PHOENIX - Buckle up Phoenix (or unbuckle), because the next five months are packed with food and drink festivals that you do not want to miss.
We are talking about festivals dedicated to tacos, chocolate, and burgers, plus beer, wine, and spirits. Some festivals will also feature the best of the best when it comes to Valley restaurants and chefs.
We've gathered all the festivals you need to know about between January and May. Tickets for some of the events are already on sale. So, scroll down and start filling up that calendar!
Chocolate & Wine Experience (Jan. 27): Enjoy unlimited food, chocolate and drink samples from some of the Valley's best chefs, brewers, wineries and distilleries. The event benefits the Scottsdale League for the Arts. The event has sold out in past years. Tickets are $60-$75.
Tacolandia (Jan. 28): Who doesn't love tacos? Thirty Valley taquerias will be serving up "authentic Mexican street-style tacos" at the inaugural festival. Barrio Cafe, Taco Chiwas and Macayo's will be there. Tickets are $25-$35. The event may sell out.
Grape Arizona Wine Event (Jan. 29): Sip on wine and snack on bites at the Grape Arizona Wine Event. Sixteen wineries and 10 culinary chefs and restaurants will be there. Tickets start at $55 and benefit Phoenix Rotary Club.
Arizona Vegetarian Food Festival (Jan. 28-29): More than 60 exhibitors will be on site to talk about plant-based food. Many will have food for sale to entice your taste buds. Tickets are $35 - $75.
Queen Creek Festival of New Oil (Jan. 28 – Feb. 26): Queen Creek hosts this month-long festival each year to celebrate the latest harvest of oil (Olivepalooza happens in November) and their limited edition Bell'Olio Nuovo, or "beautiful new oil." There will be various events going on throughout the month. View the calendar on their website for specifics.
Glendale Chocolate Affaire
Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Challenge (Feb. 1-28): Throughout the month of February, 22 Arizona chefs and restaurants will feature a special dessert utilizing a famous Girl Scout cookie. Proceeds from each dessert sold will benefit local Girl Scout troupes. Restaurants include Char Kitch + Bar, Chompies, Drexyl, Flower Child, Olive & Ivy, The Henry & The Thumb.
Chocolate Affaire (Feb. 3-5): This free festival is for chocolate lovers and romantics. Valley chocolate makers and bakeries fill Murphy Park in downtown Glendale will all kinds of chocolate treats. Cerreta Candy Company offers tours of its shop and there are plenty of games for the kids.
Scottsdale’s Brewer’s Bowl (Feb. 4): Arizona brewers compete against each other for the coveted "Lom-Beer-Di" trophy at this outdoor street festival. Attendees can enjoy craft beers, food from local food trucks and listen to music.
Great Canadian Picnic (Feb. 4): Think poutine because The American Poutine Company food truck is crashing this free picnic/festival at South Mountain. More than 3,000 Arizona-Canadians attended last year's event. There will be games, live music, a hockey shootout, snow and curling. Admission and parking is free.
Arizona Beer Week (Feb. 9-18): Arizona Beer Week celebrates the breweries around our state. There are various special events and tastings scheduled throughout the week leading up to the Arizona Strong Beer Festival (Feb. 11).
Chinese Week (Feb. 10-12): This year is the Year of the Rooster and marks the 27th Chinese Culture & Cuisine Festival in Phoenix. Guests can watch traditional Chinese dance, martial arts demonstrations, and try authentic food from local vendors. Admission is free.
Arizona Strong Beer Festival (Feb. 11): More than 130 breweries from across Arizona bring more than 450 craft beers for festival-goers to taste. Tickets are $45+ and are on sale now.
Street Eats Food Truck Festival (Feb. 11 & 12): More than 70 food trucks converge on Salt River Fields. General admission is $12. Once inside, food trucks serve $2 samples. There are also cooking demos, activities and live music.
Arizona Renaissance Festival (Feb. 11 – April 2): Hear ye! Hear ye! While the Arizona Ren. Fest isn't a food festival per se, they do have massive turkey legs for sale, hand-made chocolate and other food items on a stick.
