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Fans of the annual Boca Bacchanal festival in Boca Raton may be surprised by how soon it’s sneaking up this year before spring.
“It’s in March this year because that’s when the hotel had availability, so the date is going to move around each year based on that,” says Mary Csar, executive director of Boca Raton Historical Society and Museum, which organizes the festival as a fundraiser for the society. “We’re having to get ready a lot earlier than we ever have.”
Last year, the Grand Tasting — the festival’s extravagant finale with 1,000 people — moved from Mizner Park Amphitheater to the Boca Raton Resort and Club.
“We wanted to upscale it a bit and expand our audience. A lot of people know the resort,” Csar says. “It’s so much easier to do it at the hotel. The amphitheater is just a shell, and we had to do everything. And we think the hotel has cachet for the event. People dressed up more and behaved better. People could valet their cars.”
This year’s 18th annual tasting on March 7 will feature more than 130 wines, a full bar, a craft-beer station and bites from about 25 restaurants. Chops Lobster Bar and Loch Bar are a couple of the returning restaurants while City Fish Market, Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar, Rebel House and Rex Baron are among the first-timers.
“The theme is going to be wine country,” Csar says. “We have an artist this year, Thomas Arvid. It’s the first time we’ve had a central focus on an artist. His paintings are sold at a gallery in Delray, but he’s from the Atlanta area and paints wine scenes. He’s going to have his art on display, and he’ll have some things in the silent auction.”
Other diversions include a DJ and retail vendors, such as Bloomingdale’s, which will offer complimentary makeup applications.
“The Grand Tasting has changed from a wine tasting to a party that encompasses more things,” Csar says. “There is something for everyone.”
Tickets for the event, from 7 to 10 p.m. at 501 East Camino Real, cost $125.
Another big change last year was the addition of Bubbles and Burgers to the Boca Beach Club. The official Boca Bacchanal event returns to the same oceanfront spot Feb. 20, hopefully with less wind so the event can be held outside. Feisty weather in 2019 pushed its debut inside.
“We thought it would attract younger people. A lot of people have aged out and don’t want to come anymore,” Csar says. “We had a lot of people we didn’t know, so that’s good. It’s a lot of fun to be on the beach.”
The event will feature six kinds of gourmet burgers and a DJ.
“We expect to have a better handle on the number of people coming, and we’ve added beer and a greater variety of wine instead of just Champagne,” she says, adding that should fix last year’s kinks.
The cost for the event, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at 900 S. Ocean Blvd., is $100.
“I expect we may be sold out the week before the event,” Csar says of the event, which has capacity for 200 ticketbuyers.
The vintner dinners, this year on March 6, usually sell out the 200 tickets. The event features elegant private homes hosting five-course dinners paired with wine.
“It varies on the year, but we’re working to get five sites this year,” she says. “We ask that hosts have from 36 to 42 people.”
Organizers look for up-and-coming sous chefs from around the country to helm the dinners.
“They are more eager to come, especially from up North during the winter,” Csar says. “The chef and the vintner touch base with each other to coordinate. The homeowners serve as hosts. It’s like having five parties in one night.”
Tickets for the evening, from 7 to 11 p.m., cost $350.
Last year, the festival raised $115,000 for the society, according to Csar. Visit BocaBacchanal.com for more details and to buy tickets.
“I think the reward to us is the fact that we meet so many interesting people,” she says. “It’s gotten us into the community, and people know who we are. It’s really given us a name, and it’s become a major event in Boca.”
