Alpharetta Lifestyle: Festivals for the Rest of Us

Are you ready for the second half of 2017? These food, beverage and music festivals will help you look forward to it!

As the weather gets warmer and vacations become imperative after a long winter, here are some festivals throughout the nation—plus one north of the U.S. border—our travel expert Dennis Malcolm Byron–aka beer expert Ale Sharpton–strongly recommends especially for foodies, music fans, and yes, lovers of the suds.

International de Jazz de Montréal

Where: Montreal, Quebec

When: June 28th to July 8th, 2017

The city of Montreal is already gorgeous especially during the month of June. Conversations in French fill the air, eclectic shopping lines the streets, and gorgeous natural attractions such as Mount Royal Park aka Parc du Mont-Royal provide the backdrop for what Guinness Book declares the world’s largest jazz festival. Ten days of eargasmic music includes jazz greats such as Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, Robert Glasper and Wynton Marsalis, but there are also legendary acts representing other music genres including Kool & The Gang, Bob Dylan, Joe Jackson and Lauryn Hill slated to perform for this year’s 38th edition. The Festival attracts two million visitors every year, so they did their math and made sure more 3,000 musicians from 30 different countries perform in 15 concert halls and eight stages outdoors. Oh, and two thirds of the performances are free! Now that’s numbers!

Where to stay: Other hotel options are close, but I consider the Hyatt Regency Montréal imperative because it is centrally based in all the action, you can rub elbows with many of the musicians who not only stay there, but often have jam sessions until the sun rises.

Great American Beer Fest

Where: Denver, Colorado

When: October 5th through 7th

Since 1982, the “GABF” has rocked Denver every year and for good reason. Recognized as the biggest beer fest and competition in the country, breweries assure everyone will enjoy all three days in sipping bliss.Trade shows, seminars, optional brewery tours, and jumping parties at surrounding tap-pulling stations such as the Falling Rock Tap House, Great Divide, Hops & Pie, and Freshcraft throughout this uplifting metropolis complete the experience.

Where to stay: There are a lot of choices, but the Grand Hyatt Denver is a foolproof option just steps away from all the action.

Oyster Cook-Off at The Hangout

Where: Gulf Shores, Alabama

When: November 3rd and 4th

Gulf Shores is becoming a very popular destination along the 32-mile Alabama coastline especially due to great weather, sugar-white sands, friendly natives, and burgeoning culinary scene. Well, you can enjoy these attractions during the 10th annual Oyster Cook-Off where more than 70 chefs literally from coast to coast show off their mouthwatering interpretations of oyster preparation in three categories—Raw, Rockefeller and Cajun. All stationed at an awesome outdoor/indoor venue called The Hangout, there is also a beer fest featuring 20-plus breweries on Friday night complete with live music to kick off its fun-filled weekend.

Where to stay: I would consider a rental property so you really feel at home. Besides Emerald Skye’s condos where I stayed on my last visit, check out Meyer vacation rentals since they have so many choices to consider along Gulf Shores’ picturesque waters.

Note: The World Food Championships—the globe’s largest Food Sport competition—starts a few days later November 8th through the 14th featuring more than 1,200 contestants from 14 countries chopping, stirring and grilling their way to being crowned the best. I’m getting my jaws ready for both eating extravaganzas and plan to stay the entire week.

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

where: Atlanta, Georgia

when: June 1st through 4th

Within four days, more than 180 of the nation’s top culinary and beverage authorities light up Atlanta’s already bustling Midtown scene for arguably the best food festival in Georgia. Complete with numerous seminars, cooking demonstrations, book signings, beverage tastings, and the most popular outdoor attraction— the tasting tents—everyone leaves as a well-informed gourmand once the weekend concludes. Consider some of the special passes for access to top-notch private events as well. I make sure AF&WF is in my summer plans every year.

Where to stay: There are numerous hotels within blocks of the Festival, but the grandiose Loews Hotel is hosting this event, so it’s a no-brainer to book a room here. Great shopping, museums, top-notch dining destinations and nightlife serve as its playground as well.

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