Across the globe, there’s a smorgasbord of wonderfully bizarre festivals dedicated to edible delicacies, ranging from the conventional to the questionable (ostrich testicles, anyone?). As Mexican radish carvers prepare their perishable sculptures for the Christmastime Noche de los Rábanos (Night of the Radishes) on December 23, we bring you our shortlist of the best:
The world’s quirkiest food festivals
1. Night of the Radishes
When? December 23 2017
During Oaxaca’s long-running Noche de los Rábanos, the humble radish enjoys a spectacular, Cinderella-like transformation. The crunchy root is expertly carved into nativity scenes, celebrity figurines, animals and many other innovative creations.
In what must be one of the world’s most distinctive Christmas celebrations, queuing spectators tour the city’s Zócolo, admiring the intricate sculptures competing for the highly contested "grand prize".
When? September 28–29 2018
Adventurous carnivores will find plenty to tempt their palates at West Virginia’s annual Roadkill Cook-Off. Crowds gather in the small town of Marlinton to watch chefs and amateurs rustle up dishes such as "teriyaki-marinated bear", "rack of raccoon" and "squirrel gravy".
Competing for cash prizes, entrants are bound by the rule that their menu must feature "any animal commonly found dead on the road". Once the grills have cooled, a square dance, beauty pageant and dog show provide extra entertainment.
3. Monkey Buffet Festival
When? November 2018
Every November, Khmer-era temple Phra Prang Sam Yot hosts an extraordinary feast for the mischievous long-tailed macaques of Lopburi. The revered monkeys take a break from their usual antics to devour hundreds of kilos of beautifully arranged fruit.
Tourists soak up the spectacle as the monkeys ascend colourful pyramids of pineapples, dragon fruit and watermelon, graze on plates of bananas and grapes, and occasionally pause to swig from cans of soft drinks.
When? January 18-21 2018
Guinness-certified as the largest frog leg festival in the world, this popular four-day event in Fellsmere, Florida has been feeding "frog pops" and "gator pounders" to hungry crowds since 1990.
Created as a low-key fundraising venture to improve recreational facilities for the city’s children, it’s now a stalwart of the quirky food festival scene, annually attracting thousands of visitors to taste gator tails and frog legs, browse craft stalls and take a spin on fairground rides.
Frog Leg Festival
Where? Bessières, France
When? Easter Monday
Crowned with towering toques blanches and wielding vast wooden spoons, the Brotherhood of Giant Omelette Knights cut quite a dash as they stir the 15,000-egg omelette prepared in the French village of Bessières on Easter Monday every year. Thousands of people observe the ceremonial cooking process, waiting patiently for their free sample of the knights’ supersized omelette.
6. Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling
Where? Gloucestershire, England
When? May 28 2018
Racing down Gloucestershire’s almost vertical Cooper’s Hill in pursuit of an 8lb Double Gloucester cheese is not an experience for the faint-hearted. Alternating between a gradient of 1:1 and 1:2, the grassy hill near the village of Brockworth is so steep and its terrain so rough that competitors, flanked by cheering crowds, often end up rolling after the cheese.
But despite the challenge, this traditional event still tempts former cheese-rolling champions back year after year to defend their hard-won titles.
Where? Eleuthera, the Bahamas
When? May 31–June 3 2018
The Bahamas’ annual celebration of pineapple farming on the island of Eleuthera puts the spiky tropical fruit centre stage. Pineapple cooking and eating contests form the more mainstream focus of the Labour Day weekend programme, with the creatively named Pineappleman Triathlon and Little Miss Pineapple Princess Pageant bringing a playful twist to the entertainment.
8. World Testicle Eating Championship
Where? Lipovica, Serbia
When? August 31–September 1 2018
A passionate culinary showcase for testicles, or "white kidneys" in more genteel terminology, this lively Serbian festival pays homage to this "delicacy" considered to be a powerful aphrodisiac.
Cooks compete for the "Tastiest Dish", serving up reinvented pizza and goulash, and judges deliberate over who deserves the title of "The Ballsiest Man in the World": past winners include Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin.
When? September 2018
Now in its thirties, Pennsylvania’s Mushroom Festival honours the edible fungi with a weekend of eccentric events including an auction of painted concrete mushrooms, a mushroom cook-off and the "Cute-As-A-Button" baby photo contest. Fungi fans with a big appetite can fight it out in the National Fried Mushroom Eating Championship.
Where? Chinchilla, Australia
When? February 14–17 2019
Hosted by the town of Chinchilla, Australia’s "melon capital", the biennial Melon Festival puts a glut of watermelons to ingenious use.
"Melon Skiing" and the "Melon Dash for Cash" feature on the juicy sporting programme, while festivalgoers who’d rather not get sticky can buy melon-themed gifts or take little ones to listen to "Melon Story Telling".
Chinchilla Melon Festival/Cathy Finch
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