Busch Gardens Popular Food & Wine Festival is Exceptionally Good This Year!
Boasting culinary creativity beyond anything they have done in the past and a beverage lineup including 120 wines, craft beers and creative cocktails, 2016 is set to top previous records for decadence at The Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival this year making Busch’s popular new Food & Music adventure sensational in every way!
Invited to attend Media Night as part of the Tampa Bay Blogger Network I braved ridiculous traffic for the opportunity to sample the menu I had seen and tweeted about online days before in our weekly #TampaBayTuesday Twitter Chat.
At a dead stop for minutes on 275 North at 4:15 pm I texted friends asking, “How do people sit in this everyday?” I had an epic ‘foodie adventure’ ahead, somewhere to be, things to eat and drink, something to explore! Had it not been for my destination I would have gone crazy, but as it was, I patiently crawled to my destination, the annual Busch Gardens® Food & Wine Festival.
Knowing animal encounters and crafts, festival games and live entertainment awaited at Busch Gardens along with more than 35 delectable dishes I steadfastly moved toward my reward! Parking in an employee lot I set off on foot through familiar grounds towards the event.
For years my kids and I came to Busch Gardens after school and on weekends, experiencing amazing sights and sounds, learning, exploring, and enjoying the beauty of Busch Gardens. As I approached the ‘Culinary Cabins’ set up for the Festival, I passed expressive Topiary masterpieces painstakingly crafted by the grounds crew and smiled, they are just fun to see!
I giggled at some wishing my boys were with me, knowing they would enjoy seeing these sensational living works of art. There are nearly a dozen in total spread throughout the park, be sure to see:
- Mugambi the Lion at the park entrance tram stop
- Topiarazzi outside of Zagora Café near the front of the park
- Vertigo the Green Boa Constrictor in Gwazi Plaza
- Commerson’s Dolphin at the Garden Gate Cafe
Stunned by the artistry, brilliance and dedication to craft in each one I could not wait to see them all:
- Sea Turtles outside the Garden Gate Cafe
- Butterfly Giants in the Bird Gardens
- Wooloomooloo , Coogee Kangaroo and Baby Joey in the Kangaloom Plaza
- Flock of Flamingos in the Bird Gardens
Is this not amazing! It is HUGE!
The Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival takes place each weekend at Busch Gardens Tampa through April 24, and is included with park admission.
For a limited time when you buy a 2016 Busch Gardens Fun Card you also receive a FREE 2016 Adventure Island Fun Card, making the time to buy and experience NOW! The times we spent in these parks as a family….invaluable! Buy a Fun Card and go often!!
My kids gained tremendous knowledge on multiple topics during times spent in the park; most importantly they learned conservancy! AJ, now 23 years old, shown here in a 15-year-old photo sitting on my desk. is feeding birds in Busch Garden’s Lorry Landing. I think the look on his face says it all!
Don’t miss The Conservation Cabin!
Conservation Cabin is filled with family fun activities and opportunities to meet Busch Gardens’ animal ambassadors who can share information, memory making animal encounters and allow your child to do crafts with them! The Conservation Cabin is open event weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Busch Gardens Elevates the Art of Food with The Food & Wine Festival
Ordinary food becomes art when in the hands of a creative genius, if you or your kids aspire to be a chef do not miss the foodie demonstrations each day of the Food & Wine Festival. Enjoy pulled sugar art, fruit and veg carving, cake and cookie decorating and more. These popular demonstrations run all day from noon to six in Xcusrsions and the Bird Gardens. You can catch ice sculpting in Gwazi Plaza at 7:30 on most nights, be sure to check the schedule below!
How to Fest, New Adventures and Options are in Store for you this Year
In addition to new food and beverage options, the Food & Wine Festival also offers new ways for guests to savor the Fest called the “Food Sampler”. Park guests can purchase a Food Sampler add-on. This add-on includes five food samples of your choice throughout the Festival starting at $24.99. Or you can opt for Food & Wine Festival 2016 Wine & Brew Sampler package, Priority Seating, Guided Tours and more. If you want to take home the exclusive Food & Wine Festival wines by the bottle they are available in select locations throughout the park.
