Europe’s best summer food festivals

CNN  — 

The word “festival” conjures plenty of unwelcome images: knee-deep mud, leaky tents and sinister burgers.

For those sick of the all-inclusive discomfort of Europe’s traditional summer music events, there are tastier alternatives.

It’s myriad food festivals.

Here’s a selection of the best upcoming events where there’ll be no need to eat out of a Styrofoam box or listen to second-rate indie bands.

Dorset Seafood Festival (Weymouth, England)

The waters off of southern England’s Dorset coast yield some of the best seafood in the UK.

The region has the restaurants to match, with Hix Oyster and Fish House in Lyme Regis (Cobb Road, Lyme Regis, Dorset; +44 1297 446 910) and the ace Hive Beach Cafe at Burton Bradstock (Beach Road, Burton Bradstock, Near Bridport; +44 1308 897070).

But it’s the annual Dorset Seafood Festival, held around Weymouth Harbour, that’s the ultimate beacon for foodies in this corner of England.

Dozens of stalls selling crowd-pleasers such as champagne and oysters dot the streets, with talks, demonstrations and tastings.

Dorset Seafood Festival, July 11-12

Matstreif (Oslo, Norway)

Rotten fish and pancakes: Oslo's Matstreif

Nordic cuisine’s relentless rise has been well documented.

For those who balk at the thought of blowing their entire vacation budget on a single plate of foraged seaweed, Matstreif is a worthy alternative.

With a wide variety of dishes available at wallet-sparing prices, this event sees more than 200 food stalls open for business in Oslo’s City Hall Square.

It’s the perfect place to chow on local delicacies and pick up unique treats to take home.

Bold foodies should try rakfisk – rotten fish.

If that sounds a bit much, there’s always svele, gorgeous pancakes that originate from western Norway.

Matstreif, September 11-12

Ludlow Food Festival (Ludlow, England)

Ludlow’s independent spirit has helped give rise to one of the UK’s most renowned food festivals.

Held in the impressive castle keep, traders have descended on this traditional market town in rural Shropshire since 1995.

As well as cooking demonstrations, there’s local produce on sale and an ale trail for those looking to drink the best booze from the England-Wales borderlands.

Saturday sees the renowned sausage trail take place, featuring local butchers’ creations rated on a one-to-10 scale.

Ludlow Food Festival, September 11-13

Copenhagen Cooking (Copenhagen, Denmark)

With 130 events over 10 days, Copenhagen Cooking is an eating odyssey that puts many other Euro food festivals to shame.

The Danish capital has become the epicenter of the New Nordic boom thanks to the likes of Noma (Strandgade 93 Copenhagen; +45 32 96 32 97), and there’ll be plenty of chances to try some of the city’s best food at this city-wide August event.

Among dishes to try are Restaurant Kronborg’s (Brolaegerstraede 12, Copenhagen; +45 33 13 07 08) smorrebrod, developed especially for the festival and set to include the best local herring, plus new fermented creations from the owners of the renowned Relae (Jaegersborggade 41, Copenhagen; +45 36 96 66 09).

Copenhagnen Cooking, August 21-30

Stragusto (Trapani, Italy)

Stragusto celebrates local delicacies as well as foods from Greece, Morocco and Serbia.

Even the most average Italian market can often be every bit as good as an organized foodie festival, but Stragusto is far more than just a few stalls selling local produce.

Held in the pretty Sicilian town of Trapani, it celebrates street food from around the Mediterranean.

That means helpings of the best Greek, Moroccan and even Serbian cuisine, alongside local delicacies and plenty of interesting culinary clashes.

Locals will be serving treats including arancini (saffron rice balls) and sfincione, traditional Sicilian pizza.

Stragusto, July 23-26

Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival (Galway, Ireland)

This annual bash on the west coast of Ireland has been going since 1954.

Although the weather can be iffy as autumn whips in off the Atlantic, the oysters are always first rate.

As well as the chance to sling back shellfish by the bucketload, there are demonstrations and talks in the Festival Marquee.

Best of all is the World Oyster Opening Championships, where teams from around the world compete to shuck the most oysters in the quickest time.

Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival, September 24-27

Abergavenny Food Festival (Abergavenny, Wales)