Eat, Drink, and Escape at These B.C. and Portland Summer Festivals
OKAY, SO MAYBE you don’t have two months off school—or even two weeks off work—this summer. You can still make the weekends count by getting out of town and taking in a few annual festivals.
Here are seven focused on food, wine, and beer that go particularly well with the great outdoors. They’re listed in chronological order, so check your schedule, see which weekend fits, and block it off. After all, the October rains will be here before you know it…
Taste: Victoria’s Festival of Food and Wine (July 24 to 27, Victoria)
There’s no time like the present to make some last-minute reservations for this weekend. The sixth annual Taste: Victoria’s Festival of Food and Wine kicks off this Thursday (July 24) and lasts four days.
At press time, a handful of tickets remained for the opening evening’s signature winetasting event, which features more than 100 B.C. wines, local chefs, and local cuisine. On Saturday (July 26), a whole suckling pig will be roasted on the patio at the Hotel Grand Pacific for the Swine and Vine party, which pairs pork with wine, tea, and cider as well as live bluegrass music. On Sunday (July 27), the Everything’s Better With Bacon dinner serves up a three-course long-table meal featuring the cult meat and Red Rooster wines.
There are other events in between; see the Victoria Taste website for info and tickets.
Wanderlust Whistler (July 31 to August 4, Whistler)
Returning this year for a five-day run, Wanderlust focuses on yoga, spiritual renewal, mindfulness, outdoor activities, and inspirational music. The main draw is yoga headliners like Seane Corn, Shiva Rea, and Eoin Finn, as well as speakers like meditation educator Padma Shyam.
And of course, adding some good food and beverages to the mix also nourishes the soul. An August 1 event highlights wines from local, organic, and biodynamic vineyards, while an August 2 evening features B.C. craft beer and a separate farm-to-table dinner.
The Canadian National BBQ Championships (below) coincide with the Wanderlust weekend, and there’s no reason you can’t hit both while you’re up in Whistler—or carpool with a friend who’s going to one or the other. See the Wanderlust website for more details.
Canadian National BBQ Championships (August 1 to 3, Whistler)
The highlight of the Pacific Northwest barbecue circuit takes place Creekside at Dusty’s Bar & BBQ with competitions in pork butt, beef brisket, ribs, and chicken. Watch the action on the afternoons of August 2 and 3 and enjoy samples by donation.
For more serious meat eaters, August 1 features an all-you-can-eat rib dinner followed by a Led Zeppelin tribute band; on Saturday night, there’s a “bottomless” barbecue buffet. Secure tickets in advance at the Whistler Blackcomb website.
Slow Food cycles (August 2, 3, and 17 in Agassiz, Chilliwack, and Pemberton, respectively)
These daylong, self-guided bicycle tours wind through farmland and offer opportunities to meet the farmers and artisanal food producers. Consider spending the weekend in the Fraser Valley to take in both the Agassiz and Chilliwack rides; local tourism boards will even shuttle your purchases back to each starting point so you can stock up on fresh produce, handmade cheese, honey, and more over the course of your journey. Sign up at Fraser Valley Slow Food Cycle Tours and Tourism Pemberton.
If you’re up for a drive to the Okanagan for a little winery-hopping, time your visit to coincide with these events.
The first runs over three days at Silver Star Mountain Resort and features a Mile High tasting with more than 30 wineries showcasing new varietals, an evening with chef David Hawksworth, and activities such as cooking classes and guided alpine-flower hikes.
The Viva Las Pride event is organized by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society as part of Okanagan Pride week (August 9 to 16, visist the Okanagan Pride website). It features a Vegas-themed winetasting evening with 24 Okanagan wineries.
Whistler Village Beer Festival (September 11 to 14)
While it’s true that September is not technically summer, the weather tends to hold for the first few weeks, so get out there and store up some sunshine. The festival’s signature tasting event takes place outdoors at Whistler Olympic Plaza on September 13 and offers a chance to sample more than 150 beers from 53 B.C., Canadian, and international breweries. Those in attendance include Red Racer (winner of the 2013 best in fest award), Whistler Brewery, Deep Cove Brewers, Phillips, Granville Island, Deschutes, Gigantic, Four Winds, Parallel 49, and more.
This year’s festival has expanded to four days and includes cask nights, parties, and brunches. There are also educational seminars such as Beer 101, Craft Beer Revolution, and History of Beer. For tickets, see the Whistler Village Beer Festival website.
Feast Portland (September 18 to 21, Portland)
This four-day celebration of Oregon’s bounty boasts some big-name chefs not just from Oregon but from all over the U.S., including Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker and Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi. Notable events include a sandwich invitational, a “dessert for dinner” meal that features sweet treats, and a brunch village in Pioneer Courthouse Square.
On the beverage front, tasting panels will highlight tiki drinks, Negronis, the best new lagers, and more.
Some events, such as a dinner that celebrates Bon Appétit magazine’s best new restaurants in America, are already sold-out. Although there are plenty more to choose from, you’d best jump on those tickets now; see the Feast Portland website.