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Best Food, Wine and Smoke Fests for Fall 2018

By David Jenison

Harvest, as the fall season was called in the Late Middle Ages, inspired many of the world's most-historic celebrations, from the Mid-Autumn Festival in China to Thanksgiving in North America. In the northern hemisphere, early fall is also the typical harvest time for wine grapes and outdoor grows, while Germany hosts the world's most famous beer festival. The post-summer season is an ideal time to travel for those who appreciate moderate weather and that most kids are back in school, and the following global events can make for a colorful fall adventure. 

September 22 to October 7
Munich, Germany

The centuries-old Bavarian Purity Requirements dictate that the region's famed lager contains only water, hops and barley, so this beer party might produce the purest hangovers on the planet. Entry to Oktoberfest itself is free, but make reservations for the beer tents when possible, and weekdays are obviously less crowded than weekends. Attendees consumed more than 7.5 million liters of beer last year so, yes, you'll have to queue for the bathroom. Men should expect to wait up to 10 minutes and women up to 20 minutes, so plan accordingly. 

Okanagan Wine Festival
Okanagan Valley, Canada
September 27 to October 7

Sitting between Vancouver and Calgary, the 112-mile Okanagan Valley is filled with fruit orchards, vineyards, cannabis farms and a string of shimmering lakes. This makes it an ideal place to host a wine festival, and Okanagan now hosts one each season. The summer event is the youngest at five years, but the fall fest is the original having started nearly 40 years ago. The 11-day party features wine tastings, farmer’s markets, a "fall flavors" tour, a young chefs competition, a winery estate cooking class, stargazing and even a grilled cheese and wine dinner. While there, try a bottle of Painted Rock Syrah and/or a local DOJA strain like Elation or the CBD-heavy Momentum. 

Maine Vocals Harvest Fest
Harmony, Maine
September 28 to 30 and October 19 to 21

Set over two weekends, the Maine Vocals Harvest Fest features camping, vendors and a long list of music acts in Harmony, a quiet town in the middle of the state that, oddly enough, served as a filming location for the 1990 movie Graveyard Shift (based on a story by Maine novelist Stephen King). The state boasts gorgeous nature throughout, which should be especially colorful in the fall. The music lineup includes Zach Nugent, Bearly Dead, Gent Treadly, The Not Fade Away Band and other acts presumably named while high. 

West Virginia Roadkill Cook-Off
Marlinton, West Virginia
September 29 

As part of its fall harvest, Pocahontas County hosts an annual roadkill cook-off, and dishes have included teriyaki-marinated bear, possum burgers, squirrel gravy over biscuits and award winners like Thumper Bumper, Catch Yer-Self a Huzband Burger and You Hit 'em…We Spit 'em Iguana Nachos. Worried about all those caribou calories? Work up a sweat at the Rockin' Redneck Square Dance or the Possum Trot 5K. Based on past years, there might even be a grandma beauty pageant. 

Hudson Valley Garlic Festival
Saugerties, New York
September 29 to 30

The Hudson Valley claims to have the oldest U.S. winemaking region, and while numerous wine festivals take place here, try something different with a pre-Halloween garlic binge. The local agriculture is highly regarded, and the two-day event includes lots of garlic bulbs, vendors and farmers, though we're guessing you'll need to bring your own Garlic Bud or Lemon Garlic OG. Saugerties is two hours from Manhattan. 

The Great Midwest Harvest Festival
Madison, Wisconsin
October 5 to 7

Don’t let the name fool you: This harvest fest has nothing to do with wine, cheese or traditional farming. This activist gathering is about the cannabis harvest and repealing prohibition, and the theme for the 48th annual event is Prohibition Kills. In addition to White Bush Unicorn and DJ Kayla Kush (neither of which are Wisconsin-grown strains… yet), the 2018 lineup includes Farmer Bill Hawkins, a 420 drum circle and other acts that make Paul Ryan squirm worse than a Trump tweetstorm. 

Austin City Limits Music Festival
Austin, Texas
October 5 to 7 and 12 to 14

Held over back-to-back weekends, ACL has an all-star lineup that includes Paul McCartney, Metallica, Childish Gambino, Arctic Monkeys, Travis Scott, Gang of Youths, Greta Van Fleet, X Ambassadors and Disturbed, among others. The event also features a solid culinary lineup that pairs your standard generics with edgier purveyors like Burro Grilled Cheese, Mighty Cone, Skull & Cakebones and Salt Lick BBQ. Austin is a liberal city, but Texas is a messed-up state for cannabis aficionados, so definitely hide that hash. Bonus points for anyone who wears a Foss band t-shirt. 

