Best Food, Wine and Smoke Fests for Summer 2017

By Carolina Jenison on January 27, 2018

The Summer of Love turns 50 this year, and the offspring created that summer likely still love their food, drink and smoke like it was 1967 all over again. Hey, America even has a dick in the White House again! Whether staying local or jet-setting to a sexy locale, consider pegging your next adventure to one of these exciting fests happening around the globe.

Northern Nights Music Festival
July 14 to 16
Piercy, California

Without question, a Northern Lights festival (below) would be cooler with bands set up in the dead of winter in the far north and playing under the aurora borealis, but Northern Nights still claims a sweet location in a campground next to Humboldt and Mendocino counties. Now in its fifth year, this NoCal fest allows attendees to swim and tube in the Eel River, wander through a towering Redwood forest and do whatever our readers do when hanging out around a campfire. As far as the tunes, this year's line-up includes Living Legends, Cherub, Big Wild, G Jones, Jai Wolf, Yungg Trip, Dirtwire and others. 

Cannabis Country Fair
July 21 to 23
Laytonville, California

Tim Blake, who founded Mendocino County's Emerald Cup, is ready to premiere a new festival that will enjoy sunnier weather. The inaugural Cannabis Country Fair will take place on the Black Oak Ranch with a mix of music, speakers, food and smoke. The music line-up includes Portugal. The Man, Thievery Corporation, Beats Antique, White Denim, Lyrics Born and others, while the featured speakers include Project CBD co-founder Martin Lee and Dee Dussault of Ganja Yoga. Blake says he wants to turn the event into one "giant cannabis tribe." 

Reggae on the River 
August 3 to 6
Humboldt County, California

Launched in the mid-1980s, Reggae on the River is one of the longest-running reggae music festivals, and this year's line-up includes the likes of Slightly Stoopid, Assassin, Sensimilla Dub and dozens more. The annual event that locals simply call Reggae started as a concert to benefit the nonprofit Mateel Community Center, which an arsonist had burned down. Last year, local law enforcement shut down the Wonderland booth promoting Humboldt cannabis culture, but the fact that they would even try to host such a booth pre-Prop. 64 should speak volumes (as does this video). 

Outside Lands
August 11 to 13
San Francisco, California

Outside Lands celebrates its 10th anniversary this summer, and the line-up includes the likes of The Who, Gorillaz, Queens of the Stone Age, A Tribe Called Quest, Metallica, Little Dragon and others. You probably already know about Outside Lands, but keep in mind, this will be the first installment since voters passed Proposition 64. Can you light up? Cannabis is suspiciously absent from the website text, which does say you cannot bring "illegal substances" (see Prop. 64) but "you may bring in medical prescriptions as long as your name is clearly on the prescription label and you have a valid ID." In other words, hide your stash, but bring your medical marijuana card and recommendation. It might just work.

Rototom Sunsplash
August 12 to 19
Benicàssim, Spain

In 2015, Forbes published seven reasons why Rototom is "the world's best reggae festival," and while cannabis was not directly referenced in the seven, we file it as part of reason number four: The Consciousness. Now in its 24th year, the festival is a nod to Jamaica's Reggae Sunsplash and includes forums, panels, film screenings, artisan workshops (e.g., create a map of Africa tapestry) and a Pachamama space to reconnect with Mother Earth through such elements as "medicinal plants, the value of the seeds." Naturally, the festival also includes music, and this year's artists include the Wailers, Steel Pulse, Shaggy, The Specials, Gentleman & Ky-Mani Marley, Toots & the Maytals, Chronixx & Zinc Fence, Beenie Man and Hempress Sativa

Seattle, Washington
August 18 to 20

Celebrating its 26th anniversary, Hempfest is an educational celebration of cannabis and hemp on the Seattle waterfront. Self-described as “the world’s largest annual event advocating cannabis law reform,” this “protestival” includes live music, speakers and seminars like “No Solvents Needed: How to safely produce rosin and hash.” The fact that recreational cannabis is legal in Washington makes the event that much more inviting. The 2017 line-up has yet to be announced, but last year's participants included Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, Russ Belville, Jeff Mizanskey, Ed Rosenthal and Rick Steves, among countless others. 

La Tomatina
Buñol, Spain
August 30

The 1978 film Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was a surprise success that spawned three sequels, but the B-movie cannot take credit as the first tomato attack. In August 1945, an overturned vegetable stall at the Giants and Big-Heads parade turned into a spontaneous tomato fight, and the young men who initiated the food fight deliberately started another the following year. A tradition was born, and when arrests failed to stop the momentum, the city eventually conceded. Today, the annual La Tomatina (above) is a tomato-throwing festival that’s arguably the largest food fight in the world. We recommend leaving the designer white threads at home. 

