Tomato-drenched crowds wading through a lake of passata at Valencia’s La Tomatina festival might be a familiar image, but such passionate and eccentric celebrations of food are far from unique.

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:

1. Night of the Radishes

Where? Oaxaca, Mexico

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".

The world’s quirkiest food festivals: the man made of leaves.The man made of leaves © FernandoAlcantara/Shutterstock

2. Roadkill Cook-Off

Where? West Virginia, USA

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

Where? Lopburi, Thailand

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.

4. Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival

Where? Fellsmere, Florida, USA

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.

5. Giant Omelette 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.

The tradition has won more followers in Francophone regions of the USA, Argentina and Canada, where sister fraternities have become equally handy with a huge skillet.

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.

7. Bahamas Pineapple Festival

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.

9. Mushroom Festival

Where? Pennsylvania, USA

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.

10. Chinchilla Melon Festival

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".

The world’s quirkiest food festivals: Watermelon broken pieces.© Vera NewSib/Shutterstock


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