The 10 Best BBQ Festivals in the US Worth Travelling For

Best BBQ Festivals USA
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If you're a BBQ enthusiast looking to experience the best barbecue festivals in the USA, you've come to the right place! From mouthwatering pork ribs to flavorful beef brisket, the US is home to some of the most exciting BBQ festivals in the world.

Here, we highlight the top US BBQ festivals worth travelling for. So grab a napkin and get ready for a mouthwatering tour of the best BBQ in the USA!

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1. American World Series of Barbecue

For any barbecue enthusiast, heading to Kansas City for the American World Series of Barbecue is like stepping into BBQ heaven. This grand festival isn't just another cookout; it's the Olympics of barbecue!

Here, you'll witness the magic as hundreds of the world's finest BBQ competitors go head-to-head in a sizzling showdown of ribs, brisket, and chicken. But it's not all about watching and salivating; you'll get to dive into a plethora of barbecue samples and flavours yourself, exploring a vast array of stalls that serve up some of the most delectable, smoky goodness you've ever tasted.

Beyond the bites, the air buzzes with the sounds of live music, making the atmosphere truly electric. And if you're keen to up your own BBQ game, don't miss the chance to learn from the best at one of the many cooking demonstrations. 

This festival is a pilgrimage for the BBQ devout, offering a taste of the pinnacle of barbecue culture. So, if you're ready for an adventure that satisfies the soul as much as the stomach, this is one festival you won't want to miss.

2. W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival

For an experience that perfectly marries the soulful sounds of blues with the tantalizing BBQ flavours, make your way to Henderson, Kentucky, for the W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival.

This free festival (yes, you read that right, it's FREE) is one of America's largest music festivals, so you can enjoy a taste of Henderson barbecue while listening to some of the best blues music around. Two past times deeply rooted in the American experience.

This festival attracts not only the finest BBQ vendors from across the nation but also some of the most talented blues musicians. It's a cultural event that promises fantastic food and an unforgettable atmosphere of camaraderie and music.

Ideal for those who appreciate the finer things in life, the W.C. Handy Festival is a testament to the joys of good company, great music, and even greater BBQ.

3. Jack Daniel's World Championship

If there's a festival that marries the fiery art of barbecue with the soulful essence of whiskey, it's the Jack Daniel's World Championship in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

Picture this: elite BBQ teams from around the globe competing under the watchful eyes of Old No. 7, each aiming to be crowned the world champion. This isn't just a BBQ competition; it's a celebration where you can indulge in some of the finest BBQs and lose yourself in the rhythm of live music.

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The combination of smoky flavours pairs perfectly with that distinct whiskey taste. It's a match made in culinary heaven. So, why not make this event a highlight of your BBQ tour of the USA?

Exploring the grounds and discovering tasty delights as you walk between barbecue tents promises spirited tunes, plenty of Jack Daniel's sauce, and memories that last a lifetime.

4. American Royal World Series of Barbecue

If you're plotting a journey to dive deep into the heart of American BBQ culture, then the American Royal World Series of Barbecue in Kansas City, Missouri, is a must.

The event's centrepiece is an arena teeming with over 500 BBQ maestros from every corner of the globe, all battling it out in a smoke-filled showdown that's as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the taste buds. 

Here, you can meander through a labyrinth of smokers and grills, each offering a taste of something spectacularly smoky, from ribs that fall off the bone to brisket so tender it practically melts in your mouth.

It's not just about eating. You'll also get to revel in the buzz of live tunes and pick up a tip or two from the pros at cooking demos. So, if you're up for an epic BBQ adventure, this Kansas City spectacle can't be missed.

5. Windy City Ribfest

If you're planning a trip to Chicago, mark your calendars for the Windy City Ribfest. This gem of a festival is a paradise for rib lovers, offering some of the most succulent, finger-licking good ribs you'll find stateside.

The Ribfest is an epicentre of barbecue and a hive of activity. The streets are full of sweet, smoky flavours, and the sound of live music ricochets off the surrounding buildings. This isn't just a feast for your stomach but a treat for all of your senses.

With activities for all ages, it's the perfect spot for families or anyone looking to dive deep into the heart of American BBQ culture amidst the iconic backdrop of Chicago.

What are you waiting for? Get ready to face the wind and a whole heap of barbecue sauce at the Windy City Ribfest.

