Summer’s here, and that means one thing: festival season!
(Well, okay, it means a few other things too. Like doubling down on the sunscreen and trying not to sweat through your clothes.)
Hot though it may be, summer is the time of year when we all get outside for exploration and adventure — and, every once in a while, to gather in a great big crowd and celebrate something together. And while music festivals are tons of fun, in this post, we’re going to focus on all things delicious: summer food, wine, and beer festivals!
No matter your tastes or dietary tendencies, there’s a summer food fest just waiting for you to enjoy some delightful new dishes, or revisit classic, comforting treats. And if you’re into imbibing, there are also a ton of amazing wine and beer bashes to check out. (Just be sure you bring along your ID… and a designated driver!)
Regardless of which corner of the country you call home — or which ones you’ve got on your travel bucket list this year — here are some of the best summer festivals to head to if you’re looking for something delicious.
It’s all about the noms! Here are our favorite summer food flings to consider adding to your travel itinerary.
1. The Chicago Food Truck Festival – Chicago, Illinois
In case you’ve somehow missed it over the past decade, food trucks are having a moment — so it’s no surprise that food truck festivals are some of the most popular summer food festivals there are. That goes double for Chicago’s annual bash, which is one of the largest gatherings of food trucks in America.
The Chicago Summer Food Truck Festival takes place over a late June weekend in the South Loop. But the good news is, if you can’t make it, you still have a chance to participate: there’s another event at LaBagh Woods in September!
Dates: June 22-23, 2019; September 21-22, 2019
2. The Gilroy Garlic Festival – Gilroy, California
When it comes to garlic, people have strong opinions. (And we’ll go ahead and be honest: we don’t understand the people whose opinion is, “No thanks.”)
If you count yourself amongst the garlic lovers of the world, a trip to the world-famous Gilroy Garlic Festival is non-negotiable. You’ll get to sample classics like garlic fries and garlic bread, but also garlicked-up favorites like steak sandwiches, pasta con pesto, and fried calamari. And yes, there’s even garlic ice cream!
Dates: July 26-28, 2019
3. The Milford Oyster Festival – Milford, Connecticut
Attending a stellar seafood festival is one thing. But heading to an oyster festival really ups the game — and for a summer oyster fest with authentic, local flavors and a long legacy, we suggest you head to New England. The Milford Oyster Festival will be in its 45th consecutive year in 2019, and more than 30,000 oysters will be up for grabs. There will also be live entertainment, beer, and wine tastings, and even schooner rides available. But it’s a one-day-only event, so don’t delay!
Date: August 17, 2019
4. VegFest Colorado – Broomfield, Colorado
It’s 2019, so you know that living a plant-based lifestyle doesn’t have to mean making big sacrifices to taste and pleasure. Heck, the Impossible Burger is taking the American restaurant industry by storm, and it’s just the beginning!
If you’re looking for a more immersive way to celebrate your compassion-focused lifestyle, head to VegFest Colorado this July. Along with vendors hawking delicious and nutritious plant-based treats, this vegan festival also hosts informative sessions and live entertainment.
Dates: July 27-28, 2019
America may run on Dunkin’, but when it’s time to wind down for the day, our go-to beverage is definitely beer. If you’re into trying tasty new ales and brews, check out these not-to-be-missed events.
5. Portland International Beerfest – Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon is well-known for a number of things, not the least of which is its devotion to craft beer. Which is exactly why we can’t think of a better place to celebrate our favorite beverage than this Pacific Northwestern capital — and at the Portland International Beerfest, you’ll have no shortage of different tipples to try.
This three-day event features more than 200 beers from, as the name suggests, all over the world. So if you’re a local who’s somehow already drunk your way through the Portland beer scene (kudos?), this is a great way to expand your horizons.
Dates: June 28-30, 2019
6. Burning Can – Hendersonville, North Carolina
If there’s one other spot on the map that might compete with Portland in the beer-loving category, it’s Asheville — and Hendersonville is right down the road. And we have to admit, Burning Can definitely competes with its Pacific Northwest counterpart as far as name creativity.
Either way, this festival is the perfect place to couple your favorite beer (that you may not even have tried yet!) with live entertainment and fun. You can purchase a variety of ticket options to ensure you get exactly the experience you’re after, even if you’re only there for the music!
Dates: August 9-10, 2019
You know what they say: wine a little. You’ll feel better!
All jokes aside, a good glass of wine is a work of art. Here are some festivals to check out if you’re in the market for a brand-new tasting experience.
7. Telluride Wine Festival – Telluride, Colorado
It may not be as well-known in the wine industry as, say, Napa, but Telluride does have a legacy when it comes to this special liquid: the annual Telluride Wine Festival brings connoisseurs from the world over, and this year will be its 38th running.
An intimate event that lights up this historic mining town, the Telluride Wine Festival is a classic summer activity not to be missed by any oenophile.
Dates: June 27-30, 2019
8. Uncorked: LA Summer Wine Fest – Los Angeles, California
Want to sample more than 200 wines right in the very state many of them were grown and made in? The Uncorked: LA Summer Wine Fest event is the perfect place to do so, especially since proceeds benefit a local non-profit. Choose between VIP and regular admission (VIP gets you an extra hour of tasting for $10 more, so we recommend it). There will also be food trucks, a photo booth, and live entertainment to keep you happy between sips!
Date: June 26, 2019
Food and Wine Festivals
Food is awesome. Wine is awesome. And so, we say to you… why not have both?
9. The Food and Wine Classic – Aspen, Colorado
Yes, Colorado has already been on this list. What can we say? That state really knows how to enjoy itself. If you’re looking for a delicious combination of sips and savory bites, head to the annual Food and Wine Classic in Aspen, which brings together some of the industry’s leading chefs and sommeliers for one jam-packed, utterly-delicious weekend.
What sets this event apart? Well, along with tastings, you’ll also walk home with some know-how thanks to the cooking demonstrations from names as well-known as Martha Stewart. You know what they say: give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime… and in this case, he’ll be well-fed, indeed!
Dates: June 14-16, 2019
10. The Epcot Food and Wine Festival – Orlando, Florida
I’ll be candid: as someone who grew up in Florida, I know for a fact that the best part of Disney World is eating (and drinking) your way around the globe at Epcot. That’s why we kept this favorite foodie fest for last: the Epcot Food and Wine Festival is an absolute bucket list item, even if you don’t really consider yourself much of a cuisine hound. (And, hey, if you do decide you’re tired of eating and drinking, there are plenty of other rides and attractions to check out while you’re there!)
With dates starting in late August, this event is technically a summer festival… but considering that it’s in Florida, honestly, it’ll feel like summertime well into November. Bon appetit!
Dates: August 29-November 23, 2019
This post may contain affiliate links.