko, The Straits Times / Additional reporting by Natalya Molok)