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Best Food, Wine and Smoke Fests for Spring 2018

By David Jenison on June 8, 2018

"In winter, I plot and plan," said punk poet Henry Rollins. "In the spring, I move." After months of bad weather in the northeast and a few days of rain in California, winter is finally over, and the country is ready to move into a new cycle of life. Spring into the new season with an exciting food, wine or smoke event pegged to your next travel adventure. Check out these PRØHBTD picks for making a move this spring.

Spring Equinox at Chichén Itzá
Pisté, Mexico
March 20

El Castillo is the most famous Maya temple and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and the masses gathered here in December 2012 when the Maya calendar supposedly predicted the end of times. Mother Earth lived to see another day, so travelers have the chance to see another gorgeous equinox at the Chichén Itzá ruins. The temple design, seemingly aligned with an astronomical axis, produces a light and shadow show during the equinox that looks like a feathered serpent slithering down the steps. Spectators can also expect to see meteor showers during the solar eclipse. 


Los Angeles 420 Games
Santa Monica and Venice Beach, California
March 31 to April 1

The 420 Games are back! Find out for yourself if cannabis is a performance-enhancing drug as mostly medicated participants make the 4.20 run from the Santa Monica Pier to Venice Beach and back. The rest of the festivities include stoned yoga, arm wrestling, basketball and other physical activities, as well as more chill fun like CBD massages, food trucks and a beer garden. 


Songkran Water Festival 
Thailand
April 13 to 15

April 13th marks New Year's Day in Thailand, and cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai celebrate with a massive water fight during what happens to be the hottest month of the year. In Bangkok, head to Silom for the largest water battle or to Khao San Road for the wildest one, while Chiang Mai partiers will find the most action at places like the Thapae Gate, the Chiang Mai Gate and near the Ping River. Water weapons are available all around town if you don't want to bring one from home. At the risk of stating the obvious, don't soak monks, babies, the elderly and anyone on a motorbike. 


Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Indio, California
April 13 to 15 and 20 to 22

Beyoncé is making good on her raincheck from 2017, headlining the Saturday night festivities, flanked by The Weeknd on Friday and Eminem on Sunday. Other artists playing SoCal's top music fest include Greta Van Fleet, Portugal. the Man, Migos, St. Vincent, Kygo, The Regrettes, HAIM, A Perfect Circle and Post Malone, among others. The iconic SoCal fest also includes art installations, a craft beer barn, an environmental-awareness program by Global Inheritance and a fine-dining program that has featured the likes of Ricardo Zarate in years past. 


Bicycle Day
Everywhere
April 19

No, don't break out your Queen vinyl and two-wheeler just yet, as the 419 holiday is actually about the first-ever intentional acid trip. In 1943, Dr. Albert Hoffman revisited his 1938 invention, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and decided to take about 20 times what is now considered the threshold dose. The Basel, Switzerland-based chemist soon realized he should leave the lab, and he peaked during his bicycle ride home. For this reason, psychedelia aficionados dubbed April 19 as Bicycle Day, and many people celebrate by taking acid or shrooms (ideally not at work or while riding a Citi Bike). Of course, 419 transitions nicely into 420 and the come down. 


420
Everywhere
April 20

Celebrate alone, with friends, at cannabis-themed events or participating in one of the many activist-driven gatherings. Just make sure to celebrate 420 responsibly, which means refraining from driving stoned or sharing cannabis with anyone who's under the legal age limit. 


Palm Springs Cannabis Film Festival & Summit
Palm Springs, California
April 20 to 22

Palm Springs experienced its first heyday in the 1950s as the desert town attracted celebrities, golfers and even U.S. presidents for decades. Though its popularity started to wane in the '70s, Palm Springs is trendy once again with a red-hot restaurant scene, epic music events like Coachella and now a cannabis-themed film festival. Per the marketing material, "This new film festival and summit takes on the debate with a progressive attitude towards eroding stereotypes and clichés to discover the life-enhancing potential of this remarkable yet controversial plant." For those who love filmmaking and cannabis, this is an ideal way to celebrate 420 weekend.


Levitation 2018
Austin, Texas
April 26 to 29

Most people don't need a reason to visit Texas' beloved capital, but this four-day music fest in downtown Austin adds to the appeal with a wide mix of indie artists. Now in its 10th year, the music fest includes artists like Ty Segall, Parquet Courts, Panda Bear, Electric Wizard, Stonefield, Acid Mothers Temple, Dallas Acid and Christian Bland of psychedelic-rock group The Black Angels. While in town, make sure to visit the female-led Holy Roller restaurant. 


