Gilroy Garlic Festival – Food Festival Like No Other

Ah, garlic. The delicious, odorous, bulbous plant has been captivating us for thousands of years. Traced back to central Asia, garlic spread to the Middle East and northern Africa in 3000 BC. It’s been heralded for its flavourful food seasoning capabilities, its proven medicinal properties, and even its religious and spiritual powers in some cultures. Early Egyptians enjoyed the benefits of this plant and held it in high regard; six bulbs of garlic were discovered in King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Garlic was cultivated and eaten in ancient China, and consumed by ancient Greek and Roman soldiers. It was used for its antibiotic and antiseptic properties  with great success in The Second World War. With such a flavourful, rich history in both food and medicine it’s no wonder this little plant is celebrated around the world. The Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California is one of the largest food festivals in the world – and garlic is at the top of the list.

Each year, for three days in July The Gilroy Garlic festival chops, marinades, broils, fries, freezes and bakes the best garlic in as many different ways as you can imagine. 2015’s festival took place over July 24, 25 and 26 this year, and brought in over ninety five thousand festival goers over the course of the event.

Visitors flock to this California town from all over the country for a taste of the garlicky goodness. In addition to all the delicious food, there’s also cooking competitions, kids zones, teen zones, and lots of fun for the whole family!

The main attraction of the Gilroy Garlic Festival that makes it stand out from the rest of festivals around the world is Gourmet Alley. This famous,  gigantic, outdoor kitchen is where

Gourmet Alley

Gourmet Alley

the world renowned “Pyro Chefs” put on their amazing flame-up show while they prepare dishes such as calamari and scampi in huge iron skillets, all made with garlic of course.

Here is a list of only some of the food you can expect to find at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in its Gourmet Alley, and if your mouth isn’t watering by the end of this list, there’s more – bring your appetite!


  • pepper steak sandwiches
  • fried calamari
  • pasta con pesto
  • sausage sandwiches
  • Cajun cheesesteak sliders
  • fritters
  • lamb, chicken, veggie falafel on pita bread, meat and rice plates
  • garlic salmon, hot wings, garlic rosemary chicken sandwich
  • wine, wine coolers, sangria, mimosas
  • fresh garlic, jarred garlic products
  • bubble tea
  • garlic seasonings, sauces
  • strawberry goods: shortcake, parfait, cheesecake, brownies, fresh fruit cup
  • assorted jerky
  • gourmet olive oil
  • woodfired pizza
  • garlic sautéed mussels, chicken and waffles
  • shanghai lumpia, garlic pansit, garlic bowl
  • corn on the cob, baked potatoes, nachos
  • tamales, tacos, quesadillas, burritos
  • beef/chicken teriyaki stick, lobster ball on a stick
  • dried garlic/floral head garlands, parasols
  • frozen yogurt
  • pistachios, pistachio butter
  • kettle popcorn, garlic popcorn
  • chicken, shrimp paella, vegan paella
  • fresh fruit smoothies
  • garlic veggie wrap, garlic Philadelphia cheesesteak
  • chocolate dipped fruit kebobs
  • blackened shrimp, seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee
  • BBQ ribs, chicken, hot link sandwich, sweet potato pie
  • smoked turkey legs, garlic steak tacos, roasted corn
  • garlic Cajun crawdads, garlic gator on-a-stick
  • Café 152 Gilroy Garlic Gourmet Burgers
  • french fried artichoke hearts, fresh steamed artichokes
  • wonton tacos, Asian infused chicken wrap, garlic fried bananas
  • garlic chicken/pork/tilapia over rice, garlic edamame


If that’s not enough to satisfy you, the Gilroy Garlic Festival is also home of the mouth-watering Gilroy garlic fries,

Gilroy Garlic Fries

Gilroy Garlic Fries

and garlic bread like none you have ever tried before! Last but not least, you haven’t completed your trip down Gourmet Alley if you haven’t tried Gilroy’s one and only garlic ice cream. The garlic ice cream is free, and you have to try it to believe it!

The Gilroy Garlic Festival entertains festival goers on three stages, hosts their live cooking contests and demonstrations, offers a variety of local arts & crafts, wine tasting – this is California after all – and a Children’s Area as well as a Teen Zone for the kids to enjoy.

2015’s Gilroy Garlic Festival celebrity chef Daphne Oz from ABC-TV’s The Chew was there to host the Garlic Showdown on Sunday, and there was the unforgettable first-ever Garlic Dream Wedding, with the beautiful bride walking down the aisle holding a bouquet of garlic bulbs.



