Originally published January 18, 2016. Updated March 1, 2016.
It's time to dig out your wine glass neck holder, folks, because food festival season in metro Phoenix is officially upon us. Over the next few months, we'll be treated to a whirlwind of beer festivals and food festivals and wine festivals held everywhere from the West Valley to Scottsdale. If you want to make sure you don't miss any of the year's best events, you'd better get out that calendar and start saving dates.
Devoured Culinary Classic
Saturday, March 5, and Sunday, March 6
Phoenix Art Museum
$99 for one-day general admission (Sold out)
The most highly anticipated culinary event of the year, the Devoured Culinary Classic, brings some of metro Phoenix's top restaurants and chefs to the Phoenix Art Museum for two days of culinary excellence. Participating restaurants this year include Barrio Café, Binkley's, The Clever Koi, Citizen Public House, and Hana Japanese Eatery. The event also will include dessert from local bakeries and confectioners; beers, wines, and spirits in the museum's outdoor garden; and the new Local Foods Marketplace, where attendees can sample and purchase products from local food artisans.
Arizona Caribbean Jerk Festival
Saturday, March 5
Kiwanis Park, Tempe
$18.50 for general admission
Head to Tempe's Kiwanis Park for a celebration of all things Caribbean. The event, which benefits the Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, will offer food from more than 30 vendors with options including Caribbean cuisine and more. General admission tickets include live entertainment and music, as well as entry to the event.
My Nana's Best Tasting Salsa Challenge
Saturday, March 5, and Sunday, March 6
Steele Indian School Park, Phoenix
$15 for general admission
The 32nd annual My Nana's Best Tasting Salsa Challenge will pit more than 100 freshly made salsas against each other as chefs and home cooks vie for votes in the People's Choice Award — and a $1,000 cash prize for the challenge's grand winner. A ticket to the event includes all-you-can-eat chips and salsa, including mild and hot salsa from competitors in all categories: individual, business, and restaurant. The event will also include a Margarita Mix-Off, cornhole tournament, and live music.
Arizona Aloha Festival
Saturday, March 12 and Sunday, March 13
Tempe Beach Park
Look no further than Tempe Beach Park this March to experience a little taste of the Polynesian islands. The two-day outdoor festival has plenty to offer, including live music and dance performances, vendors, and, of course, food. From island-style noodles to Portuguese doughnuts called malasadas, there's always plenty Hawaiian and Polynesian cuisine available for purchase at the event.
The Great American BBQ & Beer Festival
Saturday, March 19
$10 at local Bashas stores, $12 in advance online
Every spring, the Great American BBQ & Beer Festival takes over downtown Chandler and brings dozens of pit masters to the Valley for a one-day event. Expect just about every kind of barbecued meat you can imagine, as well as craft beer, spirits, and a March Madness lounge. The event also is known for its lineup of live musical performances, which will include Granger Smith, best known for his hit single "Backroad Song."
Check, Please! Arizona Festival
Sunday, March 20
Margaret T. Hance Park, Phoenix
$59 in advance, $69 at the door
Arizona PBS' Emmy Award-winning Check, Please! Arizona comes to life at the Check, Please! Arizona Festival, which features dozens of local restaurants and appearances from local and national celebrity chefs. Lidia Bastianich, star of the popular series Lidia's Kitchen, and James Beard Award-winning chef Robert McGrath are both set to appear at this year's event. Tickets include all festival events and food and wine/beer samples.
Saturday, March 19 and Sunday, March 20
The Italian Association of Arizona hosts this two-day celebration of Italian culture, food, music, arts, and fashion in Scottsdale. In addition to music and Italian craft vendors, look for wine tastings and authentic Italian cuisine.
Flavors of the West
Saturday, April 2
$25 for general admission
Keep an eye on Facebook for details about this year's Flavors of the West festival. Last year, the event, which was presented by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, featured food from 25 different West Valley restaurants and chefs. Tickets to the 2015 event cost $25 for general admission or $100 for VIP tickets.
The Great Arizona Beer Festival
Saturday, April 2
Sloan Park (formerly Cubs Park), Mesa
$48.47 for general admission
This craft beer event will feature 200 brews from more than 50 local, national, and international breweries, according to the event's website. And we're not just talking about any old beers. The festival promises each brewery will be "providing samples of their proudest brewing achievement."
AZ Wine and Dine
Thursday, April 7
$55 now through February 29
This annual soiree at Scottsdale Quarter features food and drink tastings from chefs and restaurants like the Arizona Biltmore, Prado at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, T. Cook's at Royal Palms Resort and Spa, and Brio Tuscan Grille. Hosted by the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association, the event also includes wine and craft beer from names like Charles Smith Winery, Trinchero Family Estates, Four Peaks Brewing Company, and Sierra Nevada. Attire for the event is business casual.
