Rachael Ray at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
Rachael Ray at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
Courtesy of South Beach Wine & Food Festival

Miami's Ten Best Spring Food & Drink Festivals of 2016

Winter and spring are everyone's favorite time to live in Miami. We have gorgeous weather filled with cool mornings and sunny afternoons, a lively contingent of visitors, and salty trade winds. This is also the time for some of South Florida's best festivals to showcase the area's finest foods and drink. 

Whatever your preference — from beer and burgers to barbecue and bourbon — there's a festival for you. Here's a rundown of the ten best food and drink fests to look forward to this year. 

Miami's Ten Best Spring Food & Drink Festivals of 2016 (5)
Photo by Justin Namon

10. Miami Beer Festival
January 30
Marlins Park

The fourth-annual Miami Beer Festival, held at Marlins Park Saturday, January 30, features dozens of craft breweries offering their wares. Local breweries include Concrete Beach, Spanish Marie, Miami Brewing Co., King Fox, Islamorada, and LauderAle. In addition to lots of beer, there are live DJs and food trucks for your listening and chewing pleasure. The festival runs from 6 to 9 p.m., and tickets cost $40 for general admission and $50 for VIP (which includes an additional hour of drinking, with some special beers poured the first hour). Food is not included and can be purchased separately. Tickets are available at miamibeerfestival.com. 

Miami's Ten Best Spring Food & Drink Festivals of 2016 (6)

9. Taste of Brickell
March 19
First Presbyterian Church of Miami (609 Brickell Ave.)

The Taste of Brickell celebrates its fifth anniversary this spring. Some of Brickell's best-loved restaurants — Bavaria Haus, Taverna Opa, Burrito San, and many others — will participate. The food and wine festival, which runs from 1 to 9 p.m., is one of Miami's best values because it costs only $5 per person to attend and enjoy live music, an automotive showcase, and a cigar bar. Pay as you go for food and drinks. Tickets are available at tasteofbrickell.com

Miami's Ten Best Spring Food & Drink Festivals of 2016 (7)EXPAND
Courtesy of Miami Whiskey Mash

8. Miami Whiskey Mash
March 5
Taurus Beer & Whiskey House

This event showcases whiskeys from around the globe. More than a dozen exhibitors will present 80-plus expressions of spirits from Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Japan, and America, with unlimited sampling opportunities. The Miami Whiskey Mash is organized by Creative Alchemy Group, the same people who produce Miami's Craft Spirits Festival. Frank Moreno, partner at Creative Alchemy, thought it was time to delve deeper into whiskies. "The Miami Whiskey Mash is a natural progression in what we do to promote spirits and cocktail appreciation though the annual Craft Spirits Festival," he says. "The craftsmanship, the authenticity, the traditions that are associated with whiskey deserves its own focused event." Tickets cost $60 each and include unlimited tastings and light bites from 3 to 6 p.m. VIP tickets include entry at 2 p.m. and cost $75. Early-bird tickets are available for $30 until January 15. Purchase tickets at miamiwhiskeymash.com. 

Miami's Ten Best Spring Food & Drink Festivals of 2016 (11)
Photo by Laine Doss

7. Sprung
April 1
Location TBA

Sprung is the spring break of beer festivals. This suds-fueled afternoon doesn't take itself too seriously, highlighting giant Jenga and human bowling as features as much as its selection of beers. But that doesn't mean the beers aren't worthy of a true aficionado. Organizer Tony Albelo, creator of fall's Grovetoberfest, brings a roster of great brewers to Coconut Grove for Sprung — including an impressive number of local and regional beers. It's just that Albelo and his team like to temper their craft beer with copious amounts of fun. Sprung, usually held at Coconut Grove's Peacock Park, is changing venues this year, so ticket prices, times, and the exact location have yet to be announced. The date, however, has been confirmed: April 1 — April Fool's Day. What better way to celebrate beer than with a side of laughter? Check for updates at igotsprung.com.

