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Food festivals have certainly come a long way in the past couple of years. They have become star-studded affairs, complete with heady promises of once-in-a-lifetime meals and coveted VIP ticket packages that cost north of $1,000. We are here to point you towards the most exciting festivals, from the summer through the end of the calendar year - in the United States and overseas.

Food festivals have certainly come a long way in the past couple of years. No longer are they sparsely attended fringe events popping up in hotel ballrooms. Festivals in the year 2013 have become star-studded affairs, complete with heady promises of once-in-a-lifetime meals and coveted VIP ticket packages that cost north of $1,000. Food Republic is here to point you towards the most exciting festivals, from the summer through the end of the calendar year — in the United States and overseas. Hot chicken even gets its own celebration. My, what a long way we have come.

Food & Wine Classic in Aspen
June 14-16

Aspen, CO
Now in its 31st year, the annual celebration in Aspen has always been one of our favorite culinary events (See: last year’s coverage). From the opening reception in the St. Regis Hotel to events and meals that include Mario Batali, Tom Colicchio, Andrew Zimmern and Food Republic co-founder Marcus Samuelsson among others, the glitzy city is absolutely abuzz. And hey, it even falls on Father’s Day weekend this year. Best gift idea ever? We think so. foodandwine.com/classic

Music City Hot Chicken Festival
July 4, 2013
Nashville, TN
We can think of no better way to spend Independence Day than feasting on hot chicken at the sixth annual celebration of Nashville’s legendary dish. Don’t forget to bring along some antacids as city mainstays Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack and Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish are challenged by newcomers 400 Degrees, Smack Yo Mama Chicken and Pepperfire. Just remember that mild means hot, medium will have you in tears and hot…well, you can use your imagination. mchcf.blogspot.com

Taste of Chicago
July 10-14

Chicago, IL
Claiming to be the world’s largest food festival, The Taste attracts millions of visitors annually to the Windy City for the five-day midsummer event. Thirty five of the city’s best restaurants — including a few that participated as one-day pop-ups last year — will converge in Grant Park to showcase local and regional specialties. Food and beverage ticket strips begin at only $8 and Grammy-winning group Fun. headlines a wide array of musical performances. cityofchicago.org

Luckyrice Los Angeles
July 27
Los Angeles, CA
Winning the award for best festival name is Luckyrice, entering its second year in Los Angeles (the festival has taken place in New York for four years and will also stop in San Francisco and Las Vegas later in 2013). Sang Yoon will host and Jet Tila will be one of the big names on hand on a night devoted to exploring LA’s exploding Asian food revolution through food and cocktails. luckyrice.com

SF Street Food Festival
August 17

San Francisco, CA
Food trucks, vendors from out of state and Michelin-starred chefs all serving food under one roof? You better believe it. The single-day Bay Area celebration is back for a fifth consecutive year, and while a full lineup is yet to be released, there were over 70 participating venues last year feeding a total of over 80,000 people. Stay tuned for more details. sfstreetfoodfest.com

MAD Symposium
August 25-26
Copenhagen, Denmark
We can only imagine what heady discourse — and culinary muscle flexing — is in store at this year’s symposium in Copenhagen, which takes the theme of “guts” (last year’s theme was “appetite”). David Chang of Momofuku and food journal Lucky Peach are guest curators at the third annual conference and gathering, spearheaded by Noma chef René Redzepi. Be sure to check out both our day-by-day coverage and favorite pictures of last year’s event. madfood.co

Taste of Madison
August 31-September 1
Madison, WI
Whether it’s all thanks to Tory Miller or not is up for debate, but Madison has officially arrived on the national food scene. Benefitting various local charities, the two-day event featured over 80 of the city’s dining establishments last year and drew a quarter of a million people. Prices are low and portions small to ensure that attendees are able to sample a wide array of local specialties. tasteofmadison.com

Hawai’i Food and Wine Festival
September 1-9
Honolulu, HI
What to do when it’s the end of summer and you’re already missing warm weather? Why, head to Hawaii, of course, where conditions drop below 85 degrees only one day in 10 during the month. (We looked it up, boom.) Add on a weeklong schedule of culinary events featuring the likes of Grant Achatz, Next Food Network Star’s Ippy Aiona, Mourad Lahlou and Ricardo Zarate and we think you’ll be pretty tempted to book this one. Like, right now. hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com

American Royal BBQ Festival
September 5-November 16

Kansas City, MO
Can you say, “over two months of some of the best barbecue in the nation?” Well, we just did. Kansas City will be home to the world’s largest barbecue contest over the first weekend in October, while other events between September and November include a barbecue expo, a sauce competition and the annual Barbecue Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Be sure to look up the schedule beforehand, as events are spread out over a long period. americanroyal.com

Feast Portland
September 19-22

Portland, OR
Immediately after attending the city’s inaugural event last fall, we came to the conclusion that Portland is the best town to host a food festival, being full of excellent, passionate food people. Danny Bowien, Stuart Brioza, Sean Brock and Andy Ricker are among the several top-flight chefs scheduled to lead cooking demos, panel discussions and meet-and-greets. There’s even an event called Baby Got Beer-Back. Have we left any doubt that we’ll be there for Round Two? feastportland.com

Read these festival recaps on Food Republic: