Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival Is the Event of the Year for Chocoholics

Some religions inspire the devotees to make a pilgrimage to the holy sites of their faith at least once in their lifetime. For Bay Area chocolate lovers, Ghirardelli Square between North Point, Beach, Larkin & Polk Streets becomes a Mecca of sorts each September as this site hosts the annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival. This year’s festival on September 14 and 15 marks the 18th year in a row that lovers of all things chocolate have descended upon San Francisco’s waterfront to eat, drink, dance and meander through the Square.

Proceeds from the festival benefit Project Open Hand, which provides meals, groceries and nutritional counseling to people with HIV/AIDS. Some of the festivities planned for this year’s event include the following:

  • The Chocolate and Wine Pavilion
    New for this year’s festival, the Chocolate and Wine Pavilion will allow ticket holders to sample wines and desserts from throughout the Bay Area. There is an additional charge to get into the pavilion, which allows attendees to sample up to 20 different wines and decadent treats.
  • “Earthquake” Ice Cream Eating Contest
    This is either a lot of fun to watch, a disturbing grotesque or both. Six lucky people must devour one of Ghirardelli’s famous “Earthquake” sundaes without using any utensils or their hands. There are three different competitions of this event on each day, including a kids’ version with smaller earthquakes.
  • Chocolate School
    You definitely don’t want to ditch this class. Ghirardelli’s own "Chocolate Professor," Steve Genzoli, instructs his pupils on the chocolate-making process from bean to chocolate bar. Now, this is food for thought!
  • Chef demonstrations
    The festival features two different Culinary Stages where attendees can watch local chefs craft appetizers, entrees, desserts and other creations all featuring chocolate, of course.
  • Silent auction
    The silent auction allows attendees to place bids on exclusive treats from local hotels, restaurants and other vendors with all proceeds going to Project Open Hand.

You don’t have to be a chocoholic to have a great time at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival, but it certainly helps. There are five different tickets packages available online from a basic tasting ticket at $20 to the deluxe VIP Chocolate Tasting Experience priced at $125. The tasting and decadence begins on Saturday the 14th at 12 p.m. and ends on the 15th at 5 p.m., so park your willpower at home, and head on out to this great San Francisco festival!