Every weekend from now until May 21, the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival offers an array of tasting booths, an outdoor art gallery, a variety of live entertainment, festival upgrades, and lots of fun and excitement for park guests! Included with admission, this festival is a delicious addition to the park’s already incredible line up of roller coasters, animal exhibits, and family-friendly shows.
We were so thrilled to be invited to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay to cover their 2023 Food & Wine Festival and its many offerings. Thank you, Busch Gardens, for inviting us out!
Now, let’s take a closer look at all you can expect at this year’s Food & Wine Festival:
Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival Overview
Unlike other theme park food festivals, the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival is centered in a single area of the park. All of the tasting booths, entertainment locations, and vendors are situated near Bird Gardens (either surrounding the Springs Taproom or along the Festival Walkway). With all of the Festival amenities so conveniently placed, there’s no need to traipse all over the park to find your next sample or rush around trying to make the next entertainment offering. Plus, there’s plenty of seating and standing tables, and the Springs Taproom provides a nice opportunity for an air-conditioned break from the heat.
Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival Tasting Booths
Busch Gardens offers twenty different booths featuring a wide variety of cuisine styles and adult beverage choices. Available options include Old World wines, bourbon samples, signature cupcakes, and food selections from the Greek Isles, African continent, Latin America, and more. There’s so much to choose from, including plenty of vegetarian and seafood options! Check out the posted menu for each of Busch Gardens’ tasting booths on their website.
I had the opportunity to try three Festival menu options during my visit: the Buffalo Chicken Egg Roll, Mushroom Ravioli with Truffle Cream Sauce, and Berbere Spiced Chicken Batbout.
Buffalo Chicken Egg Roll
As an avid fan of buffalo wings, buffalo Mac, and pretty much anything spicy – I had to try the Buffalo Chicken Egg Roll! Served with a creamy ranch dipping sauce, the roll had a satisfying amount of filling inside and a nice crispy outer texture. It definitely had a noticeable buffalo flavor, but I wouldn’t call it spicy. So if you prefer milder foods, this may be a good option.
Berbere Spiced Chicken Batbout
Served in the Moroccan Market, this dish includes chopped chicken spiced with paprika, fenugreek, garlic, allspice, ginger, chilis, coriander, cinnamon, and black pepper piled on top of warm pita bread. The Berbere Spiced Chicken Batbout features an impressive amount of chicken, and it’s very filling. So if you’re looking for a larger portion, this is a good dish to consider. It is much spicier than I anticipated, so order with care.
Mushroom Ravioli with Truffle Cream Sauce
Lastly, I tried the Mushroom Ravioli with Truffle Cream Sauce from the European Delights booth. Packed with lots of delicious mushroom flavor, this was a nice, vegetarian offset to my other chicken-focused selections.
If you’re particularly hungry and looking for a great value, consider purchasing one of Busch Gardens’ Food & Wine Sampler Lanyards. With a possible savings of 40-50%, you can choose between a 10-item lanyard for $70 or a 15-item lanyard for $85. The prices for each food item average over $10, so this is a really amazing deal.
Pro-tip: If you’re an Annual Passholder, ask about the exclusive 18-item lanyard!
Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival Live Entertainment
The Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival isn’t just about treats for your taste buds, it’s also about treats for your ears! Let’s take a look at the wide variety of live entertainment available during this special event:
Main Stage Concerts
Every Saturday and Sunday evening, enjoy an exciting concert performed by a mainstream artist. Upcoming shows include Jeremy Camp, Hoobastank, Walk the Moon, and Elvis Crespo. You can see a comprehensive list of all the scheduled concerts on Busch Gardens’ website.
Daily Festival Entertainment
In addition to the main stage concerts, the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival includes a variety of daily entertainment including violinists, cellists, and live bands. I particularly enjoyed the classy vibes of Violinist Isaac Morales and Cellist Rose Mallare.
The Corkyard Gallery
Okay, so we’ve talked about treats for your taste buds and treats for your ears, but what about your eyes? Busch Gardens has that covered too! Included in your Festival admission, explore the Corkyard Gallery – an outdoor art exhibition featuring the natural beauty of animals and the environment.
Merchandise and Vendors
Of course, every good theme park event needs to offer a wide selection of merchandise. The Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival, not only features its own line of branded items (like specialty tumblers and drinking glasses), it also provides space for local vendors.
Always Rich Creations
During my visit, I got to meet local vendor Always Rich Creations. Making incredibly realistic food-shaped candles, specialty soaps, and other self-care items; this artwork must be seen to be believed. Check out Always Rich Creation’s Instagram for more yummy pictures.
Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival Upgrades
If you’re looking to enhance your Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival experience, consider one of their available upgrades:
VIP Seating Package
Starting at $49.99, this package includes VIP concert seating (for the Saturday and Sunday main stage entertainment) and a beverage from the VIP bar.
Food & Wine Festival Guided Tour
A three-hour walking experience, this guided tour includes five food or beverage samples, a complimentary cup of feed for the kangaroos and lorikeets, and front of the line access to select roller coasters.
Both upgrades can be purchased on Busch Gardens’ website. Make your plans early as these upgrades might sell out!
Freaky Thoughts: Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival
Included with your admission and featuring tastes from all over the world, the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival is an awesome addition to the park’s already exciting line up of attractions and entertainment. Plus, the variety of visual and performing arts adds a unique aspect to your theme park day. If you enjoy tasty food, beautiful music, and thrilling rides; don’t miss the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival!
This event will run every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from now until May 21. Visit https://buschgardens.com/tampa/events/food-and-wine-festival/ for detailed menus, daily festival schedules, and more important information!