The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience gets underway in Louisiana on Wednesday, May 23, for its 26th annual celebration. The festival, which runs through May 27, is not only one of the Big Easy’s premier events, it’s one of the most highly anticipated culinary and wine happenings in the country.

Chefs and their assistants prepare to serve guests during last year’s Grand Tasting. (Courtesy: NOWFE)

Chefs and their assistants prepare to serve guests during last year’s Grand Tasting at the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience. (Courtesy: NOWFE)

Drawing more than 10,000 food aficionados, connoisseurs and gastronomes, plus lovers of art and music, the fun-for-all festival showcases hundreds of participating restaurants and wineries. Highlighting local flavor and innovative culinary creations that integrate a sundry of cuisines, some of the city’s finest chefs will present an incredible food-tasting extravaganza.

Wine-tasting is a highlight of the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, with many varietals being featured by numerous wineries. (Courtesy: NOWFE)

In addition, more than two dozen restaurants will offer special dining experiences in the evenings throughout the five-day Crescent City festival. And, during the Memorial Day weekend, festivalgoers can enjoy wine-tasting events, too, hosted by numerous wineries and featuring in excess of 1,000 outstanding wine varietals from around the world.

Also part of the festivities is the Seminar and Experiences Series, which offers a host of wine and food seminars, plus one-of-a-king hands-on experiences throughout the holiday weekend. The series will deliver more than a dozen seminars and experiences, such as “Louisiana Caviar, Oysters & Champagne,” “The Spirit of New Orleans,” “A Tribute to California Wines” and the French Quarter Cellar Strut.

So whether partaking in the festival’s tasting events, enjoying promenade evenings in the French Quarter or honing your palate at the seminar series, with so much to see, taste and experience, it’s not likely there’ll be a dull moment at this exciting, fun-filled culinary and wine celebration.

A couple enjoys food and wine tastings at last year’s Royal Street Stroll, a signature event of NOWFE. (Courtesy: NOWFE)

A couple enjoys food and wine tastings at last year’s Royal Street Stroll, a signature event of the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience. (Courtesy: NOWFE)

At NOWFE, revelers also will have the opportunity to attend vintner dinners; the signature Royal Street Stroll, which brings together rare antiques, fine art, live jazz, stunning architecture and, of course, wine; Vinola!, featuring rare and highly valued wines; an array of grand tastings; and a Sunday brunch.

Jazz music abounds during the five-day NOWFE festivities. (Courtesy: NOWFE)

What would an annual New Orleans’ festival be without an abundance of jazz music? (Courtesy: NOWFE)

Three ticket packages to NOWFE are available: The Tasting Package, The Connoisseur Package and The VIP Package — which also includes early entry to the festival. A la carte tickets are available, too, for numerous wine dinners, Vinola!, the Royal Street Stroll, The Great Escape at Gold Mine Saloon Presented by Seagram’s Escapes, interactive wine and food encounters, professionally directed seminars, Friday evening and Saturday afternoon grand tastings, and Brunch Around the World.

Besides just putting on an incredible annual event, all of the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience’s proceeds, minus costs, go to local nonprofit organizations every year, benefiting the city’s culinary arts programs, those seeking careers in the wine and hospitality industries, and other charitable agencies. Since its existence, NOWFE has raised and donated more than $1.2 million to area food banks, culinary schools, educational programs and more.

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