Nothing connects you to the soul of a place like food. And when you delight in local flavors surrounded by the mountains, vistas, coasts and cultures where that food has been raised, grown or caught, the connection gets even stronger. So why not take advantage of the magic of food and place through festivals across the United States and around the world?
Try an international festival on Canada’s Food Island or down under in the bounty-rich coastal state of South Australia. Or sample distinctive American flavors in places such as the in the Land of Enchantment, the Barbecue Capital of Texas, or the fragrant and vibrant land of Aloha.
Prince Edward Island Fall Flavours Festival
Canada’s smallest province produces the nation’s largest amount of beef, mussels, clams, lobsters and potatoes. It’s no wonder small and mighty Prince Edward Island on the Atlantic coast is known as Canada’s Food Island. And for the past 15 years, PEI has invited guests to experience its culinary marvels at its Fall Flavours Festival.
Fall Flavours began as a single event in Prince Edward Island’s capital city, Charlottetown. Since then, the harvest festival has grown substantially. Today it celebrates the province’s mouth-watering delicacies for an entire month with events taking place across the island.
“September and early October are the best times to taste the flavors of PEI,” said Fall Flavours’ Leah Deveau. “That’s when our flavors come alive.”
Festival-goers will be wowed by menus created and executed by local legends and Food Network Canada celebrity chefs. And that’s not all attendees can expect: “2022’s is going to be the largest festival to date, with two dozen events from tip to tip of the island, with numerous culinary adventures,” Deveau said.
Each event showcases different chefs with different vendors and producers, and all 22 event types are unique. For example, Beef and Brew is a rolling station-style event with a dozen restaurateurs preparing a different beef dish. Some signature events are three-course meals and others are curated weekends or immersive food adventures. There’s also a live entertainment component.
“Want to learn to tong for oysters or bar clams? You can,” Deveau said. “Want to learn to make a lobster taco? This is the place.”
New Mexico Wine Festival
Looking for vibrant natural scenery and vivacious wine culture? The New Mexico Wine Festival draws 25,000 visitors to the Land of Enchantment in a single weekend. Festivities take place twice a year, over Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, each with locations in both Albuquerque and Las Cruces.
“We first brought New Mexican wine directly to consumers 30 years ago in small events,” said Christopher Goblet of New Mexico Wine. “Today, the New Mexico Wine Festival is the largest wine festival in the Southwest.”
Attendees can samples from products from more than 20 wineries and 40 other food vendors, as well as taking in workshops, live music and local New Mexican handmade goods.
“Our demographic ranges from 21 to 65-plus,” Goblet said. “So the experience depends on the customer. We create activities that appeal to a diverse audience.”
Festival demonstrations range from classic food, cheese, chocolate and wine pairings to fun runs, yoga-with-wine classes and painting-with-pinot workshops.
Groups can take advantage of travel coordination assistance and discounted tickets. Be sure to make the best of the proximity to the state’s vineyards and wineries for day trips before and after the festival.
“The outdoors are beautiful in May and September,” Goblet said. “We’ve got great hiking, biking and outdoor recreation, and of course, all of the bucolic scenery. With national parks around Albuquerque and places like Carlsbad and White Sands around Las Cruces, I like to say the north is wild and wine and the south is monuments and wine.”
Texas Monthly BBQ Fest
This November, fragrant smoke will fill the skies above the Barbecue Capital of Texas, in the utterly delicious town of Lockhart. Texas Monthly BBQ Fest will bring together the state’s top pitmasters and barbecue lovers in an outsized, drool-worthy celebration of Texas barbecue.
Organizers promise a mouth-watering event that will make any ‘cue lover click their tongs with joy. “There’s no better festival when it comes to the best access to the very best barbecue in Texas,” said Daniel Vaughn of Texas Monthly.
Drawing thousands of hungry visitors, the festivities kick off with a day-long BBQ World’s Fair. The fair will spotlight the wide world of barbecue with demos showcasing the techniques behind the craft and the people and culture surrounding it.
