If you’re mourning the official end of summer, at least there’s one good thing to look forward to in the autumn – the glut of food and drink festivals all around Europe.
Everything from chestnuts to chillies will have their day (or days) during this fruitful season. Here are a few to get the taste buds going.
Montmartre Grape Harvest Festival, Paris, France
Paris’s only vineyard marks the wine harvest with a five-day festival in the hilly streets of Montmartre. From 9-13 October, join the party as the streets around the Sacré-Coeur are 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.
9-13 October, fetedesvendangesdemontmartre.com
Falmouth Oyster Festival, Cornwall, UK
Cornwall’s oyster-dredging season kicks off in exuberant style during this four-day fling in Falmouth. Get in the mood for non-stop shucking, as the port is taken over with food stalls, seafood bars, live music and daily cooking demos from chefs. Grab a pint of real ale and watch the party during the festival’s boat race and oyster parade.
10-13 October, falmouthoysterfestival.co.uk
Eurochocolate, Perugia, Italy
Umbria’s beautiful capital has enough going for it without the 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, and even treat yourself to a chocolate facial before watching the colourful parades.
18-27 October, eurochocolate.com
Good Food Festival, Dubrovnik, Croatia
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. The highlight is the fantastic spectacle of the Dubrovnik Table, which stretches along the main thoroughfare, Stradun, and is covered with the creations of the town’s restaurants and caterers.
14-20 October, tzdubrovnik.hr
The International Alba White Truffle Festival, Alba, Italy
Prepare yourself for sensory overload 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. If you’re there on 6 October, don’t miss the bonkers spectacle of the donkey race through the streets.
5 October-24 November, fieradeltartufo.org
Espelette Festival, Pyrenees, France
The espelette, that bright red chilli 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 filled with market stalls, concerts and parades, as well as dances and open-air communal meals. Everyone gets into the fiery spirit, as bars host special aperitif concerts and a night market fills the air with the scent of Basque cuisine.
26-27 October, espelette-paysbasque.com
Fiesta del Marisco, O Grove, Spain
They take seafood seriously in the small Galician coastal town of O Grove. Since 1963, they’ve 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, which this year run from 3-10 October.
3-10 October, turismogrove.es
Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival, Aldeburgh, UK
Suffolk’s natural larder comes under the spotlight during this two-day festival held in the atmospheric grounds of Snape Maltings. From 28-29 September, try some of the offerings of more than 100 local producers and join chefs including Thomasina Miers during masterclasses and tastings.
Beer and cider lovers should head to the Adnams bar and the Wild Suffolk area, showcasing all the gorgeous seasonal produce that comes from the Suffolk countryside and coast.
28-29 September, aldeburghfoodanddrink.co.uk
Boccaccesca, Certaldo, Italy
Autumn in Tuscany brings out the richness of the cuisine, which is celebrated from 4-6 October in the mediaeval streets of Certaldo near Florence. It’s a fitting tribute to the poet Giovanni Boccaccio, who was born in the town and wasn’t averse to enjoying the good things in life. Wander round the food stalls that offer everything from game and wild boar to thick Florentine T-bone steaks, while enjoying cookery demonstrations, live music and Renaissance re-enactments.
4-6 October, boccaccesca.it
Castagnades, Ardèche, France
Chestnuts are the flavour of the season in the Ardèche, where a month-long programme 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. And, of course, giant vats of aromatic roasted chestnuts that will prove that there’s more to this symbol of autumn than just conkers.
6 October-10 November, castagnades.fr