Most of us love to eat. And pair that with a great glass of wine and you have the ultimate in dining experiences. That's why Florida's many festivals are so appealing. They bring together the best chefs the world has to offer for weekends full of tasty delights combined with top-notch vintages that truly complement the food with which they are being paired. For the attendee, the result is a treat for the palate.
Some festivals are held in one central location while others take participants to the area's finest restaurants. Many are fund raisers, so while you're eating and imbibing, you're helping others less fortunate. Some events are rather costly while others are affordable enough for any budget. In some cases, events are quite formal; others consist of concessions where guests can purchase only the items they wish to try.
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Happily, these events are literally located throughout the entire state, with events being held up and down both coasts and in places in between. Wherever you are, there's probably one near you. Here's a list of some of the most notable:
- January - February -
Guests are invited to "unleash your palate" at this event, which takes place in mid February in Downtown Tampa at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. It includes tastings, dinners and music.
Held late January or early February, this one is dubbed "one of the top 10 entertainment festivals for wealthy Americans." The festival brings many of the world's finest vintner and chefs together along with collectors and philanthropists. Proceeds from the Festival benefit the Naples Children & Education Foundation.
South Beach is a great place to enjoy the activity for an unforgettable event! Not quite as costly as its Naples counterpart, this one is indeed star-studded. Occurring during the latter part of February, guests can hobnob with many of their favorite Network chefs for a truly fun time.
- March -
Held at St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field in March, this event offers food from about 40 area restaurants, a chance to sample premium wines, and the opportunity to bid on rare items and listen to great entertainment. Proceeds go to Abilities, a foundation which helps Floridians with all types of disabilities obtain mainstream jobs and affordable housing.
- April -
Proceeds from this April event benefit the non-profit Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Events include live music, a silent auction, wines, and cuisine from dozens of area restaurants, all served on the beautiful Riverwalk outside the center.
Held in April, dozens of winemakers will descend upon Sarasota, offering up tastings, parties, pairing dinners, seminars, and much more. Great wines will also be auctioned at this event, which benefits a number of arts- and kid-related charities.
- September to November -
By far the longest such festival, this Disney World extravaganza lasts for more than a month. Scores of celebrity chefs and representatives from dozens of wineries head to WDW for dinners, tastings, and so much more. Tickets sell out fast and come in a variety of price ranges, so if you're planning on going, book your preferred events by the mid-summer.
- November -
One of the largest festivals in southwest Florida with Chefs from three counties preparing dishes from around the world. Cultural music and decor are all in store at this annual event.
More at: www.bocaratonwineandfoodfestival.com
This day-long festival is affordable for everyone. Scheduled early November, it features food vending, sampling, arts and crafts vendors, and live entertainment. Admission is free and wine and food is purchased on an as-desired basis. Profits go to local civic and charitable organizations.
More: www.cityofsafetyharbor.com see Special Events under Leisure time
The Colony Resort on Longboat Key is the setting for this long-running festival held in November, which marks the start of stone crab season. Leading chefs and vintners strut their stuff in an intimate setting along the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Demonstrations are also part of the fun. Participation is limited and tickets go fast.
Epcot, Sep 27 - Nov 11, 2013
Delight in outstanding cuisine, fun and entertainment. Festival highlights include: Nearly 30 international food and beverage Marketplaces, Signature dining experiences with celebrated chefs, and Culinary demonstrations and seminars. The Eat to the Beat concert series, with nightly performances from popular hit-makers.
- December -
Palm Bay, FL - Dec 14, 2013
Cuisines from around the world, wine tasting, music, games, contests, antique cars, shows, raffles.
Celebrate Brevard- Food and Wine Gala
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