Celebrate the food. Every Spring Bank Holiday near a small village in Gloucestershire, the tranquillity of the English countryside is shattered by several hundred participants engaging in the pursuit of a large round of locally-produced cheese. Despite the considerable assistance afforded by gravity and a steep slope, the runners find themselves no match for the nine-pound Double Gloucester that cartwheels downhill at speeds of up to 112 kilometres per hour.
The Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake, which is thought to have its origins in pagan ritual, is just one of a huge array of food and food-related festivals on offer every year. In fact, throw a dart at a map of Europe and, chances are, it will pinpoint a festival celebrating the food, history and culture of that region.
If you want to experience a food festival that’s quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, ask your personal travel manager to help you design an itinerary that’s sure to be memorable.
Here’s a sampling of a few more of our favourites.
In February 2017, the French Riviera town of Menton will celebrate the 84th year of the Lemon Festival. Why? Menton citrus afficionados have long-proclaimed the uniqueness of the Menton lemon, which according to local legend is descended from a single fruit that was planted by Eve herself following her exiling from the Garden of Eden. Regardless of the accuracy of that claim, more than two hundred thousand visitors descend on this pretty little town annually to view the giant sculptures that have been lovingly crafted from thousands of tonnes of oranges and lemons.
Each year the festival adheres to a different theme: in 2017, it will celebrate all things Broadway. As well as the sculptures, which stand up to ten metres high, visitors enjoy daytime and nightime parades, an orchid festival and the magical Garden of Lights.
Chocoholics rejoice! In the last week of October, as many as 5,000 artisans will gather in a vast convention space just outside Paris to showcase and celebrate all things chocolate. The Paris Chocolate Show brings together the world’s top producers, confectioners, chefs and chocolate lovers in a vast trade show at which, for five glorious days, visitors can enjoy the very best chocolatey treats, demonstrations and other choc-tivities – there’s even a chocolate fashion show that features a collection of couture dresses that are literally good enough to eat!
And the good news for those who can’t make it to Paris this year: sister events are run in ten other locations around the world at various times of the year.
Imagine a narrow street, lined with tall white apartment buildings and thronged with happy, white-garbed festival goers. At the sound of a cannon, a cheer erupts from the crowd and the air of anticipation reaches fever pitch. The rumbling sound of a line of enormous lorries slowly making their way along from the far end of the street reaches your ears as your more experienced neighbours don their swimming goggles…
This is La Tomatina: an annual festival that takes place in Buñol, a small town near the Spanish coastal city of Valencia, every year on the last Wednesday in August. Its origins are unclear, but this is a tomato fight of epic proportions. The rules are simple: wear white, keep a safe distance from the trucks (which dump an estimated 145,000 kilograms of tomatoes along the course), stop when you hear the second cannon, and always squish the tomatoes before you throw them. After an hour, you’ll be wallowing ankle-deep in salsa and your skin and clothes will be coloured a fetching shade of tomato-red. You are now free to adjourn to the nearby square to rehydrate with jugs of cold sangria.
Our personal travel managers are all travel enthusiasts themselves, so if you’re still looking for inspiration, ask your nearest personal travel manager about their favourite food festival.