The Foodie’s Guide to Summer Festivals

Leave the brown bag lunch at home and head to these festivals hungry for some of the best festival food around

Credit: Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

Quash those cravings during festival season by hitting up events with the best food on offer

Every festival-goer knows that a festival with good food is worth its weight in gold (and time spent in lineups!)

And British Columbians could easily eat their way through a whole host of summer festivals, so good are the offerings for foodies.

In this foodie’s guide to festivals, we offer a surefire path to eating your way around BC while enjoying great music, entertainment, culture and sports.

There’s something here for every tastebud, so leave your peanut butter sandwich (and tight wasteband) at home and check out these picks for some of the freshest, most flavourful foodie days out.

Credit: Tourism Richmond

Richmond Night Market & Summer Night Market — May 17 – October 14

Bring your appetite to Richmond’s red-hot Asian summer markets. The International Summer Night Market offers 61 food stalls and catering trucks to tempt your taste buds. Another 200 vendors sell discount goods from fashion and toys to electronics. The 13th annual Richmond Night Market dedicates 80 booths for food and 250 as a retail bazaar.

Food Finds: Ice bubble tea, tofu pudding, pepper-fried squid, pork sui mai, Osaka balls, Korean corn dog, hurricane potato

Where to Nosh: ISNM: 10-acre site at 12631 Vulcan Way, behind Home Depot on Sweden Way; RNM: 8351 River Road, adjacent to the River Rock Casino, Richmond


Italian Day on the Drive — June 9

On Italian Day, The Drive transforms into the world-renowned Venice Carnival. Expect traditional Venetian carnival masks, costumed street entertainers, and music. Outdoor patios, plus food trucks, and the popular Italian-inspired food contests: grape stomping, pizza tossing, spaghetti-eating, and watermelon-eating. Mangia!

Food Finds: Pasta, pizza, cannolis, tiramisu, Italian coffees, sausage

Where to Nosh: Commercial Drive, Venables to Grandview, Vancouver

Credit: BC Shellfish Festival

BC Shellfish Festival — June 14 – 15

Crustacean and mollusc lovers rejoice! The BC Shellfish Festival is the largest shellfish festival on the West Coast and unites the region’s shellfish farmers and their sea bounty with seafood lovers and chefs. Highlights include: Fanny Bay oysters Shucking Championship and the Comox Valley Chowder Challenge, chef’s dinner, cooking demonstrations and shellfish eating from vendors’ selections.

Food Finds: BBQ Qualicum scallop skewers, smoked/candied salmon, oysters, clams, mussels, halibut/rockfish burgers

Where to Nosh: Comox Marina Park, Vancouver Island

Credit: Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival-Silk Road Food Festival — June 21 – 23

Travel a culinary smorgasbord via the exotic Silk Road Food Festival and sample multicultural cuisine from Italy, Thailand, Jamaica, Mexico, and China. The 25th anniversary revisits a perennial favourite: rice dumpling-making by the Tzu Chi Foundation’s people, plus the Sustainable Kitchen demonstration stage with focus on sustainable sourcing, ingredients and practices.

Food Finds: BeaverTails, Peak Perfection ice cream, Thai on the Fly, Wrap Daddy’s, Marianne’s Gourmet Galley, Jamaican Mi Juicy

Where to Nosh: On the waters of False Creek and Creekside Community Centre, Vancouver


Greek Day on Broadway — June 23

Think My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Now imagine five blocks of food, music and dancing, and thousands of somebody’s relatives enjoying all-day entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and over 20 authentic Greek food vendors — now that’s a party. Opa!

Food Finds: Souvlaki, gyros, roast lamb, pastries, Greek salads, saganaki, loukoumades, Greek wine

Where to Nosh: West Broadway (between Blenheim and Macdonald), Vancouver

Credit: Joe Perez

Vancouver Folk Music Festival — July 19 – 21

Get your grove on at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival with the likes of Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines, Steve Earl & The Dukes and UK Celtic-rock group The Waterboys, while you dine on dishes and drinks from Aboriginal to Jamaican and Mediterranean to Thai cuisine. Dietary options: vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free.

Food Finds: Whales Tails Fry Bread, Mad Jack’s, Street Meat Food Truck, Varinicey Pakoras, Black Berry Hill, JJ’s Hot Cobs, Mediterranean BBQ, Big Rock Beer, Salt Spring Coffee

Where to Nosh: Jericho Beach Park, Vancouver

Credit: Taste

Taste: Victoria’s Festival of Food & Wine — July 25 – 28

The 5th annual Taste is a festival with a culinary conscience showcasing more than 100 BC wines and local cuisine. “We have 30 BC wineries and vintners on board, a variety of stunning wines from all over the province to sip and savour,” says Kathryn McAree, founder and director. “Not a traditional wine or food festival, events and seminars happen over four days and are unique experiences not available at any other time of year.”

You can double your foodie quota with a visit to the new Victoria Public Market opening in the old Hudson’s Bay building in June.

Food Finds: (Tastings) Swine and the Vine, Sustainable Seafood, Tea and Terroir

Where to Nosh: Various Victoria venues, Vancouver Island

Credit: YVRBCbro

Powell Street Festival Society — August 3 – 4

The Powell Street Festival Society is the largest Japanese Canadian festival and the longest running community celebration in the Lower Mainland. Enjoy taiko drumming, sumo wrestling, and martial arts plus a variety of traditional and modern Japanese performances.

Food Finds: Japanese themed waffles, gyoza, octopus balls, pulled chicken teriyaki, tea ceremonies

Where to Nosh: Oppenheimer Park (400 Block Powell Street) and surrounding venues, Vancouver

Credit: Dave Steers Photography

Slow Food Cycle Sunday — August 18

Grab your bike and grab a bite! The Slow Food Cycle Sunday in association with Slow Food Vancouver is a leisurely (and flat) 48-kilometre bike tour where area growers open for tours and tastings. Some 50 local chefs, bakers, and producers also sell treats at a dozen farms along the Pemberton Meadows farmland route.

Food Finds: Pemberton Meadows burgers, Pemby Pedal Juice, Lucia Gelato, Pete’s British Pies

Where to Nosh: Village of Pemberton and head north

Credit: Farm Folk City Folk

Farm Folk City Folk Feast of Fields (Okanagan) — August 18

Feast of Fields is a four-hour wandering harvest festival where you’ll taste the best of BC; think 100-mile diet. Local chefs, farmers, fishers, ranchers, food artisans, vintners, brewers, distillers and other beverage producers offer their gourmet goods. The festival’s backbone is the connections between farmer and chef, field and table, and farm folks and city folks, a gastronomic journey toward a sustainable, local food system.

Food Finds: Albacore tuna, heirloom vegetables, peanut butter & jelly pizza

Where to Nosh: Okanagan, August 18 at Little Church Organics, Kelowna; Metro Vancouver, September 8 at Krause Berry Farm, Langley; Vancouver Island, September 22 at Metchosin Farm, Metchosin