Cooking Events 2015 Recap


Friday, July 24


  • A cooking demonstration by Dewey Lucero and Bozzano Ranch
  • A cooking demonstration by SakaBozzo (Gene Sakahara and Sam Bozzo) and Alexis Higgins, contestant on “Master Chef Jr.”
  • A Q&A all about garlic! – Brian Jones, OLAM International
  • Garlic Bowl MMXV
  • Executive chef teams from Santa Clara University, Chico State University, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and University of San Francisco showed off their skills in a competition to win $5,000 in scholarships for their schools. Hosted by San Jose Sharks announcer Dan Rusanowsky and Chef Jason Gronlund.


Saturday, July 25


  • The Great Garlic Cook-Off Contest
  • Eight amateur chefs from across America competed for the Gilroy Garlic Festival’s garlic crown and $5,000 cash prize.
  • Cooking Demonstration: Andrea Froncillo
  • Executive Chef at Smokey Bones
  • Cooking Demonstration: Jason Lavinsky
  • Cooking Demonstration: Bryan Martinez and Carl Stewart

Sunday, July 26


  • Cooking Demonstration: Gloria and Michael Malone, wife and son of Festival founder Rudy Melone
  • Garlic Showdown
  • Four professional chefs competed in an “Iron Chef” style competition for the $5,000 and the Gilroy Garlic Festival fame. Hosted by Daphne Oz from ABC-TV’s “The Chew” and three-time Garlic Showdown champion Chef Jason Gronlund.
  • Cooking Demonstration: Celebrity Chef Daphne Oz from ABC-TV’s “The Chew”
  • Garlic Q&A: Brian Jones, OLAM International
  • Garlic Lovers’ Dream Wedding
  • Winning couple in the Dream Wedding contest tied the knot in an official garlic-themed wedding, and won the hearts of the Gilroy Garlic Festival crowd


Gilroy Garlic Festival Music


The Gilroy Garlic Festival may be one of the biggest food festivals in the United States, but that doesn’t mean that it’s lineup of music performers don’t also draw a huge crowd of their own! Musicians and singers perform the three days of the festival on three separate stages, as well as mingling in the crowd. Strolling musicians Barry Kaufman (mandolin and vocals) and the Los Pagayos band all the way from St. Clair France kept the atmosphere amped while these artists took to the Gilroy Garlic Festival stages:


Friday July 24, 2015



  • Mike Malinao & The Red Barn Rockerz – Rock / Country
  • The Pfeffers – Rock / Pop / Folk
  • Tsunami Band – 60′s – 70′s Rock
  • Red Beans & Rice – Swing Blues
  • Brad Wilson – Blues / Rock



  • Annalise Emerick – Folk / Songwriter
  • Patty & Abigail – Acoustic
  • Sandra Marlowe & Ted Sanchez – Jazz
  • Mike Stocksdale – Singer / Songwriter
  • Nygaard-Dixon Line – Country / Folk
  • Michael Annotti & The Kings – Reggae



  • Bernard Anderson & The Old School Band – Blues, R&B

    The Vineyard Stage

    The Vineyard Stage

  • McKenna Faith – Country
  • Gina & The Tonics – Pop / Rock
  • Sean Wiggins & Lone Goat – Country / R&B
  • Pilgrim – Country / Rock
  • Los High Tops with Chantilly Lace Vincent – Rockabilly

Saturday July 25, 2015



  • Mason Douglas – Country
  • KRTY Presents Striking Matches, Michael Ray, Chris Cavanaugh – Country
  • Joshua Paige – Country
  • Mason Grace – Country



  • Donald Elvis & The Hound Dogs – Elvis Tribute
  • Cygne – Folk / Songwriter
  • John Garcia – Blues
  • Mike Osborn – Blues / Rock
  • Body, Mind & Soul – Soul / Blues



  • The Emphatics – Pop / Rock Dance
  • 2 Grand Entertainment Presents California Dueling Pianos – Variety
  • The Element – Top 40
  • The Floorshakers – Rock / Funk
  • Shane Dwight – Country / Rock / Blues



Sunday July 26, 2015



  • Lara Price & Velvet Plum – Top 40 Americana
  • Tennessee River – Alabama Tribute
  • Entourage The Band – Dance R & B
  • The Billy Martini Show – R & B / Funk



  • Avi Wisnia – Jazz / Pop
  • Gibson & Gray – Country / Folk / Pop
  • Tolan Shaw – Pop / Rock / Soul
  • Mariachi Estelar – Mariachi
  • Evan Thomas & The Blues Revue – Blues
  • Dolce Musica – R & B / Jazz