Kaya Fest
San Bernardino, California
April 28 and 29

Bob Marley's son Stephen was born on April 20, and last year he celebrated with the inaugural Kaya Fest at Bayfront Park in Miami. This year, the celebration moves to SoCal and adds a second day with a lineup that screams stoner's delight. Nearly all the Marleys are on the bill, including a Ky-Mani set with Tom Morello, along with Ms. Lauryn Hill, Cypress Hill, Chronixx, Action Bronson, Common Kings, Inner Circle and many more. 


Indie Spirits Expo
Las Vegas, Nevada
May 3 

One of PRØHBTD's favorite events, the Indie Spirits Expo, heads to the Hard Rock in Vegas with a stellar line-up of small-batch, independent companies serving mezcal, whiskey, rum, vodka, tequila and other spirits that require patrons to pace their consumption. Expect to see distillers like Scorpion Mezcal, who might give you the option to eat the scorpion at the bottom of the bottle (been there, done that), and The Funk, which promotes itself as "unaged heavy pot still rum" from Jamaica. Next up, the expo returns to the Penn Club in NYC on June 11, but Indie Spirits really needs to make its Los Angeles debut. Click here for examples of spirits from past events.


MardiGrass
Nimbin, Australia
May 4 to 6

Nimbin, a village in southeast Australia, hosted its first cannabis rally and gathering in 1993. A quarter century later, MadriGrass is an annual three-day event to educate and celebrate all things cannabis. Activities include the Hemp Olympix, the Pot Poet's Breakfast, the Tug O' Drug War and Scrabble competitions that hopefully give double-word scores for strain names. There's even a Great Green Cabaret that includes acrobatics, presumably while stoned. What could go wrong?


Cinco de Mayo
Tulum, Mexico
May 5

Each year on May 5th, Mexico celebrates its surprise 1862 victory over the French army in the Battle of Puebla. Several U.S. cities also celebrate Cinco de Mayo with parties, but why not head to Mexico for the party this year, which happens to fall on a Saturday. The U.S. arguably parties harder on Cinco de Mayo than Mexico does, and the traditional celebration takes place in Puebla, but Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula is the go-to town to celebrate with white-sand Caribbean beaches, Maya ruins, underground dive caves, a lively party scene and trendy restaurants like Hartwood and Gitano. Meanwhile, those who prefer a colonial-era town in the central highlands should head to equally trendy San Miguel de Allende. 


FORM
Arcosanti, Arizona
May 11 to 13

In 1970, Italian-American architect Paolo Soleri started building a prototype town called Arcosanti about 70 miles north of Phoenix. George Lucas visited early in the process, and the desert designs and architecture inspired the look for Luke Skywalker's home planet, Tatooine, in Star Wars. Decades later, the band Hundred Waters came to Arcosanti with the intent to launch The Moon Rang Like A Bell album, but the band launched the annual FORM festival instead, which seeks to epitomize the town's progressive vibes and spirit. This year's three-day event includes performances by Fleet Foxes, Charli XCX, Courtney Barnett, Beach House, Chance the Rapper, Skrillex and HO99O9, among others, as well as talks, panels and programs featuring organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Global Inheritance and Women Under the Influence. Arizona really needs to legalize recreational cannabis, but it'll probably feel like it already has in Arcosanti campsites. 


Indica Sativa Trade Fair
Bologna, Italy
May 18 to 20

Now in its sixth year, Indica Sativa is one of Italy's premiere cannabis events, and it's drawing some of the top seed companies and brands from throughout Europe. After just two years, the fair had to move into the Unipol Arena, which has remained its home ever since. Expect lots of college kids from the 84,000-student University of Bologna, which UNESCO calls the oldest university in the Western world. 


Cannabis Europa
London, England
May 22

A new United Nations report found that the U.K. is the biggest producer of legal cannabis in the world, which prompted Steve Rolles of Transform to say, "It is scandalous and untenable for the U.K. government to maintain that cannabis has no medical uses, at the same time as licensing the world's biggest government-approved medical cannabis production and export market." London also hosts a major medical cannabis conference that includes medical doctors, psychologists, parliament members, professors and pharmacists, among others, including Michael Abbott of Columbia Care in the U.S. Hopefully this type of event means progress is being made on the legalization front. 


New Orleans Wine & Food Experience
New Orleans, Louisiana
May 23 to 27

What types of wine pair with crawfish, andouille sausage and alligator? Find out at NOLA’s hottest food and wine experience, now in its 26th year. Events include the Royal Street Stroll parade with live jazz and wine, the World's Biggest Sunday Brunch, wine-paired dinners and grand tastings. The party will be huge, but it might be a good idea to leave the beads at home this time. 


