Autumn might spell the end of long sunny days but it also signals the start of the harvest, the most delicious time of year. Mountains of truffles, wine, nuts, chocolate and vegetables, combined with baggier and thicker clothing, makes it the perfect time of year to tuck into the tastiest things you can find. So stop mourning the end of summer and start planning your foodie getaway. From coffee to crustaceans, here are some of the best autumn food festivals in Europe.
The Best European Food Festivals in Autumn
1. Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival, Galway (Ireland)
It’s the longest-running oyster festival in the world, for good reason. Over 25,000 people flock to Galway every September for the three-day seafood bonanza. As well as seafood stalls, there are oyster shucking championships, foodie workshops and tastings at some of Galway’s most prestigious restaurants. If that’s not enough to tickle your tastebuds, head to the ‘Oyster Feast Off’ oyster eating competition or hop on the Seafood Trail.
Festival dates: Postponed to Sept 23rd – 25th, 2022
Must-try dish: Oysters
2. Csabai Sausage Festival, Békéscsaba (Hungary)
The humble sausage is underrated in our opinion, and the people of Békéscsaba are inclined to agree. This annual food festival, now in its 19th year, celebrates the Csabai sausage – Hungary’s most famous sausage. Festival highlights include sausage-maker kneading competitions and best sausage competitions, as well as dozens of stalls offering up tasty samples and dishes.
Festival dates: 29th-31st October, 2021
Must-try dish: Csabai sausage
3. Eurochocolate, Perugia (Italy)
They’re good at chocolate all year in Umbria, but particularly so when Europe’s largest chocolate festival comes to town. The whole of Perugia transforms into a huge open-air chocolate shop, complete with towering chocolate sculptures, chocolate laboratories, choco-inspired parades and plenty of sweet treats to keep your sugar levels up.
Festival dates: 15th to 24th October, 2021
Must-try dish: Get a ‘Chococard’ to taste as many chocolates as possible!
4. The Great British Food Festival, Yorkshire (United Kingdom)
Proving there’s more to British cuisine than Sunday roasts and pie’n’mash, the Great British Food Festival celebrates the best of the UK’s cooking. Festival highlights include foraging walks, chef demos, an artisan market, a bake stage and BBQ masterclasses. If you’ve got an appetite, try the Men vs Food competition – 74.5 inches of sausage followed by a pint of cider.
Festival dates: 2nd – 5th June, 2022
Must-try dish: Grilled meats from BBQ Ben stall
5. The International White Truffle Festival, Alba (Italy)
No need to get mucky digging for truffles, the biggest event in Italy’s truffle calendar will fulfill all of your truffle requirements, and more – without getting your hands dirty. Hosted in the heart of the Langhe region in Piedmont, there are tastings, cookery demonstrations, food and wine pairing and some ‘sensory analysis’ sessions. Don’t miss the donkey race on the 6 October for some light-hearted relief from all those truffles.
Festival dates: 9th October – 5th December, 2021
Must-try dish: Famous dish add on: 10-gram grating of Alba White Truffle
6. Oktoberfest, Munich (Germany)
Strap on your lederhosen and make for Munich. Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival, held annually in Bavaria since 1810. The 16–18 day festival runs through late September and early October, with over six million visitors per year. Beer lovers will be in their element, but there are amusement rides, stalls and games too.
Unfortunately, Oktoberfest is cancelled in 2021 due to the pandemic but keep your eyes peeled for the next announcement – rumour has it they’ll be going all out!
Festival dates: Postponed to September 17th – October 3rd, 2022
Must-try dish: Nürnberger sausage with apple sauerkraft
7. Fiesta del Marisco, O Grove (Spain)
Seafood superfan? Fiesta del Marisco is the stuff dreams are made of. Every year since 1963 the tiny town of O Grove in Galicia hosts a festival dedicated to shellfish, with a steady stream of scallops, razor clams, mussel, oysters and more for at least ten days. There’s usually folk dances, street performances and fireworks too.
Festival dates: 3rd October, 2021
Must-try dish: Almejas a la Marinera (Spanish Style Clams)
8. Kookeet, Bruges (Belgium)
If you find yourself in Bruges this Autumn, you’re in for a treat – three days indulging in Belgian specialities cooked up by local chefs. Michelin-starred chefs are known to pop along too. Dishes on offer range from Belgian pancakes to Flemish white tripe spring rolls. It’s affordably priced too, with most dishes under €10.