Maine Cannabis Convention
Portland, Maine
October 6 to 7

Maine voted to legalize cannabis in 2016, but Portland actually did it three years earlier with nearly 70 percent of the vote. This makes Portlandia East the perfect place for the fourth annual Maine Cannabis Convention, which features nearly 200 exhibitors like GreenBroz, CannaTech, Flower Power Coffee, Higher Breed Clothing and Angry Buds. Over the past two years, the state's seemingly racist governor has tried to block legalization to keep guys named "D-Money, Smoothie [and] Shifty" from visiting the state to sell drugs and "impregnate a young white girl before they leave." So with the midterms coming exactly one month later, expect to see lots of support for progressive gubernatorial candidate Janet Mills

Alba International White Truffle Fair
Alba, Italy
October 6 to November 25

White truffles only appear for two months each autumn, and the best are found in western Italy near the border with France. Now in its 88th year, the Alba International White Truffle Fair is the most popular place to celebrate the rare white tuber. In addition to a white truffle marketplace, the Alba International includes wine and food tastings, special restaurant menus, cooking demos and the medieval Donkey Palio parade. If you love truffles, you have expensive taste and can afford the plane ticket to Piedmont. 

MassKara Festival
Bacolod City, Philippines
October 8 to 28

Born of a boat tragedy in 1980, the annual MassKara Festival is the Philippines' answer to Carnaval. Three million people will visit the massive party filled with colorful costumes, street dancers, food fests, parades and a fireworks competition. Though the party lasts three weeks, the main action takes place on the final weekend, so that's your best bet for more memorable experience. Just remember, the staunchly anti-cannabis Rodrigo Duterte is one of the few world leaders on the same intellectual and ethical level as Trump, but the Filipino leader is demonstrably worse when it comes to the drug war, so definitely don't bring, buy or consume any party favors. 

Indie Spirits Expo
Chicago, Illinois
October 9

After successful events in Vegas and NYC, the Indie Spirit Expo finishes the year at the Chicago Hilton. This annual tasting exclusively showcases independent alcohol companies serving small-batch spirits like walnut-spice liqueur, butterfly pea flower-infused gin, artisan craft peppermint schnapps, vodka made from sugar beets, malted rye whiskey and an ancient precursor to Irish whiskey called poitín. The Chicago event will feature more than 600 different spirits so choose wisely and don't arrive on an empty stomach. (This is PRØHBTD's review of a past NYC expo.) 

New West Summit
Oakland, California
October 11 to 13

New West Summit has emerged as a top gathering for technology, science, media and investment in the cannabis marketplace. This year's speakers include Gary Allen (New Frontier Data), George Zimmer (Men's Wearhouse), Dr. Arup Sen (Infusion Biosciences) and Dave Morin (Slow Ventures), while PRØHBTD's own Drake Sutton-Shearer will host Cannabis Brand Building 101. In 2016, New West founder Jim McAlpine said, "What we've done is create a show that's focused on the future of what cannabis is versus all the other shows focused on what cannabis is right now."

Desert Daze
Joshua Tree, California
October 12 to 14

The LA Times once said Desert Daze is "no Coachella, but this Joshua Tree festival may be the music model of the future." Inspired by 1960s music fests, the three-day event is a camping, drugs and music extravaganza with a mind-expanding lineup that includes Tame Impala, My Bloody Valentine, Death Grips, Mercury Rev, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats and Jarvis Cocker, among others. Desert Daze also hosts a Mystic Bazaar with sound baths, shamanic ceremonies, plant walks, yoga and mystics. 

Cultiva Hanfmesse
October 12 to 14
Vienna, Austria

Skip the tourist spots like St. Stephen's and Schönbrunn and fill your days visiting places like the Abortion Museum, the Weiner Gasometer, the Undertaker's Museum, the Toilet of Modern Art and, most importantly Cultiva Hanfmesse. Now in its 11th year, the Austrian hemp expo and cannabis congress features live music acts, speakers, workshops, exhibitions and sponsors like Sensi Seeds and Barney Farms. Culinary enthusiasts will also want to make an advanced reservation at the stunningly beautiful Steirereck where dishes might include artichokes with poppy seeds. 

DAU Freiheit
October 12 to November 9
Berlin, Germany

Twenty-nine years after the Berlin Wall came down, the Berliner Festspiele is bringing it back as part of an immersive art installation DAU Freiheit. Created in connection with Phenomen Films, the installation will recreate a stretch of Soviet-era Berlin surrounded by a 12-foot wall and taking attendees back in time over several decades. During its four-week run, the "self-contained city" will feature concerts, film screenings and other cultural events that reimagine Cold War life under totalitarian rule. In lieu of tickets, the DAU website and office will issue "visas" that allow entry. Then on November 9—a.k.a. the 29th anniversary of the fall of the original Berlin Wall—the public will have the opportunity to take part in the destruction of its replacement.

