Travel: Take a Bite (and Sip) out of These 7 Summer Food and Wine Festivals

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  Take a Bite (and Sip) out of These 7 Summer Food and Wine Festivals © Provided by AFAR

Summer has arrived, and so have food festivals that represent a wide range of flavors from around the world. Here, we take a look at seven that will have you packing your bags and an appetite.

EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival

July 14–November 19

Orlando, Florida

The granddaddy—or, should we say grandmouse?—of all food and wine festivals kicked off July 14 and will continue for 129 days at Walt Disney World Resort’s EPCOT.

This year’s EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival includes sips and bites at more than 25 global marketplaces throughout the theme park, and a lot of new dishes, like Japan’s spicy salmon donburi; Brazil’s feijoada; Greece’s lamb gyro; India’s crispy paneer with mango-curry ketchup; and Hawai‘i’s Spam musubi nigiri. Festival favorites like pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) are back, too.

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Vegans and vegetarians won’t go hungry at the festival: Several marketplaces feature plant-based dishes—think falafel, samosa, and tofu pho—and Earth Eats hosted by Impossible has plant-based burger sliders and meatballs.

Stay: Stroll from Disney’s Beach Club Resort to a quiet back entrance and arrive between the United Kingdom and France in EPCOT’s World Showcase.

Cost: Park admission and a park reservation for EPCOT on the same date are required to attend the festival. EPCOT admission from $109/person.

Book now: Disney Beach Club Resort

Stragusto

July 27–31

Trapani, Italy

Stragusto, Sicily’s international street food festival, returns to Trapani’s Piazza Mercato del Pesce, or historic fish market, for five days of flavors that showcase the best of the Mediterranean. The festival, which began in 2015, aims to preserve and enhance the heritage of street food makers who pass their regions’ culinary traditions on from one generation to the next.

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“Food, especially street food, is the expression and heritage of a community,” says Paolo Salerno, Stragusto’s events manager.

This year’s featured festival bites include lampredotto from Florence; panelle, pani ca meusa, and arancine from Palermo; Ascoli meat-stuffed olives; arrosticini from Abruzzo; porchetta from Nebrodi and Perugia; sfincione from Bagheria; Messina rolls; Sicilian granita and nougat; and boiled octopus, cùscusu, cabbucio, and rianata from Trapani.

A tasting of Sicilian wines is also available.

Cost: Admission is free.

Stay: Right next to the Piazza Mercato del Pesce is La Gancia, an elegant hotel housed in a former monastery overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Book now: La Gancia

Breckenridge Food and Wine Festival

July 29–31

Breckenridge, Colorado

A food- and wine-filled weekend awaits when the Village at Breckenridge transforms into a mountainside vineyard to host more than 70 of the most awarded wineries from Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, and the United States.

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The tasty Breckenridge Food and Wine Festival weekend kicks off Friday night with a VIP wine pairing dinner at Sauce on the Maggie, during which festivalgoers can savor rich flavors and aromas with classic and unique wine and cuisine combos while learning insights behind intentional pairings of flavor selections from a wine specialist and chef. The festival’s main event is Saturday’s grand tasting, offering unlimited wine samples and live music. Complimenting the wines being poured Saturday are bites from Colorado-based Dango Burrito, Lazo Empanadas, the Noshing Platter’s charcuterie plates and grazing tables, and Sauce on the Maggie’s pizzas and Italian fare. Sunday’s Brunch and Vines invites guests to sample bubbly and specialty cocktails while indulging in a breakfast buffet.

Cost: $60 per person in advance and $70 per person at the gate.

Stay: Slumber at Gravity Haus in the heart of Breckenridge and be energized to enjoy the festival all weekend.

Book now: Gravity Haus

The Main Lobster Festival will celebrate its 75th anniversary this year with 20,000 pounds of fresh-caught lobster. © Courtesy of Maine Office of Tourism The Main Lobster Festival will celebrate its 75th anniversary this year with 20,000 pounds of fresh-caught lobster.

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Maine Lobster Festival

August 3–7

Rockland, Maine

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the family-friendly Maine Lobster Festival in downtown Rockland. In addition to full lobster dinners in the Maine Eating Tent, the festival’s 20,000 pounds of freshly caught lobster will be served in myriad ways in the Lobster Café, including lobster bisque, lobster mac ’n’ cheese, lobster-stuffed risotto balls, lobster rolls, and lobster wontons.