13th Annual Polish Festival
Saturday, April 9 and Sunday, April 10
Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish, Phoenix
Feast on Polish crepes, pierogi, Polish sausage, and more at the annual Polish Festival hosted by Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish. In addition to traditional Polish food and drink, the event will include folk dances, Polish music, and activities — as well as a souvenir shop with Polish jewelry, crafts, and more.
Scottsdale Culinary Festival
Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17
Scottsdale Civic Center Mall
$10 for general admission
Formerly known as the Great Arizona Picnic, the Scottsdale Culinary Festival weekend will bring dozens of restaurants to Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza for two days of food, drink, and entertainment. In addition to sampling food from 40 local restaurants, you'll be able to explore the festival's 25 acres of activities including a teen cooking challenge, chef demos, family zone, wine garden, and a vodka lounge. There will be five stages featuring 20 bands throughout the weekend, and an Epicurean Expo with chef demos, student cooking challenges, wine seminars, and the latest in kitchen and cooking gadgets.
Beer Olympics at Tempe Marketplace
Friday, April 22
$10 for general admission
Beer lovers, get your games faces on because New Times' 3rd Annual Beer Olympics is just around the corner. The event includes more than 15 games such as flip cup, giant beer pong, Jenga, and relay races. Attendees will collect stamps as they play games, with a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas in the ultimate Decathlon Award. General admission includes entry, games, and a chance to win the Participation Award. General admission plus and group registration is also available.
$5 Dollar Food Festival
Saturday, April 23
Tempe Diablo Stadium
$5 for general admission
The 2016 Awesome and Delicious Tour is headed toward Tempe, and its bringing a whole bunch of $5 dishes with it. In case the festival name isn't clear enough, the $5 Dollar Food Festival features food vendors selling dishes for $5 each. Food will be available for purchase using cash or credit, and the event also will offer craft beer, margaritas, soda, and water.
The Great Southwest Cajun Fest
Saturday, April 23
Dr. AJ Chandler Park
$10 for general admission
This year, the Great Southwest Cajun Festival will feature theme zones — think Bourbon Street, French Quarter, and Garden District — to transport attendees right to the Big Easy. The festival will also offer cajun cuisine, handcrafted beer, and live music from jazz, blues, and contemporary swing revival bands.
The Original Taste
Saturday, April 23
$100 for general admission
Hit the Scottsdale Waterfront for this dress-to-impress festival featuring more than 40 local restaurants, including Frank & Lupe's Old Mexico, Crab & Mermaid, Olive & Ivy, Second Story Liquor Bar, and Tarbell's. Attendees will also be able to sample wine, craft beer, and cocktails while enjoying live music from headliner Zowie Bowie and others. The event is hosted by Executive Council Charities and raises money for various Valley organizations.
Chandler Craft Sprits Festival
Saturday, April 30
Back for its third year, the 2016 Chandler Craft Spirits Festival looks to showcase the best of Arizona's cocktail scene. From artisan bitters to locally distilled spirits, this event will have everything you need to make top-notch cocktails. Attendees can look forward to sampling dozens of types of spirits and cocktails, as well as demonstrations, food, and even a dash of beer and wine.
Arizona Spring Restaurant Week
Friday, May 20 through Sunday, May 29
This statewide event means restaurants all over metro Phoenix and beyond will offer special, three course menus for either $33 or $44. Participating restaurants will include Atlas Bistro, Cafe Bink, Zinc Bistro, The Parlor, Okra, and dozens more.
AmeriCAN Canned Craft Beer Festival
Saturday, May 14
Scottsdale Civic Center
$35 for general admission pre-sale, $45 at the door
Put down that bottle and celebrate all things aluminum at the 6th annual AmeriCAN Canned Craft Beer Festival. The event will include more than 300 rare beers from more than 100 local and national breweries, many of which also will be competing in the festival's beer competition. Attendees can look forward to live entertainment, food, a VIP tent, beer science garden, and beer Olympic games – plus a mobile canning station and brewing demonstrations. General admission includes a souvenir can and 20 four-ounce pours, while VIP admission includes entry one hour early, a souvenir can, 20 four-ounce pours, catered food, a private VIP zone, and exclusive specialty beer sampling.
Flavors of Phoenix
Thursday, May 26
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, Phoenix
$450 per person
This upscale food event gathers some of the Valley's best culinary talents including James Beard Award winning chef Christopher Gross, Matt Carter of Zinc Bistro, Gabriele Bertaccini of iL TOCCO FOOD, Chrysa Robertson of Rancho Pinot, and more to prepare a multi-course dinner for guests tableside. Attendees are expected to wear cocktail attire and can purchase either individual tickets or a table of 12 seats. The event also includes an auction and benefits the American Liver Foundation.
