The 9th annual Atlanta Food and Wine Festival kicks off on Thursday, May 30 for dinners, lunch, and brunch, classes at the Loews Atlanta in midtown, and three days of tasting tents. The weekend-long Southern food extravaganza sees nearly 2,500 people per day partaking in bites and booze at the tents, which relocate to Historic Fourth Ward Park from Piedmont Park this year.
Festival founder Elizabeth Feichter says the event was outgrowing its longtime home near Legacy Fountain at Piedmont Park in midtown. However, last year’s torrential rain storms throughout the weekend and a very muddy Sunday at the tents finally sealed the deal on the move south to the Old Fourth Ward.
“We love Piedmont Park. It’s been an incredible host over the years. Mother Nature and I go head-to-head every year during this weekend,” Feichter tells Eater Atlanta. “We’ve come to expect the rain as part of the festival now. But, with the growth of the event and the impact it’s had on Piedmont Park, we’ve simply outgrown the space. It prompted us to start looking for other locations.”
Historic Fourth Ward Park is flanked by the Eastside Beltline trail and North Avenue across from Ponce City Market. At just under 85,000-square-feet, it’s nearly 20,000-square-feet larger than the area the festival inhabited at Piedmont Park — not to mention, newer, flatter, and most importantly, with much better drainage for when it rains. The park was designed for crowds and large festivals such as music fest Shaky Knees and includes several sidewalks, concrete surfaces, and an amphitheater.
Feichter and her festival team took advantage of Atlanta’s extremely rainy winter this year, in anticipation of the pop-up thunderstorms which have become as much a part of the tasting tents as the food and drinks.
“We’ve been evaluating the park to figure out the hardest hit areas after a good rain over the last few months,” she explains. “We want people to enjoy themselves. Last year was tough. No one wants to walk around in the mud. If it’s going to rain, it should simply be a cooling off period during the tents.”
She still suggests wearing or bringing rain boots, just in case storms are in the forecast.
Take a look at the the layout and the chefs, restaurants, and food and beverage producers at this year’s tents:
Historic Fourth Ward Park is roughly the same distance by foot via the Beltline from the Loews as to Piedmont Park. Those attending learning sessions at the hotel now have two hours between the end of class and the opening of the tents to stroll down the Beltline, motorize scooter, Jump bike, or Uber and Lyft over to the park. A designated ride sharing drop off point is located at the corner of North Avenue and Dallas Street.
120 chefs, restaurants, wine, beer, and spirits producers from across the South and other southern regions from around the world are featured in the tents each day. Between 30 and 40 of those chefs and restaurants change daily.
The 9th annual Atlanta Food and Festival takes place Thursday, May 30 through Sunday, June 2.
Friday tasting tents, 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Saturday tasting tents, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday tasting tents, 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tasting tent tickets are $100 per day.
Original May 14 story updated with new tasting tent map and exhibitor information.
Festival headquarters, Loews Atlanta, 1065 Peachtree Street NE. atlfoodandwinefestival.com.