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American food and wine festivals to add to your bucket list

Traci Magnus tells us exactly which festivals we should visit this year.


Ever wanted to experience food festivals across the pond? Here, Traci Magnus of Dunes Properties in Charleston tells us which American festivals we need to visit.

Each region of the US is associated with its own unique culinary scene, which is why it can be so tempting to spend your entire vacation dining out at the best restaurants around. But, if you’re the kind of traveller who explores new places to learn more about the food, why not try attending some of the best food and wine festivals in the country?

You’ll find great culinary events from Hawaii to upstate New York, and in South Carolina, the Charleston Wine + Food Festival is one of the most anticipated events of the year. Check out some of our other favourite destinations for foodies below.

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Orlando, Florida

August-November 2020

While most people don’t think of travelling to Disney World for the cuisine, every year, one of the four parks hosts a food festival that spans several months. Epcot is one of the more unique Disney parks as it focuses on highlighting international cultures.

There are only a handful of rides in this park because its main attraction is World Showcase, which has an international theme, showcasing 11 different countries. You can stop by France for a few macarons or indulge in some sushi and udon noodles in Japan. During the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, each of the countries offers cooking demonstrations, special food and beverage pairings and even cheese seminars. Dates for the 2020 festival haven't been announced just yet, but it usually takes place daily from late August until early November. 

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Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Photo by Jordan Mooney.
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Photo by Jordan Mooney.

Charleston Wine + Food, South Carolina

March 4th-8th 2020

Charleston has become an epicentre of culinary excellence within the southeastern region of the United States. Though the city itself is small, there are hundreds of restaurants to explore that serve everything from traditional Southern fare to authentic Vietnamese dishes.

Every year at the beginning of March, the Charleston Wine + Food Festival returns with dozens of events taking place throughout the city. Explore Charleston when you sign up for speciality dinners, culinary demonstrations and baking lessons. Perhaps the most anticipated part of the entire event is the Culinary Village, which takes place each day of the festival in Marion Square. Visit the many booths serving wine, beer and a variety of tasty food samples.

Image from @chswineandfood on Instagram.
Image from @chswineandfood on Instagram.

San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival, California

November 8th-15th 2020

With a beautiful setting like San Diego, it’s hard not to enjoy any event that takes place in this city. However, the San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival is one of the best times to visit this coastal SoCal area. This culinary event takes place every November when the weather has cooled off a bit but is still warm enough to spend the entire day outside indulging in the local cuisine. Each year, award-winning mixologists, food writers and celebrity chefs head to the city to participate in the festivities. In 2019, this event was named Best General Food Festival in the country by USA Today 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards.

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Image from @sdbayfest on Instagram.
Image from @sdbayfest on Instagram.

Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, multiple islands, Hawaii

October 2nd-25th 2020

We know you don’t need an excuse to visit Hawaii! This travel destination is already at the top of so many people’s bucket lists, but why not plan to hit the islands during the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival? Hawaii has very unique food traditions, and the culture of the islands is strongly influenced by both Polynesian and Japanese cultures. Poke is one of the most recognized Hawaiian foods, along with laulau and kalua pig. At the Hawaii Food + Wine Festival, you’ll get a taste of classic Hawaiian dishes along with other culinary styles while immersing yourself in the tropical island landscape.

Image from @hifoodwinefest on Instagram.
Image from @hifoodwinefest on Instagram.

Finger Lakes Wine Festival, New York

July 10th-12th 2020

The Finger Lakes region of upstate New York is best known for its exquisite collection of wineries. If you consider yourself to be a true wine aficionado, you have to make the trip to the Finger Lakes Wine Festival hosted each July. With more than 90 vineyards included in the event, this festival is the largest showcase of wines from the New York region. You can taste samples of the state’s finest vintages while enjoying live music, perusing artisan booths and watching cooking demos. Throughout the event, you can also attend a number of wine seminars to learn more about your favourite vino and how to properly pair it with food.

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Image from @flxwinefestival on Instagram.
Image from @flxwinefestival on Instagram.

Taste of Chicago, Illinois

July 8th-13th 2020

Chi-town has long been known as one of the best cities in the country to get great food. With so many diverse culinary options, Chicago is the city for foodies. Food delivery company, DoorDash, hosts an annual free food festival to celebrate the city’s culinary expertise. During Taste of Chicago, you can sip on the finest wines in the wine garden, learn from the experts at the cooking demos and party the day away with live entertainment throughout the event.

Image by @mangianyc on Instagram.
Image by @mangianyc on Instagram.

No matter which of these great events you make it to, you’ll be able to experience dishes created by some of the most talented chefs in the country. Even if you’re headed to one of these destinations just for the festival, be sure to take some time to explore the city as well. Hit up some of the wineries in the Finger Lakes, jet off to other islands in Hawaii and explore the Charleston area to learn about its unique history. Wherever you decide to go, you’re sure to have the time (and meal) of your life.

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