Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown Invitational (January 13–14)
Watch hundreds of competitors try to make barbeque history in this epic battle between the nation’s top pitmasters. Sonny’s BBQ hosts this annual event at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Enjoy live music, eating contests and family fun. More information can all be found here.
Orlando Chili Cook Off (February 18)
Chow down on various chilis at the Orlando Chili Cook Off. Held Downtown at Festival Park, this event is jam packed with music, food and fun for all ages. Highlights include a world chili eating challenge, music events, chili sampling and kid zones. The event donates to various local charities.
Chili For Charity (February 15)
Held at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market, this cook off features creative chili dishes by popular restaurants and other local contenders. With funky jazz, drinks and a silent auction, this event embodies Winter Park fun. Net event proceeds of Chili for Charity benefit the Rotary Club of Winter Park Foundation, which provides grants to more than 30 local charities each year.
Field to Feast (March 25)
This annual event at Long & Scott Farms hosted by Edible Orlando features locally sourced dishes by Walt Disney World Chefs (pictured at right), with 100% of the proceeds going to Second Harvest Kids Cafe. During the event, guests can taste several dishes and drink pairings, enjoy live music and have the opportunity to tour and learn about the farm.
Downtown Food and Wine Fest (late February)
Located at Lake Eola, this annual festival features dishes from over 30 of Orlando’s premier restaurants, 50 domestic and international wines, and live entertainment. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) Educational Foundation.
Vietnamese New Year Food Festival
Celebrate Vietnamese new year by munching on delicious street food like home-made pho, banh mi sandwiches, sugarcane juice and much more at the Central Florida Fairgrounds.
Florida Strawberry Festival
Celebrate strawberry season as guests from all over the Sunshine State travel to Plant City to celebrate the harvest. With various exhibits on agriculture, livestock, fine arts, horticulture, and crafts, this festival is packed with fun. It includes contests, top-name entertainment, carnival rides and parades along with a marching band. And of course, with all the delicious Florida strawberries, this festival is a real treat for all ages.
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival March 1 thru May 29, 2017
Spring into the new season at Epcot at this annual festival bursting with fresh farm-to-table foods at 13 outdoor kitchens across the park. Walk across the world in one day alongside beautiful topiary displays, gardens and learn gardening tips from the pros at the Festival Center.
Appetite for the Arches (2017 dates tbd)
Sixteen local chefs accept a unique challenge of using only McDonald’s® ingredients to create a signature dish for the upscale affair at Orlando Marriott World Center. Each dish is served with a wine pairing and mixologists from Cask & Larder and The Ravenous Pig prepare signature cocktails with McDonald’s® ingredients. Proceeds go to two area Ronald McDonald Houses.
5 Chefs, 5 Courses, 5 Charities (2017 dates tbd)
The Alfond Inn hosts a five course dinner prepared by five local chefs to support five different charities. Starting with a cocktail reception, continuing with a five course family style dinner and accompanied by live music and fine spirits, this event is not one to miss out on.
Taste of Oviedo (2017 dates tbd)
Come celebrate everything Oviedo at this annual event held at the Oviedo Mall. With a large car show, savory food and local entertainers, this free event is all day fun for the family and ends with fireworks at night!
Lakeridge Wine & Seafood Festival (2017 dates tbd)
Enjoy live music and entertainment outside at the winery along with Lakeridge wines and a variety of tasty seafood specialities (pictured at right) available for purchase. Complimentary winery tours and tasting are included.
Cattle Barons’ Ball (2017 dates tbd)
Thirty area chefs prepare signature tastings at this annual Western-themed fundraiser for American Cancer Society at Rosen Shingle Creek. Wine pourings and live country music make for a dang good time. Individual Ticket – $250
Taste of Winter Park (2017 dates tbd)
Showcasing more than 40 of Central Florida’s chefs, bakers, caterers and confectioners for a fun evening at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market. This ultimate foodie event has all-inclusive tickets which let guests try unlimited samples of various dishes, beverages and desserts, and there’s also live entertainment, a silent auction and a raffle drawing. Member ticket price: $40; Non-members: $45.
