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Feasts, Festivals, and Where to Find Them

Feast your eyes on these international holiday foods and festivities!

Food brings cultures, communities, and people together, wouldn’t you say? That’s why it’s at the heart of many cultural celebrations–way more than the traditional Christmas dinner foods you may know!

So if you’re hungry for adventure, come tag along as we explore a few festive holiday meals across the globe, their beautiful destinations, and of course how to enjoy the festivities once you’re there!

Souvlaki and greek salad in front of the sparkling blue Aegean sea.
Authentic souvlaki by Grecian seas… what gets better than that?

Tsiknopempti: Greece 

Think of Fourth of July barbecues. Now multiply that by ten and you’ve got Tsiknopempti in Greece! It’s a highlight of Apokries–the Greek Carnival season–so you can be sure they go all out!

During Tsiknopempti, the streets are lined with outdoor parties where all are welcome. As you stroll through the sprawling neighborhoods of Greece–from ancient Athens to remote villages like Katakolon–you’ll smell plenty of delicious roasted meats for sale! 

For three days, Syntagma Square in Athens transforms into a concert stage where performers dance to and sing traditional Greek songs. It’s followed by a music parade for all to see–including you!

French Quarter of New Orleans decorated for Mardi Gras.
The sounds of jazz will follow you all along the streets of the French Quarter.

Mardi Gras: New Orleans

Greece is just one of the many places that celebrates Carnival! The origins of the holiday trace back to Venice, Italy, but New Orleans has its own spin!

Mardi Gras takes place right before the fasts of Lent begin. As a celebration of excess and revelry, Mardi Gras is a time to eat, drink, and be merry. And since the early 19th century, celebrations include street parties, masked balls, and of course soul food feasts. So grab some delicious king cakes (sweet pastry rings), gumbo, and beignets that are available just about every turn.

Then, head to the streets to watch bustling parades, where locals and visitors alike are dancing and decked out in colorful costumes. It’s the jazz capital of the world, so you’re guaranteed some incredible music too!

Pack an extra bag with you on your next trip–you’ll be gifted tons of traditional purple, green, and gold bead necklaces to take home.

Close up of a Maori totem.
Songs, dances, and stories of ancient legends all feature at Māori feasts.

Hāngī: New Zealand 

You might’ve heard of lu’au, a traditional Hawaiian party featuring food and entertainment. But have you heard of another Polynesian feast called hāngī?

Enter: New Zealand, a land rich with indigenous history. Hāngī is a traditional Māori meal where foods like pork, lamb, pumpkin, and cabbage are steamed in an underground pit. Typically, large meals are prepared to share with plenty of people–good food, after all, is central to manaakitanga, the Māori concept of hospitality.

You can come together with communities all over the world to enjoy hāngī in New Zealand. Tauranga is the gateway to the Rotorua region, the central hub of Māori culture and heritage. Visitors can head to the Whakarewarewa Living Māori Village or Te Puia for delicious hāngī accompanied by traditional waiata (Māori songs) and haka dances.

A smiling vendor selling wares in a market in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Christmas joy comes pretty easy in a land of sunshine, friendly people, and beautiful waters!

Grand Market: Jamaica

From Christmas Eve to Christmas Day, all major towns in Jamaica are alight with holiday festivities known as Grand Market! These aren’t the snow-covered Christmas villages you might be used to.

Grand Market is full of color, energy, and of course tasty treats for all! The streets are packed with stalls playing music and selling last-minute Christmas toys, decorations, and clothing. Some stalls are so decked out, they look like stores on wheels! 

The smell of delicious Jamaican food will follow you everywhere you go as you shop, sing, and celebrate… so why not indulge while you’re there? You’ll have your pick of everything from jerk chicken, rice and beans… to local holiday staples like Jamaican Christmas cake that’s filled with dried fruit and Jamaican rum!