top of page

Check out 10 of the Best BBQ Festivals in the U.S. 

February 6th 2024

Barbecue festivals are a beloved tradition celebrated with fervor across the nation. From the tantalizing aroma of smoked meats wafting through the air to the lively atmosphere filled with die hard BBQ fans, these festivals offer a sensory delight for all attendees.

 

Whether indulging in succulent ribs, tender brisket, or spicy sausages, experiencing the diverse regional flavors and techniques is a culinary adventure not to be missed.

Beyond the mouthwatering dishes, barbecue festivals serve as vibrant gatherings where communities come together to celebrate shared culinary heritage and traditions.  

best bbq festivals
Milestone Brands Dulce Vida Tequila
Beach Whiskey at the best food and drink festivals

1. American Royal World Series of Barbecue (Kansas City, MO, September)

Known as the world's largest barbecue competition, the American Royal World Series of Barbecue in Kansas City attracts pitmasters from around the globe. Held annually at the Kansas Speedway, this event is a carnivore's dream, featuring various categories like brisket, ribs, and chicken. Beyond the competitions, attendees can enjoy live music, cooking demonstrations, and indulge in a diverse range of barbecue styles, making it a must-visit for barbecue enthusiasts seeking an immersive experience.

2. World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest (Memphis, TN, May)
 
Celebrating the rich barbecue culture of Memphis, this annual festival is a cornerstone of the city's identity. The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in May features over 200 teams competing in categories such as ribs, shoulder, and whole hog. Attendees can savor the distinct flavors of Memphis barbecue, witness cooking demonstrations, and soak in the lively atmosphere along the scenic Mississippi River, making it a flavorful and culturally rich experience for barbecue lovers.

3. Windy City Ribfest (Chicago, IL, July)

Bringing the best of barbecue, country music, and beer to Chicago, the Windy City Ribfest is a summer festival that captures the essence of Southern hospitality. Featuring renowned pitmasters, this event offers a diverse range of barbecue styles, from Texas to the Carolinas. Attendees can indulge in mouthwatering dishes, enjoy live performances by country music artists, and partake in beer tastings, creating a lively and flavorful celebration of barbecue in the heart of the Windy City.

4. The Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue (Lynchburg, TN, October)

Hosted at Wiseman Park just a short walk to the historic Jack Daniel's Distillery, this invitational barbecue championship is a prestigious event that draws top barbecue teams from around the world. With categories like pork, ribs, and brisket, competitors vie for the title of Grand Champion in a picturesque setting. Beyond the intense barbecue competition, attendees can explore the distillery, sample Jack Daniel's products, and enjoy live music, making this festival a blend of Tennessee whiskey heritage and world-class barbecue.

5. Nugget Best in the West Rib Cook-Off (Sparks, NV, August)

The Best in the West Rib Cook-Off is a renowned event that gathers top rib cookers from around the country. Spanning more than 6 blocks in downtown Sparks, attendees can relish a variety of rib styles and flavors while enjoying live entertainment and family-friendly activities. The festival's lively atmosphere and competitive spirit make it a must-visit for barbecue enthusiasts in the West.

10 best bbq festivals

6. Lexington BBQ Festival (Lexington, NC, October)

Situated in the proclaimed "Barbecue Capital of the World," the annual Lexington Barbecue Festival in North Carolina is a culinary extravaganza that pays homage to the state's legendary barbecue prowess. This festival is a pilgrimage for barbecue enthusiasts, attracting visitors from across the nation.
 
With a robust lineup of barbecue vendors showcasing the finest in pork shoulder, ribs, and traditional North Carolina barbecue, attendees embark on a flavorful journey through the region's culinary heritage. Amidst the savory delights, live music, and vibrant atmosphere, the Lexington Barbecue Festival stands as a quintessential celebration of North Carolina's barbecue culture, solidifying its status as a must-attend event for barbecue aficionados.

7. BBQ Austin (Austin, TX, March)
 

Deep in the heart of Texas, the BBQ Austin is a standout event in the Lone Star State's barbecue scene. As a prelude to the Austin Rodeo, this festival gathers seasoned pitmasters to showcase their skills in categories such as brisket, ribs, and chicken. Attendees can immerse themselves in the rich flavors of Texas barbecue, participate in tastings, and embrace the lively rodeo atmosphere. With the vibrant city of Austin as its backdrop, this BBQ Cook-Off embodies the perfect fusion of authentic Texas barbecue and cowboy culture.

8. Q BBQ Fest Dallas (Dallas, TX, October)
 
More than 30,000 pounds of sizzling BBQ takes center stage at AT&T Stadium during the Q BBQ Fest, attracting crowds with its delectable choices and welcoming family-friendly ambiance. Renowned pitmasters from all corners of the country demonstrated their expertise, as event-goers relished live music, informative presentations, and entertaining games.
 
Whether it was the mouthwatering brisket, succulent pulled pork, flavorful ribs, or savory chicken, the festival catered to every BBQ enthusiast's taste buds, transforming it into a genuine tribute to Texas' rich culinary legacy.

9. Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle (Washington, DC, June)

The Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle stands as an annual culinary extravaganza, transforming Washington, D.C.'s Pennsylvania Avenue into a sizzling haven for barbecue enthusiasts. Held in June, this weekend-long festival draws in renowned professional barbecue teams from across the nation to compete in a grand culinary showdown, showcasing their mastery of grilling and smoking meats.
 
The event seamlessly blends mouthwatering barbecue delights with live music performances, cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs, and family-friendly activities, creating an unforgettable celebration of food, community, and competition in the heart of the nation's capital.

10. Beer, Bourbon & BBQ (Atlanta, GA, February)
 

Come and enjoy the warm Southern hospitality at Atlanta's Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival. You'll get to taste a delicious mix of flavors that truly capture the South. Try over 60 different craft beers and 40 types of bourbon, all ready for you to sample and enjoy.

Feast on amazing BBQ dishes, from perfectly made pulled pork to juicy ribs, each bite packed with mouth-watering flavor. Listen to live music and enjoy fun entertainment, creating a lively atmosphere that's perfect for hanging out with friends and savoring the best of Southern food.

See All the Food, Wine, Spirits and Beer Festivals in Your State

bottom of page