If you’re from the Capital Region, chances are you’ve heard of Saratoga’s Annual Chowderfest. For those who haven’t, Saratoga Chowderfest (happening on Saturday, February 1 from 11 AM - 4 PM) is the most highly anticipated area event in which restaurants throw open their doors to serve delicious chowder samples to more than 40,000 locals and visitors. The event is about more than just chowder—it’s a reason to leave your winter blues behind, enjoy downtown Saratoga Springs and spend time with friends and family. Simply put, Chowderfest is a Saratoga tradition—now in its 22nd year!
For any large festival and event, it's always better to be prepared for what to expect. We’ve provided a list of tips and tricks for Chowderfest event-goers this year. Happy tasting, fellow chowderheads!
1. Know how Chowderfest works before attending.
For those who haven’t attended before, Chowderfest is not a ticketed event and does not take place in one location. Rather, it’s a food-walk event—meaning you walk to different participating restaurants and vendors to sample chowder. Each 3 oz. serving is $1, so make sure to bring cash with you! You can find a full list of Chowderfest participants on our website or printed on the ballot which is available at any participating establishment.
Once you’re done sampling, vote for your favorite chowder at discoversaratoga.org/chowderfest/vote/. Voting ends at 5 PM. All votes are tallied into 10 award categories, including people's choice, best dessert chowder and Saranac cup. Winners are chosen based off an algorithm that calculates votes compared to number of bowls served. Check out our list of past Chowderfest winners.
2. Know your transportation and parking options.
If you’re anything like me, the idea of finding parking during a big event is stressful to say the least. Luckily, event goers don’t have to worry about finding parking downtown. We’re offering FREE shuttles available from Saratoga Casino Hotel and Wilton Mall from 10 AM to 6 PM. If you prefer to drive, check out this helpful guide to parking in downtown Saratoga Springs. Please be safe and use Lyft or a cab if you plan on drinking!
3. Don't like crowds? You've got options.
You don’t have to be in downtown Saratoga Springs to enjoy Chowderfest! There are plenty of participating restaurants located just outside downtown or throughout the county. Take a look at our participating vendor page under “non-downtown vendors.” We encourage event-goers to pick and choose their own Chowderfest route and try something new!
RELATED ARTICLE: Here’s why I love Saratoga Chowderfest
4. Enjoy more than just chowder.
Many come for the chowder but stay for the live music and fun happenings throughout Saratoga. During the event you can enjoy photo ops (I mean, who doesn’t want a selfie with an ice sculpture?!), meeting your favorite radio DJs, dancing through the cold to live music, kid-friendly games & activities and more! Check out our list of all the things you won’t want to miss during and after Chowderfest.
5. Make a weekend trip out of it.
Chowderfest fun doesn’t just end at 4 PM. If anything, some parties are just kicking-off as the streets clear. There will be plenty to experience during the whole weekend, and participating Saratoga hotels are offering special rates for event-goers. Make sure to take advantage of these deals if you plan on spending the weekend in Saratoga!
Additional Chowderfest tips to consider:
- Please leave your pets at home! Saratoga is an extremely dog-friendly city, but Chowderfest is not a good environment for your pets. Note that dog chowder will no longer be served.
- Stock up on official Chowderfest merchandise at the Saratoga Springs City Center and Heritage Area Visitor Center. We’re selling beanies for $7, and long sleeve shirts for $10 ($12 for 2XL).
- See if your favorite chowder was one of the winners before anyone else by attending the Chowderfest Awards Ceremony at the Visitor Center at 6:30 PM.
- Of course, make sure to bring your winter gear and stay warm!
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