2015 marked the inaugural year of the Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival. The park previously held an annual Bands Brews and BBQ Festival, which was nearly identical to an event that was held at Sea World Orlando just up the road.
I was invited to check out the Food and Wine Festival last weekend and I can not only say that it’s a step up from the BBQ event from year’s past, but it’s easily one of my favorite theme park seasonal events in Central Florida.
For starters, the concerts they lined up this year were well known names and fairly diverse: Kenny Rogers, Daughtry, Kool and the Gang, Gavin DeGraw, Josh Turner and for the weekend I attended – Pentatonix. Concerts are included with park admission and since I have been to my fair share of theme park concerts, I was expecting a 30-to-45-minute set.
Instead, Pentatonix did a full 90-minute show. An actual full concert that I would have gladly paid to see outside the park! While they do offer VIP seating for an upcharge, there are a limited number of benches (first come/first serve) and the rest of the area is standing room.
All of the booths for food and wine are located within the festival area near Gwazi (yes, it’s still standing as of now). In total, there are 10 booths that serve food, typically three samplings each, which range in price from $4.50 to $6.50.
In addition, there are at least 10 more booths that serve only wine and/or beer and those prices range from $6 to $9. Nearly all the alcoholic beverages were domestic and if that seems pricey to you, stay with me…
This is what makes the Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival worth the trip. The Food, Wine and Brew sampler is a punch card on a lanyard available for purchase at any kiosk for $42.99. You can get any five food items you want from the festival as well as five wine/or beer offerings, which is 10 items total.
That breaks down to $4.30 per food or drink item, making it extremely affordable. Even better, if you’re an annual passholder, you can still get 10% off either individual items or sampler passes.
It’s also worth noting that the sampler passes are good for the entire run of the Food and Wine event, meaning if you don’t use all your options in one visit, you can return to use them at a later date. In addition, it is transferable, which means if you want to split the cost with some friends and divide and conquer, it’s completely doable.
Quite possibly, the best deal at the festival is the Wine and Brew Sampler gives you a total of 10 alcoholic tastings for $34.99. Again, you can use your annual pass if you want to save an additional 10%. Any sampler package comes with this souvenir acrylic stemless wine glass that you can keep, but as we found out, it also means you get slightly larger pours of drinks!
If you haven’t gotten a chance to go out yet, the Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival runs through Sunday, April 26 and admission to the festival is included with park admission.
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