Festival season's about to hit full tilt. Are you ready? Now you are. Here are some of our favorite local food & beverage events happening from now until the end of April:
2/1 - Haute Chocolate Market & Festival Where: Heard Museum Price: $30 in advance, $35 day of the event and $45 for VIP What to Eat: While the chocolate showpiece competition is sure to turn out some spectacular cocoa art, we're in it for the chocolate wine. Maybe it'll be chili enough to enjoy a Mayan hot chocolate later on in the night too.
2/2 - 6 Alarm Firehouse Cook-off Showdown Where: Sub-Zero Wolf Showroom Price: $45 What to Eat: Taste for yourself which team of firefighters' cuisine reigns supreme. Not only can you judge for yourself, all proceeds will go to the 100 Club of Arizona.
Read about more events after the jump.
2/8-10 - Glendale Chocolate Affaire Where: Murphy Park in downtown Glendale Price: Free What to eat: If you need any more reason than Cerreta's sponsorship of the event, just imagine how impressed your sweetie will be getting a pre-Valentine's Day chocolate smorgasbord. This year they'll be covering bacon, churros, crepes, and key lime pie in chocolate along with probably pretty much everything else.
2/9 - Mardi Gras Parade, Festival & Pub Crawl Where: Starting at CityScape Price: Free, limited tickets on sale for the pub crawl for $15 What to Eat or Drink: While there will be tons of vendors at the festival and lots of family fun at the parade, we're more excited for the Mardicrawl, which will take groups of crawlers through about 30 different local bars.
2/9 - The Good Life Festival Where: Encanterra Country Club Price: $20 for GA, $70 for VIP What to Eat: Food trucks and wine tastings are easy to come by, but on top of that, The Good Life fest promises celebrity chef appearances from Ace of Cakes' Duff Goldman, Tyler Florence and the Valley's own Aaron May.
2/9 - 3/31 - Arizona Renaissance Festival Where: Renaissance Festival Fairgrounds Price: $22 for adults, $12 for children 5-12 (with cheaper tickets available online and at Fry's grocery stores) What to eat: Don't be caught with the peasants gnawing on their turkey legs-- medieval culinary enthusiasts are encouraged to upgrade their tickets to join the pleasure feast. This year's menu is Italiano rustico with five courses and a souvenir goblet, along with admission and more, for $69.95.
2/15-17 - Waterfront Fine Art, Wine & Chocolate Festival Where: Scottsdale Waterfront Price: Free What to Eat: If you haven't had enough chocolate by now, munch on some more while washing it down with a glass of vino.
2/17 - Flavors of the West Where: Historic Downtown Litchfield Park Price: $45 for GA, $100 for VIP, $10 for kids under 12 What to Eat: Local West Valley eats, unlimited tastings from 25 different vendors and all for the price of a ticket which proceeds benefit the Phoenix Children's Hospital? You got yourself a deal, Flavors of the West fest!
2/16-22 - Arizona Cocktail Week Where: Varies depending on event. Price: Varies depending on event. What to Drink: With events all week, you can try out all the new trends in the cocktail world. We're excited for the Micro-Distillery Artisanal Happy Hour, Cocktail Carnival and Bloody Bar.
2/16-23 - Arizona Beer Week Where: Most events take place at THAT Brewery and Pub in Pine, but check the website for the full list of locations. Price: Varies depending on event. What to drink: Soak in all that craft beer Arizona has to offer with a full week featuring our local brewers.
2/19 - Strong Beer Festival Where: Steele Indian School Park Price: $45 for VIP tickets, $35 for general admission and $10 for a designated driver ticket What to drink: Take the light rail to the park so you can try out all the strong beer you can stomach. Weather should be ideal for some great high ABV brews.
2/23 & 24 - Arizona Matsuri Festival Where: Heritage & Science Park Price: Free What to eat: While we would never recommend outdoor sushi in the summer, February is a great time of year to sample sushi and other Japanese delicacies in the sunshine. The only heat you'll be battling is gobs of wasabi. MARCH
3/2 - The Great Arizona Beer Festival Where: Tempe Beach Park Price: $40 in advance, $10 for designated drivers, and $85 for VIP What to drink: Craft beers nerds rejoice! Chug fancy brewskies from 200 breweries from all around the country.
3/8 & 9 - 9th Annual Valley of the Sun Chili Cook-off, Craft Market & Carnival Where: Ahwatukee Park Price: Free What to Eat: Obviously you got to get your hands on some chili here with $5 chili tasting kits furnished by the International Chili Society.
3/9 & 10 - Devoured Where: Phoenix Art Museum Price: $62 for a single day or $108 for both days in advance. What to eat: Devoured may be the best way to try all of Chow Bella's favorite local restaurants in one day. With about 50 local participants including St. Francis, Davanti Encoteca, El Chorro, House of Tricks and Pig and Pickle, it's sure to be a tasty weekend.
3/9 & 10 - Arizona Aloha Festival Where: Tempe Beach Park Price: Free What to eat: Say aloha to tasty island fare and aloha to bland, mainland flavors. We're excited to get our paws on some manapua (steamed pork buns) and the musubi Spamwich.
3/16 - St. Patrick's Day Parade & Faire Where: Margaret T. Hance Park Price: TBA (Admission is typically around $10) What to eat: Grab some shepherd's pie or corned beef hash to pair with your green beer.
3/16 - The Mayor's Cactus League Hot Dog Challenge Where: Big League Dreams Price: Free What to Eat: If you're only planning on frequenting one ballpark this Spring Training season, you can still sample all of the specialty dogs the parks offer, including Maryvale's "Brewer Brat" and Arizona's "Diamondback Dog."
3/21-24 - Festival of the West Where: Westworld of Scottsdale Price: $16/day for adults and $10/day for children 5-12. What to eat: Along with a whiskey tasting and beer saloon, cowpokes can sample from the BBQ bonanza, try a dutch oven cooking class or compete in the chuck wagon cook-off.
3/23 - The Great American Barbecue & Beer Festival Where: Dr. AJ Chandler Park Price: $10 admission, Free for kids under 12 What to eat: With all the ribs, brisket and other tangy, smokey, sweet sauce-covered delights, it's not so much what to eat as it is what to bring--and that, friends, is some back up napkins. APRIL
4/4 - Arizona Wine and Dine Where: Scottsdale Quarter Price: $75 in advance, $100 at the event What to eat: Boutique wines, craft beer and some of the best food local chefs, restaurants and resorts have to offer.
TBA (4/7 rumored) - Great Cajun Cook-Off & Food Fest Where: Heritage and Science Park Price: $35 for GA, $50 for VIP and $10 for kids aged 4-14 What to Eat: You can't go to a Cajun cook-off without getting down on some gumbo, jambalaya and bread pudding. All that spicy food will certainly require a beer or two as well.
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4/9-14 - Scottsdale Culinary Festival Where: Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza Price: Varies depending on the event. What to eat: The SCF is perhaps the premier spring food festival in the Valley, with oodles of tastings, cook-offs and a James Beard benefit dinner. With over 30 local and national restaurants, four wineries and twelve breweries, there's a lot of good stuff to choose from.
4/27 - My Nana's Best Tasting Salsa Challenge Where: Tempe Beach Park Price: $8 in advance, $10 the day of and free for kids under 12. What to eat: Make sure to taste the mildest salsas first because once you get to the spiciest stuff your taste buds will surely be singed. Pair all 80 different salsas with chips or food fresh off the grill and wash it all down with a margarita.