Festivals, be they music-, food-, or art-based, are fast becoming places in which to discover new food trends from across the world, with a view to tantalizing festivalgoers’ tastebuds and convincing them to stay just a little longer. A great example of the wealth of available temptations is the Wireless Festival, which last year featured world-class acts like Travis Scott, and accommodated a 50,000-large audience. Wireless, like many of the world’s biggest musical festivals, is an all-day affair; one that starts close to noon and ends at almost midnight. With attendees not allowed to bring their own food and drink owing to security reasons, the festival thus becomes the site for lunch and dinner, and visitors are spoiled for choice, with an entire avenue filled with food trucks or stands. In big cities like London, you are likely to find everything from a hearty Iranian kebab to stone-cooked pizza, southern Indian dosas and dhal bowls, right through to Korean corn dogs or bao buns. As such, the idea when you’re a food lover and you’re about to head to a festival is to go on an empty stomach as there is a world of flavors to enjoy! Below are just a few trending dishes to watch out for.

Eastern European Food

The 2024 Food & Drinks report by Bidfood UK has touted Eastern European food as one of the top trends of the year. The food of nations like Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina is known for its high comfort factor, as many dishes are made with enticing species like garlic, paprika, and parsley. Foods that are easy to take away and that you are likely to encounter at festivals include grilled meat kebabs cooked over coal and wood, pastičada (Dalmatian Coast beef stew, served in takeaway cups), and Balkan fruit brandy, made from plums. Be on the lookout for goulash, meatballs, and steaming-hot dumplings, perfect for days when the rain threatens to ruin your fun. Anyone who attended the Wireless Festival in 2023 recalls that it rained on the last day of the festival—a factor that didn’t dissuade a single soul from staying until the last artist left the stage!

Plant-Based Foods

Younger generations are twice as likely to be vegetarian or vegan than older generations, and festival organizers have taken note, offering a plethora of stands and trucks serving dishes like black dahl, vegan Greek salad, Parisian crepes, and sparkling botanical teas from countries like China, India, Indonesia, Kenia and Sri Lanka. The humble poutine is currying favor with vegans far beyond Canadian borders, since the vegan version is as gooey, crispy, salty, and comforting as the original version.

Sizzling Hot Grills and Picnics

Festivals are the perfect place to enjoy an outdoor barbecue meal, but why go for traditional rubs and marinades? At festivals like Big Grill in Dublin, visitors discover the vast differences between different barbecue traditions, trying out foods like Korean barbecue, Indian tandoori, Jamaican jerk, Mexican barbacoa, and Brazilian churrasco. In some outdoor festivals, meanwhile, visitors are permitted to barbecue their own meals—Glastonbury is one such event that allows visitors to cook their food on festival grounds. If you are planning a grilled picnic of your own, consider trying out new spices and rubs from new countries and regions. If you collect survival meal kits, then now is the time to bring a bucket or two, or at least a snack to accompany our outdoor meal. From kitchen beaches to mangos, brownie bites to cookie dough, these snacks are the perfect end to a hot, spicy meal.

Cheese Bars

You’ve heard of wine and spirit tastings, but how about cheese tasting? Establishments like The Cheese Bar in London have made individual cheese bites, served with your favorite wine, the perfect snack for when you’re between musical acts or visits to festival stands. The Cheese Bar has organized many of its festivals, including a highly successful mac ‘n’ cheese festival, which saw some of London’s top chefs and restaurants creating their interpretation of this traditionally American dish. Food festivals and trucks are ideal spots in which to savor local and regional cheese varieties and to support the eco-friendly “zero-kilometer cuisine” movement.

Festivals are no longer attractive to music, art, and culture lovers, exclusively. For food lovers, they also offer the chance to encounter a myriad of world foods. From British cheese to Indian dosa, Iranian kebabs to Hungarian goulash, there are a myriad of flavors to try, enjoy, and even recreate yourself!