Festival dates: Postponed to 10th – 12th September, 2022
Must-try dish: Scallop, truffle risotto and smoked duck
9. Montmartre Grape Harvest Festival, Paris (France)
Most of France’s vineyards are out in the countryside, with one very notable exception. For 88 years, Paris’ only vineyard has hosted a sprawling five-day festival to celebrate the wine harvest. Montmartre transforms into one giant street party, with food and wine stalls, parades, picnics and an open-air concert at the foot of Sacré-Coeur for a finale.
Festival dates: 6th-10th October, 2021
Must-try dish: Clos Montmartre wine (only 1000 bottles available each year)
10. Helsinki Herring Festival, Helsinki (Finland)
Alright, it might be a bit niche, but if you’re looking to experience Helsinki at its most traditional, you’ll love the week-long Helsinki Herring Festival. Taking place every year since 1743, the festival sees dozens of fishermen bring their tiny boats into the wharf to sell their catch in the market square. You’ll find herring served up in every way possible here (chocolate herring and potatoes anyone?), along with other quirky Finish foods, like black archipelago bread. Other festival highlights include a best herring dish competition, a filleting race and a traditional sailing ships race.
Festival dates: October 3rd–9th, 2021
Must-try dish: Rakfisk (fermented & salted trout)
11. Black Food Festival, Tallinn (Estonia)
This deliciously dark foodie event started life in Germany, but the Tallinn incarnation is one of the best. The whole festival celebrates black food, from plump blackberries and traditional balsamic vinegar to dishes dyed with coffee and chocolate. The aim of the festival is to educate and inspire visitors about some of the lesser-known black foods from across the world. This year’s festival takes place right at the end of Autumn, in early November.
Festival dates: November 6th, 2021
Must-try dish: Black squid ink pasta
12. Amsterdam Coffee Festival, Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Amsterdam’s reputation for coffee shops is well documented, but we’re talking about proper coffee here. Held at the start of November every year, over 100 artisan roasters flock to the city for three days of coffee-inspired fun and frolics. Expect coffee-making workshops from some of Europe’s best baristas, coffee-inspired cocktails and coffee tastings, as well as lots of live music, entertainment and art.
Festival dates: November 5th – 7th, 2021
Must-try dish: Coffee infused cocktails
13. Subotina Festival, Buzet (Croatia)
If Italian truffles are a bit mainstream for you, hotfoot to the Subotina Festival in Buzet, a small town in Istria famous for its abundance of white and black truffles. The huge street party features truffle tastings, exhibitions and stalls selling truffle-inspired food, drinks and crafts, as well as pop-up restaurants serving up delicious truffle dishes like fuži, pljukanci and gnocchi. Make sure you stay for the finale, the town fries up a massive truffle omelette made from 2021 eggs.
Festival dates: October 21st, 2021
Must-try dish: Giant omelet made with 2021 eggs!
14. Fête du Piment (Pepper Festival), Espelette (France)
Penchant for all things spicy? Head to the tiny town of Espelette in the Basque region for a truly fiery festival. The two-day event celebrates the famous bright red chilli, with market stalls, concerts, parades and communal meals. There’s also a night market, where you can pick up a special spicy cocktail or three.
Festival dates: 23rd-24th October, 2021
Must-try dish: Basque fish stew
15. Taste Svalbard, Longyearbyen (Norway)
Located in the Norwegian archipelago between Norway and the North Pole, Taste Svalbard is the world’s northernmost food festival. The four-day culinary bonanza gives visitors the chance to dive into the region’s unique gastronomic offering. Yes, there’s reindeer soup but there’s also Arctic cheese, expertly-prepared raw salmon, trout and herring, and beer from Red Bear – the world’s most northerly brewery. Stay for the lectures, film screenings, concerts and pop-up dinners too.
Festival dates: 6th – 10th October, 2021
Must-try dish: Microgreens from Polar Permaculture
16. Holmfirth Food and DrinkFestival, Holmfirth (United Kingdom)
There are plenty of reasons to visit the picture-postcard town of Holmfirth all year round, but serious foodies and real ale connoisseurs should hotfoot here in late September. Every year since 2005 the Holmfirth Food and Drink Festival takes over the town, spilling out from the market hall and onto the surrounding streets. Over 40,000 people visit every year to feast on quality local produce.
Festival dates: Postponed to 2022, date TBC
Must-try dish: Grazing box from The Cheese Shop Holmfirth & Nook beer
17. Sagra dell’Ulivo e dell’Olio (Festival of Olive Trees and Oil), Brisighella (Italy)
The olive harvest takes place in Italy in November, and there are hundreds of festivals across the country marking the event. This festival in Emilia Romagna, Italy’s most delicious region, is one of the best. As well as stalls and pop-up restaurants, there are guided walks, olive oil tastings and a chance to see an old-school olive pressing in the main square.