Events during the five-day festival include the Great International Lobster Crate Race, open to anyone who wants to participate; a parade; a seafood cooking contest; live entertainment; and Steins & Vines, a tasting of Maine-crafted beers and wines.

Cost: Admission is free; Steins & Vines is $35/person, available online.

Stay: Enjoy the festival and explore all Rockland has to offer from the city’s newest hotel, 250 Main Hotel, boasting water views from most of its 26 rooms.

Book now: 250 Main Hotel

Whoopie Pie Festival

September 10

Ronks, Pennsylvania

This year’s Whoopie Pie Festival in Pennsylvania Dutch Country features more than 400 flavors that will be served in some 50,000 pies. In addition to the tried-and-true classic (chocolate shell with marshmallow cream), new flavors this year include pineapple rum cake, blackberry sangria, and oatmeal. A sampling of the other flavors are salted caramel, strawberry jelly, mint chip, and more.

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Another flavor profile variation is switching out the shells from classic chocolate to the likes of pumpkin, orange, coconut, lemon-poppy, and cinnamon. And then there are adult whoopie pies like butterscotch rum, fireball, and mojito. Gluten-free pies will be available, too.

Events at this year’s festival inspired by the sweet treats include a whoopie pie lunch, a whoopie decoration competition, and, of course, a whoopie pie eating contest. For all things whoopie, the VIP Pass includes early admission, a festival tote bag, and a voucher for a whoopie pie of choice.

Cost: Admission is free; VIP Pass is $25/person, available online.

Stay: Make reservations to stay at the Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn; the Whoopie Pie Festival is held on its 23 acres.

Book now: The Inn at Hershey Farm

Enjoy flavors from the South's leading chefs at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. © Photo by Raftermen Photography Enjoy flavors from the South's leading chefs at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival.

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Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

September 15–18

Atlanta

Some of the South’s leading chefs—such as Josue Pena of the Iberian Pig Buckhead in Atlanta, Giorgio Rapicavoli of Luca Osteria and Eating House in Miami, and John Tesar of Knife in Dallas—along with southern mixologists, farmers, and culinary personalities return to Atlanta for four days of eating and drinking, starting with Sliced: Atlanta Food & Wine Festival’s Party By the Slice. From chicken pot pies to pizzas to desserts, anything that’s served as a slice, from savory to sweet and everything in between, will be at the festival’s opening event.

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New to the festival is Cluck’d: A Chicken & Cocktail Soirée featuring the bird prepared every which way by 15 of the top southern chefs. From roasted to fried to grilled to sautéed, sample all of the dishes and accompany them with cocktails paired to compliment each flavor profile.

Tasting Tents will be open Saturday and Sunday in historic Old Fourth Ward Park; they will feature delicious bites by more than 30 top chefs and purveyors from throughout the South. Each ticket to the Tasting Tents includes unlimited food, drinks, and entertainment. Intimate dinner and brunch events will also be part of the festival; details to be announced.

Cost: General Admission Weekend Pass, $158/person; VIP Early Access One-Day Pass, $150/person; General Admission One-Day Pass, $99/person. All tickets are available online.

Stay: Keep the foodie experiences going at the new Epicurean Atlanta in Midtown.

Book now: Epicurean Atlanta

Twin Cities Veg Fest

September 18

St. Paul, Minnesota

The Midwest’s largest plant-based festival returns to St. Paul when the 10th annual Twin Cities Veg Fest pops up at Harriet Island Park. In 2012, the event drew 1,200 people; over the past decade, it’s grown to welcome more than 100 vendors and 10,000 festivalgoers interested in plant-based eating and living.

“The growth of the festival reflects the public’s understanding that plant-based items taste delicious, help animals and our environment, and can improve human health,” says Laura Matanah, executive director of Compassionate Action for Animals, the local nonprofit that presents the festival.

Visitors can try plant-based bites and shop vegan items. The winners of August’s Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge will be announced during the day-long festival.

Cost: Admission is free.

Stay: For more plant-based fare, make reservations overnight at Alma in Minneapolis and dine on the vegetarian (vegan options available) prix fixe dinner in the boutique hotel’s restaurant.

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