At long last, the first signs of spring are in the air: Bulbs are budding, birds are chattering, longer days are approaching and the Hudson Valley food festival season is getting in full swing! After all, spring marks the return of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, maple syrup tours, festivals and more. Check out these local favorites.
Maple Leaf Sugaring, Ghent, New York
Early spring is one of the sweetest seasons in the region, with maple syrup-themed weekends all the rage. Families with a sweet tooth looking for something fun to do can visit a farm or education center to sample some of the region’s best with history lessons, live demonstrations and up-close looks at the syrup-making process. Check out Maple Leaf Sugaring, a family-owned certified organic maple sugaring operation in Ghent that produces high-quality maple syrup from over 5,000 taps. Stroll through the woods to see where the sweet sap starts flowing from the trees. Visitors will be provided with samples of sap, syrup, maple cream and even maple cotton candy. Maple weekends are March 21-22 and 28-29; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free admission. www.mapleleafsugaring.com; 518-929-0484.
Woodstock Bookfest, Woodstock, New York
The Woodstock Bookfest, now in its ninth year, brings readers and writers together for lectures and panel discussions. Over two dozen authors, publishers and editors, both local and international, will address topics including mystery, health and spirituality books. Formerly known as the Woodstock Writers Festival, the event continues to feature its legendary Story Slam, which celebrates the art of storytelling, as well as workshops and parties, all in the unique surroundings of one of the coolest destinations in the Catskills. March 26–29. For more information and to purchases passes, visit www.woodstockbookfest.com.
Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (multiple locations)
It’s that time of year when the Hudson Valley’s counties come together to promote their restaurants and chefs in a two-week celebration of dining. The 2020 Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, which kicks off March 16-29, features nearly 200 participating restaurants, including several new eateries, according to Valley Table magazine, producer of the event. Chefs will showcase their best signature dishes by way of three-course, prix-fixe lunch ($22.95) and dinner ($32.95) menus. Most restaurateurs use locally sourced ingredients in support of the region’s farms, winemakers, distillers and artisanal producers. No passes, tickets or coupons are required; however, reservations are highly recommended. For more information, visit www.valleytable.com/hvrw.
Culinary Institute of America Dining Series, Hyde Park, New York
The Hudson Valley is famous for its culinary heritage and its world-renowned Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. The arrival of spring also means the school’s current dining series kicks off in March. Food enthusiasts can dine in the campus’ unique family of restaurants, which feature American, modern French and authentic Italian fare, farm-to-table ingredients and new global flavors. With something for nearly every craving, style and mood, these themed events offer a world-class dining experience, an opportunity to see firsthand the future leaders of the food industry and a chance to meet other guests who love food and wine as much as you. The toughest part will be which to choose. www.ciarestaurantgroup.com/events.
Innisfree Garden, Millbrook, New York
A favorite harbinger of spring, daffodils are a resplendent annual feature at Innisfree Garden, a unique example of garden art based on principles of Chinese landscape design. The once-private meditative garden, which takes its name from an island off the coast of Ireland made famous by the poet William Butler Yeats, was the private home of American artist Walter Beck and his wife Marion from 1930 to 1960, when it was opened to the public. With 150-plus acres of streams, waterfalls, terraces, rocks and native plants, it’s no surprise it has been named as one of the 10 most beautiful gardens in the world. There will be two daffodil viewing weekends this year: April 25-26 and May 2-3 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The gardens resume regular hours beginning May 9. 362 Tyrell Road, Millbrook, 845-677-8000; www.innisfreegarden.org.