Peter Tosh Music Festival
New Kingston, Jamaica
October 18 to 21

Details are still slim, but the Peter Tosh Music Festival is set to return for a second year at the Peter Tosh Museum. The second day of the event corresponds with what would have been the "Legalize It" singer's 84th birthday, and the fest will include an awards gala, symposium and Peter Tosh tribute concert. Past performers included Peter's son Andrew, Chronixx and (via satellite) Mick Jagger. 

Perugia, Italy
October 19 to 28 

Now in its 25th year, EuroChocolate is an annual celebration in a medieval walled town in central Italy. The event includes samples, vendors and sculptures that, in the past, included a four-ton chocolate igloo. More than a million people are expected to attend over the 10 days. The event will feature a silver wedding theme for 2018, which is arguably less fun than 2015's chocolate mustache (the organizers obviously don't know Urban Dictionary). Can we expect an edibles theme in the future? Let's hope, and they should start with a Défoncé chocolate station!

Fantasy Fest
Key West, Florida Keys
October 19 to 28 

Tired of Mardi Gras in the Big Easy? Head south to Key West instead for 10 days of island-centric hedonism at the Fantasy Fest free-for-all. Activities typically include homemade bikini contests, body paintings, the let-it-all-hang-out parade and parties like Adam & Eve at the clothing-optional Garden of Eden rooftop bar. With this much nudity, you might need to break out that ʼ80s fanny pack to hold your room key and Haze V3 vaporizer. Florida is technically the South, but this is the party where the buckle breaks off the Bible belt. 

Disco Dining Club
Los Angeles, California
October 26 to 28

Imagine a modern mashup of Studio 54 and Alice in Wonderland. That’s what you can expect from Disco Dining Club, an over-the-top party that takes place several times a year in different secret locations. For Halloween, DDC visionary Courtney Nichols secured a Victorian greenhouse on the grounds of a century-old mansion to host a botanical horror dinner party titled The Flowering of the Strange Orchid. The dining-dancing event includes a five-course dinner by chef Laurent Quenioux, themed cocktails by Timothy Baxter, bug pairings by Bugible and H.G. Wells-inspired immersive theater. Attendees often dress up for non-Halloween DDC events so expect twice the extravagance at these dinners. This is arguably Hollywood's hottest Halloween party that's open to the public. 

Canapa in Mostra
October 26 to 28
Naples, Italy

In December 2016, Italy unintentionally approved the sale of industrial canapa with low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). According to a June 2018 study, canapa legalization substantially reduced black market demand and will cost Italian crime organizations about 200 million euros per year. Numbers like that suggested Italy is primed for full-scale legalization, and what better place to celebrate the movement than in Naples at a medical hemp festival. Yes, we said "hemp," but that's probably not what The Bulldog Amsterdam, Mary Moon Light, Weeday and the other sponsors will be saying. 

Suwannee Hulaween
October 26 to 28, 2018
Like Oak, Florida

The String Cheese Incident’s annual party comes around Halloween at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Smack dab in the Alabama-esque part of the state, the event draws hippies from all over the Southeast for nightly String Cheese performances, with additional sets by CBDB, Odesza, STS9, Action Bronson, Stephen Marley and others. The camping-only festival includes a temporary art installation with a regular display of lit-up alien statues along with trippy modern exhibits. Add that to a tradition of outlandish costumes, and you've got the wildest weekend you could hope for in the Florida panhandle. 

Day of the Dead
Janitzio, Mexico
October 31 to November 2

Día de Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is a UNESCO-honored holiday to honor and remember deceased loved ones, but some places turn the somber occasion into a rave-from-the-grave. The Carnival-like celebrations can include candy skulls, papier-mâché skeletons, mock coffins and mariachi music, and the most elaborate event arguably takes place on Janitzio, an island on Lake Pátzcuaro between Mexico City and Guadalajara. Other top spots include San Miguel de Allende, Morelos and Mexico City. 

Cannafest Prague
Prague, Czech Republic
November 1 to 4

If Barcelona is the new Amsterdam, Prague is arguably the new Barcelona, as if you really needed another reason to visit the historic capital of Bohemia. Now in its ninth year, Cannafest Prague starts with the European-American Cannabis B2B Conference and then turns into a trade show with nearly 300 exhibitors from more than two dozen different countries. Likewise, festival events include afterparties, cinema, art exhibitions, a vape lounge, a reading room, Times Square-like leaf costumes and elite sponsors like DaVinci. While in the Czech Republic, keep an eye out for cannabis beer or absinthe from Euphoria Trade

Copenhagen, Denmark
November 2

Each year on the first Friday night of November, horse-drawn carriages depart from the Tuborg Brewery to deliver its extra-strong "Julebryg" Christmas beer, which is only available for the holidays. Started in 1980, the annual tradition now inspires street parties, free samples and themes that previously included elves, Christmas trees and (inexplicably) Michael Jackson. Interestingly, J-Dag's popularity started with an animated commercial in which Santa Claus and Rudolph bail on their gift-giving duties to get lit on the Christmas brew. Fittingly, the start of J-Dag had to be moved from its original day, Wednesday, because hungover parents weren't taking their kids to school the next day.   