Koktebel Jazz Festival
Odessa, Ukraine
August 24 to 27 

Koktebel is a famous nude beach in Crimea, but when Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014, the city's famed music fest faced serious issues highlighted by this Moscow Times headline: "The Battle for Crimea Plays Out in Jazz." The jazz festival took place on a nude beach in what was a cannabis-friendly hippie town, which didn't exact fly in the new Russian Crimea. Pro-Putin and -Trump stooge Dmitry Kiselyov replaced it with a "jazz party," while the real fest headed west in 2015 to the as-of-yet-unannexed port city of Odessa. The new location might include less fully nude attendees, but you've still got the high tunes, the beautiful Black Sea and quite possibly the occasional passed spliff. Just don't expect NoCal quality. 

Burning Man
August 27 to September 4
Black Rock City, Nevada

In the early years, Burning Man (above) was free, and the cost generally remained under $100 in the 1990s as participation grew from 250 people in 1991 to 23,000 in 1999. The past few years, tens of thousands of people took part in the gathering, which now sells out every year at a much higher price point. The original gathering took place 30 years ago at Baker Beach in San Francisco, but the annual event moved to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert in 1991 (following dual gatherings in 1990). This year's art theme is Radical Ritual. 

Taste of Sonoma
September 1 to 3
Sonoma County, California 

Winemakers, farmers and chefs come together in the Sonoma County foothills (below) to celebrate the region's best food and drink. The three-day event, held at Sonoma State University, includes more than 200 local wineries pouring thousands of different wines paired with dishes from more than 60 Sonoma chefs. Special events will include a blind taste challenge, a Sonoma farmer's market, sommelier-led wine tours and cooking demonstrations. 

L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade
September 9
Westwood, California

Angeleno food bloggers love to say that the L.A. restaurant scene has (or is about to) surpass that of New York, which is ridiculous. L.A. hasn't even edged past San Francisco yet. Nevertheless, the City of Angels is on the rise, and no event brings together the top talent like L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade, inspired by a young cancer patient named Alex who started a lemonade stand to raise money for research. While she sadly passed away in 2004 at age eight, her spirit lives on in this annual fundraiser that has already raised more than $140 million for pediatric cancer research. Taking place on the UCLA campus, the 2017 event will feature such L.A. culinary stars as Michael Cimarusti (Providence), Evan Funke (Felix), Ray Garcia (Broken Spanish), Tim Hollingsworth (Otium), Josiah Citrin (Melisse), David Lentz (M.B. Post) and Nancy Silverton (Osteria Mozza) in addition to New York's April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig), Montreal's Derek Dammann (Maison Publique), Chicago's Cosmo Goss (The Publican), NOLA's Donald Link (Pêche) and Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis. 

Wolfgang Puck's Visiting Chefs BBQ
September 15
Bel-Air, California

Each year, famed chef Wolfgang Puck hosts three barbeques at the historic Hotel Bel-Air on a lush 12-acre estate, but the main event (and only one worth attending) is always the final party on the property's gorgeous front lawn. Puck, who tends to roast whole animals at the party, will be joined this year by returning chefs Nancy Silverton (Osteria Mozza) and Argentine great Francis Mallmann. While Eric Turner of Hartwood (Tulum, Mexico) joined the trio at the 2016 event, Dave Pynt of Burnt Ends takes his place at this year's party. The Australian chef runs a casual barbeque restaurant in Singapore that won the Chefs' Choice Award at Asia's 50 Best Restaurants ceremony in 2017, prompting the bearded chef to blurt out, "Holy fuck!" 

September 15 to 17
Irun, Spain 

From San Sebastián, head east through the Basque Country until you are literally within walking distance of the French border and the Bay of Biscay. That's where this cannabis fair takes place! The annual event (above) features more than 150 stands set up in several pavilions, and exhibitors typically include top international brands and innovative new products. ExpoGrow also includes live concerts that have included the likes of Cypress Hill, Third World, Marea and Lee "Scratch" Perry with Mad Professor. 

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati
September 15 to 17
Cincinnati, Ohio

The real Oktoberfest starts in the final days of summer, but since it extends into early October, it really belongs on the fall list. The largest beer fest in the U.S., however, falls squarely in the final week of summer. The Buckeye State hosts its three-day version of Oktoberfest in Cincinnati, and it typically draws around half a million people. Sure, a joint will probably enhance the annual Running of the Wieners (insert Republican primary joke here) and the world record-breaking Chicken Dance (insert Democratic primary joke here), but the rest of the weekend will be all about the other type of buds. 

Sonoma County Grape Camp
September 17 to 19
Sonoma County, California

This is what you might call boot camp for wine lovers. The three-day immersion gives participants a chance to harvest grapes, tour Sonoma's gorgeous vineyards (above), savor local farm-to-fingers gastronomy, learn about the winemaking process and take wine-blending classes. Last year, the small group of campers visited vineyards in Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Fort Ross-Seaview, Green Valley, Russian River Valley and Sonoma Valley.  

Photo credit: JahFae/Flickr (Burning Man), Sonoma County Tourism, Facebook/Alex Quadrini Photography (Northern Nights), ExpoGrow

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