Dining

Fest or Famine

Save the date for the summer's 13 best food festivals
Photo: Marc Fiorito/FOOD & WINE
Food & Wine Classic

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If you're the friend at Bonnaroo who waits in the food truck line while everyone else is trying to get to the front row for Kendrick Lamar, you're in the right place. Food festivalgoers care not about the colors of your flower crown nor the length of your crop top, only that you brought your appetite. Get ready to dig out those elastic waistband jean shorts, here are the 13 best food and drink festivals of the summer.

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  • Luckyrice Festival NYC, June 2; San Francisco, June 24; Los Angeles, July 29

    "If we are what we eat, then we're all part Asian." That's culinary event group Luckyrice's motto, which vividly describes the dietary culture of many Americans. The company will kick off its seventh year in New York City this summer before moving on to San Fran and L.A. Holding tight to founder Danielle Chang's (former CEO of fashion line Vivienne Tam) mission to create an accessible platform for Asian culture through the lens of pop culture and storytelling, Luckyrice will put on a number of pop-up dinners, large-scale feasts and other food-centric events.

    Photo: Courtesy of Luckyrice Festival

  • Jazz Age Lawn Party: June 11 and 12; August 13 and 14

    Dust off your vintage summer whites and grab the jauntiest boater hat you can find. The wildly Instagrammable Roaring Twenties-themed event is once again coming to Governors Island in New York City for two weekends, one at the beginning and one at the end of summer. A quick ferry ride from Manhattan will transport you to the age of flappers and coupe glasses. Sip on a St-Germain cocktail and actually crack open your copy of The Great Gatsby for a maximized experience.

    Photo: Courtesy of Jazz Age Lawn Party

  • Food & Wine Classic: June 17 to 19

    Although the event is already sold out, you've got to check out coverage of Food & Wine's Classic in Aspen, Colorado. The whirlwind weekend of cooking demonstrations and wine tastings presented by the country's most renowned chefs and sommeliers make this event one of the most celebrated food festivals of the year. The 2016 lineup is set to include culinary all-stars like Jacques Pépin, Hugh Acheson, Christina Tosi and Andrew Zimmern.

    Photo: Marc Fiorito/FOOD & WINE

  • National Cherry Festival: July 2 to 9

    You've heard of cherry blossom festivals, but what about an event dedicated specifically to the glory of the fruit? Traverse City, Michigan, will celebrate its 90th cherry festival season this year, promoting community involvement, the Grand Traverse Region and, of course, that classic summer stone fruit. Visitors are invited to enter an art competition, listen to concerts, participate in walks and runs, and go on wine tours in cherry orchards.

    Photo: Courtesy of National Cherry Festival via Facebook

  • Taste of Chicago: July 6 to 10

    If outdoor food events call to you, it might be time to plan a trip to the Windy City. The nation's largest food festival will take place in Chicago's Grant Park. Go for a cart-by-cart attack of the best snacks the city has to offer (deep-dish pizza! Italian beef! Chicago-style hot dogs!) then head over to the music tents to catch performances by The Decemberists, Shakey Graves and Billy Idol. And if you need additional convincing, admission is free.

    Photo: Courtesy of the City of Chicago

  • LA Food Fest: July 8 to 10

    Head to the City of Angels for an extravaganza celebrating both high- and lowbrow food culture. The LA Food Fest presents full days of food-packed enjoyment regardless of your budget. Check out the general admission MRKT for hundreds of snacks and craft cocktail options, or put on a nice shirt for daily pop-ups at the Rose Garden. In between meals, be sure to hit up the live stages for food demos and DJ sets, as well as lawn games and "food porn" cinema.

    Photo: Courtesy of LA Food Fest

  • Pinknic: July 9 and 10

    Three words: rosé all day. Pack a picnic basket and hop the ferry to Governors Island for NYC's first large-scale festival dedicated exclusively to pink wine. Created by the founders of La Nuit en Rosé, Pinknic is a two-day affair of music, food and wine—served in stemless glasses for easy festival wandering, of course. No need to take the tapestries off your wall to avoid sitting on the grass, as the event plans to paint the island pink with "designer blankets" for prime lounging. Guests are also invited to stay on theme by adhering to a rosy pink and white dress code.

    Photo: Andrew Day

  • Vermont Cheesemakers Festival: July 17

    Upon hearing the very words cheese festival, our mouths began to water. Shelburne, Vermont, will host the annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival for its eighth year in mid-July. Guests can learn the art of cheese making, as well as participate in tastings of "Similar but Different Cheddar," and explore the best beer and cheese pairings. Palate cleansers will be aplenty with wine, beer and cider tastings throughout the grounds of the historic Shelburne Farm.

    Photo: Sabin Gratz

  • Gilroy Garlic Festival: July 29 to 31

    If you find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area this summer, the Gilroy Garlic Festival is a must-go. Feast your eyes on the giant outdoor kitchen that will be cooking up the best garlicky dishes out there, in addition to handing out free garlic ice cream! A Chopped-style cooking competition will ring in the first day of the event (can you imagine how good the Gilroy air will smell?). You can also rest assured there will be no vampires in attendance.

    Photo: Bill Strange Photography

  • Maine Lobster Festival: August 3 to 7

    For those who dream of lobster rolls all winter long, keep the first week of August open. The Maine Lobster Festival returns for its annual blowout. If you're feeling brave, sign up for the Lobster Crate Race, in which participants actually jump from crate to crate partially submerged in the chilly ocean. However, no one will judge if you'd prefer to run to the food tent instead.

    Photo: Courtesy of Maine Lobster Festival

  • Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival: August 5 and 6

    North Carolina doesn't mess around with the three b's: beer, bourbon and barbecue, that is. It even has a slogan: "Brew it. Taste it. Sip it. Pork it." For this decade-old festival, visitors are invited to try as many of the 60 beers and 40 bourbons, then keep up their energy with all the barbecue they can handle. You may need to lie down after this one.

    Photo: Courtesy of Beer, Bourbon & BBQ via Facebook

  • Austin Ice Cream Festival: August 13

    We all scream for ice cream! There seems no better way to beat the hot Texan sun than to head to the Austin Ice Cream Festival. With contests for ice cream eating, ice cream making and popsicle stick sculpturing, you can put your skills to the test and try to win The Spoon award. Recipe developers: Bring your A game; last year's finalist flavors included unique flavors like Hatch Green Chile con Queso and Reverse Mint Chip.

    Photo: Courtesy of Austin Ice Cream Festival

  • Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival: August 25 to 28

    When an event is promoted as a "citywide epicurean extravaganza," you can bet your bottom dollar it's unmissable. The ultimate end-of-summer festival plans to take over the heart of L.A. for a cultural and epicurean celebration. Last year's event was headlined by culinary superstars Alex Guarnaschelli, Tyler Florence, Curtis Stone, Thomas Keller–not to mention hosted performances by Questlove and The Roots. Follow LA Food & Wine's social accounts for updates on the 2016 event.

    Photo: Courtesy of Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival

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