The answer to this question is pretty much always the same – Istria is always a good idea! 😊

Keeping in mind that Istria is primarily farming region, and the fall is the harvest season, this is the period when a vast majority of food festivals in Istria take place.
There is wise old saying stating that if you want to understand a different culture, the best way to do so is to eat the food from their table. Food festivals are a great way to dive into regional culture, to immerse yourself into local customs and to truly live like a local, at least for a while.

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Gastronomic Events in Istria

1. Zigante truffle days- International gourmet expo
Location: Livade
Date: every Saturday and Sunday from September to November

Photo credit: Igor Zirojević/Istria Tourist Board

Zigante truffle days is an event which spans 10 weekends and brings together foodies from all over the world. The festival consists of a truffle fair, an exhibition of wine and other Istrian products (like prosciutto, sausage, cheese, honey, olive oil, and grappa), culinary workshops, truffle-hunting demonstrations, and various tastings of truffle specialties. The event takes place annually in Livade, in the very heart of the river Mirna valley, near the Motovun forest famous for its truffles.

2. Fisherman’s Festival
Location: Funtana
Date: August and September

Photo credit: Vrsar Tourist Board

Fisherman’s Festival is a great opportunity to enjoy freshly caught and prepared seafood and other culinary delights. Visitors and locals from all over Istria gather at the seaside promenade to eat, drink and dance. The celebration takes place at the docks of Funtana and represents the best place to become acquainted with the Istrian folklore and customs.

3. Gnam-Gnam Fest
Location: Novigrad
Date: April/May/June/September/October

Photo credit: Igor Zirojević/Istria Tourist Board

Treat your taste buds to delicious tastes of Istrian cuisine at Gnam Gnam Fest, which takes place on five occasions in spring and autumn. Apart from delightful food and wines, visitors can look forward to diverse music and animation program and enjoy the special ambiance of this exciting gourmet festival in the lovely town of Novigrad. Gnam Gnam Fest kicks off with Asparagus Festival in April, celebrating the healthy wild asparagus. Sea on a Plate follows in May and it presents the marvelous diversity of seafood and fish-based dishes. The final Gnam Gnam Fest event in spring is Evening of Jacob’s Scallops in June, dedicated to the Novigrad scallops, known as the best in the world. Gnam Gnam Fest continues with Sardine Festival in September, promoting the exceptionally healthy sardine – a tasty fish which has been an essential part of the region’s way of life and diet. The final event of the year, Istria on a Plate, perfectly rounds off the gourmet experience of the peninsula, takes place in October.

4. International Prosciutto Fair
Location: Tinjan
Date: October

Photo credit: Igor Zirojević/Istria Tourist Board

This is one of the most popular food festivals in Istria attended by tens of thousands of visitors eager to sample the mouth-watering prosciutto by producers from the region, and abroad. Apart from the delicious domestic products, visitors are treated to diverse entertainment program.

5. Festival of homemade brandy
Location: Hum
Date: October

Photo credit: Igor Zirojević/Istria Tourist Board

Hum (with approximately 20 permanent residents) is arguably the smallest town in the world but also proud host to one of the most famous festivals in the region -Festival of homemade brandy. Brandy producers from all over Istria get together to showcase their masterpieces. The brandy (locally called ‘rakija’) is traditionally made from grape marc and infused with aromatic and medicinal herbs or fruit like rue, mistletoe, St. John’s wort, sour cherries, mint, and walnuts.

6. Feast of Figs & Fig cake
Location: Barban
Date: September

Photo credit: Tourist Board Barban

In the Istrian climate, figs represent a delicious, refreshing, summer fruit whilst dried figs covered with icing sugar are a much-loved winter delicacy. In the coastal part of Istria, offering guests dry figs and brandy is a welcoming ritual. On Barban square, during the feast of figs and fig cakes, visitors are free to enjoy all kinds of specialties made of figs.

7. Istrian Pasta Day
Location: Žminj
Date: July

Photo credit: Igor Zirojević/Istria Tourist Board

Istrian Pasta Day takes place in Žminj and emphasizes pasta’s rightful place in Istrian cuisine. The rich and diverse program is to be expected – from a show cooking to pasta workshops and presentation of various recipes. You might as well come up with your own brand new idea you will fall in love with and decide to use in a kitchen.

8. Cheese Festival
Location: Svetivincent
Date: September

Photo credit: Igor Zirojević/Istria Tourist Board

Cheese Festival represents an exhibition of old Istrian crafts and souvenirs accompanied by the plays performed by Istra Inspirit. There is certainly a rich program both for the elderly and the youngest ones to enjoy.

9. Pancake Festival
Location: Pazin
Date: December

The Pancake festival is held in Pazin and this kind of event represents perfect food fair for any sweet tooth out there. Various types of pancakes with different shapes, flavors and combinations with different spreads inspired by tastes from Istria. Mostly domestic products are used and most importantly, nor lack of pancakes or spreads and fillings shortage is to be expected.

10. Festival of the snail
Location: Vodnjan
Date: August

Photo credit: Tourist Board Vodnjan

Every year in mid-August traditional festival of the snail is held and the visitors are welcome to taste various snail specialties. Due to the highly prized meat, snail dishes are considered a delicacy. It is no secret that many people find snails to be delicious as an appetizer or as a main course. There are plenty of popular recipes out there, and Vodnjan snails are prepared according to traditional recipes, usually with polenta.

Apart from diverse gourmet Istrian offer, there is a varied selection of outdoor activities for you to choose from. Whether you are for an adrenaline rush, or you would rather go cycling or wandering through the green paradise hills of Istria, it is up to you to take your pick. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

Photo credit: Igor Zirojević/Istria Tourist Board

Go to the least explored areas, spend some quality time with your friends and family and treat yourself to a well-deserved, worry-free vacation in rural Croatia! 😊

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