Arizona Cocktail Week (Feb. 17-24): Similar to Beer Week, Arizona Cocktail week puts a spotlight on spirits and cocktails both classic and innovative. Cocktails lounges and bars will host various events and specials throughout the week.
Crushbrew (Feb. 18-19): Crushbrew is a craft beverage festival, which means spirits, wine and beer. Breweries, wineries and distilleries line the Scottsdale Waterfront with samples of their best stuff for you to try. Tickets are $45+ which includes a tasting glass and sample tickets.
Corks and Cactus (Feb. 18-19): At this event, guests walk around the Desert Botanical Garden sampling various boutique wines that are all available for purchase. Forty wines can be sampled each day. Tickets are $35 - $40.
Barrel + Board (Feb. 23): Valley breweries will try to come up with the best beer and cheese pairing. All you have to do is sample your way through cheese, snacks, beer and whiskey at this all-inclusive event. Admission is $50 - $60. It may sell out.
14th Annual Polish Festival (Feb. 25-26): Experience Polish culture and food at their annual festival. Pierogis, cabbage rolls, hunter's stew and sausage and sauerkraut will all be available for purchase. Admission to the festival is free. There will also be music and games!
Arizona Matsuri Festival (Feb. 25-26): This free festival highlights Japanese culture, cuisine and entertainment. Food vendors will have dishes and desserts for sale, including ramen and Takoyaki balls.
Phoenix Vegan Festival (Feb. 25): The Phoenix Vegan Festival returns for a second year in 2017! Vegan-friendly restaurants and chefs will showcase various dishes, snacks and drinks. Other vendors will feature clothing and other items. Tickets are $25-$50.
Peoria Greek Fest (Feb. 10-12): Marking 30 years in 2017, Peoria's Greek Festival is put on by St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church. Vendors have a variety of Greek dishes and desserts for sale, including gyros, Greek salad, roasted Greek chicken, shish kabob, Baklava. Admission is $3 per person. Kids and active military are free.
Downtown Mesa BrewFest (March 4): Arizona breweries, food trucks and restaurants will serve drinks and food along McDonald Street during this tasting fest. A 12 oz. pour is $5. Admission to the festival is free, and you can bring your dog. VIP tickets can be bought for $40.
Arizona Caribbean Jerk Festival (March 5): Dive into Caribbean culture with Reggae music, food and entertainment at this year's Arizona Caribbean Jerk Festival. Tickets are $15. Vendors will be on site selling food.
Burger Battle (March 9): In this Burger Battle, Arizona chefs compete against each other to create the best burger. Tickets are $65-$85 and include tasting all the burgers, fixings, beer, wine, fries and dessert.
Arizona Aloha Festival (March 11-12): Aloha! The Arizona Aloha Festival celebrates Hawaiian culture and cuisine. Dishes include manapua or steamed pork-filled buns, haupia, a coconut pudding, and musubi, spam-and-rice sandwich wrapped in sushi. Admission is free. Food is available for purchase.
The Great Arizona Beer Festival (March 11): More than 50 breweries will visit Phoenix's Civic Space Park with more than 200 beers for festival-goers to try. This 21+ only event benefits Sun Sounds of Arizona. Admission is $45 - $65. Food trucks and vendors will serve food, too.
Shamrock Fest (March 17): Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a beer garden, stein holding and Lucky Charms eating contest at Shamrock Fest in Chandler. General admission is $8 and VIP is $80.
Maricopa Salsa Festival (March 25): Do you love salsa? Chefs will compete for a $1,000 prize to have the best salsa. For salsa lovers, you get to taste and vote. Voting packets are $1 each. Parking and kids games are $5.
Queen Creek S'More Sweets Festival (March 25): This is the inaugural year for the S'More Sweets Festival. Founder's park will be filled with all things sugar and sweet -- cakes, cookies, crepes and waffles. There will also be a larger-than-life ice cream sundae and cotton-candy tower.
