Awesome Summer Food Festivals

20070601012480707_wackyfestivals_02.jpgThe Gilroy Garlic Festival
Courtesy Bill Strange

The Gilroy Garlic Festival, in Northern California, is known not just for serving tons of the aromatic harvest all weekend, but also for culinary pyrotechnics.

Ready to get an early start on your summer travel? Some of the world's tastiest food festivals are happening over the next few weeks in some of the world's most beautiful spots. Pack a bag, and an appetite.

EXPO MILANO

Milan, Italy, is hosting this world's fair event from May through October. The theme is Feeding the Planet. You can sample food from 20 regions of Italy, not to mention more than 100 nations. Top chefs are doing demonstrations, top architects have designed stunning pavilions, and there are cultural events all day and night, including a brand-new show by Cirque du Soleil. And don't miss the expo's mascot, Foody, designed by Disney. STAY: Milan Hilton, from around $120. (The exchange rate with the euro gets you a bargain.)

NATIONAL CHERRY FESTIVAL

Traverse City, in northern Michigan, is a beautiful place to visit any time of year, but when the cherry harvest is in, it's heaven on the lakeshore beaches. From July 3 through 11, a half-million people will visit the festival. Of course there's a parade and a pancake breakfast with cherry syrup, preserves, and pie. But there's also an amazing air show, "Blues, Brews, and BBQ" and on the Fourth of July... the Cherry Pit Spit Contest. STAY: Great Wolf Lodge, from $180.

GILROY GARLIC FESTIVAL

Four words: Free. Garlic. Ice. Cream. A day trip from San Francisco, the "World's Greatest Summer Food Festival" celebrates Gilroy's aromatic crop July 24 through 26. The Bay Area has some serious foodies, and they flock to Gilroy each summer to sample the garlicky concoctions on the festival's Gourmet Alley (with its "flame ups" by its famous "pyro chefs") and a bunch of cook-offs and demonstrations. STAY: Hotel Del Sol, San Francisco, from $120.

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