This year, expand your cultural horizons—and eat some amazing food while you're at it. Here's how to make 2016 the year you travel the world in search of good food.
Food and travel go hand-in-hand. The best way to truly understand a new place is to experience its cuisine—and how better to do that than to attend an internationally renowned food festival, where top chefs, mixologists, sommeliers come together to share their expertise? At the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, you can take in the sweeping Colorado vistas while tasting food from the world’s premier chefs; at the Cherry Bombe Jubilee, you'll learn what new and fascinating work women are doing in the industry; and at the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, you'll get to sample the state's incredible number of artisan cheeses. Planning a trip around a food festival can be a great excuse for traveling the world. Here, 24 domestic and international ideas to start you off.
Walland, Tennessee: Taste of the South at Blackberry Farm, January 7–10, 2016
These three days of cooking demos and tastings that benefit the Southern Foodways Alliance bring chefs, vintners and scholars alike to Tennessee every year. The festival explores the South's evolving food culture, which has been returning to its literal roots in recent years by celebrating its rich native agriculture. In 2016, for the 12th year of the festival, chefs such as JJ Johnson of New York and Steven Satterfield of Atlanta, among others, join cookbook author and journalist Dr. Jessica Harris and vintner-in-residence Raj Parr for presentations and group meals.
Cayman Islands: Cayman Cookout, January 14–17, 2016
Escape the January cold with Eric Ripert, who hosts this year's cookout. He's bringing along José Andrés, Ludo Lefebrve, Tom Colicchio, Anthony Bourdain and many more for incredible meals, educational demos, and wine and mixologist tastings—all in a gorgeous Caribbean setting.
Miami, Florida: South Beach Wine & Food Festival, February 24–28, 2016
This much-talked-about festival brings all your favorite Food Network personalities and celebrity chefs to Miami for five days of events, from intimate dinners cooked by Sean Brock to a late-night Tacos After Dark session with Aarón Sanchez. If you've always dreamed of drinking tiki cocktails with Guy Fieri or having a rosé brunch with Martha Stewart, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival can make your wishes come true.
Montreal, Quebec: Montréal en Lumière, February 18–March 5, 2016
The beautiful city celebrates all facets of its culture during this week-long festival, but it puts a spotlight on its inimitable gastronomic scene. This year's roundup features a Quebec Chefs and Cheeses evening, which will let 400 guests and a jury of 12 experts try the creations of four up-and-coming chefs to see who will win a $5,000 prize, in addition to a fine-dining program that is not to be missed.
Tokyo: Cherry Blossom Festival, Monthlong
To fully experience Japan's majesty, it's best to go at the end of March. Cherry blossoms are blooming throughout the country, but in Tokyo, you can experience their beauty while also going on a ramen crawl. 1,000 lanterns illuminate the park, and you can also hit up an antique market located within.
New York: Cherry Bombe Jubilee, New York, April 10, 2016
The Cherry Bombe Jubilee, hosted by indie women-in-food magazine Cherry Bombe, brings together chefs, writers, and activists for a day-long series of panels and interviews, with lunch and snacks curated by chic purveyors. Last year’s event featured talks by Elise Kornack of Brooklyn’s Michelin-starred Take Root and legendary writer Mimi Sheraton, among others.
Austin, Texas: Austin Food and Wine Festival, April 22–24, 2016
World-class talent and Austin's rock-and-roll charm collide for this yearly festival. Over 40 demos and tasting sessions with chefs like Hugh Acheson, Andrew Zimmern and Food & Wine's Gail Simmons, among many others, are followed up nightly with live music. It's a laid-back fest that's very serious about food.
New Orleans, Louisiana: New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, May 26–29, 2016
For 23 years now, this Louisiana festival has been pairing up the distinctive Creole-influenced foods of the region—from crawfish to andouille sausage—with complementary wines. They also donate part of their profits to food banks and culinary schools, meaning all the revelry is for a good cause. Many of the South's best chefs and the city's most exciting restaurants will be in attendance.
Cape Town, South Africa: Good Food & Wine Show, May 26–29, 2016
The Good Food & Wine Show brings celebrity chefs and TV cooks to Cape Town to do demonstrations, while over 200 exhibitors show off brand-new wines, chocolate, spirits, cooking tools and more. It’s an ideal event for the serious home cook to get a glimpse of what’s new in the market.
Aspen, Colorado: Food & Wine Classic, June 17–19, 2016
Hosted by Food & Wine, this star-studded two-day annual event features an incredible lineup of chefs (think Hugh Acheson, Curtis Stone, Jacques Pepin, Gail Simmons and Christina Tosi) holding forth at all sorts of food- and drink-related experiences, tastings, and panels. Last year’s panels included Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi demonstrating her signature baking style, Stephanie Izard previewing her new restaurant, and Richard Blais teaching attendees how to up their sandwich game. Don’t miss a chance to get in on the fun.
Pembrokeshire, Wales: Pembrokeshire Fish Week Festival, June 25–July 3, 2016
Experience this coastal Wales county's rich fishing heritage during the weeklong fish festival. Here you can sample restaurants' fresh catch specials, try fresh Welsh oysters, and maybe even learn how to fish yourself.
Shelburne Farms, Vermont: Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, July 17, 2016
Between Ben & Jerry's and Cabot Creamery, Vermont is certainly best known for its dairy; it actually has the highest number of cheesemakers per capita. The state's Cheesemakers Festival is the best way to sample them all, as well as local beer, wine and spirits, and all manners of artisanal food products. With a panel on women cheesemakers and cheesemaking demos, it's a must-visit for dairy enthusiasts.