“We’ll have producers, rub and sauce makers, barbecue smoker makers and all kinds of folks at the fair,” Vaughn said. “And of course people serving up great barbecue.” Expect pitmasters and taco vendors to please every palate on the Saturday of the festival.
On the Sunday of the event, BBQ Fest will offer attendees a taste of the best joints in the state. And while Texas barbecue is always wood-fired and anchored by the Texan trinity — pork ribs, sliced brisket and sausage — guests may be surprised by the edgy takes that pitmasters serve up.
“Brisket birria ramen; we’ve got brisket curry with rice — there’s going to be a huge variety,” Vaughn said.
Event organizers created a single ticket format: all you can eat. “Eat all the barbecue you want, sample from any — or all — and go back twice!” Vaughn said with a laugh.
Groups should plan to stay in Austin or San Antonio, each a short drive from Lockhart.
When it comes to travel experiences, you typically have to choose between quality and quantity — not so with epicurean dream festival, Tasting Australia.
The state of South Australia, the country’s fourth-largest, is known the world over for its friendly people, pristine environment and vibrant capital city, Adelaide. Since 1997, Tasting Australia has paired together some of the nation’s best chefs and beverage makers to showcase the stunning regions and food of South Australia. This 10-day program of epic proportions draws upward of 57,000 guests a year.
Festival co-director Karena Armstrong is eager for guests to delight in the vast array of thoughtful, immersive and one-of-a-kind festival experiences.
“Come for a drink and a meal in Town Square or take a short drive and discover the people and places behind your favorite wine,” Armstrong said. The Tasting Australia program offers events and opportunities that are rare and not always available outside of the festival. “It’s exciting to know this festival spans the state, truly sharing every flavor of South Australia.”
Attendees will be wowed by nearly 80 culinary and beverage masters, among them Michelin-star chefs, local legends, award-winning winemakers, iconic distillers and other tastemakers of the highest caliber. The food and beverage talent headlining Tasting Australia will lead guests through more than 250 planned program experiences.
“Tasting Australia invites its audiences to step out of the ordinary,” festival co-director Darren Robertson shared. “The program is more diverse than ever, delivering on its reputation for authenticity and adventure. We welcome chefs from around the country and the world for a truly special 10 days.”
Plan to choose between experiences like legends dinners, sensory experiences, picnics under the stars, multiple-course shared lunches, single-origin chocolate pairings, master classes, bus tours, grape-to-glass barrel tastings and hyperlocal feasts.
Soak up the entire festival in Adelaide or feast your way through the state from the Limestone Coast to the Eyre Peninsula. Choose from pre-arranged group packages or plan your group’s itinerary à la carte online.
Hawai’i Food and Wine Festival
Take a bite of an exquisitely plated ceviche of spanner crab with buckwheat and yuzu created by chef Tetsuya Wakuda and you’ll taste the love of Hawaii. That’s the goal of the Hawai’i Food and Wine Festival — to share the love of the Land of Aloha’s food, environment and culture.
About 160 master chefs will gather in Honolulu to offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience Oahu, Maui and the Island of Hawaii through fantastic food.
“We’re highlighting and featuring the great bounty of products available on the islands,” said Denise Yamaguchi, CEO of the festival. “We’re promoting Hawaii’s sustainable future by featuring locally grown products through unique dishes created by world-renowned chefs.”
Once a small fundraiser dinner, today the festival is hailed as the Pacific’s premier food event by the likes of Fodor’s and the Travel Channel. Interested in toothsome morsels over three weeks on some of the planet’s most glorious beaches? If you needed a final reason to book that trip to the Aloha State, this is it.
“This year’s festival is an opportunity to celebrate the resiliency of our industry and the innovation shown by chefs and culinary professionals alike,” Yamaguchi said. “Being able to do so by bringing larger-scale, in-person events back to life is the icing on the cake!”