You know what's awesome about living in the Valley? While the rest of the country is still frozen over, we can hit some top-notch food festivals. Here are some picks to mark up your 2015 food and drink calendar.
See also: 5 Best Restaurants in Tempe Right Now
January 10: Arizona Vegetarian Food Festival Location: Scottsdale Civic Center Cost: $25, $50 VIP What to eat: You shouldn't expect just plain fruits and veggies from this festival. There will be a wide variety of vegetarian, vegan, and local dishes available, as well as plenty of other activities and information on living a healthy lifestyle.
January 24: Epicuriad Where: Musical Instrument Museum Cost: $95, $150 VIP What to eat: The event prides itself on pairing dishes from the finest restaurants in the Valley with craft beers. There will be approximately 20 of the Valley's top chefs there to compete in competitions such as "Best Pairing" and "Best Entree."
January 30-31: Glendale Chocolate Affaire Where: Murphy Park Cost: Free What to eat: Chocolate delicacies ranging from chocolate covered fruits and nuts to deep-fried candy bars. Be warned though, Glendale may be busy that weekend, there's some other event going on called the Super Bowl...
February 7-8: Street Eats Food Truck Festival Where: Salt River Fields Cost: $12, $50 for VIP What to eat: Everything from lobster to BBQ to fry bread from approximately 50 of the top food trucks across the country. If you're a fan of food trucks, this is a must-attend.
February 7 - March 29: Arizona Renaissance Festival Where: Renaissance Festival Fairgrounds Cost: $19-22 for adults, $10-12 for children What to eat: If you go for the $70 "Pleasure Feast" instead of a regular ticket to the Renaissance Festival, you'll get a full five-course lunch to go with your knightly entertainment. The star entrees are prime rib and Moroccan chicken, but it's more about the setting than the food.
February 8: Taste in Tempe Where: Tempe Center for the Arts Cost: $59 What to eat: You can expect food from both your favorite Tempe restaurants and some celebrity chefs. Last year's headliner was NFL legend Mike Ditka, so who knows who will show up this year.
February 12-15: Carefree Festival of Fine Chocolate and Fine Art Where: Carefree Desert Gardens Cost: Free What to eat: If you're looking for somewhere sweet to take your Valentine this year, consider heading up to Carefree for four days of candy and art. With confectioners such as the San Francisco Chocolate Factory and Xocolatl Confections, even the most refined of chocolate-lovers will find something that satisfies their sweet tooth.
February 12-21: Arizona Beer Week Where: Varies Cost: Varies What to drink: Do you like beer? Good. Then you should check out the participating spots and drink their special beers. It's really that simple.
February 13-15: Waterfront Fine Art & Wine Festival Where: Scottsdale Waterfront Cost: $3, $10 for wine tasting What to eat: If you're not trying to drive all the way up to Carefree, Scottsdale has a chocolate/wine/art festival on Valentine's weekend that will hold its own. You can have wine and chocolate. What else is there?
February 14: Strong Beer Festival Where: Steele Indian School Park Cost: $45, $75 VIP What to drink: It's called the Strong Beer Festival for a reason. Who needs a Valentine when you can have some of the most potent brews? Oh, and it's during Arizona Beer Week, of course.
February 14-21: Arizona Cocktail Week Where: Varies Cost: Varies What to drink: Old Town Scottsdale is known for its bars and clubs, so where better to sample some of the Valley's signature cocktails? Mixologists will be making specialty cocktails at several bars all week long, check the website for more details.
February 21-22: Arizona Matsuri Festival of Japan Where: Heritage and Science Park Cost: Free What to eat: There will be several Japanese and Pacific Island-based vendors there serving a wide variety of foods.
February 28: America Loves Bacon Where: Rawhide Western Town Cost: $20, $60 for VIP What to eat: Do we really have to explain to you what you should eat at a nationally touring bacon-themed festival? Not only will there be dozens of dishes centered around everyone's favorite breakfast meat, but there will also be bacon sauces, merchandise, and fancy kinds of bacon that you can't pick up in your local grocery store. If you're feeling really bold, there's also a bacon eating contest.
March 7-8: Devoured Phoenix Culinary Classic Where: Phoenix Art Museum Cost: $150 VIP (the rest are sold out) What to eat: If you want to taste the dishes of some of Phoenix's high-end restaurants and tour a museum in the same day, then you're in luck. Devoured is always one of the most exclusive culinary events Phoenix sees.
March 7-8: Aloha Festival Where: Tempe Beach Park Cost: Free What to eat: So you didn't feel like shelling out a few hundred to take a date to Devoured? Well, the good news is the Aloha Festival will be full of Hawaiian BBQ, shaved ice, and much more on the same weekend.
March 7, 28, and April 18: The Good Life Festival Where: Encanterra Country Club Cost: $35-75 What to eat: To try some of the finest food and drinks of the San Tan Valley, head to one of the three dates for the Good Life Festival, where a collection of aging rockers will accompany local food, beer, and wine as the main draws.
March 21: The Great American Barbecue and Beer Festival Where: Chandler Park Cost: $12, $125 VIP What to eat: Some of the top pit masters will be in attendance, so be sure to munch on the best BBQ around. Plus, nothing washes down a big plate of pulled pork like a craft beer, which will also be plentiful at the festival.
March 22: Check, Please! Arizona Festival Where: CityScape Cost: $69-89 What to Eat: Check out samples from many local restaurants including Haus Murphy's, Salerno's Restaurant and Pizzeria, and Frasher's Steakhouse.
April 2: Arizona Wine and Dine Where: Scottsdale Quarter Cost: $55-$75 What to eat: What's better than a top-of-the-line meal served by the Valley's finest resort chefs? A meal from the Valley's finest resort chefs while you're sipping on a nice glass of wine or beer.
April 4: Wingstock Where: Mesa Amphitheatre Cost: $5-8 What to eat: A handful of sports bars and restaurants from the southeast Valley will be bringing out their signature chicken wings for the event.
April 7-12: Scottsdale Culinary Festival Where: Varies Cost: Varies What to eat: We recommend going to a few different events and trying a little bit of everything. It's hard to be disappointed after what the festival's put out in years past.
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April 18: The Great Arizona Beer Festival Where: Cubs Park Cost: $50, $90 VIP What to drink: Since you clearly didn't get your fill of beer in February, there's another beer festival later in the spring. As a bonus, you get to check out one of the newest spring training facilities in the Valley as well.
May 2: Arizona BBQ Festival Where: Salt River Fields Cost: $12, $60 VIP What to eat: It's centered around BBQ and bars, so we'd probably go with the grilled/smoked meats and the booze, but that's just us.