Bucket List Worthy
Eating and drinking has always been a big part of North American culture. It’s something that the Canada and the USA have in common: there are foodies everywhere, and most adults enjoy a drink every now and then. And with foodie culture on the rise, food and drink festivals are the latest trend we can get behind. Match this with the incredible chefs, the food truck phenomenon, and the craft beer craze, and you’ve got yourself a seriously big audience.
With that being said, there’s something for everyone. Beer festivals, rib festivals, wine festivals, vegan food festivals—there are even gluten-free food festivals, and chocolate festivals. The list is endless, as are the possibilities. That’s exactly why FlightNetwork did all of the legwork to come up with this list of the best food and drink festivals in North America. These events came out on top, and are a must for any serious foodie or spirits lover wanting to tick a few boxes off of their bucket list.
Come hungry, or thirsty.
Cheese lovers are not going to want to miss this one, because you get to try before you buy. The Artisan Cheese Night Market is the first of its kind in all of Canada, and once you are in, you get to sample all of the cheese that you want! Try award-winning Canadian cheese and Québec and Ontario charcuterie, as well as Ontario artisan foods and Niagara wines. All are free with admission.
There are no tickets at the door, so be sure to purchase tickets ahead of time so that you can try and buy cheese, meet award-winning Canadian cheese makers and sip on Niagara region wine and local craft beer. The whole thing takes place at the historical St. Lawrence Market from 4 to 10pm.
The city’s best food festival, Taste of Edmonton also happens to be the largest food festival in Western Canada. Pair that with music and you will attract over 350,000 visitors, which is exactly what to expect if you go to this entertaining food festival. Expect to sample some of the best food in the city cooked by the top chefs from some of Edmonton’s best eateries. There are over 45 venders selling delicious food that can be enjoyed while listening to some great live music.
Take it one step further and purchase tickets to enter the Taste Piazza, or enjoy Cena con Vista (dinner with a view) where you will eat an amazing meal 20 feet above the rest of the festival goers. Relax under the stars and enjoy an alfresco four-course meal that has been perfectly prepared by a select group of local chefs.
This world-class culinary festival is one of the most anticipated food festivals in Canada, attracting people from all over North America. EAT! Vancouver features award-winning local chefs as well as special guest chefs from all over the continent who come together in support of Project CHEF, bringing Vancouver some of the best food imaginable.
EAT! Harvest is one of the events not to miss at the 6-day festival, featuring bites of canapés from 21 rock star chefs from across Canada and the US. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to purchase a ticket to EAT! Pastry and sample decadent desserts from 13 of Canada’s best pastry chefs and chocolatiers. You can also taste over 35 of the most exclusive Cognacs in the world, enjoy dinner prepared by an award-winning chef or even learn how to make dry-aged salami.
Disneyland for anyone who is gluten free or has allergies, the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo is the biggest gluten free and allergen friendly event in the US. There are over 100 companies that exhibit their best gluten-free and allergen-friendly products all under one roof! Expo attendees can sample gluten-free food and try new products before they even hit the shops. At the end of the day you will even get a take home bag full of goodies.
The Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo (GFAF) has a dedicated nut-free section, though the rest of the expo is not 100% nut free. Still, most food is free from the top 8 allergens, which includes milk, eggs, nuts, fish and soy. The entire family can enjoy the expo no matter what city you attend it in.
After only 5 years, the Bay Bites Food Truck Festival has become one of the greatest food truck festivals in North America. It features the best food trucks in the area, giving festival goers the chance to fill up on burgers, wings, tacos, crab, crepes and yoghurt. And of course, local craft beer to wash it all down with.
The whole family can enjoy Bay Bites thanks to its numerous lawn games. There is even a waterslide, laser tag, face painting, and other kids entertainment options. The festival is hosted by the Young Advisory Council and takes place at Cooper Riverside Park right on the Mobile riverfront. All proceeds go to the Mobile Baykeeper to support and protect the Mobile Bay Watershed and coastal communities.
Originally named the ‘Symphony of Fire’, this festival of food, music and light has been going strong for 28 years. ‘Love’ is the theme for the festival and its magnificent fireworks competition this year, which, for the first time ever, was decided on by a public vote. The Honda Celebration of Light is the world’s longest running off-shore fireworks festival, with countries from all over the world coming to compete. This year the competing teams hail from South Africa, Sweden and South Korea
The 3-day festival is so much more than just a magical light show; it’s also a festival of food and music. The best British Columbia food trucks will be there to please festival goers’ taste buds, which is matched by the amazing selection local music. Whether you are at English Bay, on Second Beach or at one of the special viewing areas, you will be sure to enjoy some of the tastiest food you’ve ever tried before watching the sky light up each night at 10pm.
People come from all over Canada and the USA to enjoy Canada’s Largest Ribfest, which truly is the largest ribfest in the country. There are more ribs sold here than at any other Canadian food festival! The festival started in 1996 as a way to raise funds for local charities, and today attracts over 180,000 people.