4th Annual Italian Festival (March 25-26): Ciao! The Fourth Italian Festival will take over Scottsdale's Civic Center Mall in March with authentic Italian food, music and entertainment. Vendors will have pasta, pizza and baked goods for sale.
My Nana’s Best Tasting Salsa Challenge (March 25-26): Valley chefs and salsa makers will compete for the best salsa. You get to try them all, as much as you want. General admission is $15 and VIP is $55. There will also be music, kids games, cornhole tournament and a margarita mix-off.
The Great American Barbecue & Beer Festival (March 25): BBQ and beer. Sixty BBQ chefs, restaurants, pit masters and food trucks will fill Dr. A.J. Chandler Park with bbq sandwiches, BBQ mac & cheese and other treats. There will also be beer, cocktails and live music.
The Cocktail Society Soiree (April 7): This is the inaugural year for The Cocktail Society Soiree. Those who attend will be able to sample cocktails prepared by mixologists and chef-prepared bites. Tickets are $85-$100 and benefits Scottsdale League for the Arts.
Flavors of the West (April 8): Flavors of the West food festival showcases nearly 30 West Valley restaurants and chefs, while also benefiting local charities. Admission is $60 and lets you have unlimited samples of the various restaurants and five drink tickets. Games and music, too.
Scottsdale Culinary Festival (April 8-9): During Scottsdale's Culinary Festival, local restaurants, food trucks and bars take over Civic Center Mall with bites and drinks to try. There is live music, cooking demonstrations and a high school culinary competition, which is a must-see activity. Tickets are $12-$150.
Best of the Fest (April 9): Best of the Fest is the premiere finale for the Scottsdale Culinary Festival. Eight restaurants will prepare a five-course meal, each serving two tables table-side. Tickets to this unique experience are $175 a person or $1,750 for a table of 10.
AZ Wine and Dine (April 13): Arizona chefs and wineries will come together at the Scottsdale Quarter for a food-eating, wine-drinking festival. There will be jazz music, specialty wines and craft beers to enjoy. Tickets are $65.
Great Southwest Cajun Fest (April 22): At the Great Southwest Cajun Fest the flavors of New Orleans come to Arizona. Think crawfish broil, shrimp, charred oysters, Po' boys and seafood mac-and-cheese from Valley eateries. Jazz music and swing bands will provide the musical entertainment. General admission is $10.
The Original Taste (April 22): The Executive Council 70 puts on this yearly event that benefits Executive Council Charities. The 21+ only event brings together 40 Valley restaurants and 50 wines from around the world for a premiere tasting experience. General admission is $125 and VIP is $250. Tickets will go on sale soon. Visit website for updates.
Nirvana at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain (April 27-30): In its inaugural year, Nirvana is a four-day premiere food festival bringing together domestic and international chefs and mixologists for various events, dinners and competitions. Events vary between $85 - $400 per person.
Chandler Craft Spirits Festival (April 29): More than 30 distillers will create more than 50 drink concoctions for guests to sip on at the Chandler Craft Spirits Festival. Vodka. Bourbon. Tequila. Whiskey. This year's event will be held in downtown Ocotillo. Ticket information wasn't available. Check website for updates.
AmeriCAN Canned Craft Beer Festival (May 13): While other beer festivals serve draught beer or bottled beers, the AmeriCAN Canned Craft Beer Festival is all about canned beer, local and national. The 2017 festival is moving to Phoenix. Exact details are still being worked out. Make sure to check the website for updates.
Arizona Restaurant Week (May 19-28): During Arizona Restaurant Week, restaurants across the state offer three-course prix fixe dinners (appetizer, entree, dessert). Dinners are $33 or $44. Some include a drink.
Schnepf Farms Peach Festival (May 13-14, 20-21): Peach season at Queen Creek's Schnepf Farms is a large festival. The bakery makes gigantic peach cinnamon rolls, peach pancakes, salsas, cookies and cobbler. Guests can pick their own peaches, visit the petting zoo and go on hay rides.