Even in the midst of our deepest winter woes, these annual food festivals prove tempting enough to force us out of hibernation and into the frigid weather. Let’s be real—we’d hike through the frozen tundra just to nosh on some of their delectable offerings! From the United State’s longest-running food and wine festival in Boston to an entire event dedicated to chocolate in Portland, we’ll guide you through the very best indulgences America’s cities have to offer this winter.
Where: Portland, OR
When: Jan 23-25, 2015
Why to Go: This event is a dream for any chocolate lover—and who doesn’t love chocolate? Featuring treats from over 80 of the most renowned chocolate vendors, Portland’s Chocolatefest presents the opportunity to sample, taste, and savor some of the most decadent chocolates in the world.
Highlight: We recommend arriving early Friday evening to attend the special the 21+ event where festival attendees sample wine-and-chocolate pairings and pick up complimentary Chocolatefest wine glasses.
Where: Miami, FL
When: Feb 19-22, 2015
Why to Go: Cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs, delectable bites, and an escape from icy winter weather? Count us in. This festival attracted more than 65,000 visitors last year for a reason. With events throughout the weekend featuring culinary superstars like Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, this is truly the ultimate experience for anyone with an appreciation for all things epicurean.
Highlight: Make sure to take a stroll through the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, which will be filled with tents offering samples of bold cuisine and creative spirits.
Where: Charleston, SC
When: Jan 25, 2015
Why to Go: For fans of seafood, there’s nothing like a freshly steamed, piping hot oyster served in a beautiful coastal setting. Charleston’s Lowcountry Oyster Festival is the largest oyster festival in the world, featuring over 80,000 pounds of oysters prepared in all sorts of ways. Highlights of the festival include “Oyster Shucking” and “Oyster Eating” contests, live music, and a children’s area.
Highlight: People with little ones should be sure to check out the family area, adorably named “Pluff-A-Palooza” in honor of the pluff mud where oysters are grown.
Where: Napa Valley, CA
When: Jan 16-19, 2015
Why to Go: Widely known as one of the world’s most prized and delectable foods, it’s no surprise that truffles serve as the centerpiece for a food festival in Napa Valley, a Mecca for culinary excellence. Gourmands will find a variety of activities to satisfy their appetite for all things truffle—from culinary demonstrations to a Truffles & Wine Dinner on Saturday.
Highlight: The Festival will conclude with a Napa Truffle Festival Marketplace that will showcase local artisan vendors and the chance to win an extremely pricey black truffle.
Where: Atlanta, GA
When: Jan 24, 2015
Why to Go: An exciting mix of live music, pub food, and hundreds of samples of beer, the Atlanta Winter Beerfest offers an opportunity to enjoy a food festival in the winter months while still avoiding the cold. From pilsners to stouts to IPA’s, Beerfest includes both large batch and craft selections from all your favorite breweries.
Highlight: Along with countless beer options, the festival will feature food samples from local favorites like Baby Tommy’s Pizza and Poor Huey’s Hot Dogs.
When: Feb 28- Mar 1, 2015
Where: Yuma, AZ
Why to Go: Searching for a food festival offering healthy fare? Look no further than Yuma Lettuce Days, a food festival specifically dedicated to the green stuff. This event showcases the diverse agricultural bounty of the fertile river delta and all the incredible, produce-centered dishes that can be made from it. Activities include “kale gating,” a beer garden, kids “ag-tivities,” cooking contests, a farmers’ market, and fancy vegetable carving.
Highlight: Yuma’s Recipe Box tasting event takes place on Saturday afternoon, featuring sample specialties from local restaurants as well as wine and Budweiser brews.
Where: Avon, CO
When: Jan 22-25, 2015
Why to Go: Beaver Creek Food & Wine Weekend allows attendees to sample of the work of some of the country’s top culinary talent in breath-taking Beaver Creek, Colorado. Participate in a cooking demonstration, try samples of the finest wines, and then hit the slopes—well, you should probably wait until you’re done skiing to try the wine. Chances are you’ll want glass after glass!
Highlight: Watch a cooking demonstration from Nicholas Elmi, the chef/owner of Restaurant Laurel and Season 11 winner of Top Chef.
Where: Fellsmere, FL
When: Jan 15-18 2015
Why to Go: Regardless of your opinion of frog legs, this festival has a little something for everyone. The main feature is, of course, mouthwatering frog leg and gator tail, but there is also a variety of other foods to choose from, including kid-friendly burgers and pizza. And the food is just the beginning—the festival also features live music, a carnival, and hundreds of booths of unique crafts and artisans, a hoppin’ good time for everyone involved.
Highlight: For adventurous eaters, we recommend reserving a spot at one of the specialty Frog Leg & Gator Tail Dinners.
Where: Manhattan, NY
When: Jan 24, 2015
Why to Go: Get a sweet taste of the South in the heart of the Big Apple. The Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival offers a full day of beer sippin’, bourbon tastin’, and barbecue eatin’. Sample the best in slow-roasted barbecue as well as some of New York City’s finest southern cuisine, and indulge in all-you-can-drink beer and bourbon.
Highlight: This year’s festival includes—we kid you not—a bacon eating contest. Sign us up for that one.
Where: Boston, MA
When: Jan 9– Mar 27, 2015
Why to Go: As the nation’s longest running food and wine festival, these folks know what they’re doing when it comes to providing the very best culinary experience. The festival features an all-star lineup of intimate winemaker-hosted dinners, seminars, and receptions. Events run through the end of March, so you have plenty of chances to secure a spot at one of Boston’s most time-honored traditions.
Highlight: Looking for a Valentine’s treat for that special someone? One of the swankiest events the festival has to offer is the Champagne Dinner Dance, a romantic evening of live music and dancing coupled with incredible wine and food on February 14.