The best Greek Food Festivals
There is a long list of reasons to visit Greece; unparalleled history, incredibly scenery, nightlife that ranges from dance clubs to theatre, and some of the best beaches in the world. If that isn’t enough, you have to consider the food. Greek and Mediterranean food has always enjoyed a fairly high degree of popularity. However the amount of recently published research which points to the health benefits of Greek food, along with the recent “foodie” revolution has elevated Greek foods to its highest level of popularity ever.
The main point is that Greek food simply tastes good and a great way to experience the authentic flavours is by incorporating one of the major Greek food festivals during your Greek holiday.
The Mushroom Festival
Grevena, located in the northern part of Greece, is the country’s mushroom capital. Over two hundred species of mushrooms grow among the green hills of the area. The mushroom “season” officially ends at the end of summer and each year mushroom fans, chefs, and merchants from all over Greece arrive for the annual festival. Visitors can participate in seminars to learn more about the delicate and delectable fungi and take part in mushroom exploration tours.
One of the best parts of the festival is, obviously, the opportunity to sample various delicacies such as mushroom jam, truffles, mushroom liqueur, mushroom pickles, along with numerous pastas and other dishes which incorporate mushrooms.
The festival also features live music, camping, and hiking through the scenic landscape.
Athens Street Food Festival
One of the hottest trends in the food world is the “street food” craze. Street food is a rather broad term that incorporates everything from traditional fare to unique fusion recipes served up from kiosks, food trucks, and pop-up restaurants.
The Athens Street Food Festival is one of the newest food festivals in Greece and one which enthusiastically celebrates the street food movement. Foods from around the world are served up in the centre of the city. Special beer and beverage areas feature everything from milkshakes to elaborate alcohol concoctions.
In keeping with the whole street food vibe, local DJs and live bands provide live music.
The Feta Cheese Festival
Feta is possibly one of the best-known Greek food contributions. Every other September, the town of Elassona celebrates feta’s contribution to the city.
Elassona accounts for almost of third of Greece’s total feta production. The festival which features live music, arts and a street fair is primarily aimed at strengthening the areas businesses and financial autonomy. In all honesty most visitors simply come to enjoy the cheese and the innovative ways it is served.
According to Greek mythology cheese making was presented to humans by the gods. It is only fitting that Elassona is only 30 minutes from Mount Olympus.
The Corfu Beer Festival
If for some reason you need further incentive to visit the stunning beaches and landscapes of Corfu, you can use the Corfu Beer Festival as another reason.
The five-day festival summer festival is another of the more recent annual festivals and offers free admission. Each year the festival’s organisers select one country to be featured during the festival, highlighting their local and national beverages, alongside those of the Corfu brewers and distillers.
The festival not only highlights beer, but also includes local cuisine and that of the featured country, along with arts, music, and daily performances.
The Sardine Festival
The town of Skala Kaloni on the Aegean Sea is home of the best sardines in Europe. During the first week of August, the town’s main square is transformed into one large open-air restaurant, which is devoted to showcasing the tasty fish.
Guests can sample pastes (fresh sardines that were caught that morning and salted on the boat), grilled, and fried sardines. Local music and performances, and ouzo naturally, are offered alongside the various sardine themed dishes.
The Chestnut Festival
The hillsides surrounding the small village of Elos in Crete are covered with chestnut trees. Every October the residents of Elos and the surrounding villages gather to celebrate their favourite nut. The festival is fairly small and attracts mostly locals along with a small number of tourists. Those that do attend are treated to local performances along with roasted chestnuts and chestnut sweets accompanied by lots of honey tsikoudia (a fragrant grape beverage which has an alcohol content of about 60%).
The Snail Festival
A slightly bigger Crete festival is the Snail Festival in Vlaheronitisa. This festival totally debunks the theory that snails are a French delicacy. Snails are a regular part of the local diet with most families enjoying them at least once a week. Visitors from across Greece, and Europe, arrive in the city every August to enjoy the wide range of preparations including sautéed, fried, and oven baked with artichokes, zucchini and potatoes, alongside some more exotic preparations.
As is typical of Cretan festivals the snails are accompanied by tsikoudia.
The Artichoke Festival
Every May Tinos Island celebrates one of the staples of the Mediterranean diet, the artichoke. Local producers begin the work of cleaning more than 10,000 artichokes ten days in advance of the festival. They are then prepared in dozens of ways including with vinegar, fried, stuffed, in omelettes and soufflé, au gratin, and artichoke moussaka and served to guests in the central village square.
The Eggplant Festival
The fishing village of Leonidio is home to a special type of sweet eggplant known as tsakonikes. The eggplant is grown without pesticides and is one of the relatively few products to receive Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) status.
The festival is held each August and features a traditional cooking competition (the only rule is “use eggplant), music, and the opportunity to sample dozens of eggplant dishes.
The Lentil Festival
The Lentil Festival on the island of Lefkada in the Ionian Sea is part of an annual mystical ritual. The area is known for producing the best lentils in Greece due to its unique soil and climate. The festival includes a celebration of the lentil with the typical recipes and tastings. The following day festival goers worship at the small church of Agios Donatos, which was named after the bishop of the island in 283 AD.