The festival is a celebration of music, fun and, of course, ribs. It also features an ‘Emerging Artist Showcase’ that gives 3 emerging artists the chance to show festival goers what they’ve got by being the opening acts for the day. It is a family-friendly event, complete with rides and an escape room. It all happens at Spencer Smith Park right along the shore of Lake Ontario.
Running for 69 years, this BBQ festival is the longest of its kind in the state of Alabama and it all happens in the city of Birmingham. Well in a suburb of it. And not Birmingham in the UK, but Birmingham in the USA! The 4th of July Barbecue Festival is hosted by Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church to celebrate the independence of the country.
Every year 6,500 pounds of slow cooked BBQ is served to more than 10,000 attendees. But don’t worry, you won’t be enjoying your succulent meat with 10,000 others. The barbeque is served over a 5 hour time period. In addition to enjoying the amazing food, you can also try your luck at the raffle, which features a $5,000 prize. There is also a giant rummage sale that usually has over 10,000 items just waiting to be snatched up by hopeful buyers.
There is something for everyone at this free festival, which is right on the beach! The Annual National Shrimp Festival is a shrimp lover’s dream, celebrating the love of shrimp. Still, there is more than just shrimp here; there’s also crab cakes, lobster, conch fritters and of course Cajun pistons. Sample all of the delicious food that is cooked up by some amazing vendors.
Over 250,000 people come to eat the seafood and listen to live music, with two main stages offering entertainment throughout all hours of the festival. There is also an area just for the kids -the Children’s Activity Village- where they can participate in fun activities and even create their own art. There is also fine art for sale, as well as an arts and crafts area where artists and craftsman from all over the country set up shop.
Toronto’s first ever outdoor Wine & Spirit Festival brings attendees some of the best wine, spirits, cocktails, cider, beers, food and live music in the world! Plus, it is right on Sugar Beach in Downtown Toronto. The 2-day festival showcases some of the world’s best wine, spirit, cider and beer producers. There are also amazing chefs that offer their culinary personalities to the mix.
Sit on the beach and enjoy a glass of wine, a cocktail that has been mixed by an expert bartender, fabulous food and great music. The Wine & Spirit Festival is a great way to start the summer season. This year’s venders include Cielo Pinot Grigio DOC, El Dorado Rum, Rood Apples Cider, VQA Wines of Ontario, Creemore Springs Brewery and a plethora of others. Let’s not forget about the cocktail classes and Food & Wine School. In short, if you love wine, spirits, food and other alcoholic beverages, this is a festival must.
Arizona’s premier beer tasting festival is one of the longest running beer festivals in the American Southwest. The Great Tucson Beer Festival is also one of the greatest and largest beer tasting festivals around! It is a fantastic night of beer tasting, with so many different beers to choose from. This is matched by excellent food trucks dishing out some of the best pizza, kebabs and burritos in all of Arizona.
Your sense of smell and taste is matched with live music and other entertainment that will keep you bust throughout the festival. This will be its 30th year running, with all attendees leaving home with a commemorative beer mug. This can also be used throughout the day to sample all of the wonderful Arizona beers. A few brewers that will be showcasing their best brew include Four Peaks Brewing Company, Dillinger Brewing Company, Old Bisbee Brewing Company and Freak’N Brewing Co.
What better way is there to keep warm in the winter season than with a steaming cup of hot chocolate? The Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival gives you the option of tasting over 60 creative hot chocolate drinks at over 30 locations across the city of Vancouver. All vendors are the best, up-and-coming independent businesses that are owned by talented chocolate artists and artisan food producers. The quality of chocolate is high and the flavours are exceptional.
This is the world’s first ever citywide hot chocolate festival and it is going on to its 9th year! It gets bigger and better each and every year, though still maintains its excellence. And the best part is that it is great for the whole family! It creates an uplifting diversion to the dreary Vancouver winter months, while at the same time raises money for local charities. Plus, with a motto ‘Chocolate makes you happy!’ you know you can’t go wrong.
Widely regarded as the best wine show in North America, the Vancouver International Wine Festival is not only one of the biggest, but also one of the oldest wine events on the planet! Whether you are a trade professional, a wine collector or just a wine drinker the Vancouver International Wine Festival is a festival not to miss.
Each year features over 170 wineries from around 15 countries around the world. Winery owners and wine makers pour and discuss their finest wines at 50 different events over the course of 8 days. There are 750 wines available to be sampled, as well as 160 more for trade professionals. In addition to the Tasting Room, there are also special events, like a gala dinner and auction, food and wine pairings, wines seminars and trade events.
You shouldn’t have a reason to want to drink brew while listening to top DJs, but the Hyde Park Brew Fest just gave you a very good one. Not only will you be enjoying some of Chicago’s best brews, but you will be doing it while listening to the tunes of DJ Jazzy Jeff! There are also plenty of other DJs on the bill, like DJ D Nice, DJ Clark Kent and Chicago’s Own Terry Hunter.
