Ways to Eat Your way Through the Lower 48 States
by Lynn & Cele Seldon
Every year, there are hundreds of food- and beverage-focused festivals nationwide. From small town community efforts to regional ingredient-inspired celebrations and huge decades-long “foodie” celebrations in major destinations, food and beverage festivals are bigger, better, and tastier than ever.
Here are some of America’s top food and beverage festivals in the lower 48—arranged chronologically so that you can travel along all year:
Charleston Wine + Food Festival (Charleston, South Carolina)
March 1-5, 2017 (www.charlestonwineandfood.com)
Set in the historic coastal city known for its southern hospitality and graciousness, the 12th annual Charleston Wine + Food Festival has set the bar, with more than 100 events over five days featuring local culinary legends, visiting rock star chefs, and tasty innovations.
Taste Washington (Seattle, Washington)
March 23-26, 2017 (www.tastewashington.org)
Celebrating its 20th year in 2017, Seattle’s Taste Washington brings together more than 300 wineries, 70 restaurants, and top chefs into the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event. Featuring super-exclusive wine pours at the VIP Red & White Party, curated excursions to farms and purveyors at Taste Washington on the Farm, and an early access tour of iconic Pike Place Market, this event shines a spotlight on the Pacific Northwest.
Savor Dallas (Dallas, Texas)
April 6-9, 2017 (www.savordallas.com)
Savor Dallas celebrates the top chefs and restaurants of North Texas every spring with four days of epicurean experiences, such as the seductively spicy and delectable desserts at Sweet Heat.
Austin Food & Wine Festival (Austin, Texas)
April 28-30, 2017 (www.austinfoodandwinefestival.com)
Highlighting the culinary influences of Austin’s red-hot gourmet scene, along with its rock-and-roll charm, the Austin Food & Wine Festival offers up artisanal foods, chef demos, and panels stocked with secrets and stories, and opportunities to cook alongside the pros.
Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit (Las Vegas, Nevada)
April 27-30, 2017 (www.vegasuncorked.com)
Taking advantage of this phenomenal foodie destination and the city’s collection of serious celebrity chefs and sommeliers (more top wine experts than any other U.S. city), as well as visiting chefs and beverage experts from around the globe, Vegas Uncork’d features an elite group of Vegas resorts and their restaurants. There’s a decadent Grand Tasting with chefs from throughout Las Vegas, delectable dinners at host restaurants, and the cache of celeb chefs and culinary personalities.
New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (New Orleans, Louisiana)
May 25-28, 2017 (www.nowfe.com)
Long known for its culinary (and party!) scene, it’s no surprise the Big Easy would host a serious wine and food festival. Since 1992, NOWFE’s four-day event takes full advantage of the city’s long heritage of great food—with local celebrity chefs like Tory McPhail, Susan Spicer, and John Besh being joined by equally talented chefs from around the world. Hands-on tastings and seminars, Grand Tastings, vintner dinners, pastry competitions, and a Royal Street Stroll are all highlights.
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival (Atlanta, Georgia)
June 1-4, 2017 (www.atlfoodandwinefestival.com)
Focused exclusively on the South (including other “southern” worldly hotspots like Mexico, South America, Southern Europe, South Africa, Australia, and more), the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival pairs more than 250 southern chefs, sommeliers, beverage innovators, and pit masters with a long list of educational—and tasty—events and experiences that get behind the techniques and minds of culinary superstars. Cooking, cocktail, pairings, and technique classes, tasting tents, and intimate chef dinners combine for an all-you-can-indulge experience.
Food & Wine Classic in Aspen (Aspen, Colorado)
June 16-18, 2017 (www.foodandwine.com)
The festival that, in many ways, started it all in 1983, the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen is still the wine and food festival motherlode. After so many years, “Classic” organizers know what works—with other festivals whisking away the ideas into their own recipes for success. The top draw here is simply the caliber of chef demigods in attendance—including Jacques Pepin, Daniel Bolud, Jose Andres, Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali, Andrew Zimmern, and dozens more. Oh yeah, and then there’s the view.
Taste of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)
July 5-9, 2017 (www.cityofchicago.org)
Billing itself as the world’s largest food festival, Taste of Chicago has been held since 1981 and features pop-up restaurants, daily Celebrity Chef du Jour dining experiences with the likes of local chefs Graham Elliot and Stephanie Izard, In the Kitchen demos where local and guest chefs show off their wares and tell their culinary secrets, food trucks, and more. Stellar entertainment is also on the menu with past musical guests including The Isley Brothers, Carlos Santana and Stevie Wonder.
Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival (Los Angeles, California)
August, 2017 (www.lafw.com)
A relative newcomer to the festival circuit, the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival is a four-day red carpet event that showcases the city’s finest food and drink culture set amidst some of the most iconic streets in the country, filled with entertainment’s most impressive venues and talent. A veritable who’s who of local and national chefs—including many television Top Chefs, Master Chefs, and Food Network stars—host tastings, demos, lunches, dinners, and the ultimate Grand Tasting.
