Olive Festivals, an Extra Virgin Journey Around the World

On this trip we will travel through a myriad of wonderful places and beautiful settings, wherever in the world they celebrate olive harvesting season and pay homage to harvest’s first and fresh oil and olive trees, universal symbol of peace and prosperity. Because this ancient tree is culture, mythology, tradition, gastronomy… Won’t you come along?

Olio Nuovo Day (Paris, France)


Mysterious, seductive, romantic, poetic… Paris, the city of love and birthplace of French culture, takes us on an exciting culinary journey to discover the freshest and greenest extra virgin olive oils in different venues around the city: a total of 10 restaurants, each with a dish specially prepared for that day and 20 bakeries, one per district. Each tasting-stop of the tour is a pretext for discovering an exceptional EVOO in its freshest expression. Nutritionists, historians, students and oenologists encourage participants in a fun and educational way. What are the varieties and the origin of the olives? What do cold-pressed and extra virgin olive oil mean? Those are just some of the questions answered during Olio Nuovo Day, where olive juices from Portugal, Spain, France and Italy can be tasted. Its mission: to promote the real EVOO and the new harvest; because, together, French bread and Mediterranean extra virgin olive oil are simply, perfect.


Fiesta Provincial del Olivo (Coronel Dorrego, Argentina)


“A unique place to discover and enjoy. Perfect for lovers of nature and the outdoors.” That’s Coronel Dorrego, an Argentine town in the province of Buenos Aires. Aiming to increase and promote olive production in the district, the municipality puts together the Fiesta del Olivo (Olive-Tree Festival) during the month of April, which have been declared to be of Provincial Tourism Interest. This event takes place every year offering a wide variety of activities such as specialized lectures, cooking competitions featuring dishes made with olive oil, Mediterranean dinners, photographic safaris, tastings, stands selling products made with olive oil, craft fairs and art shows, among many more. In addition, guided tours are offered to visit some of the local estate farms such as Rumaroli, La Comarca, Don Gastón, La Soberana and Circuito Turístico Los Olivares.


Rio Largo Olive Festival (Scherpenheuwel Valley, Western Cape, South Africa)


Nick and Brenda Wilkinson bought Rio Largo Olive Estate in June 2010 and at the end of that very same year their EVOO was awarded first prize in South Africa. “What a good start to this new adventure!”, says Brenda. A recognition that certainly gave them confidence and courage to continue striving to produce the best extra virgin olive oil. But this excitement and learning all about this wonderful product was something they felt they had to share with their customers so that they too could experience the whole process, from the tree to the table. Thus, “The Tree to Table Experience” was born, a day on the field, where consumers -big and small- become olive-growers for a day, picking and transporting the olives, observing the process, helping to package the product and even labeling it. At the end of the day, everyone shares their experiences around a table, tasting local products and the freshly obtained extra virgin olive oil. “Everyone loved it,” said Brenda. That’s why from now on it will become an annual event at Rio Largo.


Paso Robles Olive Festival (California, United States)


Paso Robles, a town located in the San Luis Obispo County, in California, pays their particular tribute to olive with the Paso Robles Olive Festival. The olive tree was one of the first cultivars introduced by Spaniards in America, California has cultivated them ever since the Spanish monks began building missions along the coast in the 18th century. The use of olive oil slowly poured into the culinary traditions, becoming the true protagonist of many festivals that were celebrated in this State, largest EVOO producer in the United States. It’s a celebration that’s highly anticipated by the local olive oil industry where different chefs perform culinary demonstrations, producers offer free samples of their juices and seminars on olive oil and olive trees are held, with musical entertainment, wine and beer tastings and fun children’s activities to make it an incredible experience. A day of fun inspired by extra virgin olive oil.


Waiheke Olive & Artisan Food Festival (Waiheke, New Zeland)


The Island of Waiheke (New Zealand), the most popular and easily accessible in the Hauraki Gulf, is a heavenly location, outlined by its green hills and known for its warm waters and the quality of its wines and olive oils, that hosts the Waiheke Olive & Artisan Food Festival. It is one of the most emblematic events where during a weekend, it brings together producers of the best, international award-winning EVOOs and artisanal local food products typical of this tiny island. In addition to acquiring and reveling in these extra virgin olive oils, visitors can attend educational seminars taught by leading olive oil experts from New Zealand. Live music and wine tasting liven up a fun and relaxing evening.


Annual Olive Harvest Festival-Jaru’a (Burqin, Jenin, Palestine)


With the sounds of the beautiful Palestinian folk music as a backdrop and under the shade of thousand-year-old olive trees, farmers, women’s cooperatives, international clients and visitors join in the celebration of the most joyous season in Palestine: the Annual Olive Harvest Festival. At this event one can enjoy delicious and traditional Musakhan, one of the most typical and popular recipes of Palestine’s cuisine, prepared by one of the women’s cooperatives, as well as sampling a wide range of delicacies and learn about the process of olive oil production. Furthermore, one can taste freshly produced extra virgin olive oil and enjoy the dabkeh and other folk performances and take part in other exciting activities at the festival. Freshly made “taboon bread”, hot mint tea, dancing, and lots of fun well into the night.