This is the fifth year that the Hyde Park Brew Fest is being celebrated in the city, which is completely free to attend! Or pay $30.00 and enjoy 20 3oz beer samples from over 50 vendors. Some of the vendors being showcased this year include Vice District Brewing, Angus Brewery, Revolution Brewing, Virtue Cider and Unity Vibration Kombucha.
Spend Father’s Day weekend at The Oregon Garden BrewCamp, a 3-day festival of beer, cider and non-stop music! There are over 90 beers and ciders to be samples, as well as wine and food. There are even games, workshops and activities to enjoy. Bring a tent and camp in the garden, or hook up your RV and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the 80 acre botanical garden.
This year is The Oregon Garden BrewCamp’s 14th, featuring over 40 of the top breweries across the state. Enjoy tasting brew in different parts of the garden, sampling wine and grooving to acoustic musicians and street performers. You can also attend the Brewer’s Dinner, which is an exclusive six-course meal complete with beer pairings. All of this plus a great mix of live bluegrass, blues, jazz, funk, soul, rock and Latin music.
Veganism is the newest fad across North America, so it makes sense that there is a food and drink festival dedicated to all things animal-free. The Vegandale Food Drink Festival is one of the fastest growing festivals on the continent, which started in Toronto, Ontario and has now taken over 3 other major North American cities. Veganism is enjoyed through food, drink, music and art, with everything being completely meat and dairy free!
There are over 250 vendors taking part in the festival this year, including big names like Ben & Jerry’s and Hellmann’s Vegan, as well as independent vendors from each city. If you want to taste delicious vegan dishes and exceptional vegan desserts while sipping on vegan craft beer that is chilled to perfection, then the Vegandale Food Drink Festival is a must!
For the last 20 years the Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival has been pairing wines, beers and spirits with local grub. It offers festival goers the chance to sample the best sips in the region while tasting food that has been expertly prepared by local chefs from the best restaurants in the province. Plus, it is for a good cause, with festival organizers giving back to local food banks.
In addition to indulging on great wine and food, attendees will also get the chance to be heard by voting for their favourite sips and eats. The vendors with the most votes will then be part of the Great Big Taste Awards. If you want to savour the best wine, brew and food in Alberta, then don’t miss this amazingly fun festival.
Pegged the ‘Local Flavor Festival’, Breakin’ Bread brings together over 30 of the city’s best restaurants, local sips and award-winning chefs all into one space! The festival is presented by the Birmingham Originals – a coalition of local, independently owned restaurants. It is a foodie’s paradise that’s packed with flavours, like maple-bourbon glazed pork tenderloin, New Orleans-style bread pudding with whiskey sauce, fish tacos with cilantro mayo and blue crab cakes with roasted garlic and lemon brown butter. And be sure to leave room for Belgian chocolate pot de crème, apple fritters and chocolate pudding.
Breakin’ Bread is the perfect place to enjoy Birmingham’s growing culinary culture, giving you the chance to sample signature dishes from over 30 local restaurants. Match this with craft beer and wine, live musical entertainment and more, creating the ultimate local food festival.
Another celebration of Birmingham’s growing culinary scene, Birmingham Restaurant Week gives you the chance to dine at some of the top restaurants in the city for a nominal price. Each participating restaurant will be offering a two- or three-course menu at a fixed price, making it affordable for everyone to dine in these top rated establishments.
Food lovers can enjoy everything from fine dining to down-home cookin’, which of course is paired with some of the best wines and local beers imaginable. Add in a signature cocktail and you are sure to have a meal that you will always remember. There are over 70 restaurants participating in Birmingham Restaurant Week this year, offering both lunch and dinner menus with a set meal and price. Dine in as many or as few as you’d like and discover the city’s diverse and flourishing culinary scene.
Not only does the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival offer the best food and drink in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties, but it also happens to be right on the beach! It is the ultimate gourmet gathering, with the backdrop of the beach and the sea. The festival features over 400 chefs, winemakers, spirits producers and lifestyle personalities that appear at more than 85 events across the two counties. Plus, there is a large tasting tent right on the beach that offers a variety of samples from the best of the best in the Miami-Dade area.
Sample food and wine on the beach, or buy tickets for an intimate dinner, a wine seminar, brunch or even a late-night beach party. All proceeds from the South Beach Wine & Food Festival benefits students of the Florida International University Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. Join this group of internationally renowned talent and leaders of the hospitality industry for the 18th year in a row and please all of your senses.
Eat.Drink.End Hunger is the festival’s mission, which is hosted by and benefits the No Kid Hungry® campaign and Food Bank For New York City. This is one of the most trendy and expensive food festivals in the city, but it’s worth every penny, with all proceeds of the festival helping to fight hunger. It features over 75 events and more than 450 world-renowned chefs, winemakers, spirits producers and personalities, including Ted Allen, Giada De Laurentiis, Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart.
New York is one of the most iconic food cities in the world, with the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival matching this by hosting tastings, seminars, panels, intimate dinners and late-night parties. Party on the rooftop of Pier 92, take a cocktail, cookie or dumpling making class, enjoy a wine tasting or join Rev Run of Run-DMC for the ultimate party of food, cocktails, wine, beer and music.