Guy Fawkes Night
London, England
November 5

On this date in 1605, the authorities arrested Guy Fawkes of the Gunpowder Plot for attempting to blow up the House of Lords, and people started bonfires around London to celebrate the foiled assassination attempt. More than four centuries later, Brits continue to celebrate Guy Fawkes (or Bonfire) Night. Sure, that's kinda weird, but the modern celebration includes fireworks over Tower Bridge and the annual burning of a Fawkes effigy. Oddly enough, Games of Thrones star Kit Harington is a descendant of Gunpowder ringleader Robert Catesby and played him in the three-episode mini-series Gunpowder. Equally strange, an uninhabited island in Galapagos is named Isla Guy Fawkes, which suggests the Spanish colonists weren't big fans of the British crown.   

Election Day
Your district
November 6

With cannabis legalization on several state ballots, the midterms might spark amazing parties across the country. Please vote. States with cannabis-related ballot initiatives include North Dakota, Michigan, Missouri and Utah, and many Wisconsin voters will have the chance to vote on a legalization advisory referendum. Likewise, a shift in congressional control could finally get several cannabis bills out of committee. With particularly close Senate races, strong turnout is needed for Beto O'Rourke in Texas, Bill Nelson in Florida, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Krysten Sinema in Arizona, Jon Tester in Montana, Phil Bredesen in Nashville and Jacky Rosen in Nevada. 

Marijuana Business Conference & Expo
Las Vegas, Nevada
November 14 to 16

As one of the biggest events in the cannabis space, the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo will draw 14,000 cannabis professionals and nearly 700 exhibitors to Sin City. Cy Scott (Headset), Karson Humiston (Vangst), Michael Christopher (mood33), Jimmy Makoso (Lucid Lab Group), Codie Sanchez (CS Ventures) and Torsten Kuenzlen (Sundial Growers) are among the 100+ speakers. 

Yi Peng Festival
Chiang Mai, Thailand
November 23

Sure, some people might wish to celebrate the full moon down in Koh Phangan, but this annual full-moon fest in northern Thailand is a true beauty: Thousands of people gather to release floating lanterns into the night sky. This is a spiritual event, not a party one, but it's culturally meaningful and stunning to watch. The event corresponds with the Loi Krathong festival in Thailand and nearby countries, which involves floating lanterns and other items down the river. The three-day Festival of the Lights (as it's commonly called in English) overlaps with Yi Peng in Chiang Mai. 

Cannabizz Warsaw
November 30 to December 2
Warsaw, Poland

With a likely assist from Russia, the far-right Law and Justice Party took power in 2015, and social issues like abortion and gay rights have taken a hit ever since. Yet even with a Polish Pence in the Presidential Palace, the country legalized medical cannabis last year, even if it remains illegal to grow it. This epitomizes the strength of the country's cannabis movement, which comes together in Warsaw at this major conference. Yes, the weather will be chilly, but a jacket will help you hide your medical smokes. 

Expoweed Santiago
November 30 to December 2
Santiago, Chile

Canada might be the current focus of legalization energy, but the cannabis movement continues to rise in South America. Colombia and Uruguay arguably have the top legal cannabis industries, but Chile continues to make moves, including this cannabis expo in the capital city. Now in its seventh year, Expoweed is loosely affiliated with a similar expo in Mexico City through a shared partner, Spain's Cáñamo Magazine (La Cañamería Global). If making the trek, be sure to visit the nearby vineyards, take a short trip to the coastal beaches and dine at red-hot restaurants like Karai, 99, BORAGó and Carolina Bazán's Ambrosia

Art Basel Miami
SoBe, Florida
December 6 to 9

Art Basel in Miami is a total clusterfuck, so try to score a hotel near the action in South Beach, but art lovers will endure the crowds to see the finest pop art and interact with the creative talent behind it. Expect 70,000 visitors and more than 200 leading galleries from around the world presenting artwork from more than 4,000 different artists. Keep an eye out for the private parties. 

David Jenison ( is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD. Photo credits: Ralph Arvesen/Flickr, John Shedrick/Wikimedia, Carlos Adampol Galindo/Wikimedia, Cannafest Prague, Cultiva Vienna and Jundi Tiu/Flickr.

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