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (Walt Disney World Resort, Florida)
August 31-November 13, 2017 (www.epcotfoodfestival.com)
Breaking with the weekend-long trend, Disney World’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival offers up a record 75 days of global culinary creations, with highlights including: international food kiosks throughout the park; a wine bar, wine seminars, tastings, book signings and more at the Festival Center; some 250 Disney and guest chefs conducting cooking demos, tastings, and elegant dinners; complimentary Eat to the Beat concerts; and special Grand Tasting events.
Feast Portland (Portland, Oregon)
September 14-17, 2017 (www.feastportland.com)
A celebration of Oregon’s bounty, Feast Portland has been showcasing the energy, creativity, and enthusiasm that’s driving the Pacific Northwest food revolution since 2012 and is one of the hottest rising stars in the food festival world. Possibilities include: two offerings of the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting; Washington wine and spirit seminars and tastings; art of the noodle parties; coffee and tea talks; food styling workshops; classes on buying and cooking salmon; oyster shucking classes; and brunches, lunches, and dinners.
Euphoria (Greenville, South Carolina)
September 21-24, 2017 (www.euphoriagreenville.com)
Über-hot Greenville in South Carolina’s Upcountry and its award-winning revitalized downtown plays host to Euphoria. This intimate culinary weekend is the perfect combination of food, wine, music, and southern hospitality. From Taste of the South showcasing the burgeoning local chef scene to the Sunday Night Supper finale, the weekend is filled with rock star chefs and purveyors from the Southeast, wines, beers and spirits from around the world, rockin’ concerts, food truck rodeos, bike and brew outings, winemaker dinners, and a gospel brunch.
Music City Wine & Food Festival (Nashville, Tennessee)
September 15-17, 2017 (www.musiccityfoodandwinefestival.com)
One of the newest festivals on the circuit, the Music City Food & Wine Festival is the brainchild of Grammy Award-winning artists (and Nashville residents) Caleb and Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon and world renowned chef Jonathan Waxman. Held in historic venues and outdoor spaces of downtown Nashville, the weekend features a small lineup of events—including a Grand Tasting, music and food at Harvest Night, an exclusive Pappy Hour, and a gospel brunch—that’s big on national culinary talent, winemakers, spirit experts, and the sounds of Nashville.
TerraVITA Food & Drink Festival (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
October 2017 (www.terravitafest.com)
Chapel Hill’s TerraVITA Food & Drink Festival is committed to spreading the gospel of sustainable food and drink with educational events like their popular Sustainable Classroom sessions. Add to the mix celebratory dinners, fired-up Hill Fire barbecues, and The Grand Tasting on the Green featuring chefs, brewers, distillers, farmers, cheese makers, and many others, TerraVITA continues to prove that sustainable local food and drink is more than just a tasty trend.
Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival (New York, New York)
October 12-15, 2017 (www.corporate.nycwineandfoodfestival.com)
Paying homage to one of the greatest dining cities in the world, the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival brings together legendary culinary icons from around the globe, top-shelf wine and spirit experts, and America’s most beloved television chefs. It celebrates America’s favorite foods and educates palates with intimate dinners, late-night parties, hands-on classes, tasty seminars, coveted wine tastings, and more.
Kohler Food & Wine (Kohler, Wisconsin)
October 19-22, 2017 (www.americanclubresort.com)
Kohler Food & Wine is a four-day extravaganza of food, wine and fun from the folks that bring us innovative kitchen and bath fixtures at their Wisconsin five-star golf resort. One of the Midwest’s preeminent epicurean events of the year, Kohler Food & Wine features celebrity chefs (last years’ lineup included Top Chef Spike Mendelsohn and Food Network’s Aarón Sánchez and Amanda Freitag), libations specialists, wine experts, and epicurean enthusiasts from around the world for culinary seminars, tastings, and signature festivities.
San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival (San Diego, California)
November 13-19, 2017 (www.sandiegowineclassic.com)
Shining a spotlight on San Diego’s thriving food scene since 2004, the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival has quickly aged into a top California festival vintage. Featuring lots of local and visiting chefs, excellent wines from throughout the state (and around the world), elegant Reserve & New Release tastings, celebrity lunches and dinners, live auctions, and golf tournaments, this week-long San Diego Bay event is a top mouth-watering feast on the west coast.
Fire, Flour and Fork (Richmond, Virginia)
November 2-5, 2017 (www.fireflourandfork.com)
Touting itself as a gathering for the food curious and a relative newcomer to the festival scene, Richmond’s Fire, Flour and Fork is not your everyday food fest. FFF is giving some long-overdue love to the Richmond culinary scene.
Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (Miami Beach, Florida)
February, 2018 (www.sobefest.com)
Every February, Food Network and Cooking Channel stars and their fans head south to Miami Beach for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Without a doubt, this is the place to see and be seen for the many television culinary superstars. SoBe has quickly become a must-be-there for foodies, thanks to perennial highlights like cooking demos by local and worldwide celeb chefs.
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