If you love thrill rides, food, and wine, you’ll definitely want to check out the Busch Gardens Food and Wine festival, which takes place every spring at Busch Gardens. The festival, which is included with park admission, offers food, wine, beer, and cocktails, as well as entertainment (although you do have to individually purchase the food and drinks). During our visit to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay this April, we visited the festival to try out some samples for lunch.
Disclosure: We received complimentary admission to Busch Gardens and purchased our own food samples. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no additional cost to you.
A Guide to the Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival
This year, the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Food and Wine Festival takes place on weekends from March 16 through April 28, 2019 (as well as Friday, April 19). During the festival, you’ll have the opportunity to visit different food and beverage booths to purchase food, craft beers, wines, and cocktails. Pick up a festival guide to see a map of the different booths and to learn about what products are offered at each one. The booths are all concentrated in one area of the park, right past the Sesame Street Safari of Fun section of the park.
We grabbed a Food & Wine festival guide when we arrived at the park. When it was lunchtime, we each went through the book, selecting the items that we wanted. Then, my husband and I each took a kid and split up so we could purchase the items we wanted.
Booths are themed based upon different regions of the United States. Options included NOLA, California, and the Pacific Northwest. These booths offer several food options as well as at least one drink choice. There are also separate libation stations with just alcoholic beverages.
There are also various specialty tastings offered throughout the festival area. These include vodka, ice wine, sparkling wine, tequila, and bourbon. We skipped these, however, because we saw so many other things that we wanted to try.
Some of our favorite items that we sampled included the Duck Fat Fries, the Charcuterie Cone, the Potato and Cheese pierogies, and the Sticky Pibb Wings. There were also some delicious cocktails – my favorites were the watermelon frost and the Bourbon Peach Sweet Tea.
While there isn’t a specific kids’ menu, there are definitely options that will appeal to kids. My picky children liked the duck fat fries, the short rib and cheddar quesadilla, and the sticky wings. Of course, because the festival area is open to the whole park, you can also get something from elsewhere in the theme park for your kids.
Once you select all of your food, there are a few different areas to eat. Many of the tables are high tops that you stand at, although there were a few places to sit. In general, you should expect to eat on the go.
Wondering about food allergies? The festival guide contains information about gluten free and vegan options. My daughter has a tree nut allergy, and we were easily able to get allergen information at each booth, just by asking.
During the festival, there are a variety of entertainment options. The Coca-Cola Stage Band features local bands throughout the day. While we were there, we also saw a strolling guitarist, whose music was being playing through speakers in the festival area. There is also an impressive living statue exhibit, which was so fun to watch. It was very unique and definitely worth seeing.
The main stage is where you’ll find the national acts. This year, these acts include Foreigner, Mat Kearney, and Walk Off The Earth. The act during our visit was The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. If there is an act that you absolutely want to see, you may consider getting a VIP seating package. There are two options, and they include VIP seating in one of two sections, as well as a 5-item sampler lanyard.
Festival food samplers are also available for individual purchase. These are a great option if you know you are going to purchase at least five different items. The options include a 5-item sampler lanyard, an 8-item sampler lanyard, and a 12-item sampler lanyard. Annual pass members receive 10% off the 5 and 8 item samplers, and get a 15-item sampler for the price of the 12-item.
Of course, you do have to be 21 years of age to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages at the festival. The Food and Wine Festival runs through April 28th, 2019.
During our visit to the Tampa Bay Area, we stayed in Clearwater Beach at the Hilton Clearwater Beach. It was about a 40 minute ride to the theme park, and almost an hour and a half back due to traffic.
To learn more about the Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival, visit the Busch Gardens website.