Here at Tinggly we believe the best way to travel the world is with an empty stomach and a healthy appetite for new experiences. There’s no better way of understanding a new place and its culture than by diving into its cuisine. Dine with friends at an Argentinian steakhouse. Taste the finest barbecue of your life in Texas. Gorge on sushi and ramen at salarymen restaurants in Japan. Explore India’s vast curry scene. A few weeks ago we wrote about Spain’s infamous La Tomatina festival, where thousands of revellers descend on a small town for an epic tomato fight. This week, we’re turning our attention to foodie festivals where you actually get to taste the food, rather than have it flung in your face. But in true Tinggly fashion we’re not so concerned with more traditional events – we’re looking for weird and wonderful foodie festivals around the world where the all-round experience is as memorable as the food.
BugFest, North Carolina, USA
Every year, North Carolina’s Museum of Natural Sciences welcomes thousands of visitors who come to discover the world of insects. BugFest offers a day of displays and activities centred on creepy crawlies of all kinds, with scientists on hand to explain their habitats, behaviours and the uses humans find for bugs. You might learn how to create your own beehive, watch fireflies at night, or bring an insect of your own for the experts to examine.But for many BugFest guests the highlight is a visit to Cafe Insecta, where they can practise entomophagy – the practise of eating insects. Chow down on squishy, crunchy but always delicious dishes prepared by local chefs, and learn why eating insects is environmentally friendly, provided you can get over the weirdness at first.Isle of Wight Garlic Festival, UK
Not a vampire in sight at the annual Isle of Wight Garlic Festival, which is held in August on a farm in Newchurch that has won awards for its pungent produce. Local chefs serve up recipes such as garlic potato salad and tomato and garlic bruschetta, while a host of stalls sell other produce from honey to meat, cheese to wine, so there’s plenty to take the aroma of garlic off your breath. Discover why garlic is so good for your health – and come home with an array of garlic-infused treats including…erm…garlic fudge?Wildfoods Festival, New Zealand
Celebrating the unique wild food culture of New Zealand’s West Coast, this festival has been running since 1990 and showcases a huge array of strange delicacies. You might expect to find grasshoppers on your plate, chicken feet, crocodile, and mountain oysters (not actually seafood, beware!). The stallion protein shots are legendary and not for the faint-hearted.Galway Oyster Festival, Ireland
Regular oysters are on the menu at this popular Irish festival held on the last weekend of September. It’s the oldest festival of its kind in the world and besides many opportunities to try oysters, there are street parades, Atlantic seafood trails and live music shows. The one unmissable event though is the championship shucking, when competitors aim to open as many oysters as they can in a given time – it’s a masterclass in skill and precision.Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival, Florida, USA
Did you think frog legs were a delicacy reserved only for France? Far from it. Fellsmere in Florida is a community hooked on the hoppers, and every January a long weekend of frog leg fun begins with live entertainment and a wide menu of interesting dishes available. This is also your chance to sample another Florida tradition – alligator tail. Well, better you take a bite out of the gator than he takes one out of you, we guess.Chinchilla Melon Festival, Australia
In a similar vein to La Tomatina, the Chinchilla Melon Festival in Australia is a two-day event full of melon-based carnage. Watch events such as the rodeo, melon water skiing (yes, that is a thing apparently) and melon weigh-in where there are prizes for champion growers. You can also take part in the competition for best fancy dress – for your melon.Thorrablot, Iceland
Thorrablot is Iceland’s midwinter festival, and where participants come together to enjoy traditional Viking foods which, if we’re honest, are some of the ugliest and most unappetizing we’ve ever heard of – but maybe we’re being too harsh. Someone must like singed sheep head and rotten shark otherwise why are the recipes still floating around?