Reading Between the Wines (2017 dates tbd)
The Adult Literacy League’s premier fundraiser event hosts an intimate evening of wine tasting and food sampling. This year’s event features a presentation by New York Times best-selling author Elizabeth Berg and a silent auction. All proceeds to directly to the organization. Tickets are $85.
Science of Wine (2017 dates tbd)
With an educational twist, the Science of Wine offers over 150 of the finest wines from all major regions of the world represented. Local restaurants and caterers will pair the wines with a variety of dishes. Surrounded by others who enjoy the culture of wine, this event will host active and engaging STEM experiences. Early bird: $85, Members: $75, General: $95. *Ticket price includes all food and wine tastings.
United Way Chef’s Gala (2017 dates tbd)
Experience cuisine from more than 20 of Central Florida’s chefs along with fine wines, live music and a silent auction. Hosted by Walt Disney World Resort, this is the largest fundraiser that supports United Way which serves thousands of Central Floridians in need. Individual prices: $275, Couples: $500
Central Florida’s BBQ Blowout (2017 dates tbd)
An annual event sine 2013, Central Florida’s BBQ Blowout, presented by Sonny’s BBQ, is a Florida BBQ Association- sanctioned event held at the Oviedo Mall. Professional BBQ teams from all over the country compete at this event to qualify for the World Food Championships, and the public is invited to attend and sample barbeque from 15 of the professional teams and other local vendors. The kids area includes water rides and bounce houses. BBQ Blowout is produced by the Oviedo-Winter Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce and benefits Helpful Hands, Inc. Free admission; food available for purchase.
Florida Hospital’s Gourmet Soiree (2017 dates tbd)
Roll up your sleeves and fight against childhood obesity as Florida Hospital and Celebrity chef Robert Irvine host a unique interactive dining experience at Rosen Shingle Creek. Guests assist a local chef in creating healthy dishes for their entire table, and live and silent auctions round out the fun. This event benefits Florida Hospital for Children’s Mission fit Possible program, which brings health and wellness education to local schools and other organizations for kids. Individual ticket: $250; Various packages available.
Taste of The Nation (2017 dates tbd)
Support several childhood feeding programs in Florida as 43 distinguished local chefs, 24 craft brewers, wine purveyors and spirit vendors come together with food tastings. Live music provided as well as a silent auction and gift card raffle. Ticket prices are $150.
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival September 14 through November 14, 2017
Taste your way across the world at Epcot and enjoy fine wine and beverage options along with delectable cuisine. Including mixology seminars, culinary demonstrations, grand tasting events and more, there are plenty of events to experience during this two-month festival.
Magical Dining Month
Every September, several restaurants from Disney, Downtown Orlando, Citywalk, Winter Park and more come together to raise money for a different charity by serving a prix-fixe menu of three courses and donating $1 from each meal served.
Epcot Food & Wine Festival continues (see September)
Serb Fest October 7-9, 2016
A celebration of Serbian culture held in St. Petka Serbian Orthodox Church. Enjoy live performances of music and traditional dances along with tents full of delicious foods unique to this country.
Cows N Cabs October 22, 2016
Saddle up and head to Winter Park’s West Meadow and enjoy more than 200 different wines, spirits and craft beer samplings. Hosted by John Rivers of 4Rivers Smokehouse and The COOP, this annual fundraiser features food from Orlando’s favorite chefs, cigars, music and more.
Central Florida Veg Fest October 22, 2016
Learn more about how veggie living enhances health, the planet and its inhabitants in this exciting day full of colorful and educational exhibits and activities. Enjoy products and cuisine from over 175 vendors and view a variety of presentations and food preparation demos. There will be a veggie kids zone, a humane education center, an animal haven, acoustic music and much more all while building community activism and supporting the environment at the Orlando Festival Park.
Epcot Food & Wine Festival continues (see September)
Taste of Sanford November 12, 2016
Experience Sanford with live music and food by the water at Fort Mellon Park as various restaurants and musicians are showcased throughout the day. Thousands of guests will enjoy local culinary fare, local artisans, crafters, kid’s zone, music and more.
Orlando Greek Fest November 4-6, 2016
Have fun with the whole family as you learn about different Greek foods, watch traditional dancing and enjoy live music. Held at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, guests can enjoy church tours, iconography presentations and much more.