GGF_2015_Flameup_3Greet the morning with the sweet smell of fresh Garlic in the air – the Gilroy Garlic Festival is back!

If you’ve ever caught the vivid aroma of the stinking rose early in the day it’s likely a breeze coming over the southern Santa Clara County city of Gilroy, the Garlic capital of the world. Whether you love or hate the pungent allium, this herb is a favorite for many foodies in Silicon Valley and around the world.

Gilroy celebrates their favorite bulb one weekend of the year during the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the last weekend in July. This year it’s back for the 38th annual event held on July 29, 30, and 31, 2016. So what to should you expect from “summer’s ultimate food fair?” Food, food, food, fun, shopping, music, and more!

Gourmet Alley is “all about the food” – classics like garlic bread, garlic fries, calamari, scampi, and sausage are available at the booths, and at the end aisle, watch the Pyro-Chefs stoke up five foot tall blazes from their frying pans. Weird food lovers will enjoy a plenitude of flavors from other booths around the festival, including free samples of garlic ice-cream, alligator and buffalo meat, or ice cream in a half cantaloupe. There’s also the range of standard festival food stalls, beer, wine, coolers, and non-alcoholic chilled drinks.

Once you’ve eaten your fill of the fragrant cloves, dance it off or take a seat at one of the musical stages many performances. Passionate cooks might enjoy the kitchen demonstrations and Cook-Off stage. The little tykes will enjoy carnival fun and games with rides, face painting, and wax hands among much more in the Children’s Area. There are rides for the older kids, too. Artists and shoppers will enjoy the Arts & Crafts venues with aisles and aisles of hand-crafted small business owners selling their wares. Shops sell a variety of goods from woodworking, photography, dog collars, jewelry, hats, tie-dye, children’s clothing and toys, toe-rings, pottery, garden decor, flattened wine-bottle dishes, soaps, and so much more.

Symbols of the Garlic festival to look out for: Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen and the Garlic Court, the Festival Art Poster and the Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival Art Poster Contest, the giant flaming garlic (which always shows the money earned for charity), the garlic mascot, garlic braiding, and the annual recipe book (see some recipes on their website here).

When: Fri-Sun, July 27-29, 2018 from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm daily (entrance closes at 6pm)

Where: Christmas Hill Park, Gilroy (7050 Miller Ave, Gilroy, CA 95020)

Tickets: Adult $20, Seniors (60+) $15, Children (6-12) $15. Children under age 6 are admitted free. See ticket pricing details here.

Tickets may be purchased at the Festival entrance or in advance online or at participating Raley’s, Bell Air, and Nob Hill Foods locations.

Lot parking is $10 with free shuttle to the Festival.

Don’t feel like driving? Hop on the Garlic Train! Saturday and Sunday only, Caltrain will take you to the fun. Round trip tickets for the Garlic Train include shuttle to and from the Gilroy station to the Festival entrance as well as Festival admission. The train departs from San Jose Diridon Station at 10:00 with the return train departing Gilroy at 5:00 pm, giving you a full day of fun. Garlic Train tickets cost (including shuttle service and Festival admission) is $45 for adults and $40 for seniors 60+ and children ages 6-12. Tickets can be purchased with a Gourmet Alley combo plate for $58 (adult) or $53 (senior/child) total. Online ticket purchase is available online from the Gilroy Garlic Festival website.