Enjoy being spoilt for choice with avocado stalls in Morro Bay, or experience a festival dedicated solely to chocolate in San Francisco; there’s a foodie festival to tantalise every taste bud. Throughout autumn, California is home to some of the best food festivals in the world, and here’s 10 of our favourites:

1. Avocado and Margarita Street Festival, Morro Bay 

When: 8th September

The Run-Down: Indulge on avocados in variations of culinary delights as well as refreshing margaritas, beer and local wines. Accompanied by live entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, the Avocado and Margarita Street Festival also offers a chance for guests to win a year supply of avocados.

2. Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival, San Francisco

When: 8th – 9th September

The Run-Down: Celebrating its 23rd year (2018), the annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival, held at San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square, will offer a tantalising array of chocolate-themed events and activities. Visitors will experience Chocolate School, where they’re taken through a tour of the chocolate making process, live culinary demonstrations held by local celebrity chefs, chocolate tastings and the popular Ghirardelli Chocolate Lounge, offering gourmet treats, premium wine and beer, and live music.

3. Sample the Sierra, South Lake Tahoe

When: 15th September

The Run-Down: Celebrating the best food, wine, and art in the Sierra Nevada, Sample the Sierra is the region’s only farm-to-fork fair celebrating home-grown food, wines, spirits and brews. The event brings together local chefs and restaurants with neighbouring growers and producers, to produce samples craftily paired with the appropriate wine or brew.  

Photo Credit: Brain Walker 

4. Farm-to-Fork Festival, Sacramento

When: 29th September

The Run-Down: Sacramento’s free Farm-to-Fork Festival is designed to showcase and celebrate the local production of Sacramento’s food and drink, hosted on the city’s iconic Capitol Mall. Visitors will find food, wine and beer, as well as live music on a big stage, live cooking demonstrations and interactive booths from local grocers, farms and ranches. To serve as the finale to the Sacramento region’s Farm-to-Fork Celebration on 30th September, the Tower Bridge Dinner pairs the area’s top chefs with local farmers to create a one-of-a-kind dining experience atop the golden sheen Tower Bridge, painted to represent the California Gold Rush that originated from the discovery of gold just outside of Sacramento.

5. Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival, Newport Beach

When: 4th – 7th October

The Run-Down: Get dressed up and party at special events all over the beautiful beach town of Newport Beach at their Wine & Food Festival. The festival brings special chef’s dinners to the local restaurants, live cooking demonstrations and the signature event, the Grand Tasting Pavilion. Visitors can sample tastings from 40 of Orange County’s best restaurants and bakeries, plus plenty of wine, beer and live music.

6. California Avocado Festival, Carpinteria

Where: 5th – 7th October

The Run-Down: This free festival hosts over 75 music acts across four stages, not forgetting the importance of the avocado to the Carpinteria Valley. Celebrate by visiting The AvoEXPO tent, home to Avocado agricultural photos, historical photos, lessons in avocado grafting and the Largest Avocado Contest.

7. Santa Barbara Harbor and Seafood Festival, Santa Barbara

When: 13th October

The Run-Down: Offering the freshest seafood, maritime exhibits and live entertainment, visitors can enjoy the annual day-long Harbor and Seafood Festival in Santa Barbara’s historic working harbour. With a chance to meet fisherman face-to-face, select fresh-caught lobster and sea urchin “uni” and have them prepared on the spot, there’s a number of ways to enjoy the abundance of the Santa Barbara Channel, rich in sustainably-harvested, high-quality seafood.

Photo Credit: Jessy Lynn Perkins

8. Springville Apple Festival, Springville

When: 20th – 21st October

The Run-Down: Sample all-things apple at this annual event held in Springville, about 90 minutes northeast of Bakersfield. There will be an Artisan village selling arts and crafts plus a food court selling many apple based treats.  The festival also ties in an apple-themed 5K run and beginner-friendly 8-mile fat-tire bike race.

9. California Wine Festival, Huntington Beach

When: 9th – 10th November

The Run-Down: Wine, food, music, sea and sun create the quintessential wine tasting experience at the California Wine Festival. Located just minutes from Huntington Beach, Paséa Hotel & Spa will host California’s best wineries pouring hundreds of vintage red and white wines, complemented by dozens of the region’s top chefs and specialty food purveyors serving gourmet appetizers. Along with live music and an ocean view, it’s one of California’s most popular wine festivals and an experience not to be missed.

10. Indio International Tamale Festival, Greater Palm Springs

When: 1st – 2nd December

The Run-Down: Taking place in Indio, one of Greater Palm Springs’ nine cities, the International Tamale Festival is the largest tamale festival in the world. The two-day event brings together a range of different tamale vendors as well as live entertainment from local performers, interactive art spaces, beer gardens and craft stalls. There are also competitions for the best tasting tamale as well as a tamale eating contest.

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