12 Strange, Wonderful Food Festivals To Add To Your Bucket List

These culinary celebrations aren't just about the food.

Food festivals all over the world honor specific dishes and ingredients, bringing together chefs and superfans of things like tacos, bacon, and doughnuts to indulge together. And while those simple concepts will always have their place, there are some festivals and competitions that celebrate food in ways you might never have thought to do before. Take a page from these fests and turn your food into art, roll it down hills, or just simply throw it at each other, all in the name of fun. Here are 12 food festivals you need to know about.

Blue Food Festival

Blue may not be a food or drink color that often occurs in nature, but folks in Tobago have discovered the exception to the rule and celebrate it every year at the Blue Food Festival. Dasheen is a taro plant that turns different shades of blue when cooked, and it's the centerpiece of this beloved festival that originated in 1997 in the rural village of L'Anse Fourmi. It's since spread to neighboring villages, and experimenting with dasheen for the festival has led to the creation of dasheen wine, dasheen ice cream, and dasheen flour, which has proven to be a healthier wheat alternative for those with celiac disease—and it's all blue.

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BugFest

While the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences' BugFest isn't just about eating, there are plenty of opportunities to chomp on some crickets or slurp down some worms at the event's annual Critter Cook-Off. Chefs from local restaurants are given 50 minutes to create three dishes using insects that are then judged on taste, originality, and presentation. Past dishes have included a flank steak with chimichurri and super worms and a green tea mochi doughnut with crickets, and all the creations are meant to be examples of how to utilize insect protein in our diets, a more sustainable option for future dining.

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Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling

Finally after a two-year hiatus, the Cooper's Hill Cheese Roll returned earlier this year, and 21-year-old Abby Lampe from North Carolina walked away victorious. Here's how it works: A Double Gloucester cheese wheel weighing between 7 and 9 pounds is sent rolling down a hill that's about 200 yards from the top to the finish line. Contestants chase the cheese down the hill and the first person to cross the finish line wins the cheese. The premise is simple, but the result is pure chaos. To see for yourself, watch this episode of the Netflix docuseries We Are the Champions, all about the cheese roll, or book yourself a ticket to Gloucester, UK.

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Els Enfarinats (the Floured Ones)

Every December for the past 200 years in Ibi, Spain, Els Enfarinats or "the floured ones" take to the streets for a public battle of epic, dystopian proportions. It's in remembrance of the biblical event called Massacre of the Innocents, when King Herod killed all infant boys in an attempt to get rid of baby Jesus. But the event itself isn't quite as dark. Though the participants don real-life military outfits and face paint and accessories that look straight out of Mad Max, the weapons of choice are baking ingredients. They spend the whole day pummeling each other with flour and eggs while other light off fireworks and smoke bombs, and it all ends in the evening with a call for peace and a traditional Spanish dance performance.

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Giant Omelet Celebration

Every Easter in Bessières, France, since 1973, some of the most prestigious chefs in the country (and some from other parts of the world) gather to cook up 15,000 eggs as part of the Giant Omelet Celebration. It's in honor of a legend that while Napoleon and his army were traveling through the town, he tried an omelet from a local chef that he loved. He ordered a giant omelet to be made with all the village's eggs to be shared with the rest of his army. These days, the omelet is shared for free with whoever attends the festival, and it's been replicated in sister cities across the world (including Abbeville, Lousiana) as a show of friendship between nations.

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Hungry Ghost Festival

The Hungry Ghost Festival, as its name suggests, isn't for the living. This is a chance for people in China to share food and drink with their ancestors to avoid the wrath of any vengeful ghosts. The seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar (usually sometime in July or August on the Western calendar) is known as Ghost Month—at the beginning of the month the gates to hell are said to be opened and so ghosts are free to roam our realm, looking for entertainment and Earthly delights in the form of money, food, and drinks. At the end of the month, the ghosts return to whereever they came from.

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La Batalla del Vino

La Batalla del Vino, or the Wine Fight, is pretty much what it sounds like: Locals and tourists alike gather in Spain's La Rioja region to throw wine on each other during an early morning wine fight. It takes place in Haro, Spain, where 40% of the region's vineyards exist, to celebrate the town's contribution to the wine world. There are other events that take place over the three-day festival that focus on enjoying the wine in a less messy way, but you can always just keep your mouth wide open to get a taste during the festival's signature party.

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Night of the Radishes

In Oaxaca, Mexico, residents show off their creativity every Christmas by turning a root vegetable into art during the Night of the Radishes. The radish carving started as a way to attract holiday shoppers to the town plaza, and ever since 1897, December 23 has been declared the official Night of the Radishes. The creator of the best radish creation wins a 12,000-peso prize.

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Olney Pancake Race

The Olney Pancake Race is a Lenten tradition in Olney, England, honoring the devotion of one woman who in 1445 ran to church still flipping pancakes because she didn't want to miss confession (but didn't want to give up on her delicious breakfast either, obviously). Now every Fat Tuesday or Shrove Day, contestants in Olney and Liberal, Kansas, compete in a transatlantic race, running with headscarves, aprons, and frying pans while flipping flapjacks.

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Seething Freshwater Sardines Festival

Legend has it that the Thames River was once a bountiful source of sardines for neighboring English towns. And even though the species has since died out because of the dirtying of the river, gosh darn it, the people of Seething, England, are still going to head to that river every year for a ceremonious fishing festival, one that always ends with no sardines caught. The Seething Freshwater Sardines Festival starts with an afternoon procession down to the river, and once the faux fishermen have had enough, four large guinea pigs (just go with it) lead a crowd back into town for a big barbecue and night of entertainment.

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Tunarama

Tunarama first started in Port Lincoln, Australia, more than 60 years ago as a celebration of the area's burgeoning tuna industry. But the most famous event of the festival was introduced in 1980 to show people just how physically demanding the work of tuna fishermen is. The Tuna Toss invites anyone who is interested to throw a big ol' bluefin tuna as far as they can. Now it's an intense annual competition for everyone to show off their mettle.

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World Pea Shooting Championships

Ever since 1971, Witcham, Cambridgeshire, has served as the center for the World Pea Shooting Championships. Participants are encouraged to bring their own shooters but there are regulation peas blown through them toward a one-foot diameter target that's 12 feet away. Scores are determined by competitors' five best shots, and the reward is simply bragging rights.

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