Celebrate the end of swimsuit season by throwing on a pair of your favorite loose-fitting pants and unabashedly enjoying the bounty of fall at a food festival. There’s a plethora of events shining a spotlight on local culinary talent, so there’s no need to miss out. From a restaurant week in the heart of the American South to a sustainable shindig in the Land Down Under, here are six affairs where you can get your fill.
Charleston Restaurant Week and Taste of Charleston
This September, Charleston cements its position as the Holy Grail for foodies. Charleston Restaurant Week (September 7 to 18) and Taste of Charleston (September 23 to 25) spotlight the best of the city’s cuisine for visitors and residents.
Charleston Restaurant Week offers a chance to sample prix fixe lunch and dinner options from some of the city’s top kitchens. Take advantage of the deliciously priced opportunity to try three courses at places like Michael’s on the Alley (lobster bisque, New York strip and deconstructed carrot cake, oh my!). You’ll have plenty of time to also squeeze in a reservation at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ocean Room to try Atlantic salmon and other fresh, seasonal cuisine offered on its special menu.
The 36th annual Taste of Charleston will feature casual and fine-dining restaurants from around the city just a few days later. Weekend highlights include Friday night’s Taste: Iron Chef Competition, which involves two teams of chefs racing to prepare the best dishes with a dastardly secret ingredient, and Sunday’s main event, where you can eat your heart out at the Boone Hall Plantation while enjoying live music, beer tastings and cooking demonstrations.
Where to stay: In between all of those glorious meals, luxuriate in your cushy digs at the Four-Star Market Pavilion Hotel. Check out the coastal vistas from the rooftop bar to round out your Palmetto City experience.
Bangkok Vegetarian Festival
The vegetarian festival in Phuket may be better known, but Bangkok’s homage to greens and other earthy things in the heart of Chinatown is definitely worth the visit. Contrary to its English name, the festival locals call Tesakan Gin Jay (festival for eating vegan) is a nine-day adherence (October 12 to 20) to veganism and other purification rituals. Participants typically wear white or yellow, and also abstain from consuming alcohol and drugs.
Despite its religious origins, the festival hits its stride at night. There will be rows upon rows of food stalls serving simple, delicious foods, including very convincing meat substitutes. Start off with some mobile snacking before making your way through the streets to witness temple rituals, see lanterns and take in other photo-worthy sights. Cap off the night by viewing the Chinese Opera’s performance.
Where to stay: After a long and noisy day of exploring, retire to the quiet elegance of Four-Star The Okura Prestige Bangkok. Have a cup of tea at the hotel bar and take in the up-high views of the city from the breathtaking terrace.
Music City Food and Wine Festival
Nashville’s fourth annual Music City Food and Wine Festival has all the magic ingredients: tunes, booze and food. The two-day happening (September 17 to 18) may seem short, but that’s plenty of time to get into trouble with over 40 cooking demos and tasting sessions.
The Chef Showcase features sample bites from Nashville’s top chefs (we’re sure someone’s bringing the hot chicken!), while you’ll broaden your horizons at the Grand Taste with selections from national and international purveyors of beer, wine, spirits and other artisanal consumables.
You’ll get to rub elbows with the chefs on Saturday’s Harvest Night (Andrew Zimmern and Sean Brock are making appearances). It’s the perfect occasion to eat signature dishes, drink top-notch beverages and be merry to the sound of live music curated by Grammy-winning band Kings of Leon.
Where to stay: After the festivities, retire to Union Station Hotel, Autograph Collection. The Forbes Travel Guide Recommended hotel is a mere half a mile from Harvest Night’s setup at Walk of Fame Park, so you can enjoy your plush digs (and a nightcap at onsite Prime 108 Lounge) just a stone’s throw from the action.
Taste of Atlanta
The South continues to make a case for its spot on the world food stage, and Taste of Atlanta is exhibit A. Over 90 of the city’s restaurants are represented in the three-day soiree (October 21 to 23), including four from super-chef Ford Fry’s portfolio (fingers crossed that St. Cecilia’s Acadian redfish somehow makes it to the party). In between bites, learn grill mastery at the Big Green Egg Grilling stage and get tips from top toques at the Chef’s Table. There’s also a Family Food Zone to get the kids in on the action.
But even with all of the nibbling, there’s still room at the Taste of Atlanta table for craft cocktails and beers. The Barcraft Competition pits local bartenders against one another for the title of “Atlanta’s Best Bartender.” Between bouts, they’ll be shaking up a cocktail storm for attendees. There’s also a Hop City–curated selection of over 100 craft beers and world-spanning wines.
Where to stay: Your exquisite accommodations at Four-Star The St. Regis Atlanta are just a 15-minute drive from the festival’s Midtown venue. Cool off by the hotel pool’s waterfall, soothe weary muscles at Four-Star Remède Spa Atlanta or work off those extra calories at the seventh-floor fitness center.
On November 26 to 27, Sydney will play host to one of the only not-for-profit, sustainable “wine, brews, food, music and art” festivals in the world. Rootstock opens pathways to sustainable food and wine production through education and a rockin’ good time.
The festival, headquartered at Carriageworks arts center this year, hosts winemakers and food purveyors from all over the world who show a commitment to natural processes. Attendees can sample everything from biodynamic whites and reds to grass-fed, organic beef and other feel-good, environmentally friendly snacks. There will also be master classes and intimate tasting sessions with up-close access to journalists, sommeliers, chefs and other experts.
Where to stay: Carbon emissions will be minimal during the short 15-minute commute from Carriageworks to Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. The property’s super-ideal location is also within walking distance of main transport hubs, top shopping destinations, the theater district and the Sydney Opera House.