6. BBQ Austin

Thinking of heading to Austin, Texas? If so, BBQ Austin is a must-visit.

This fest is a vibrant showcase of everything the Lone Star State is all about. Imagine succulent brisket smoked to perfection, spicy sausages that burst with flavour and make a sumptuous snapping sound with every bite, and an atmosphere as warm and welcoming as a southern hug.

As you explore the BBQ Austin grounds, you'll encounter live music, as well as all the drinks and BBQ you can handle. So make sure you have a big appetite because you'll need to make room for BBQ classics and new dishes alike.


7. Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle

If your BBQ voyage takes you near the US political heart, you cannot miss the Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle in Washington, DC.

This mammoth festival pits top BBQ teams against each other in a sizzling competition that's far more thrilling than any political debate! Picture the streets of America's capital filled with the intoxicating aromas of smoked meats as live bands provide the soundtrack to this gourmet delight.

With various activities that entertain and engage, including cooking demos by seasoned pitmasters, this event is a feast for both the palate and the soul. And let's not forget the chance to sample some of the country's finest BBQ, making it a pivotal stop on your stateside BBQ tour.

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8. Lexington BBQ Festival

Slide down to Lexington, North Carolina, where the Lexington BBQ Festival pays homage to the state's storied BBQ tradition. It's not just a festival; it's a celebration of the smoky pork shoulders and tangy vinegar-based sauces that define North Carolina BBQ.

The Lexington BBQ Festival is a party celebrating the tangy, vinegar-based sauces that define North Carolina BBQ. In addition to a plethora of food vendors, the festival's side dishes of activity include axe throwing, sand sculptures, a dinosaur exhibit, and much more, so the whole family can get in on the entertainment.

The main event is, of course, the meat. And, with over 250 vendors, you'll leave with a full stomach and a face covered in BBQ sauce.

Between bites, you'll find yourself tapping your feet to live music or watching BBQ masters at work in cooking competitions. During the BBQ festival, Lexington flourishes into a vibrant, flavorful testament to BBQ's place in North Carolina culture, promising an unforgettable day for any BBQ buff.

9. Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

While the Big Apple might be more famed for its skyline than its smoke lines, the Apple Barbecue Block Party in NYC is an exception that perfectly blends urban energy with smoky, savoury delight.

Taking place at Madison Square Park, in the vibrant heart of NYC, every corner you turn at this festival presents a new opportunity to indulge in barbecue infused with the city's iconic flair and apple-smoked meats that promise a taste you won't find anywhere else.

This annual event isn't just about the unique barbecue offerings; it's about experiencing the melding of cultures, cuisines, and people in a city that never sleeps. It's a chance to see how barbecue is done in New York City style, with a slice of the iconic Big Apple.

So, if your BBQ quest has you craving an adventure that's as flavorful as it is memorable, the streets of NYC await with open grills and a unique festival atmosphere.

10. Texas Monthly BBQ Festival

Another stop on your BBQ-laden journey through the States that you absolutely cannot miss is the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest in Lockhart. Nestled in what many consider the heart of Texas BBQ country, this festival is a dream come true for those who worship at the altar of smoked meats.

Lockhart itself is nicknamed the barbecue capital of Texas and is famous for its barbecue joints, which are often hailed as some of the best in the Lone Star State.

At the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest, your days are filled with the rich aromas of mouth-watering brisket, pulled pork, and sausage. All smoked to perfection by some of the best pitmasters around.

This isn't just eating; it's an immersive experience that allows you to savour bites from legendary BBQ establishments all in one place. It's like a walking tour of the best BBQ in Texas, and there's no need for a map.

Beyond the feast, there's the joy of community. You'll find yourself swapping stories with fellow BBQ lovers, maybe you'll pick up a few tips on achieving that perfect smoke ring.

So, pack your bags, bring an empty stomach, a big appetite, and a sense of adventure because the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest in Lockhart beautifully captures the spirit of Texas BBQ.

Get closer to your favourite BBQ festivals with Spin Genie

If the thought of all of that pulled pork, sausage and BBQ has got you salivating, maybe it’s time to think about heading south to visit a couple of the USA’s best BBQ festivals. 

Hungry for more food content? The Ask Genie blog has plenty more where that came from. Check out just a few of our most delectable food guides here: 

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