Festival dates: 1st- 30th November, 2021
Must-try dish: Local olive oils
18. The Apple Festival, Dobele (Latvia)
Located around 70 km from Latvia’s capital, Dobele is often referred to as ‘The Apple Capital’ thanks to its delicious apples. Every year, the town hosts an annual festival in October, organised by the Latvian State Fruit-Growing Institute and the Dobele Municipality. Expect apple exhibitions and tastings, a farmers’ fair, cooking demonstrations and apple growing advice. You’ll leave knowing more about apples than you ever thought possible.
Festival dates: October 2nd, 2021
Must-try dish: Local apples from Dobele
19. Festival du Ventre (Festival of the Stomach and Norman Gastronomy), Rouen (France)
Don’t judge a festival by its SEO-unfriendly title, this annual festival is Normandy’s biggest event. Every year since 1935, hundreds flock to the city – many dressed in traditional Normandy costumes – to sample the regions’ culinary highlights. As well as tucking into tasty dishes, you can watch butter and cream whipped by hand, cooking demonstrations using ancient recipes and a raucous parade.
Festival dates: 16th October, 2021
Must-try dish: Duck confit
20. The Hardanger Fruit and Cider Festival, Øystese (Norway)
Norway’s Hardanger region is famous for its apple trees, so every year the pint-sized town of Øystese hosts a weekend celebration in honour of them. Expect cider tastings, creative apple-centric dishes and heaps of traditional entertainment. Stick around for the crowning of the best cider producer – and make sure you try some too.
Festival dates: 8th – 10th October, 2021
Must-try dish: For non cider drinkers, try Eplemost (pressed apples)
21. Vienna Food Festival (Erntedankfest), Vienna (Austria)
Every September, Vienna hosts a huge harvest celebration to mark the beginning of Autumn and the return of – let’s face it – all the best food. There are dozens of stalls serving up just the sort you want to keep you warm this summer – heaps of mountain cheese, pumpkin pancakes, sausages, the lot. You can also try regional classics, like Mostis, which is similar to cider, and Sturm, a fermented grape juice. Along with the food, there are traditional Austrian performances, live music and lots of entertainment.
Festival dates: Postponed to 2nd October, 2022
Must-try dish: Sturm (cloudy, fermented grape juice)
22. Tbilisoba, Tbilisi (Georgia)
Not strictly a food festival per se, but food plays a huge part in the capital city’s annual birthday celebrations. Expect steaming places of pelamushi and khinkali, barbequed meats, fresh bread, cheeses and vegetables, and plenty of wine. There’s folk music and dance performances, fireworks and a gala festival finale.
Festival dates: 16th – 17th October, 2021
Must-try dish: Steamed khinkali (meat-filled dumplings)
23. National Gastronomy Festival, Santarém (Portugal)
This year marks the festival’s 40th anniversary, so you can expect it to be a goodun’. The festival, which takes place on the banks of the Tagus River just northeast of Lisbon, celebrates Portugal’s finest cuisine. Chefs and restauranteurs from across the country flock here to showcase their best dishes combining traditional and contemporary Portuguese cuisine. As well as stalls, there are themed lunches and live cooking demonstrations.
Festival dates: 18th-28th November, 2021
Must-try dish: Cracas (giant barnacles)
24. Fiesta de la Rosa del Azafran, Toledo (Spain)
If you’ve ever visited this part of the world, you’ll know they take food seriously. Manchego cheese and hearty game stews are some of the region’s blockbuster bites, but the real superstar ingredient is saffron. In fact, 90 % of Spain’s saffron comes from Castile–La Mancha. Since 1963, the town has held a festival dedicated to the stuff. You’ll get to taste plenty of saffron dishes too, as well as spectating traditional wheat grinding at the mill, a saffron pruning race and a gastronomy contest. It all culminates in the “Grinding of Peace and Love” ceremony in a 16th-century mill.
Festival dates: 30th – 31st October, 2021
Must-try dish: Saffron everything! If you’re lucky, you can harvest the three red stigmas from the crocus flower
25. U Mele in Festa (Festival of Honey), Murzu (Corsica)
Winnie the Pooh’s condiment of choice doesn’t get the attention it deserves in most places, but in Corsica, it gets a whole festival. Murzo, famous for its ancient varieties of honey, hosts the festival every year. Over 70 stalls participate, showcasing honey from different species of bees – sometimes bringing the bees along too. They frequently host fascinating exhibitions too.
Festival dates: September 2022
Must-try dish: Local honey from Murzo