HAWAII: Kona Coffee Festival

coffee and beans

Java junkies won’t want to miss the Kona Coffee Festival, a weeklong celebration beginning November 1st. This is the oldest Hawaiian food festival and is dedicated to coffee beans grown exclusively in the Kona District on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai, prime ground due to the porous and mineral rich soil. The coffee grown and roasted on this island is among the most prized in the world and this festival gives you a peek into the estates and mills that produce the esteemed bean.

The event kicks off with an art show and competition at the Donkey Mill Art Center, a restored Kona coffee mill. On Sunday, there will be a coffee picking contest at the UCC Ueshima Coffee Company, where contestants will have three minutes to prove their mettle. Sunday also features a culinary contest, where both amateur and professional chefs will showcase their favorite foods that feature coffee as an ingredient. During the week, visitors will have a chance to go on a Kona Coffee Living History Farm Tour, a Farm & Mill Tour, and watch the coffee cupping competition. The competition winners will be announced at the Kona Coffee Council Dinner & Benefit Auction, which is open to visitors and natives alike.

Additional events include the KBXtreme Scholarship Bowling Tournament, Kona Coffee 101 Seminar, and the Aloha Makahiki Concert at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa. The full schedule of events with links to purchase tickets can be found here.

Kona Coffee Festival
Where: The Big Island
When: November 1-10

LAS VEGAS: Life Is Beautiful Festival in Downtown Vegas

October will bring the Life Is Beautiful Festival to downtown Las Vegas. Taking over 15 blocks, this year’s festival features art, culture, music, and several extraordinary culinary events.

Over the course of two days, art, culture and musical events abound, and the musical lineup alone is downright stellar: The Killers, Kings of Leon, Imagine Dragons, Alabama Shakes, Beck, Portugal The Man, Passion Pit, and more (yes, more!). There will also be featured performances from several Cirque de Soleil shows, the Jabawockeez, Rock of Ages, and artists D*Face, Vhils, Zio Ziegler, Intersni Kaski and Alexis Diaz.

At the heart of the festival is a culinary village featuring some of the world’s best chefs and restaurants. Over 50 vendors will be offering gourmet food, all for a price tag of $10 or less. Check out the offerings from Hubert Keller, Cat Cora, Rick Moonen, Michael Mina, Tom Colicchio and more. The companion Alchemy Garden will be offering liquid refreshment to festival-goers. Featuring craft brews, top-notch wineries and spirit distillers, you can purchase a-la-carte libations and taste to your heart’s content! And for those you who are really into the food scene, there are special culinary events, such as a Flight Tasting, Grills & Guitars, a Culinary Crawl, and a limited seating charity dinner called “Take A Stand.”

Life Is Beautiful Festival
Where: Downtown Las Vegas
When: October 26 & 27
Cost: Two-day pass $159.50, special events separate, VIP, hotel & travel packages available here.


San Diego: Bayfair Festival in Mission Bay

Mission Bay will be the place to hang out this weekend at the 49th Annual Bayfair Festival. San Diego’s oldest and largest festival, this three-day event (September 13-15) centers around boat races, most notably the thunderboats and the piston-powered boats of the Grand Prix West. But the real stars of the weekend are the H1 unlimited hydroplanes, considered the fastest watercraft in the world with speeds exceeding 200 mph.

For those who prefer land-based sports, freestyle motocross exhibitions—featuring top freestyle motocross riders Jimmy Fitzpatrick and Derrick Garland of Metal Mulisha—will be performed three times daily, with a special course set up to allow for some sick tricks and aerial maneuvers. The Freestyle Moto X exhibition takes place Saturday at noon, 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., Sunday at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

In addition to the fast action, festival goers can enjoy live music, food, and cocktails. This year, there are two concert stages (Crown Point and East Vacation Island) that will feature 28 local bands, running the gamut from country to rock to hip hop. For those 21 and over, a craft brew festival will take place on Crown Point and will also offer specialty foods from around the world.

Kids are not forgotten at this festival, with a specially designed Kids Expo Zone at Bayfair on Crown Point.

The full schedule of events for the San Diego Bayfair can be found here.

Bayfair Festival
: Crown Point, West Mission Bay, San Diego
: Friday September 13 to Sunday September 15
: $25/general, $45/3-day pass, $20/3-day pass Military (available here)


Las Vegas: Wine Amplified Festival at Mandalay Bay

wine red pouring copy

This weekend brings the 8th Annual Wine Amplified Festival to Mandalay Bay. This over-the-top event features over 50 wineries and 150 different wines, spans two days, and tickets include both wine tasting and entertainment.

Kicking the event off on Friday, September 6th is Bubbles and Chocolate, an exclusive champagne and dessert tasting, featuring Mandalay Bay Pastry Chef Christophe Feyt. Hosted by Moet & Chandon, and held at the Moorea Beach Club, festival attendees will indulge in decadent taste, wine, and musical treats, with a concert by Collective Soul and Vertical  Horizon.

On Saturday, the venue changes to the Mandalay Beach, where the wine will flow. Chardonnay, Chianti, Rose, Champagne, Syrah, and Cabernet from around the world will be served up along with $5 taste treats from Aureole, Border Grill, Mix, and StripSteak (VIPS will get a special menu from Rick Noonan and his newly opened Boiler Room). There will also be special performances on two stages from Gavin DeGraw, Austin Brown, Josh Krajciz, and Lady Reiko.

Wine Amplified Festival

Location: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino

When: Friday September 6, Saturday September 7

Cost: Friday $55, Saturday $65 (plus tax and fees)



San Diego: Spirits Festival on Tap This Month at Broadway Pier


Culinary cocktails come to Broadway Pier for San Diego’s Spirits Festival on August 24th & 25th. Tickets for the two-day event include unlimited spirit and food tastings, bartender battles, chef demonstrations, craft beer and the Bayside Art Festival. And to keep you entertained during the event there will be Brazilian Carnivale Samba performances, a pin-up girl fashion show, the Risque Drop Dead Dames Burlesque, as well as musical guests. Among those guests will be Vince Neil, who will be opening the festival and launching his Tatuado Vodka label. More than 50 purveyors of spirits will be in attendance, which includes both large-scale as well as small-batch distillers. Must be 21 or older to attend.

San Diego Spirits Festival

When: August 24 & 25, 1-5 p.m.

Where: Port Pavilion On Broadway Pier, 1000 N. Harbor Dr. San Diego, CA 92101

Cost: $90/day