Get your garlic on! This weekend (July 27–29), the Gilroy Garlic Festival will welcome more than 100,000 hungry visitors as the event celebrates its 40th anniversary. With three days of sensory-filled fun in Christmas Hill Park, there’s plenty to hear, see, smell, and taste. Here are some of the can’t-miss highlights from the world-famous bash.
Head to Gourmet Alley to taste all the ways California-grown garlic can transform into top-notch treats. Favorite dishes include garlic-laced calamari and shrimp sauteed by local chefs over massive flames. Pepper steak sandwiches made from local Harris Ranch beef will round out your surf and turf experience. For dessert? Try the famous garlic ice cream, of course.
Three stages will welcome high-profile musicians, including country singers Cale Dodds, Travis Denning, and Mitchell Tenpenny. Other acts include classic rockers, jazz crooners, swing bands, reggae artists, and more.
Famous chefs will hold court during daily cooking competitions. MasterChef season 7 champion Shaun O’Neal will host Friday’s Champions for Charity, which benefits local first responders. See former Olympic gold medalist and star of Food Network’s What Would Brian Boitano Make? at the Great Garlic Cook-Off on Saturday. Sunday, Iron Chef Michael Symon will emcee the Garlic Showdown where professional chefs are challenged by a secret ingredient.
The Garlic Chef’s Jr competition will make its debut, spotlighting mini chefs. For the 21-plus crowd, the festival will feature a signature cocktail, the Garlic Festival Mule, served in a keepsake copper mugs. In honor of 40 years of garlic greatness, the festival will feature photos and video from the inaugural 1979 celebration. Guests donning 70s garb will be entered to win special prizes.
The festival is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Tickets are $20 per day for adults, $10 for kids (ages 10 to 16), and $15 for active-duty military, senior citizens, and locals (Friday only). There’s motor vehicle parking ($10) as well as free bicycle stations, but one of the best ways to get to the festival is on the Garlic Train. A specially chartered train on the Caltrain line from San Jose to Gilroy will depart daily at 10 a.m.