Alicia Miller
Alicia Miller


FOOD • June 2018

Top foodie festivals the locals want to keep secret

Our expert foodie writer, Alicia Miller introduces us to Europe’s top food and wine festivals we bet you’ve never heard of...

TREK Food Festival, Amsterdam

TREK Food Festival, Amsterdam, Netherlands

13-15 July 2018
Think of booming food-truck scenes, and Portland, Bangkok and London probably spring to mind. Add Amsterdam to that list, because this summer festival in the Dutch capital sees a whole fleet of globally inspired food trucks setting up shop in leafy, river-lined Amstelpark. Everything from sushi to burgers is served up – alongside 1980s funk and soul on the sound system. Can’t make these dates? This travelling festival wheels its way to other Dutch cities, too, including Utrecht and The Hague.
Must try: Street eats don’t keep, so for an edible souvenir stock up on stroopwafel, the classic caramel-filled Dutch biscuits, at any local supermarket.

Massa Lubrense Lemon Festival, Sorrento

Massa Lubrense Lemon Festival/Festa del Limone, near Sorrento, Italy

Mid-late July 2018
A lemon festival might not sound particularly enticing, until you realise that, in Campania, it means free-flowing limoncello. A hop west of Sorrento, harbour town Massa Lubrense, criss-crossed by mule tracks, is the centre of prime lemon-growing territory, and for more than 40 years has been home to an annual festival celebrating all things citrus. Stock up on lemony wares at the market, join an evening-long lemon feast and – of course – knock back chilled limoncellos (the local lemon variety, femminello, makes the best!).
Must try: Still not sick of lemons? Run your fork through a delizie al limone (sponge cake with lemon cream).

Mirabelle Plum Festival, Metz

Mirabelle Plum Festival, Metz, France

18-26 August 2018
Dainty, golden-yellow mirabelle plums, chin-dribblingly juicy and extra-sweet, are an obsession in France’s northeastern city of Metz – and no wonder, as around 80 per cent of the world’s supply grows nearby. During peak harvest season in August, a two-week celebration sees pop-up markets selling plummy compotes, puds and liquors. Come for the alfresco concerts, funfair, golden-yellow parade floats and the annual crowning of the Mirabelle Plum Queen.
Must try: Save room for open-faced plum tarts, baked into flaky circles.

Madeira Wine Festival, Portugal

Madeira Wine Festival, Madeira, Portugal

26 August to 9 September 2018
Vineyards cling precipitously to the green slopes of volcanic, sea-breezed Madeira, the Atlantic island that lent its name to one of the world’s great fortified wines. They’ve been making Madeira – the drink – here for around 500 years, and this annual festival is a nod to centuries-old traditions. Old-school, red-and-white dress is donned for parades; join-in harvests and grape-stomping events are on tap; and classic alfresco concerts serenade you while you sip your way through dry sercials and sweet malmseys.
Must try: Madeirans do desserts almost as well as they do wine. Tuck into queijadas (small cakes made with creamy cheese) or delicate passion fruit pudding.

Rioja Wine Festival, Spain

Rioja Wine Festival/Las Fiestas de San Mateo, Logroño, Spain

15-22 September 2018
Cobbled Logroño is the wine-soaked heart of the Rioja region, and once a year this terracotta-roofed city lets its hair down for a week-long celebration dedicated to all things vinous. Locals parade down streets wearing cabezudos – enormous papier-mâché masks – while you get to feel the squelch of grapes between your toes during a mass foot-pressing of the year’s vintage. Impromptu street parties fill the week; even the water in Gran Via’s fountain is dyed purpley-pink, the tone of a joven (young) Riojan tipple.
Must try: Logroño feels like a mini San Sebastián, with buzzy tapas bars at every turn in the medieval old town. Don’t miss wine bar La Tavina.

Zigante Truffle Days, Croatia

Zigante Truffle Days, Livade, Croatia

15 September to 18 November 2018
You’ll pay big bucks in Italy or France, but in Croatia, truffle-laden dishes come at a fraction of the price, especially during Istria’s 10-week festival celebrating the tuber. Every weekend the hilltop village of Livade transforms into a truffley paradise, with white and black varieties for sale, cookery demonstrations, wine tastings and food stalls. But the highlight? The rare opportunity to join a truffle hunter and his hound on the search, deep in the Motovun Forest.
Must try: Book ahead for an epic meal at restaurant-with-rooms Zigante, a truffle specialist in the centre of town.

This article has been tagged Food + Drink, Destination