Spare us your trendy food festivals. We’ve long boycotted the Food Cart Fest, because any event that charges an entry fee to merely buy food is a rip-off. Brewery and the Beast sounds cool, but it’s already sold out. And Feast of Fields is an overpriced fundraiser.
The best food festivals are the free cultural celebrations that mix culinary arts with music, dance and rollicking good times. They sprout up all over Metro Vancouver, all summer long. Here are some of our faves.
Carnaval del Sol
July 11 – July 12
Ay caramba! Work up an appetite at this sizzling downtown Latin American fiesta that features outdoor salsa and zumba lessons and a mini world cup soccer tournament. In the food plaza they’ll dish out carne asada, tacos, paella and roasted pork pan con lechon. Don’t miss the beach-themed Sol y Playa beer garden padded with 100 tons of sand.
Greek Summer Festival
July 2 – July 12
Missed Greek Day on Broadway this year? Head to Burnaby, where the 11-day cultural is throwing an even bigger feast. For $210, you can get order an entire lamb on a spit with all the trimmings. Not so hungry? A kilo of roasted meat goes for $34.
Bastille Day Festival
They’ll be singing La Marseillaise on Granville Island for the first-ever Bastille Day public festival. The Public Market Courtyard will be draped in red, white and blue as it transforms into a typical quartier francais with market stalls selling wine, cheese and pastries.
Mercato Italian Market
The Italian Cultural Centre brings la dolce vita to Vancouver. Every third Friday of the month, the centre’s piazza comes to life with music, dancing, local artisans, farmers and vendors selling fresh pasta, olive oil and cheese. Hot dishes are prepared by Il Centro’s house chef, but do save room for the Cannoli King food truck.
Caribbean Days Festival
July 25 – 26
Feathers will fly, hips will shake and the scotch bonnet peppers will scorch at the province’s largest Caribbean festival. Follow the North Vancouver street parade to the festival grounds, which are divided between the outdoor food festival on the south side and the food fair on the north side. There will be rotis, doubles and jerk chicken galore.
Surrey Fusion Festival
July 18 – July 19
The City of Surrey’s expansive music, food and culture festival is an award-winning heavy hitter. It beat out the TD Toronto Jazz Festival and the Democratic National Convention Carolina Fest to win Best Festival at last year’s Special Event Magazine Gala Awards. New this year: cultural pavilions from Afghanistan, England, Iran, Scotland, Thailand and Vietnam.
Harmony Arts Festival
July 31 – August 9
Food has become an increasing larger focus at West Vancouver waterfront celebration. The various lounges, patios and performance spaces will feature nibbles by Caffe Al Mercato, Dirty Apron Cooking School & Delicatessen, Community Pizzeria and a handful of food trucks.
Powell Street Festival
August 1 – August 2
Expect the unusual at the largest Japanese Canadian festival in the country. Among the plethora of food vendors, the Artisan Sake Maker will be churning sakekasu ice cream, sumo wrestlers will be tossing chikara (strength) udon noodles, the non-profit JCCA will be making spam sushi and the Vancouver Buddhist Temple will be dishing out curry beef on rice. Hey, aren’t Buddhist monks vegetarian?
Creatures of the night and gourmands, unplug your noses. Now in its seventh year, the garlic festival has outgrown its pungent roots to offer a much broader farm-to-plate experience. Last year, the Richmond event began partnering with Chefs to the Field and now offers delicacies from local restaurants, cooking demonstrations, farm and garden tours, a mad-dash cooking competition and, naturally, an expanded garlic market.
September 4 – September 7
The largest Taiwanese festival outside Taiwan takes over the downtown core for a long weekend of feasting, dancing, free acupuncture and way more. The program hasn’t been announced yet, but the festival usually flies in a big-name celebrity chef as a star attraction.
Did we miss any of the best Vancouver food festivals? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below, or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.