12 Wine & Food Fests That Make Summer Good 'Til The Last Drop

Everything tastes better outside: lightly charred veggies on the grill; fruit arranged in a bowl made from its own rind; tiny bottles of champagne sipped though paper straws. Yes, there’s something great about getting a little tipsy outside, and all the best dining and drinking celebrations just happen to take place en plein air.
It's festival season, after all. And these swanky soirees are decidedly not the equivalent of getting plastered at your office picnic or blitzed at your neighbor’s backyard BBQ. These festive goings on are the best reason to get tipsy among the trees; they are the most ingenious use of your last few summer Fridays; and the classiest way to combine sun and alcohol to non-disastrous results. So, slap on a maxi-dress, hit the grass, and imbibe like the grown-up you are at each of these excursion-worthy events.
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Photo: Courtesy of Rheingau Wine Festival.
Rheingau Wine Festival
Here, the highest quality wines and top winemakers come together in one spot for an amazing display of German viticulture. Forget about super-sweet Rieslings, the blends represented at this festival (home of the longest wine bar in the world) range from deliciously dry sekt to velvety pinot noir.

Rheingau Wine Festival, Wiesbaden, Germany; August 8 to 17.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hawaii Food and Wine Festival.
Hawaii Food & Wine Festival
There’s nothing not to love about this festival: celebrity chefs, high-end wine, amazing food, being in Hawaii. It’s only in its fourth year, but this year plans to be the biggest yet with more than 80 internationally renowned culinary personalities from around the globe (including four Iron Chefs and 22 James Beard Award winners). Don’t miss out on the extremely exclusive Sturia Caviar and Champagne Krug event at the Halekulani Hotel ($400; only 36 seats available). Worth. Every. Cent.

Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, Oahu, Hawaii; August 29 to September 7.
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Photo: Courtesy of World Gourmet Festival.
15th Annual World Gourmet Festival
This weeklong culinary festival attracts the highest rated Michelin chefs and winemakers from around the world, and it takes place in the gorgeous Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok. All proceeds from ticket sales go to the Save a Child’s Life from AIDS project, which means attending would really be selfless act.

15th Annual World Gourmet Festival, Bangkok, Thailand; September 1 to 7.
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Photo: Courtesy of Festa do Vinho de Madeira.
Festa do Vinho de Madeira
The Madeira Wine Festival is one that hasn’t changed much since its inception. It’s always been about the vintage art of winemaking, and the entire island — tourists included — join in. It begins with the harvest in the village of Câmara de Lobos and continues with live music all day and night throughout the island, providing tons of opportunities to dance with the locals…in the grapes and out.

Festa do Vinho de Madeira, Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal; August 31 to September 7.
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Photo: Courtesy of Galway Oyster & Seafood Festival.
60th Annual Galway Oyster & Seafood Festival
The Irish know how to throw a party, and this aphrodisiacal fête is no exception. Pearls and cocktail attire are the standard for the oldest oyster festival in the world, and the second most important festival in Ireland behind Saint Patrick’s Day. Not only are there amazing oysters to be had all weekend long, but Champagne flows at every event. The Masquerade Gala features a giant oyster buffet with unlimited Prosecco, Champagne, and/or Guinness.

60th Annual Galway Oyster & Seafood Festival, Galway, Ireland; September 25 to 28.
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Photo: Courtesy of Manchester Food and Drink Festival.
Manchester Food & Drink Festival
This festival takes over the entire city center of Manchester (indoor and out!), with a free-entrance pop-up food village set up in Albert Square. For 11 days, the square becomes the hub of activity with a bar, street food, live entertainment, and produce market. But, there’s no reason not to check out the year-round hot spots in this trendy city while you’re in town, since almost all of the restaurants and bars participate in the festival in some way. Past years have included chefs Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in the lineup, but the most sought-after ticket is still the glittering gala dinner at the swanky Lowry Hotel.

Manchester Food and Drink Festival, Manchester, England; September 18 to 29.
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Photo: Courtesy of Euphoria Food and Wine Festival.
Euphoria Food & Wine Festival
This unexpected festival is actually one of the best food and wine events in the States, partly because it’s remained relatively undiscovered and partly because it raises so much money for charity — this year’s partners include Slow Food Upstate, A Child’s Haven, and Loaves and Fishes. High-end winemakers and world-class chefs pour and perform while celebrity chefs typically attend on their own dime to check out the tastings throughout the weekend. Euphoria is the real hidden gem of dining fests, especially the boozy jazz brunch where Bloody Marys flow.

Euphoria Food and Wine Festival, Greenville, South Carolina; September 18 to 21.
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Photo: Courtesy of Mistura.
Not only is Lima considered the gastronomical capital of South America, but this is one of the largest food festivals in the world and features an exclusive mix of true talent; Gastón Acurio, Pedro Schiaffino, René Redzepi, Ferran Adriá, and Alex Atala regularly attend, and, in true Peruvian style, the pisco flows like water (water that's mixed into homemade concoctions featuring Amazonian herbs and rarely recognized fruits).

Mistura, Lima, Peru; September 5 to 14.
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Photo: Courtesy of Taste of Durban.
Taste of Durban
The Wine and Canape Experience is the main feature of this event, where you take the knowledge you gleaned form the Chef’s Theatre to pair a range of wines with dishes served by the featured chefs. Of course, you can't miss the sample stations set up by boutique exhibitors and premium drink brands, or the Castle Milk Stout Experience that’s set in a swanky outdoor lounge with a DJ.

Taste of Durban, Durban, South Africa; July 25 to 27.
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Photo: Courtesy of Fête de la Gastronomie.
4th Annual Fête de la Gastronomie
The entire country participates in this festival, created to give the public a chance to explore the wonders of French gastronomy, with every bakery, restaurant, farm, winery, and more doing their part to create special offerings. Imagine getting into a baker's back room to watch how he makes croissants, or getting to sip some of the world's rarest wines — this is all part of it. Wine flows freely all weekend long and in some cases even comes freely with complimentary tastings and samples set out in the streets alongside open air cooking demos and markets.

4th Annual Fête de la Gastronomie, Throughout France; September 26 to 28.
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Photo: Courtesy of Martinez Martinis on the Plaza.
Martinez Martinis on the Plaza Gala
Martinez, California claims to be the birthplace of the martini. Legend has it, in 1870, a thirsty miner ordered a bottle of unavailable Champagne so bartender Julio Richilieu instead offered him a “Martinez Special,” a.k.a. the classic martini. In tribute of this fateful concoction, the town celebrates with an annual Martinez Martini Month. This elegant affair gets shaken up on September 28 when competitors offer up samples of self-styled martinis beneath chandeliers and stars at the ’40s themed Martinis on the Plaza Gala. It’s just as fabulous as it sounds.

Martinez Martinis on the Plaza Gala, Martinez, California; September 28.
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Photo: Courtesy of Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo.
Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo's Circus Dinner Show Experience
We love drinking in Monte-Carlo; no circus or exquisite dining experience necessary. But, hey, when is a circus ever necessary? That’s precisely why the Le Circus Dinner Show is one of our favorite food and wine events. For most of August, you can sip cocktails and try not to make eye contact with the clowns while dining on a gourmet dinner prepared by Fairmont Monte Carlo’s Executive Chef and Meilleur Ouvrier de France, Philippe Joannes. The hotel even offers a package that guarantees you’ll be in the fanciest seat of all beneath the big top in the bronze circle for 559 euros a night.

Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo’s Circus Dinner Show Experience, Monte-Carlo, Monaco; August 1 to 24.