Tucson a City of Food Festivals


By Jonathan Mabry

Nov. 12th, 2018


Most people who live here have a favorite annual food or drink festival they always look forward to, such as the long-running Tucson Meet Yourself (since 1974), Tucson Greek Festival (since 1975), and Great Tucson Beer Festival (since 1986). But, based on a recent inventory conducted by the non-profit Tucson City of Gastronomy, our options are expanding fast. There were 37 annual food and drink festivals in the metro area when Tucson successfully applied to become the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the U.S. in 2015. Since then, 28 new annual culinary festivals have sprung up—a 76 percent increase in just three years! 2018 saw the inaugural editions of 16 new ones. While the UNESCO designation is not directly responsible for this remarkable increase, it seems to have provided an inspirational boost.

Our current total of 65 annual culinary festivals are not evenly spread throughout the year, however. March is the slow month, with only one. July and December are also sparse, with two food festivals each. The pace picks up in the fall, with eight during September and ten in October. The peak season is November, with 15 food and drink festivals to choose from during that month. (It’s a wonder that we get anything else done on November weekends . . .) Many of these food- or drink-focused festivals are fundraisers for charities, non-profits, or special causes. So graze and imbibe your way through old favorites and our many new options guilt-free. But save some room, because four new annual culinary festivals in our metro area have already been announced as starting in 2019.