  • Frank Plesek & The Hollister 3 – Johnny Cash Tribute
  • Amber Lynn Nicol – Country / Blues
  • Kelly McDonald Band – Country
  • Jeff Ricketts & Ole Dirt Road – Country
  • The Wild West Show – Country


Fun For Children and Teens


The Gilroy Garlic Festival engages kids in some fun and exciting activities in their Children’s and Teens Areas. It can be found under the tree-shaded Mulberry West section of the festival grounds. You can expect to find arts and crafts, kids rides, and more. Teens will enjoy games, mechanical bull riding, arts and crafts, zipline, airbrush tattoos and rides. Younger ones will also love the crafts, bubbles, all the great food and fun. They provide a diaper changing facility for little festival participants.

  • Food for all ages: Pepsi beverages, hot dogs, local farm fresh fruit, honey sticks, corn on the cob and frozen lemonade
  • Bubble Fun
  • A hands-on play area for children
  • Free craft – decorate piece of ceramic tile
  • Fun & Game Rentals: Children’s rides, bouncey jump houses
  • Fun & Game Rentals in the Teen Zone: zip line, mechanical bull, airbrush tattoos, orbitron
  • DIY projects
  • Pinwheels and garden sticks
  • Spin Art paintings and plastic sand art bottles
  • Face Painting


Not to mention, all weekend long the Gilroy Garlic Festival kids areas will host a wide range of talented performances geared towards children. These performances include music, puppet theatre, a juggling circus show, dance performances, magic shows, even a ventriloquist performance!


Miss Gilroy Garlic Queen Pageant

The winner of 2015’s Miss Gilroy Garlic Queen Pageant is 18 year old Bridget Brown. More than 100 people

Miss Gilroy Garlic Queen Pageant

Miss Gilroy Garlic Queen Pageant

attended the Miss Gilroy Garlic Queen Pageant, which awarded $15,000 in scholarships to this year’s contestants!  The Queen and her Court represent Gilroy California at events leading up to the Gilroy Garlic Festival, and spend time with festival goers.


Great Garlic Recipe Contest and Cook-Off


The Great Garlic Cook-Off at California’s Gilroy Garlic Festival is one of the most anticipated and beloved cooking contests in North America. Starting in early September, the Gilroy Garlic Festival summons all garlic-lovers across the United States and Canada to submit their best garlic recipes. Amateur chefs respond in the hundreds, with their delicious looking recipes. Submissions range from desserts to soups and encompass just about every type of cuisine imaginable. Recent award winners:

  • Sarsaparilla Glazed Wild West Burgers, Southwest Sweet Potatoes
  • Crispy Pork Belly with Caramelized Onion and Fig Agrodolce and Creamy Polenta
  • Warm Weather Watermelon Crabmeat Kissed South Seas Soup
  • Spicy Garlic Butter Cookies with Garlic Goat Cheese and Honey


The most enticing of the recipe entries are narrowed down to approximately 50, and forwarded to a professional food consultant who looks over the submissions and has final say on eight chosen recipes. The consultant prepares each recipe as instructed, in order to ensure accurate measurements and use of each ingredient. The eight finalists’ recipes are the ones considered to make the most interesting and exciting cook-off contest at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

The eight finalists venture to Gilroy to prepare their garlic dish on the Saturday of the festival, in front of the festival goers and media. At 12:15, celebrity judges will have chosen their favorite recipes, and the prize winner of the Great Garlic Cook-Off is bestowed with a crown of garlic and goes home with $5,000 in their pocket! The second place winner is awarded $2,500; third place, $1,000. Each of the other finalists are awarded $100 each. It’s a thrilling match to watch, especially for culinary enthusiasts!



Gilroy Garlic Festival Hours

–         The Gilroy Garlic Festival opens each day at 10:00 am and closes at 7:00 pm

–         Festival gates close at 6:00pm and do not permit any more entry for the day


Festival parking lots: Parking lots open for business at 9:00am each morning.

Parking lot locations and configurations have changed for 2015/2016. Please follow the Gilroy Garlic Festival signs and directions from peace officers and volunteers closely. Parking is free, and a shuttle runs from the parking lot to the festival grounds.

Bicycle parking: Cycling to the Gilroy Garlic Festival is encouraged, if you are fortunate enough to live close by! Free and secure bicycle parking is available on Miller Avenue at Uvas Parkway. Be sure to bring your own lock!


No matter whether you’re coming to the Gilroy Garlic Festival for the food, music, or family entertainment, you’ll be sure to have three days of nonstop fun!

Visit information about festivals section to explore a full list of festivals happening around the world yearly!