Top Ten Food Festivals

Get ready for palate-pleasing, tummy-tempting, finger-licking-good food as we guide you to the world's best food festivals. Bon appetite!
By Amanda Dumenigo
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Arcata Oyster Festival, California
SLIDE RIGHT DOWN: Taking in the slimy mollusks at the Arcata Oyster Festival, California  (Terrance McNally)

Food festivals are like rock concerts. They attract the stars of the epicurean world who then outdo each other with the best and the newest in haute cuisine and local flare. Whether you're a gourmand or just hungry, your mouth will love you for taking food this seriously. So pack your bags—and your fork—for the cool alpine elegance of St. Moritz, Switzerland, and Aspen, Colorado, for the barefooted decadence of the Pacific, Caribbean, and New Zealand, and for the exotic cache of Singapore, South Africa, and Italy. Each festival offers culinary retreat or adventure, depending on your taste preference.

10. Maine Lobster Festival
Rockland, Maine
Late July/Early August
Prices are by daily admission, ranging from $7-$25.
Approximately ten tons of fresh lobster and other seafood are prepared annually at Rockland's seminal event. Activities also abound at this crustacean celebration. The requisite parade and Maine Sea Goddess Pageant are always fun, but to work off the extra butter-dipped calories, enter the 10K race or the Lobster Crate Race, where contestants attempt to navigate a string of 50 partially submerged lobster crates before inevitably plunging into the chilly Atlantic Ocean. Past musical acts have included Willie Nelson and The Dixie Chicks. This Maine event packs in small-town fun and big entertainment.
Rockland, Maine Travel Guide

9. Cayman Cookout
Cayman Islands
January
Tickets are priced per event and range from $40-$145.
A dream escape from winter temperature, the Caribbean's premiere epicurean event, the Cayman Cookout, features local favorites like fresh ceviche and international delights like fine chocolates and truffles, all paired with wine chosen by the sommelier at the Ritz Carlton. Join award-winning chef and restaurateur, Chef Eric Ripert (three-star Michelin rated, four stars from The New York Times, AAA Five Diamond Award, to name a few) for unique cookouts all weekend. Take a sailing excursion, for example, on a catamaran to Stingray City and the North Sound, where guests swim with and feed the Southern Stingrays in three feet of crystal water and then savor the unparallel freshness of Chef Eric's boat-deck-prepared ceviche. Also enjoy equatorial decadence served-up by the 2007 James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Pastry Chef, Michael Laiskonis, not to mention choice brewers, along with confectioners creating buttery, delightful croissants.
Cayman Islands Travel Guide

8. The World Gourmet Summit
Singapore
April
The World Gourmet Summit (WGS) is a premier epicurean annual event, organized by Peter Knipp Holdings and the Singapore Tourism Board. The World Gourmet branded Singapore as the choice location for its summit, and guests can expect to relish gourmet, local food delicacies from partner restaurants like the leading modern Chinese restaurant Club Chinois by Tung Lok Group. The April extravaganza will be an orchestrated symphony of internationally acclaimed vintners like Spaniard Alvaro Palacios, who produces one of Spain's most sought-after wines, L'Ermita, which is produced in small quantities that sell out immediately after released. A delicacy playground for discerning palates and epicureans, WGS will feature vintner dinners, celebrity dinners, a culinary master-class with the iconic chef, Anne-Sophie Pic, and masterchefs workshops will demonstratesignature trademark cuisine secrets. Local restaurants and international culinary stars mingle to create a unique WGS menu termed "Epicurean Delights" for guests to savor.
Singapore Travel Guide

7. Arcata Bay Oyster Festival
Arcata Bay, California
June
Free admission.
Jonathan Swift said, "He was a bold man that first ate an oyster." Our ancestors had the right idea, though, and humanity's love affair with oysters shows no signs of abating. (In fact, new scientific research indicates that oysters could be a reliable aphrodisiac; they're high in zinc, an important mineral for testosterone production.) More than 70 percent of the oysters consumed in California are cultivated in Humboldt County's Arcata Bay on California's northwest coast. June marks the peak of oyster season, and 2010 is the 20th anniversary of the Arcata Oyster Festival, where local restaurateurs and executive chefs prepare the desired mollusks in every conceivable way, from roasted and Barbequed to raw on the half shell and even on pizza. In 2008 the Arcata Oyster Festival went "green," and thus oysters are now farmed using long-lines or "rack and bag," which avoids destructive dredging of the bay and ensures optimal aquaculture. Now guests can enjoy these petite gems sans guilt.
Arcata, California Travel Guide

6. Festival Gourmet International
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
November
Ticket prices vary by event. Packages are available from $35 for one day to $333 for three days.
This festival, which takes place in Puerto Vallarta and nearby Riviera Nayarit on arguably one of the most gorgeous bays in the Pacific, has achieved cult status. Its low-key, non-competitive format fosters a dynamic blend of master chefs and fresh talent with events promoting Puerto Vallarta's vibrant restaurants with an emphasis on seafood. More than 20 international chefs, including this year's guest chef Gerard Dupont, are scheduled to participate. The festival blends Mexican traditions, wine tasting, parties, dinners, cooking demonstrations, and cheese and wine parties. Starting with the "Grand Gourmet Opening Dinner," an a la carte dinner, the festival continues for ten days of fanfare that will raise funds for local charities such as the Chefs Corrida Theater for children and the Spaghettata, benefiting the elderly in the community.
Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide

Published: 11 Nov 2008 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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