Autumn and the month of May seems an awful long time away - let's get through summer first. But the biggest festival of the season, celebrating Queensland and Australia's fabulous food on one of the prettiest beaches has already kicked off ticket sales. Some of our favourite events are already sold out (nostalgic Sixties beach party, the Asian Food Trail) but there are plenty more to get your teeth stuck into.
Here are our favourite reasons to go:
1. Top Tastes of Queensland
A lunch in the festival village marquee, right on the beach, brings the state's top chefs together for one dego lunch - Philip Johnson, Matt Golinski and pals with Queensland wines. If you've missed out on the trails, this is the relaxed way to taste your way around the region, all for a mere A$135.
Or you can crank up the posh for the Westpac Premier International Degustation: A$495 gets you one of the San Pellegrino Top 50 chefs - David Thompson of Nahm, Thailand - plus London heavy-hitter Bruno Loubet and Alvin Leung of Hong Kong's Bo Innovation; or the Netanya Premier eight-course dego with e'cco's Philip Johnson, Justin North and Cutler & Cos' Andrew McConnell.
2. Neil Perry
Perry will be in his element preparing two seafood feasts, on the beach, with a little help from Qantas. Perry's Rockpool Group still leaves many of the hip newcomers in its wake, so the awards keep coming. The marquee is a sight to behold, with the surf, the sand, the sunshine - Noosa at its best.
3. A discount for booking early
It's worth 10% discount (on most, not all events) to get in early (before April 1). We love the new accommodation packages that Sunshine Coast has put together, too, with rooms from as little as A$160 per night and a whole bunch of more nice festival discounts.
4. You can spend as much or as little as you like
Sure, you could fork out A$950 for the Platinum Experience, with a private concierge and VIP lunches every day, or Gold Passes to the daily happenings at the Festival Village (A$330 with food and wine), but you can also rock along to the Show Days (Saturday and Sunday May 17 and 18) for as little as A$40. That gets you to a swag of cooking demonstrations, brainy food discussions (Is Australia Becoming the Most Expensive Country for Dining? Is a debate we'd like to join, if only to point out it's cheaper than in Auckland!), wine and beer kiosks and some stunning Sunshine Coast restaurants.
5. We can travel the world - just by walking up the beach
New offerings this year include Joseph Abboud and others presenting a Visit to the Middle East, while festival founder, director and all round Mr Nice, Jim Berardo hosts seven of Aussie's hottest Italian chefs (including Guy Grossand Massimo Mele, for one wonderful sunset feast at Noosa's National Park, MCd by the larger-than-life Maria Venuti (A$295). We can match food with Japanese Asahi beer and cider, try an Aussie bush barbecue, the best French Champagnes (the Tattinger breakfast might even get us out of bed early) and then just good, local seafood and produce.
Further details: The Noosa International Food & Wine Festival runs from May 15 - 18.
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