More than 15 new dishes, including duck tacos, lobster ravioli, truffle fries and almond coconut truffles (this was the only item I did not care for and I love coconut, too dense and overly sweet for me), are on the menu this year. While foodie favorites like Bacon Mac & Cheese and the Griddled Cheesecake Sandwich (Cheesecake between two pieces of griddles pound cake) are back by popular demand.
Busch’s Popular New Food & Music Adventure is Sensational
When you arrive check the map and discover 11 sensational ‘Culinary Cabins’ throughout the park, each cabin serves a related choices of foodie treats!
Culinary Cabins include:
Artisan Eats crafts my favorite truffle fries, shrimp & grits and pan-fried bread pudding with Nutella®-mascarpone drizzle. Move me in! I did NOT want to leave!
Garden Gate Cafe:
Garden Gate Café is new this year serving pheasant sausage flatbread topped with filet de pomodoro and tuna poke.
The Gourmet Lodge:
The Lodge features smoked beef brisket, pickled shrimp over couscous salad and a decadent griddled cheesecake sandwich.
Savory Tavern will tempt your taste buds with coconut shrimp cigars, espresso flan, and a goat cheese polenta cake topped with olives and tomatoes.
Chef’s Plantation is home to pan-seared salmon cakes, beef short ribs and duck tacos with a sweet chili sauce.
Coast to Coast Cookery:
Surf and Turf are kicked up a notch at Coast to Coast Cookery, where you can nosh on green peppercorn-seared hangar steak, bacon-wrapped prawns and chilled smoked chicken with apples, sun-dried cranberries and walnut quinoa.
Field House Eatery:
The biggest cabin in the Fest offers sustainably caught pan-seared diver scallops and lollipop lamb chops on Tabouleh with a tangy Tzatziki sauce.
Southern Station switched things up a bit this year with bison sliders, pan-fried cod over fennel risotto, roasted pork belly with red pepper jam, and venison chili with roasted corn, black beans and lime sour cream.
The Comfort Kitchen lives up to its name with bacon mac & cheese and lobster ravioli over tomato basil sauce.
Light Fare Canteen:
Want to eat well without having to run a marathon to burn what you consume? Light fare serves up scallop ceviche, a potato and goat cheese tart, and a yummy cheese plate to accompany a divine glass of wine.
Blazin’ Bistro features jerk chicken sliders, roasted cauliflower hummus and a refreshing vanilla Cigar City Maduro® ice cream float topped with caramel.
The Food and Wine Festival foods and drinks are not included with park admission, be sure to check VIP upgrades on their ticketing page to save.
Live Entertainment Including Headliners Each Weekend:
“You Had Me at Merlot,” a 40’s-style four-piece band performing both classic and current hits had several people dancing in the streets. You will also encounter a living topiary, several ‘characters’ and plenty of culinary ‘hosts’ ready to make your culinary adventure unforgettable! Catch live music in the Garden Gate Cafe on event days and “You Had Me at Merlot” in the Gwazi Pavilion.
Headliners Taking The Stage This Year Include:
We are going back to see Mercy Me, The Goo Goo Dolls, George Thoroughgood and Third Eye Blind! I hope to see you there, I will be the one who just can’t stop smiling. I mean seriously, how blessed are we to have something like this in our own backyard!
The Coasters in #corksandcoasters are the BEST part for me on any trip to Busch’s backyard!
While in the park be sure to go take a sneak-a-peek at the new ride Cobra’s Curse and ride the rides. From experience I recommend riding before imbibing! Have all the fun you want, see the animals, ride the rides, play the games then gourmet dine your way through the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival before leaving the park satiated, happy and with great new memories!
Make plans today to experience one of the State’s TOP Food & Wine Festivals where you can ride and dine in style at Busch Gardens. Let me know if you go who you saw and what you tried in comments below! I can’t wait to hear about your experience!
With a smile,
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