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Posted by on Mar 25, 2016 | 7 comments

The Ultimate Survival Guide to Food Festivals

Even if you take a quick glance at the posts in this blog, you will notice I love food.  A lot of my free time is spent trying new restaurants, reading gastronomic publications and scrolling through mind blowing, food-centric Instagram feeds.

As a result of that obsession passion, food festivals have became one of my favorite activities.  Seriously guys, who doesn’t want to spend an afternoon eating, drinking and being merry?

With superb quality events like the Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival around the corner (learn more about the event here), I want to make sure you have the correct set of tools to enjoy as much as possible.

The Day Before the Festival

  • Prepare your body by getting plenty of rest.  There is going to be a lot of walking and standing once at the event
  • Festivals pros recommend getting some light exercise the day before to gain some stamina.  Others recommend stretching your muscles
  • This is kind of an obvious one but, you do not want to go on a buffet binge the day before a food festival (unless you a very brave soul)

Fashion Week El Paseo 2014 - Food & Wine - Sunday

Clothing Considerations

  • Last year, I attended a food festival and one of their hashtags was #strechypants.  I know you want to look your best in one of these events but I am pretty sure you can look good and be comfortable at the same time.  You do not want to be a hazard to other attendees because of that button that can turn into a projectile at any moment.
  • The same goes for shoes.  Let me say this in clear way.  You are not going to enjoy the event if your feet are hurting like hell.  Think comfy shoes all the way!
  • Many events are open to the elements. Protect yourself by wearing a hat and sunglasses.  Sunblock is a good idea too.

Cat Cora. Palm Desert Food and Wine. Photo Credit Dre Naylor

Hours Before the Festival

  • Allow yourself plenty of time to find a parking spot
  • Arrive early. Some of these events get really crowded

Food Tasting_F+WPD2014_credit Gary Bindman

Food Attacking Techniques

  • Some people are not necessarily into eating till they burst.  They are interested in trying some specific establishments.  If this is your interest, determine which vendors you want to stop by using the event guide (which usually has a map)
  • Another technique is to focus on the restaurants or food types you haven’t tried before
  • Now, if you want to try as much as possible, you are not going to be able to eat the entire sample each vendor provides (no matter how small it is).  Share part of one sample with your partner or group
  • Since events can get very full, make a line, grab a sample, make another line, grab another sample and continue like that until you have a decent amount of food. Ideally, your partner or members of your crew will be doing the same thing.  After that, claim a spot and share all those delicious treats (you can do the entire exercise again if you are still hungry)
  • When a lot of food is around, there seems to be an urge to gobble as much as possible.  In an event like this, it is better if you eat in a paused way.
  • Liquid takes room on your stomach.  Watch your drink intake
  • Super hot tip: When the event’s doors open, people tend to congregate near the entrances.  Walk towards the furthest end of the event space to enjoy several minutes of line-free eating
  • Remember there is plenty of food around. There is no reason to turn into a mean sample hoarder
  • In reality, you do not have to follow any rules or techniques.  Just go and enjoy the event!


Be a Social Butterfly

  • Julia Child is famous for the following quote, “People who love to eat are always the best people.”  With that said, you are going to notice how passionate people in the food industry are about what they offer.  In a food event, say hi to the people who are offering samples, struck a conversation with a chef or ask food related questions.  That will enhance your experience.
  • In addition, converse with other event attendees.  You may end up with a new friend

Fashion Week El Paseo 2014 - Food & Wine - SaturdayMarch 22, 2014

Other Considerations

  • Take a backpack or bag to save for later packaged goods like water, juice or candy
  • It may be wise to invest in VIP tickets. With these tickets, you can enter one hour before the general public and have the right to enter the VIP Lounges

Fashion Week El Paseo 2014 - Food & Wine - Sunday

How to Discover Food Events

  • Local event publications or food magazines tend to plan food centric events. Sign up for their e-mail updates.  For example, in Los Angeles, LA Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine and Timeout Los Angeles plan food events
  • Groupon and Living Social are great places to find events too
  • Do a Google search
  • Keep your eyes peeled for ads in magazines or newspapers
  • Once you discover a food festival, follow it thru its social media accounts.  They are often looking for people to volunteer during the event

Not all Events are Created Equal

  • Nowadays, it seems like a food festival pops out every week.  I would recommend you do a little bit of research before investing your money.  Think of the following questions: Is the festival associated with a reputable publication? Are the event producers associated with other successful events? Does the event have a professional looking website?  For how many years have the event been running?
  • Check reviews if possible.  Previous attendees will write the real deal

Upcoming Festivals in the Los Angeles Area

  • The sixth annual Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival will  take place April 8-10, 2016 in Palm Desert, CA. This is an excellent opportunity to sample the delicious cuisine of the Greater Palm Springs area.  Get your tickets now!

Have you attended a food festival?  What are your top tips?

Pin it for later?


This guide offers several tips on how to survive food festivals. Get prepared and enjoy the event with your family or friends

Note: Pictures are used with the permission of the Palm Desert Food Festival


    • I have not thought about it like that but it is a fun way to describe it. But, being serious, I think some advice will not hurt. I want people to enjoy these events.

    • it is difficult to not follow that technique. That happens to me when I enter a food festival. I have to tell myself to calm up.

  1. That is a very comprehensive guide Ruth. You have given me some good tips on how to survive a foody festival. How about one now to survive a Beeer Festival?
    Phil recently posted..Good Stuff BirdingMy Profile

  2. Thank you for the lovely comment you left on ~ My little old world ~, sweet Ruth, I truly appreciate it such a lot !

    Enjoy your weekend


  3. This is a great post! I wish I had seen it before I attended a food festival this past November. You provided so many helpful hints. I especially like the tip about doing a small amount of exercise the day before just to get your body prepared for all the standing that is required. When I went, I remember being so tired the next day! And not at all hungry! Food festivals are so worth it though! 🙂
    Mandy recently posted..Charles E. Moore and Timothy Keiderling’s Bearing WitnessMy Profile

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