Bordeaux Confidential en Primeur 2017
Beijing and Hong Kong
May 24 and 25

Wine Spectator vet James Suckling is one of the world's foremost wine critics, and his wine-tasting events sell out all over the world. Having wrapped up a tour of Italian wines earlier this month, Suckling heads to Asia in May for back-to-back Bordeaux events in Hong Kong and (for the very first time) Beijing. The tastings will include 70 to 80 top chateaux pouring 2015 wines that the critic personally picked in the French port city. Unfortunately, tickets to the Hong Kong event are only available to people in the wine trade, though obviously that's a huge plus for those actually in the trade.  


Sasquatch! Music Festival
George, Washington
May 25 to 27

Overlooking the Columbia River in what appears to be a very patriotic town, Sasquatch! returns for its 17th year with music acts like Bon Iver, The National, Vince Staples, Noname and countless others. Festival attendees have camping options in the rec-legal state, which should make for interesting nights.


BottleRock Napa Valley
Napa Valley, California
May 25 to 27 

Northern California is famous for wine, food and smoke, and all three pleasures (two of them officially) come together at the BottleRock festival. This year's music lineup includes Bruno Mars, Muse, The Killers, Halsey and Bomba Estéreo, among others, along with a food lineup that includes Morimoto, Bouchon, Meadowood, Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin' BBQ, The Farmer's Wife and La Toque. Judging by the restaurant names, several of the chefs clearly enjoy a good smoke. 


Primavera Sound 2018
Barcelona, Spain
May 30 to June 3 

Many argue that Barcelona is overtaking Amsterdam as Europe's cannabis capital, and few things pair better than music and cannabis. The city's premiere music fest includes performances by Spiritualized (with choir and orchestra), Wolf Parade, Madlib, Vince Staples, Nick Cave, A$AP Rocky, Grizzly Bear, Migos, The National and many more. (Photo credit: Flickr/Scanner-FM.)


Mike the Headless Chicken Festival 
Fruita, Colorado
June 1 and 2

This only makes the list because Colorado legalized recreational cannabis, and it's an event you should attend stoned. In 1945, local farmer Lloyd Olsen chopped the head off a chicken he named Mike—yes, he named all his chickens—but his dinner didn't die. Instead, Mike tucked his severed little head under his wing and continued to peck and preen. Despite having no head, Mike lived for another 18 months and even went on a national tour. Putting the "headless" in "spring chicken," local residents now honor the hometown star with an annual spring fest that's now in its 20th year. Past-year events included activities like a giant chicken dance, Pin the Head on the Chicken and a set by The Smithereens, who apparently fell on tough times. 


Contact in the Desert
Indian Wells, California
June 1 to 4

Contact in the Desert is one of the top annual gatherings for people to discuss UFO sightings, ancient astronauts, crop circles, extraterrestrial life and other phenomena, but this is the first event since California legalized recreational cannabis. Sargel18 did not make the lineup, but the speakers do include radio host George Noory (Coast to Coast AM), former Ministry of Defence investigator Nick Pope, Ancient Aliens regular Giorgio Tsoukalos and legendary author Erich von Däniken (Chariots of the Gods?), and listening to their theories while high can be a totally awesome experience. That's not meant as disrespect, but rather, it's about opening the mind to engage in mind-blowing conversation. Pre-gaming with RB26 Alien Wax or Alien OG is obviously a must. 


Mary Jane Berlin
Berlin, Germany
June 8 to 10

With an estimated four million smokers, Germany already legalized medical use, and like the U.S., certain states allow for the possession of small amounts. On the expo front, Mary Jane Berlin is one of leaders with an arena-sized event that includes top European companies like Barney's Farm and Royal Queen Seeds. That said, leave it to Germany to have past cannabis exhibitors like Bam Bam Bhole, G-Spot and Bushplanet that sound more like porn companies. 


Healdsburg Art-Food-Wine
Healdsburg, California
June 14 to 16

Healdsburg, a historic wine town in Sonoma County, premieres a new food, wine and art fest that kicks off with a party inside the historic Bank of Italy building. The various events take place in restaurants, art galleries and wine estates around town. 


Cannabis Liberation Day Amsterdam
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
June 17

Cannabis Liberation Days turns 10! The free, annual event takes place in Flevopark as people gather to celebrate cannabis culture, legalization and the industrial uses of hemp. This year's speakers include the Dagga Couple from South Africa and master grower Ed Rosenthal from the U.S. 

David Jenison (david@prohbtd.com) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD.

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