Miami's Ten Best Spring Food & Drink Festivals of 2016 (9)
Photo by Laine Doss

6. Bourbon, Burgers, and Beast
March 4
Magic City Casino

Burger Beast is at it again with a combination burger competition and bourbon tasting. A dozen restaurants will offer their best burgers — each paired with a fine bourbon. From 7 to 10 p.m., enjoy some fine burgers and spirits. After feasting on meat and whiskey, you'll be able to cast your vote for the most satisfying combo. Miami's best restaurants — including 27 Restaurant & Bar, Beaker & Gray, Edge Steak & Bar, Finka Table & Tap, Izzy's Fish & Oyster, Haven, and the Local — will participate. Tickets cost $37.92 and are available at bourbonburgersbeastcom

Miami's Ten Best Spring Food & Drink Festivals of 2016 (8)
Courtesy of Bucking Mule Brewery

5. Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition
March 17 through April 10
The Fair Expo Center

Sure, it's not technically a foodie event, but the Dade County Youth Fair is the place to stuff yourself silly with insane grub like doughnut burgers, turkey legs, cotton candy, and fried Oreos. Each year, fair fare gets more interesting, with garbage burgers, tacos in a bag, and pork parfaits. Basically, if you can stuff it, grill it, or fry it, you can eat it — including delicacies such as fried scorpion and snake. Last year, a complete beer garden and brewery set up camp, so there's no telling what we'll encounter this time around. Whatever treats the Youth Fair has in store for us, rest assured they'll be over-the-top and delicious. General-admission tickets start at $10 and can be purchased at thefair.me. 

Miami's Ten Best Spring Food & Drink Festivals of 2016 (10)
Photo by Laine Doss

4. Crafted
February 27
Mana Wynwood

The first-ever beer-and-fine-food-pairing event from the creators of Sprung and Grovetoberfest, Crafted will feature 30 of the nation's best breweries, paired with fine bites from Miami's favorite chefs. In addition to offering savories, Crafted will also showcase chocolate-and-beer pairings. Why a beer-pairing event? Organizer Tony Albelo says, "The carbonation in beer aids in cleaning our palates and therefore has an advantage over wine." General-admission tickets cost $95 and include unlimited beer and food pairings from 7 to 11 p.m. A VIP experience costs $150 and allows access to Crafted one hour earlier, at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at crafted.miami. 

Hukilau at Mai-Kai
Hukilau at Mai-Kai
Photo by Ian Witlen

3. The Hukilau
June 8 through 12
Pier 66 Hotel and Mai-Kai Restaurant

If you're a fan of all things tiki, the Hukilau is totally worth the trip to Fort Lauderdale. Tiki is not only about cocktails; it's a lifestyle. The Hukilau is an immersion into that culture, featuring special celebrity guests (last year it was Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island); a tiki flea market where you can find rare tiki mugs, shirts, and memorabilia; and, of course, plenty of tiki cocktails. The bulk of activities will happen at the retro-fabulous Pier 66 Hotel, with trips to the historic Mai-Kai for drinks, dinner, and a show. A schedule of events and ticket availability can be found at thehukilau.com

Miami's Ten Best Spring Food & Drink Festivals of 2016 (2)
Photo by Laine Doss

2. Rum Renaissance Festival
April 15 through 17
Doubletree by Hilton Miami Airport Hotel & Convention Center

The Miami Rum Renaissance Festival celebrates the spirit most steeped in history. Each year, more than 10,000 rum enthusiasts, bartenders, and producers from the world over flock to this multiday fest for seminars and tastings. What makes this show different from others is that it's also a trade event, where small rum producers and importers can meet with distributors, buyers, and retailers. Even if you're simply a fan of the spirit, that means you'll be able to sample rare rums not available in Miami — or even the United States in some cases. The three-day fest also includes an island lifestyle showcase, celebrity seminars, workshops, cocktail competitions, and the annual Rum XP competition and awards. Tickets start at $50, with a three-day pass costing $100, and are available at rumrenaissance.com

Miami's Ten Best Spring Food & Drink Festivals of 2016 (3)
Courtesy of South Beach Wine & Food Festival

1. South Beach Wine & Food Festival
February 24 through 28
Various locations throughout Miami Beach, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale

Headed into its 15th year, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SoBeWFF) is a star-studded, booze-driven wonderland for foodies. Each year, the sands of Miami Beach are filled with Food Network celebrities and the world's best chefs, who converge on our city for some warm weather and genuine fun. The festival, a benefit event for Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, attracts more than 60,000 guests annually to 75-plus seminars, dinners, and parties spread throughout South Beach, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale. The highlight of the fest is the Grand Tasting Village, a brash, Disney-like tent city that features free-flowing wine, wise-cracking celebs, and food by some of Miami's best restaurants. Tickets for SoBeWFF start at less than $100, and a director's package — which includes tickets to Burger Bash or Best of the Best, the tribute dinner, a weekend pass to the Grand Tasting Village, Southern Kitchen Brunch, and Paella and Tapas by the Pool — costs $1,583.11. Tickets and a full roster of parties are available at sobewff.com

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