The end of summer doesn’t mean the end of festivals and parties. At least there’s one good thing to look forward to in the autumn – the glut of food and drink festivals all around Europe.
Menus are bulging with seasonal produce at this time of year, often amid traditional food festivals. From Andalucía to Tuscany, “I Need Tours” gives you a list of places you should go this autumn.
Paris’s only vineyard marks the wine harvest with a five-day festival in the hilly streets of Montmartre. Join the party in the streets around the Sacré-Coeur, filled with food and wine stalls, concerts, picnics and parades – all leading up to a final open-air dance on the closing night at the foot of this splendid basilica.
Umbria’s beautiful capital has an extra sweetness in October that comes with one of Europe’s largest chocolate festivals. From 18-27 October, Perugia’s historic centre is the elegant setting for a chocolate emporium. Check out the giant chocolate sculptures and exquisite chocolate goodies.
Dubrovnik is in a mellower mood in October, the perfect time for its week-long Good Food Festival. From 14-20 October, get your fill of delicious Dalmatian cuisine during workshops and tastings, as well as the chance to dine with a top chef.
Prepare as the white truffle season takes over the town of Alba in Piedmont. Every weekend from 5 October-24 November, the Alba White Truffle World Market sets up stalls in the centre of this historic town, offering tastings and cookery demonstrations with this most pungent of tubers.
The espelette, that bright red chili that infuses so much Basque cooking with its warmth, has its own festival every October in its namesake village of Espelette in the Pyrenees. Over 26 and 27 October, this immensely pretty village is welcoming all visitors with market stalls, concerts and parades, as well as dances and open-air communal meals.
The seafood has a very high and serious consideration in the small Galician coastal town of O Grove. Since 1963, this village has been celebrating its shellfish bonanza with a 10-day festival, where market stall-holders keep up a steady flow of oysters, scallops, razor clams and mussels to hungry festival-goers. Folk dancers, street performers and bagpipers add a raucous soundtrack to the festivities.
Autumn in Tuscany brings out the richness of the cuisine, which is celebrated in the mediaeval streets of Certaldo near Florence. Wander round the food stalls that offer everything from games to thick Florentine T-bone steaks, while enjoying cookery demonstrations, live music and Renaissance re-enactments.
Chestnuts are the flavor of the season in the Ardèche, where a month-long program of 11 festivals takes place in villages all around this beautiful region of mountains, gorges and rivers. From 6 October-10 November, follow the scent of roasted chestnuts as villages take turns hosting festivals with tastings, food markets, live music, children’s entertainment and convivial communal lunches.
San Sebastián’s famous pintxos reflect the seasons, and during autumn we gorge on those topped with delicious, locally foraged wild mushrooms. The bar tops in the Parte Vieja (old town) groan with the weight of pintxos and every bar has a different offering, so you never have to eat the same type twice.
Each October the Finnish capital hosts a week-long herring festival, which dates back several hundred years, in the Market Square on the waterfront. The festival not only celebrates the herring but the fishermen who catch them and marks the end of summer. Fishermen come from all over Finland, and there’s a real festive feel. All Helsinki seemed to be there.