People taste testing at the Hot Sauce Expo at Brooklyn...

People taste testing at the Hot Sauce Expo at Brooklyn Expo Center Credit: High River Sauces

Brace your taste buds, it’s going to be a hot and spicy spring festival season. And you don’t have to travel far to feel this burn.

The heat will be on in Brooklyn with festival homages to hot sauce, hot drinks and hangover-cure cocktails. Manhattan also likes it hot, with a festival showcasing global Creole cooking and celebrity TV chefs. However, amid the coronavirus crisis, some of the festivals has been canceled. Stay tuned for more possible changes. 

Here are several hot food and culture events that you can travel to on a MetroCard or a half-tank of gas.

Flamenco Festival 2020 has been canceled.

8th annual Hot Sauce Expo 2020

April 18 and 19, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Brooklyn Expo Center, 72 Noble St., Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Tickets: $15. $100/VIP ticket for 21 and over, includes complimentary cocktails, craft beer, barbecue lunch box, free bottle of High River sauce and a gift bag.


How hot are the hottest sauce samples at this annual salute to the magical mixing of chili pepper, salt and vinegar?

“Hot enough to make grown-ups cry,” says event organizer Steve Seabury, who is also the owner of High River Sauces in Kings Park.

Test your tolerance for the upper hot sauce heat units on more than 50 brands, most of them bottled in the United States, but a few imported from Yucatán, Mexico, and the Southwest of England. Ice cream will be strategically placed nearby if you need to, um, clear your palate.

You can also put out that tongue of fire at bars serving craft beer, Margaritas and Bloody Marys, and with food ranging from vegan to Texas pit master-crafted barbecue.

The festival is also a stop on the Booze and Infuse National Cocktail contest, with Chicago, Portland, Oregon, New Jersey and New York City bartenders vying to create a mixology masterpiece in 90 seconds. The festival closes with a Guinness Book of World Records challenge that involves eating reapers, the world’s hottest known chili pepper.

Third Annual NYC Creole Food Festival

May 30 and 31

2-3 p.m. VIP hour both days, $75; 3-7 p.m. general admission, $35

DL Rooftop Lounge, 95 Delancey St., Manhattan.


Creole isn’t just a Haitian or New Orleans specialty. “It’s from all over the world,” says Creole Food festival organizer Fabrice Armand. The Queens, Long Island-raised Harlem resident (of Haitian parentage) is also running Creole festivals this year in Miami, New Orleans and D.C. The New York venue, the DL Rooftop Lounge, is one of those trendy open-air penthouse bars you read about in city magazines. More than a dozen restaurant chefs will be manning the food stations — including “Beat Bobby Flay” winners Kelvin Fernandez and Thiago Silva, “Top Chef” finalist Gregory Gourdet and “Chopped” champion Leen. While you savor Dominican, Cuban, Brazilian and Puerto Rican-style Creole, an Afro-Cuban Band sweeps you off to that palm-tree dotted beach in your mind.   

Other hot festivals

Long Island:

North Fork Horseradish Festival, May 2, Hallockville Museum Farm, Riverhead,


2020 Bacon and Beer Classic, April 11,


NYC Craft Distillers Festival, March 28, has been canceled.

Tribeca Film Festival, April 15-26, has been postponed.

NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, May 16-17,

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