Summer is the hot season for celebrating food and wine — warm weather months set the stage for a slew of culinary festivals, including the weird (think Montana’s World Championship Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival) and the major — Aspen’s Food & Wine Classic. From Montreal to California and garlic to beer, check out Forbes Travel Guide’s picks of the five best food and drink events this summer.
Mondial de la Bière, Montreal, Canada — June 6-10
Claiming the title of largest beer festival in Canada, Montreal’s Mondial de la Bière (translating to World of Beer) offers plenty to sip — more than 500 brews are served from around the world. This year’s theme is South America, so watch for breweries from countries such as Brazil and Argentina. There’s no admission price at this lively event, where festivalgoers visit booths for three- to four-ounce pours of beer, including Canadian brews from Le Cheval Blanc and Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery. Check out a beer and cheese workshop or pair your beer with bison and boar at the Flaveurs Bières et Caprices tasting event.
Check in here: The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Hotel Le St-James is housed in the beautifully restored Merchants Bank building in Old Montreal, not far from Place Bonaventure, where the festival is held.
Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland, Maine — Aug. 1-5
The 65th-annual event serves up nearly 20,000 pounds of lobster in all kinds of ways —cooking contests include recipes for lobster curry mac ‘n’ cheese and lobster étouffée. Along with plenty of food vendors, the quirky festival includes a parade of the newly crowned Sea Goddess and Sea Princesses alongside King Neptune and his court. Start each morning with an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast to gear up for the day’s activities, ranging from blindfolded rowboat races to concerts.
Check in here: With a spa and golf course, Samoset Resort sits on Penobscot Bay, just up the coast from Rockland.
Food & Wine Classic, Aspen, Colo. — June 15-17
This celebrity-chef-studded weekend is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with new features including a 5K hosted by Bobby Flay and an Elvis Costello-headlined concert. The festival is already sold out, but if you nabbed tickets, make sure to catch chef-led seminars and demonstrations hosted by the likes of Jacques Pépin, Tom Colicchio, Grant Achatz and Thomas Keller. Of course, there will be plenty to eat and drink — dig into dishes by several of Forbes Travel Guide’s Tastemakers, including José Andrés and Ming Tsai.
Check in here: The Little Nell sits at the base of Aspen Mountain and is just a short walk away from all of the festival’s main events, making the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel popular with visiting foodies.
Gilroy Garlic Festival, Gilroy, Calif. — July 27-29
This northern California city calls itself the Garlic Capital of the World, and its citizens embrace the title — crowning Miss Gilroy Garlic and hosting a Great Garlic Cook-off, as well as cooking demonstrations, concerts and other events. Taste dishes from garlic scampi and garlic bread to garlic ice cream and garlic watermelon at the outdoor festival. Had enough of the potent bulbs? Check out the arts and crafts fair, amusement park rides and kids activities.
Check in here: The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star CordeValle, A Rosewood Resort is a short drive away from the event, plus, it has a golf course and an onsite vineyard.
Nantucket Wine Festival — May 16-20
This annual festival has a beachy, intimate location — some events even take place in grand homes around the island. Begin the weekend with the Harbor Gala, where winemakers pair up with chefs and artisan food producers to offer samples. Tastings showcasing more than 200 wineries (including major names and novelties such as Drew Barrymore’s Barrymore Wines) and local eats will take place on Saturday and Sunday at Nantucket Yacht Club.
Check in here: Though it sits on a remote part of Nantucket removed from the festival’s activities, The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Wauwinet fits the bill for foodies and oenophiles alike — its restaurant, Topper’s, has a 20,000-bottle wine cellar and is hosting a wine dinner featuring German wines from Dr. Loosen Estates during the festival.
Photo courtesy of Michael Whitman Photography