Irbid Olive and Rural Produce Festival (Irbid, Jordan)


Funded by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and organized by the Local Development Committee of the Irbid Governorate and the Department of Agriculture, this Jordanian city celebrates the Irbid Olive and Rural Produce Festival, a gathering that brings together hundreds of business owners, civil servants and non-governmental organizations to showcase their products linked to the olive oil sector. This annual festival highlights the importance of the olive oil industry for the local economy with the aim of encouraging Jordanians to increase their consumption of extra virgin olive oil, as well as other products derived from olives. Different kinds of olive oil and fresh olives, soaps, tools and machinery are exhibited at this event which also includes specialized technical workshops to raise awareness about the various challenges facing the sector.


L’Oro di Spello (Spello, Italy)


The beautiful medieval town of Spello, belonging to the province of Perugia (Umbria region), in central Italy, welcomes us to attend their traditional “Festa dell’olivo e Sagra della brochette”, a setting where culture, tradition and gastronomy come together around the product which best represents and symbolizes this territory: extra virgin olive oil. The festival’s program begins with a free course and homemade bread with olive oil tastings and continues with an exhibition of local products, period tractors and machinery and historical photographs. Entertainment in its purest form with live music, theater and popular games for adults and children. As usual, this event ends with its traditional float parade decorated with various agricultural products of the country. L’Oro di Spello is one of the oldest festivals with a spotlight on olive oil not only in Umbria, but in all of Italy. A fairy-tale festival in a unique setting.


International Ayvalik Olive Harvest Days (Ayvalik, Turkey)


We travel to Ayvalik, a Turkish tourist destination located on the Aegean Sea coast and one of the country’s key olive oil production areas. In this Ottoman city, the Chamber of Commerce has been organizing the International Ayvalik Olive Harvest Days since 2005, an event which aims to elevate and add value to this region’s olive tree groves. Producers, companies, brands, importers, exporters, journalists, artists and representatives of the gourmet sector participate in this event in which visitors attend informative briefings on the latest developments in the sector. In addition, local producers display their early-harvest oils at their stands, decorated with olive tree wood furniture and local earthenware, in order to raise awareness about the benefits of EVOO. But the activities centered around olive oil continue… tastings, photography, art, exhibitions and musical performances are just some of the activities that take place during the festival.


Hand Picked Greece (Crete, Greece)

All-year Round

We arrive at Crete, Greece’s largest Island, known for its myths and legends. Discovering places, people and flavors, as well as diving into one of the star products of Greece’s cuisine is the philosophy of Hand Picked Greece, a tour operator focusing on sustainable tourism in Crete, supporting slow food, local and in-season products, traditional cuisine and eco-friendly practices. At their “Olive Farm” they organize several activities year-round, such as picking olives during harvest time, guided tours of the oil mills and extra virgin olive oil artisanal producers, EVOO tastings and workshops on how to preserve this fruit. At Hand Picked Greece one can create their own olive oil, cook traditional recipes with this inspiring ingredient and delight in the local cuisine. Without a doubt, a different approach to discovering this ancient tree, essence of the Greek culture.


Giornate dell’Olio d’Oliva Novello (Vodnjan, Croatia)


The “days of harvest’s first extra virgin olive oil” in the tourist destination of Vodnjan have become a required rendezvous for Croatian olive oil producers and operators. This event attracts more than 20,000 visitors over the three days, lovers of olive oil and gourmet products, as well as many exhibitors who present their EVOOs and transform tastings into unique and special events. Multiple activities such as thematic conferences, gastronomic culinary demonstrations with the best Istrian chefs and restauranteurs and guided tours of the nearby local oil mills complete the contents of this traditional event’s program.


Fiesta Anual del Primer Aceite (Jaén, Spain)


Jaén, the largest olive oil producing region in Spain and the world, thanks to its sea of olive trees covering the province, holds the Fiesta Anual del Primer Aceite (Festival of the Harvest’s First Oil) during the month of November, which includes numerous cultural options throughout Jaen’s capital -bar hopping tours and different activities such as tasting, culinary demonstrations, concerts, storytelling and workshops taking place at the Palacio Provincial, the Centro Cultural Baños Árabes and the Archivo Pronvicial- with the participation of over 34,000 people; a School Week on Olive Oil and its environment bringing olive farming culture closer to 40,000 students from 156 schools across the province; and gastronomic conferences that take place in some thirty Jaen restaurants, featuring the newly produced oils. This festival, aside from being held in Jaén, also takes place every year in another corner of Spain, different from this landlocked paradise.