Chocolate and Wine Experience
Friday, January 22
Musical Instrument Museum
$60 in advance, $70 at the door
Indulge your sweet tooth in this annual event, which brings together local chocolatiers and local breweries and winemakers as a part of the Scottsdale Culinary Festival. This year's featured vendors will include Scottsdale's Zak's Chocolate, Salted Serenity, and Nutwhats, as well as SanTan Brewery, Pillsbury Wine Company, and Cellar 433. In addition to food and drink, the event will include live music from Sassy and the Sneak Attack, an interactive photo booth, and crafts including personalized etched wine glasses and painting with chocolate.
New Times Street Eats Food Truck Festival
Saturday, January 30 and Sunday, January 31
Salt River Fields, Scottsdale
$12 for general admission
Back for the fifth time, the New Times Street Eats Food Truck Festival means two days of mobile eatery madness at the Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. You'll find dozens of the region's best food trucks at the event, including The Maine Lobster Lady, Island Loco, and Focoso Pizza. Food and drink tokens will be available for $2 each once you're inside the event, but your general admission ticket does include entertainment such as live music and cooking demonstrations, as well as parking.
Brewers Bowl Craft Beer Festival
Saturday, February 6
Bad Water Brewing Tap Room, Scottsdale
$35 for general admission
This second annual event will feature at least 18 local breweries, including 8-Bit Brewery, The Beer Research Institute, Cartel Brewery, Craft 64, North Mountain Brewing Company, O.H.S.O. Brewery, Pedal Haus Brewery, and Wren House Brewing Co. Prior to the event, each brewery will submit samples for blind judging in a friendly competition, with the winning brewery taking home bragging rights and a beer-themed trophy. General admission tickets include 20 beer-tasting tickets. VIP tickets, which include early admission, also are available.
Arizona Beer Week
Thursday, February 11 through Saturday, February 20
Beer lovers won't want to miss this 10-day event organized by the the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild. Throughout the festival, you'll be able to attend beer events ranging from beer release parties to tap takeovers all over the Valley and state. For a complete list of Arizona Beer Week events, check the festival website.
Arizona Strong Beer Festival
Sunday, February 13
Steele Indian School Park
$45 for general admission
As the headlining event of Arizona Beer Week, the Arizona Strong Beer Festival tops the list of beer-tasting events in metro Phoenix. You'll find more than 400 beers to sample at the outdoor event, including Margawheata (a margarita-inspired beer) from Dark Sky Brewing Co., 120 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head Brewery, and Black Raspberry Nectar from Redstone Meadery. You can view the current lineup of beers and breweries on the Arizona Strong Beer Festival website. Tickets include 40 two-ounce tasting tickets.
Arizona Cocktail Week
Saturday, February 13 through Sunday, February 21
Join the U.S. Bartender's Guild local chapter in a weeklong celebration of all things craft cocktail. The festival includes a long list of events ranging from educational seminars and an artisan market to a poolside Cocktail Carnival featuring live entertainment and plenty of booze. For the complete schedule of 2016 events, keep an eye on the Arizona Cocktail Week website.
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CrushBrew Craft Beverage Festival
Friday, February 19 and Saturday, February 20
$45 for one-day general admission
Featuring local beverage makers such as Caduceus Cellars & Merkin Vineyards and Hamilton Distillers, the CrushBrew Craft Beverage Festival aims to showcase craft beer, boutique wines, hard cider, and distilled spirits. You'll be able to sample products and vote in the People's Choice Awards for a favorite craft beverage in each category: wine, craft beer, distilled spirits, and hard cider. General admission tickets include a GoVino wine glass, 12 tasting tickets, and access to the W Scottsdale CrushBrew After-Party.
Corks & Cactus
Saturday, February 20 and Sunday, February 21
Desert Botanical Garden
Explore desert flora while also sampling 80 different wines at this two-day event at the Desert Botanical Garden. Most featured wines will cost $35 or less and will be available for purchase at the event, with all wine purchased benefiting the Garden's education, research, exhibition, and conservation programs.
Bites 'n Brews Craft Beer Festival
Saturday, February 27
$30 for general admission
Four Peaks Brewery, Sonoma Cider, and Sierra Nevada are just a few of the breweries that will be at the Bites 'n Brews Craft Beer Festival. In addition to more than 20 local and national breweries, the event will offer food from local restaurants, cornhole and life-size beer pong tournaments, and music from a DJ. General admission tickets include 10 three-and-a-half-ounce beer samples.
Arizona Matsuri Festival
Saturday, February 27 and Sunday, February 28
Heritage & Science Park, Phoenix
Celebrate the culture of Japan over two days at this downtown Phoenix festival featuring exhibits, arts and crafts, food, drink, and live entertainment on four stages. In addition to a Japanese beer and sake garden, the festival will host food vendors such as Tako Yaki, Asahi Bakery, Snoh Ice Shavery, Paradise Hawaiian BBQ, and more.