Upcoming food and drink events
Jan. 30: Sixth annual Culinary Kickoff featuring notable chefs, such as Michael Mina, poolside food stations paired with wine as kickoff to Super Bowl weekend, benefiting scholarship fund at The Culinary Institute of America, 7:30 p.m. to midnight at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, $800, LaneOne.com
Feb. 1: 29th annual Taste of the NFL’s Party with a Purpose benefitting Kick Hunger Challenge, featuring more than 30 prominent chefs, NFL players and coaches from across country, 7 p.m. at The Diplomat Beach Resort, 3555 S. Ocean Drive, Hollywood, $700, TasteOfTheNfl.com/tickets
Feb. 5: Fifth annual WakeFest Invitational & Anniversary Celebration, unlimited tastings of more than 120 independent national and international craft breweries, including 30 from local J. Wakefield Brewing, DJ and food trucks, $75 for advance tickets or $85 at gate, noon to 5 p.m. at Mana Wynwood, 2217 NW Fifth Ave., Miami, JWakefieldBrewing.com
Feb. 6: Flavors 2020, hosted by Junior League of Boca Raton, offering tastings from 30 local restaurants, open bar, live music, vendors, raffles and live auction, 6:30 p.m. at The Addison, 2 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton, $100 and $165 for VIP, Jlbr.org
Feb. 7-9: 14th annual Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance benefitting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, a hangar party featuring food, wine and spirit tastings with bites from more than 25 local restaurants alongside cars, motorcycles and private jets, 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 7 at Atlantic Aviation at Boca Raton Airport, 700 Airport Road, $125; grand gala dinner, live auction, awards and show featuring comedian Billy Gardell, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Feb. 9 at Boca Raton Resort & Club, 501 E. Camino Real, prices vary; BocaRatonConcours.com
Feb. 19-23: 19th annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival, more than 100 events boasting television personalities and celebrity chefs at various locations, sponsored by Food Network and Cooking Channel and benefiting Florida International University Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, schedule of events and tickets at SobeWff.org
Feb. 20: Bubbles and Burgers, part of the 18th annual Boca Bacchanal featuring gourmet burgers, Champagnes, wines and beers, DJ and ocean views, 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Boca Beach Club, Boca Raton, 900 S. Ocean Blvd., $100 at BocaBacchanal.com
March 6: 18th annual Boca Bacchanal vintner dinners featuring five-course dinner parties at various elegant private homes and historic venues in Boca Raton, 7 to 11 p.m., $350 at BocaBacchanal.com
March 7: The Grand Tasting, finale of 18th annual Boca Bacchanal benefitting Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum, samplings of more than 130 wines, craft beers and 25 local restaurants, DJ, silent auction, pop-up art gallery and shops, 7 to 10 p.m. at Boca Raton Resort & Club, 501 E. Camino Real, $125 at BocaBacchanal.com
March 13, 15: Third annual We Are Stoneman Douglas weekend, Winemaker Dinner at 6:30 p.m. March 13 at Woodfield Country Club, 3650 Club Place, Boca Raton, $250; Food & Wine Event at 4 p.m. March 15 at Parkland Golf and Country Club, 10001 Old Club Road, Parkland, $150, or $375 for both; benefitting nonprofit Parkland Cares that funds counseling for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors and families, ParklandCares.org
March 18-22: Second annual Greater Fort Lauderdale Food & Wine Festival, Cocktail Confidential, 7 to 9 p.m. March 18 at Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery, 115 NW Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale, $49; chefs hosting dinner at restaurants March 19, details to come; GFL on the Rise at 6 p.m. March 20 at the Atlantic Hotel & Spa, 601 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, $100; Grand Tasting with samplings, cooking demonstrations and live music, noon to 5 p.m. March 21 at ArtsPark at Young Circle, 1 N. Young Circle, Hollywood, $50 for general admission and $95 for VIP; Family Day & Food Drive with children’s activities, food trucks and bars, noon to 5 p.m. March 22 at ArtsPark at Young Circle, free entry with suggested toy donation; portion of festival proceeds benefit Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, GflFoodWine.com
March 21-22: Fourth annual Doral Food & Wine Festival featuring more than 40 restaurants and sponsors, cooking demos by celebrity chefs, beer garden, live entertainment, kids and teen zones, 5 to 11 p.m. March 21 and 2 to 8 p.m. March 22 at Doral Central Park, 3000 NW 87th Ave., $25 adult general admission includes 12 sampling vouchers and $115 VIP includes 12 vouchers and all-you-can-eat VIP area, DoralFoodAndWineFestival.com