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Food and wine festivals are a staple of the summer event calendar — and beyond. Showcasing the best culinary offerings of a city or region, these foodie fests allow travelers to sample from top area chefs, restaurants, wineries and breweries, all in one place. Prepare to get hungry as TPG Contributor Katie Hammel breaks down the best food and wine festivals around the world.
Editor’s note: When purchasing food festival tickets, credit cards may code them as either dining or entertainment; before purchasing tickets over the phone, consult with festival organizers to find out. If it’s dining, consider cards that offer a bonus for this category, such as the the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card or the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa. Of course, Citi ThankYou Preferred Card, Citi ThankYou Premier Card and Citi Prestige offer bonuses for both dining and entertainment, so these cards would be your safest bet when purchasing food festival tickets.
Napa Valley Festival del Sole – July 17-26
Napa Valley, California
A celebration of the lifestyle of Napa, the Festival del Sole combines food, wine, and art into a ten-day, valley-wide party featuring winemaker dinners and lunches at wineries such as Quintessa and Far Niente, as well as after-parties that ensure the revelry lasts until the stars come out. And speaking of stars … musical performances include such international acts as soprano Deborah Voigt, composer Gordon Getty and, in 2015, even a special appearance by Kevin Spacey.
Can’t-miss event: While the annual festival gala at Meadowood is a social highlight, the best way to sample all the culinary wonders of the valley is at the $75 Taste of Napa event, which showcases more than 80 wineries, restaurants and food artisans.
For more of the Napa Valley, be sure to see Wine Wednesday: Napa Valley and Napa vs. Sonoma: Which Wine Country Is Right for You?
Bite of Seattle – July 17-19
The three-day Bite of Seattle flaunts the tasty abundance of the Emerald City, with more than 80 local restaurants and food companies feeding the crowd’s hunger for foodie finds. There are wine tastings, plenty of small bites for purchase and the beloved The Bite Cooks! events, which are hosted by the “Chef in the Hat” Thierry Rautureau and feature local chefs in a series of cooking demos and competitions. Several stages provide additional entertainment, with nearly 100 musical acts playing throughout the weekend.
Can’t-miss event: It’s worth the $10 admission to The Alley to sample multiple courses of small bites from some of the city’s best restaurants, including Miller’s Guild, Ray’s Boathouse and Purple Café and Wine Bar.
The Sydney Good Food and Wine Show – August 7-9
An all-star roster of international Food Network hosts and celebrity chefs headline the Sydney edition of the Good Food and Wine Show (MasterChef Australia judge Gary Mehigan among them). Additional events are held Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth throughout the year; all iterations feature chef demos and plenty of food and drink. In Sydney, nosh your way through Cheese Alley, Brewers Lane and Artisan Lane, or take your wine knowledge to the next level at a Cellar Door seminar.
Can’t-miss event: Let the food trucks come to you at the Grazing Garden, a showcase of acclaimed food trucks featuring a mouth-watering array of international street foods.
For more on Sydney, see Destination of the Week: Sydney, as well as TPG’s recommended Sydney restaurants and review of the Park Hyatt Sydney, and Eric Rosen’s How to Use Airline Miles for Award Travel to Sydney.
Beaver Creek Wine and Spirits – August 7-9
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Presented by Wine Spectator magazine, the Beaver Creek Wine and Spirits festival is a three-day mountain-top soiree that showcases the beautiful setting as much as the incredible food created in the resort’s kitchens. Seminars on topics such as tacos and tequila pairings are offered among options that mix outdoor adventures with wine, such as a mountain hike followed by farm-to-table lunch and sparkling cocktails after morning yoga.
Can’t-miss event: The Walk Around Grand Tasting brings the best of Beaver Creek to one event, where guests can sample wine, spirits and small bites from the area’s top restaurants.
For more on Beaver Creek, see Destination of the Week: Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Hawaii Food and Wine Festival – August 29-September 13
Maui, Big Island and Oahu, Hawaii
Taking place over nine days on multiple islands, the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival is a culinary celebration with aloha spirit. Co-founded by native sons (and James Beard Award-winning chefs) Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, the event features more than 100 chefs, culinary personalities and wine and spirit producers hosting wine tastings, cooking demonstrations and exclusive dining experiences that highlight the incredible seafood, meat and produce found on the islands.
Can’t-miss event: The Big Island hosts “Seven Chefs, One Big Island” — a six-course menu prepared by seven master chefs and served under the stars at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.
Copenhagen Cooking – August 21-30
The Nordic food scene is hot, and the summer’s Copenhagen Cooking festival brings things to a simmer with a roster of events that highlight the culinary finesse of Scandinavia. Events include cooking classes and demos, wine and whiskey tastings, harvest markets and themed dinners, such as a crayfish boil at a 100-year-old fort; a long-table dinner on the waterfront; and a five-course pork-centric feast. Hands-on classes unlock the secrets of sausage-making, harvesting fresh honey, baking bread, or pickling and preserving. There are even classes geared toward kids.
Can’t-miss event: Watch as chefs near and far come to compete in the Risotto World Championship. Many chefs enter, but only one will be crowned as the maker of the world’s best risotto.
For more on Copenhagen, see Destination of the Week: Copenhagen.
Mexico City Wine and Food Festival – September 24-27
Mexico City, Mexico
The Wine and Food Festival is Latin America’s premier foodie event and has hosted the likes of Ferran Adrià, Daniel Boulud, Juan Mari Arzak, José Andrés and dozens of Mexican top chefs. It’s held twice each year – once in Mexico City and once in Cancun. The four-day festival has fewer scheduled events than some culinary fests, but each one packs a punch. Highlights include a head-to-head chef cooking competition and brunch, a “New York meets Mexico City” dinner, a panel on the future of cuisine and a gala tribute dinner to Chef José Andrés.
Can’t-miss event: The Mexico Star Chefs event offers a hearty helping of the best of modern Mexican cuisine. This walk-around culinary event features dishes from star chefs from throughout the country, Mexican ingredients, and local wines, beers, tequilas and mezcal.
Music City Food and Wine Festival – September 19-20
As any foodie knows, Nashville’s culinary scene is so much more than Southern-fried basics. The city now ranks among one of the best eating destinations in the country, and the Music City Food and Wine Festival is all about putting the city’s food scene on the world’s stage. A line-up of local star chefs hosts culinary demos and tastings alongside internationally acclaimed masters and food personalities like Marcus Samuelsson, Aarón Sánchez and Andrew Zimmern. Highlights include the Chef Showcase and the Grand Tasting event, which features signature bites and libations from more than 60 top chefs, restaurants, wineries and breweries.
Can’t-miss event: Harvest Night brings together the city’s love of live music with its passion for delicious food, as guests taste signature dishes from world-renowned chefs with live music curated by Kings of Leon.
For more on Nashville, see Destination of the Week: Nashville.
Whistler Cornucopia – November 5-15
Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
Held over ten days each November, Cornucopia is an aptly named celebration of the bounty of British Columbia. It’s where Vancouverites come to eat, drink and — thanks to a bevy of late-night parties — be very merry. There are more than 50 food, wine and spirits seminars as well as cooking demos, wine tastings, luncheons hosted by some of BC’s hottest chefs, wine-paring dinners and an international night market.
Can’t-miss event: Cornucopia’s signature event, the Grand Gala tasting is a three-hour extravaganza of food and wine. Attendees dress to impress as they sip and savor the best of British Columbia.
For more on Whistler, see Destination of the Week: Whistler, BC.