Festival season is upon us!
Beginning in February there are a slew of events around the Valley where locals can hang out outdoors and try some new ethnic foods, sample local restaurants or explore an array of alcoholic beverages (not to mention, enjoy art, film, and more -- check out the arts fest roundup on our sister blog, Jackalope Ranch).
The following are some local food & drink festivals going on in February, March and April:
4-6 - Glendale Chocolate Affaire
Where: Murphy Park in downtown Glendale
What to eat: Sample the standard chocolate fare: truffles, chocolate-covered strawberries, etc. or get creative with chocolate molé barbecue, deep-fried chocolate ice cream, and chocolate bacon candy bars.
6 - March 28 - Arizona Renaissance Festival
Where: 12601 E. Highway 60, Apache Junction
Price: $20 for adults, $10 for children 5-12
What to eat: Grub heralding from the medieval days. One of the few places where you can chew on a turkey leg while watching a jousting tournament.
Where: El Chorro Lodge and other participating restaurants
What to eat/drink: There are several different events showcasing different Paso Robles wines, including a Grand Tasting of wines from over 30 wineries and Winemaker Dinners at local restaurants. Check the website for specific restaurant information.
Read about more events after the jump.
12 - St. Patrick's Day Parade & Faire
Where: Margaret T. Hance Park
Price: TBA (though last year it was around $10)
What to eat: Beer and bangers will undoubtedly be on the menu along with other food vendors.
17-20 - Festival of the West
Where: Westworld in Scottsdale
Price: A variety of different prices depending on how many days, if you attend the concerts, etc.
What to eat: Chuckwagon meals vary by day, but it's all stuff that you can imagine eating while wearing a bandana: steak, beans, biscuits.
26 - Arizona Barbecue Festival
Where: Scottsdale Waterfront
Price: $10 for general admission
What to eat: Sample BBQ from over 60 professional teams and up to 30 premium whiskies for an additional $10. Also available, a mechanical bull, kid-friendly area, a bartender contest and demos by celebrity chefs.
26 - The Great American Barbecue & Beer Festival
Where: Dr. AJ Chandler Park in downtown Chandler
Price: $10 admission, kids under 12 are free
What to eat: Bring a blanket and your appetite to downtown Chandler park and enjoy live bands, beer and BBQ.
5 - 10 - Scottsdale Culinary Festival
Where: Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza
Price: The main event, Great Arizona Picnic, has an admission fee of $7.50 before March 4, $10 after plus you'll need to buy tasting tickets for $1 each inside. Check the website for other event prices.
What to eat: A good way to try new-to-you places, loads of local restaurants offer small portions of some of their specialties for anywhere from 2-5 tickets ($2-$5). Also available, creative vodka beverages, over 200 beers, tequila and rum drinks in designated drinking tents.
7 - Forks and Corks
Price: $65 in advance, $75 at the event
What to eat: Sample specialty dishes from more than 30 local chefs, beers from local microbrews and wines from boutique wineries from across the globe.
9 - My Nana's Best Tasting Salsa Challenge
Where: Tempe Beach Park
Price: $8 for general admission
What to eat: All the chips and salsa you can handle made by over 80 professional and amateurs alike.
16 &17 - Arizona Asian Festival
Where: Mekong Plaza in Mesa
What to eat: Sample asian cuisines at the festival or venture inside Mekong Plaza for some amazing Asian fare.