There are few traditions better than a cold beer on a hot summer day — and you'll be sure to find plenty of the former at the Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest. Scheduled for June 22nd and 23rd, this annual festival will feature more than 60 of America's finest breweries, lots of tasty food — generally prepared with the beer-drinker in mind — entertainment from local and regional musicians, and the random array of artsy vendors and exhibitors. Tickets — including those for a round-trip bus pass or designated driver — are on sale now.
Younger fans might know them best as Jimmy Fallon's band, but to old-school hip-hop fans, you just know them as The Roots. This summer, you can catch them live — sans their Late Night pal — at The Roots Picnic. In its sixth year, this one-day festival — held at Festival Pier — will also feature performances from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Trinidad Jame$, The Gaslamp Killer, Solange, Naughty by Nature (!), and many more. Oh, and the aforementioned hosts. It's going down on June 1; prepare accordingly.
As if you needed an excuse to drink in Vegas. Now in its seventh year, Bon Appétit's Vegas Uncork'd runs from May 9-12, and offers a top-tier eating and drinking experience in a town known for both. The schedule includes dinners with celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Bobby Flay, Michael Mina, and Joël Robuchon, sessions dedicated to mixology, vodka and caviar, margaritas, oysters, beef and whiskey, and beer, as well as a number of different parties. With events scheduled at the Bellagio, Caesars, Mandalay Bay, and the MGM Grand, you'll have plenty of opportunity to explore the town — presumably on a full belly and with a happy buzz to go along with it.
Among the crazy events of the world, Cheese Rolling at Cooper's Hill has got to be one of the most absurd. Annually a source for at least a few competitor — and spectator! — injuries, this insane event sees a seven-pound circle of Double Gloucester cheese rolled down the steep hill, with competitors chasing after it. The first to make it to the bottom wins. The event has been held in one form or another since the fifteenth century, and will be held once again this year on the Spring Bank Holiday, which falls on the last Monday in May. If you're looking for a place to nurse your bumps and bruises — or just a little after-race excitement — there are several nearby pubs, including The Cheese Rollers pub in Shurdington.
Wait, what? That's right — the Food Book Fair isn't a celebration of edible manuscripts, but rather of tomes dedicated to food. Featured during the three-day festival will be over 200 books, appearances by well known food-related authors, chefs, artists, publishers, designers and editors, thirty independent food publications, panel discussions, an entrepreneurial pitch competition, a coffee crawl, and, for those with an appetite for more than just words, cooking demonstrations. The best part? You don't even have to wait — it runs May 3-5.
It doesn't matter if times are good or times are bad — we can always use a good laugh. And you'll find plenty of them at the Just For Laughs festival. Slated for June 11-16 at Park West, The Chicago Theatre, and The Vic Theatre, this festival of funny will play host to a number of comedians, including Seth Meyers, David Cross, John Hodgman, Artie Lange, Bob Newhart, and, to cap things off, HBO's own Bill Maher. Tickets are on sale now, so grab 'em up before they're gone.
Some festivals focus on food, some on booze, and some on music. At BottleRock, you'll get to indulge in all three. This epic four-day festival — being held for the first time this year on May 9-12 — will feature over 40 top wineries, a ton of local restaurants of every cuisine and pedigree, and an absolutely incredible music lineup. Slated to perform are big-named acts like The Shins, Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, Zac Brown Band, The Avett Brothers, The Black Crowes (who should totally get on stage with the Keys for a brief performance as The Black Krews), Cake, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Alabama Shakes, Iron & Wine, Grouplove, The Wallflowers, and many more. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis kick things off on the evening of May 8, so get there early, and plan on staying a few days — we promise it'll be even more fun than playing guitar by yourself in a cellar surrounded by barrels of wine.
You know you're dealing with a serious event when they don't even bother to give you a clue of what it's about in the name. But for those lucky enough to visit The Festival, no extra description is necessary. This insane beer festival — held June 21 and 22 — is dedicated to showcasing small brewers and cideries from all over the world, with many you've likely never heard of, many making batches specifically for the event, and all of them represented by the folks that actually do the brewing. Attendance is limited to just 1,200 people per session, and Maine law limits consumption to just 48 oz. per attendee, more or less ensuring that noone gets too out of hand while they're there.
Even if you don't own a turntable, you owe it to yourself to head to your local independent music shop to take in the celebration of Record Store Day. Cheekily scheduled for April 20 — which just happens to be the date of a different counter-culture holiday — this celebration of local music stores — and vinyl in particular — sees the release of a ton of limited-edition pressings (we're waiting on this track ourselves), many available only at record shops, and only on Record Store Day. Even if you don't plan on buying anything, it's worth heading out just to check out the scene, scope what other people are picking up, and maybe — if you're lucky — catch a live performance or two. If you don't believe us, you could always ask the official RSD ambassador: Jack White.
It's still a month away, but it's never too soon to get your plans set for the Austin Food & Wine Festival. Sadly overshadowed by the massive SXSW, this two-day event is put on by Food and Wine magazine, and offers tons of cooking demonstrations, as well as places to try some small plates. Over 80 exhibitors will be available, as will plenty of wine and cocktail seminars, two lounges offering complimentary beer, wine, and cocktails — repeat: Free Beer! — and an autograph tent with chefs inside signing their Hancocks to some cookbooks. Tickets aren't cheap — they start at $250 — but they're totally worth it, even if you decide against Instgramming every bit you take.
Season 3 might wrap things up at the end of March, but that doesn't mean you have to wait for Season 4 to get your undead fix. Scheduled for April 21, The Walking Dead Escape is set in the Wells Fargo Center, and is your chance to be one of the survivors in a 35-50 minute experience that sees your group try to escape the undead as you take on an obstacle course that includes an evacuation zone, a highway, a hospital, and a prison, as well as a head-to-head gladiator tournament. Or, if you're feeling evil, become one of the walkers, receive some makeup, and roam the course for 2.5 hours doing your best to recruit some survivors to your team. Either way, it's sure to be an experience you won't soon forget — much like the season finale. Oh, and don't worry if you're based on the West Coast — there's another one scheduled for San Diego later this summer.
It doesn't start for a little over a month, but we wanted to tell you about Baconfest Chicago well in advance so you can get your travel plans in order. This fantastic event celebrates everyone's favorite cured meat with a huge roster of restaurants serving both lunch and dinner sessions of their own takes on the theme of bacon, with everything from bacon scones and bacon-wrapped bratwurst to bacon pizza, bacon tacos, and even a bacon bloody mary. Separate events are planned for San Francisco and Washington, D.C., but if you want to enjoy the original, you'd best find yourself in the Windy City on April 20.