Singapore: Singapore Food Festival, Monthlong
Singapore’s top chefs come together to present their regional fares at this yearly festival, at which you can sample modern takes on Singaporean cuisine as well as traditional plates; meanwhile, cooking demonstrations and opera performances provide a glimpse into the country's arts culture.
Los Angeles: Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, Dates TBA
This Los Angeles fest celebrates the best of the city's food culture and beyond. The 2015 edition boasted a concert by The Roots along with demos from chefs such as Thomas Keller, Alex Guarnaschelli, Jenn Louis, and hometown hit Bestia's husband and wife team Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis.
Buñol, Spain: La Tomatina, August 31, 2016
If you like to get messy, you need to get to Buñol, outside Valencia, for the last Wednesday of August. That's when their annual tomato-throwing festival—the world's biggest food fight—takes place. Revelers throw over-ripe tomatoes at each other until water cannons break it up.
Copenhagen: MAD5, Dates TBA
"Mad" is the Danish word for "food," which is a fitting name for the nonprofit and festival begun by chef René Redzepi to encourage mindful, sustainable eating—in restaurants and at home. Past editions have featured Dan Barber discussing the evolving taste of wheat, David Chang talking food microbiology, Roy Choi on how street food can feed the world, a demonstration by Pierre Koffmann on how to clean an artichoke in 20 seconds, and much more. Redzepi and his team took 2015 off in order to ensure MAD5, the fifth edition, has a real impact on how the world eats.
Toronto, Canada: Toronto Food & Wine, September 18–20, 2016
If you've been meaning to visit this up-and-coming culinary city (now home to a new David Chang Momofuku outpost), make sure to get there for next year's festival. The event is jam-packed with presentations by celebrity chefs—the 2015 festival featured a brunch with Daniel Boulud and famed Chicago chef Jason Vincent.
Saugerties, New York: Hudson Valley Garlic Festival, October 1–2, 2016
The Hudson Valley has a reputation for having exquisite produce; what better way to immerse yourself in it than to attend the area's famed garlic festival? It's a taste of upstate's bounty, featuring local agriculture experts, food vendors and farmers.
San Juan: Jose Enrique Invites, Dates TBA
Food & Wine Best New Chef 2013 Jose Enrique’s yearly event brings international chefs to Puerto Rico to celebrate the island’s produce and locally made spirits, and it highlights the work of rising chefs from the burgeoning local scene. The 2015 edition featured Claire Robinson, Matthew Gaudet, Wilo Benet, Franco Seccarelli, Mario Pagan, Jose Santaella and Jason Vincent, who whipped up a range of dishes—from ceviches to pâtés to sweet confections—for attendees. The festival is a chance, in Enrique’s words, “to create a different perspective not only locally but also internationally” on Puerto Rican cuisine.
Italy: Alba International White Truffle Fair, October 15–November 16, 2016
Forget pumpkins. Spend your harvest season at the festival known as the mother of all truffle fairs. It began in 1999 and includes not just a white truffle market, but wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, a wide array of tasting opportunities, and even a medieval parade. In addition to truffles, beloved Italian regional specialties will be available as well. Leave with cheeses, cured meats, olive oils and more to enjoy with your precious tuber.
U.S.: TMBQQ Fest, Austin, Texas, Dates TBA
Texas Monthly is the only magazine in the country (that we know of) with a dedicated barbecue editor; each year, that person taps into his or her extensive knowledge to cull a list of the Top 50 BBQ Joints in the state. Then, to celebrate the list—and, presumably, the excellent state of barbecue in this nation—the magazine throws a one-day festival, in which the pit experts serve up their most prizeworthy meat.
Jamaica: NYAMJAM Festival, Dates TBA
This festival, taking place at the famed GoldenEye resort on the north coast of Jamaica, pairs international celebrity chefs with local culinary talent. Mario Batali, April Bloomfield, Seamus Mullen, Jose Enrique, and Johnny Iuzzini all participated in the inaugural 2015 edition, cooking local produce alongside the island chefs Colin Hylton and Gariel Ferguson. The festival also boasts a culinary and music bazaar that will feature DJs, performances and a variety of street food stalls.
Yosemite National Park, California: The Bracebridge Dinner, Monthlong
If you have a sense of humor or perhaps a penchant for renaissance fairs, this theatrical dinner series, which takes place throughout the month, is an excellent way to celebrate the holidays. Christmas pageantry is paired with the scenic national park as well as The Ahwahnee Hotel's gorgeous accomodations. The hotel's chefs prepare a feast, and you also get a professional portrait to commemorate the evening.
Tasmania, Australia: The Taste of Tasmania, December 23–January 3, 2015-16
One of Australia's most popular food festivals takes place off the mainland. All of Tasmania's food vendors and alcohol purveyors come out to celebrate the island's unique culinary culture. It's open all day and into the night, with live music, cooking demonstrations and more rounding out the festivities.
F&W's new series reveals the best ways to maximize your food year through travel, wine, cooking, tech, style, events and experiences. Use #BESTFOODYEAR on Twitter and Instagram to tell us about the ones you want to try. We'll continue to share more tips with the hashtag throughout the year and want to hear about how you celebrate food every day, too.