For the ninth year, the South's leading culinary minds, chefs, mixologists and tastemakers will make ATL their weekend home away from home at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. The annual food-laden extravaganza shines as a culinary conclave of epic proportion, and with this year's theme of "Off the Eaten Path," attendees are guaranteed to indulge never-before-seen tastes, experiences and curated dinners that showcase the Southern region as a titan in the food community.
Whether it's you first rodeo into this stampede of Southern flavors or you're an AFWF OG, here are some essential tips and things to know about this year's festival.
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival's annual opening night party, Destination Delicious, acts as a precursor to the boundless food-focused experience to occur over the four-day festival. In this year's event presented by The Local Palate, street food traditions of the South and overseas are highlighted at a night market blending brilliant bites and beverages from highly lauded Southern dining destinations.
If you've wondered which type of barbecue reigns supreme or the best wine to pair with a taco, Atlanta Food & Wine Festival's Learning Experiences are your Wikipedia to excellent eats. Whether you're a culinary history buff or want to get down and dirty in the kitchen with the best chefs in the South, you'll definitely want to take notes and get in where you fit in.
Tasting Tent Experiences
Year after year, hungry revelers attend the mind-blowing tasting tents to get a taste of what the South is all about. This year, the flavors have moved to Old 4th Ward Park for guests to enjoy the essence of Southern flavor all in one bite or sip.
Powerful & Delicious-Heart & Heritage
It's ladies first at this inspiring dinner hosted by chef, restaurateur and "Chopped" judge Maneet Chauhan. The all-female led Heart & Heritage dinner highlights the diverse and talented women in the kitchen, behind the bar and popping the cork for an evening of storytelling and cuisine that rewrites the playbook of preconceived notions about Southern cuisine.
Great Southern Bake Sale
Who could think of a better event to close out the weekend than one centered around what's become the favorite meal of the week, brunch? This time, the neighborhood bake sale takes center stage as the theme with sweet confections, savory bites and boozy brunch cocktails to celebrate the South's favorite pastime.
- These shoes were made for walking. Although most of the festival events are confined to the chic Loews Hotel, you’ll want to have some comfy kicks when you're walking around the foodie playground that is the Tasting Tents.
- Stay thirsty, my friends. With all the cardio from the walking mentioned above, you’re bound to get thirsty. Most festival sessions have water bottles on hand, but you can’t go wrong bringing a water bottle to fill up and drink as you please. Plus, with all the drink happenings you’re going to want to stay hydrated.
- It’s in the bag. The festival is filled with culinary samples, merchandise and free swag, so you’re going to need somewhere to keep it all. Bring a handy tote to stock up on recipe cards, books and samples of everything from hot sauce and bitters to spices and kitchen gadgets.
- Chance of rain. In Atlanta, you never know what the weather is going to do. Proceed with caution and keep a small umbrella or poncho handy. Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is a rain or shine event, so don’t let a little water ruin your flavor-filled good times.
- There's an app for that. While the festival schedule booklet is a great place to jot down notes, opt to go digital and download the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival app. It keeps all the festival happenings and your class schedule in the palm of your hand for easy access to everything you’ll need to know. Don’t leave home without it.
Chris Watkins is an Atlanta-based freelance writer, photographer, and serves as the voice of Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (@DiscoverAtlanta) on social media. You can follow him on Instagram, @christopherbw.
This blog post was originally published in 2016.