With Season in full swing, there's no shortage of events on the Broward and Palm Beach County culinary calendar; everything from beer, food, and wine events to chili cook-offs and boozy boat parades. Here, we've compiled a handy guide to the best food and drink events to get you through the winter season.
Winterfest Boat Parade
What does it take to be one of the biggest, baddest parades in the world? An annual attendance of more than 1,000,000 cheering spectators, maybe. On December 12, the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade returns, where decorated boats traverse a 12-mile route that is not only the largest one-day live audience events in South Florida, but also the seventh largest one-day spectator event in the country. Celebrate by drinking the official Winterfest cocktail and watching the parade at one of Fort Lauderdale's many waterside establishments. The iconic event is staged along the New River and travels east to the Intracoastal Waterway from Fort Lauderdale north to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. Of course, one of the best ways to see the parade is from the Grandstand Viewing Area (just north of Sunrise Boulevard) starting at 7 p.m. Visit winterfestparade.com.
Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival
Taking place December 10 through 13, the Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival is considered one of the premier food events in Palm Beach County. Celebrity chefs. Culinary trendsetters. Upscale digs. Luxury accommodations. You'll get all this — and more — during the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, which returns December 10 to 13 at event locations throughout the Palm Beaches. The annual foodie-focused festival will bring together a series of events over four days and features new and returning celebrity chefs, culminating with the festival’s iconic event, the ninth-annual Grand Tasting. The celebrity chef lineup includes returning chefs Robert Irvine, Marc Murphy, Christina Tosi, Jeff Mauro, and Elizabeth Falkner as well as first-timers Hugh Acheson, Gavin Kaysen, George Mendes, Dena Marino, Michael Ruhlman, Brad Kilgore, and Beau MacMillan. You'll also find perennial Palm Beach County favorites Clay Conley, Tim Lipman, Sean Brasel, Tory Martindale, Lindsay Autry, and Aaron Black. Headquartered at the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach, the festival will include a number of intimate dinners, wine, and cocktail tastings, cooking demonstrations, books signings, and seminars discussing the latest culinary trends — and many featuring some of the world’s most renowned chefs and industry leaders. Visit pbfoodwinefest.com.
Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Day
The Broward-based Funky Buddha Brewery has set the date for its most sought-after annual release — Maple Bacon Coffee porter — and street festival for January 9. Mark your calendars this year, because there are a few changes to the 2016 event you should know about. Due to its overwhelming popularity the annual event has become a ticketed event. Paying attendees are now guaranteed to receive a bottle of the one-time annual Maple Bacon Coffee porter release — and no one will feel the need to camp out in the parking lot at 5 a.m. to snag a spot in line for tickets. There's also a new location: nearby Jaco Pastorius Park in Oakland Park, where just 4,000 attendees will enjoy a day of craft beer. General admission is $30 and includes one bottle of Maple Bacon Coffee Porter. The 2016 Maple Bacon Coffee Porter bottle release and street festival will take place at from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, January 9. For a complete list of beers that will be on tap and event information, visit FunkyBuddhaBrewery.com.
Art of Rum
South Florida Distillers, producers of Fwaygo rum, are launching a new event they've dubbed Art of Rum. Celebrating the fusion of local art and mixology, Art of Rum will feature local mixologists creating handcrafted Fwaygo cocktails inspired by a local artist's work. The inaugural event will take place from 7 to 11 p.m. on January 30, during the monthly FATVillage Artwalk. Guests will have the opportunity to taste cocktails as they move through the event featuring live art, cocktail demos, local musicians, and a meet-and-greet with the makers of Fwaygo. Tickets for the event are available through Eventbrite for $25, which gets you a sample of each mixologist's cocktail ($75 for VIP access includes unlimited cocktail tastings and exclusive access to a preferred lounge area sponsored by Broward Design Center). Visit the Facebook event page.
The 10th Annual Jupiter Craft Beer Festival
There’s no better way to experience the ever-growing world of local craft brewing than with a beer festival, and the Jupiter Craft Beer Festival has you covered. On Saturday, January 30, event-goers can savor unlimited samples of brews made by many of South Florida's finest breweries, all while listening to some of the best local entertainment around. Visit jupitercraftbrewersfestival.com.
17th Annual Delray Beach Garlic Festival
Dubbed "The Best Stinkin' Party," every year Delray Beach hosts this three-day festival paying homage to — of all things — garlic. This year, Old School Square will once again be home to Garlic Fest, an international and award winning gourmet food and entertainment event featuring national act entertainment, a food area with over 80 garlic laced menu items, children's play area, 200 artist and craft vendors, cooking competition, and full liquor bar. The event will be held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from February 11 to 13. The Delray Beach Garlic Fest was originally founded by a group of locals looking to raise funds for a local non-profit organization. Visit dbgarlicfest.com.
Riverwalk Chili Cook Off
Each year Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale hosts its Riverwalk Chili Cook Off. This year, on January 31, the family friendly event will take place from noon to 4 p.m. at Esplanade Park. The competition is open to professionals, amateurs, and aspiring cooks. The event may be all about the chili, but there's also plenty of cold beer, live music, and activities for all ages. And — unlike other chili cook offs — here you not only get to taste each chili, but you're also the judge. The champion chili chef will be decided by the crowd's popular vote. Visit the Facebook event page.
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Riverwalk's Fifth Annual Stone Crab & Seafood Festival
Florida stone crab season wouldn't be complex without a stone crab festival. Luckily, that's actually a thing. On January 16, Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale will host its Fifth Annual Stone Crab & Seafood Festival at Esplanade Park in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The festival is a free celebration of the local South Florida seafood industry and highlights some of Fort Lauderdale's favorite seafood restaurants as they serve up fresh stone crab claws and an array of select seafood dishes. Seafood lovers of all ages flock to enjoy a day of great food, drinks, live music, and games (including the crowd-favorite hermit crab races). Visit the Facebook event page.
South Beach Wine and Food Fest in Broward
Why go to South Beach when South Beach can come to you? That's what Broward County food lovers can celebrate this coming February when the Food Network & Cooking Channel's South Beach Wine & Food Festival returns to Fort Lauderdale for the second year. Although the annual foodie event will be celebrating its 15th anniversary this year when it kicks off February 24 through 28, the move to push events further north is a relatively new idea. According to event director and founder Lee Schrager, 2016 marks the introduction of the festival's inaugural Taste Fort Lauderdale Series. The fun will kick off a day earlier than in years past beginning Wednesday, February 24, with an event dubbed Seaside Eats. The dinner will take place at the city's historic Bonnet House Museum & Gardens and will be hosted by Robert Irvine, a British celebrity chef who has appeared on a variety of Food Network programs including Dinner: Impossible, Worst Cooks in America, Restaurant: Impossible, and Restaurant Express. Over the next few days the series will continue with several intimate dinners taking place at various Fort Lauderdale restaurants and featuring renowned chefs and culinary personalities including Todd English, Debi Mazar, Gabriele Corcos, Marc Vetri, as well as Auberge Resorts' Robert Curry and Paul Lemieux. Visit sobefest.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.