A Calendar of Valencian Food Festivals Food and wine festivals catering for every taste as well as fiestas and culinary events take place throughout the year in the region of Valencia. The city of Valencia offers many and varied tasty reasons to lure food lovers to this sunny corner of the Mediterranean. Plan your trip around one of the following events to enjoy some of the best Spanish cuisine based on fresh local produce and mouth-watering traditional recipes: Fiesta de la Alcachofa The Artichoke Festival in Benicarló is a gastronomic event held over an extended weekend. The program includes plenty of cooking demonstrations and tastings of traditional or experimental recipes based on the local artichoke variety as well as the usual array of entertainment. Muestra de Embutido Artesano In the first half of February the town of Requena celebrates with a Sausage Festival its quality sausages: la longaniza fresca, el Salchichón de Requena, la Morcilla de Cebolla de Requena, la Güeña, el Chorizo de Requena, el Perro de Requena and la Sobrasada de Requena. Don’t miss the excellent local wines (see further down for the Requena’s Wine Festival in August!). Mostra de Tòfona Negra How good are you at peeling potatoes? If you feel your skills are above overage, you may enlist in the Concurs de Pelar Trumfos (potato-peeling contest) held in Zorita del Maestrazgo during the Potato Festival in early February. A nobler tuber, the black truffle, is king of a related culinary day the previous week (4 February 2008). Fiesta de la Cereza The last weekend in May is the time to try the four types of juicy cherries from the village of Serra, in the heart of the Calderona Sierra (located about 30 minutes drive from the centre of Valencia), as well as other local fresh produce. Recently the revelries of the Cherry Festival have been extended with a Medieval Fair where vendors sell homemade and traditional crafts. Fiesta del Aceite de Oliva In late May or early June, olive oil connoisseurs should not miss Viver’s Olive Oil Festival, held the Parque de La Floresta with around 50 exhibitors including the best oil producers in the region. La Tomatina Although not technically what you’d call a food festival, La Tomatina, held on the last Wednesday in August, is often described as ‘the mother of all food fights’. Thousands of revellers gather in the small town of Buñol (otherwise spelled Bunyol) for a two-hour battle in which they hurl more than 45,000 kilos of ripe tomatoes at each other, just for the fun of it! At the end, both the plaza and the participants are thoroughly hosed down. Fiesta de la Vendimia In late August, head to the Utiel-Requena wine region for Requena’s Grape Harvest Festival, offering delicious wines, concerts, comedy, fireworks, parades and much, much more! Not only wine lovers will enjoy a visit to this historic town and its underground wine cellars, as the region is also steeped in history. Archaeologists discovered ancient Iberian settlements in the region that show that wine production in the area dates from as far back as the 7th century BC. Fiesta del Arroz & Paella If you like paella and other Spanish rice recipes, don’t miss the Rice Festival of Sueca, where chefs from around the world compete in the international paella contest on the Paseo de la Estación. Held yearly in the first half of September, this events celebrates the excellent rice grown in the Albufera nature park with a giant paella. Día de la Comunidad Valenciana October 9th is the Day of the Valencia Region, commemorating their 13th century liberation from the Moors thanks to King James I. It is customary for men to present their loved ones with the ‘Mocaora’, a gift of fruit- and vegetable-shaped marzipan figurines wrapped in a silk scarf.