365 Things to Do in Memphis #109: Put a Wing On It at the Hot Wing Festival

This festival is every Memphian's dream come true--an all things celebration of wings.

The 22nd Annual World Championship Hot Wing Contest & Festival, formerly known as the Southern Hot Wing Festival is part cooking competition part celebration of Memphis as the hot wing capital of the South. And it's going to be Riverside Drive this year!

World Championship Hot Wing Contest and Festival 2024
people eating chicken wings in a tent at a festival
Craig Thompson
this could be you and your friends

After a year long hiatus, the event is back and hotter than ever. Here’s what you need to know:

When is the World Championship Hot Wing Contest & Festival?
April 20, 2024 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where is World Championship Hot Wing Contest & Festival?
They're bringing hot wings to the river. The event will be held at River Garden Park (51 Riverside Drive)

How much are hot wing fest tickets in Memphis? 
General Admission is $15 + fees online in advance. General Admission Tickets come with 3 Wing Bucks for redemption of 3 wings from the competing teams. Bring $1 dollar bills for team wing sample donations and additional money for other food and drinks. 

The competition:
It's fierce! More than 80 teams from Memphis, the South, and countries including Canada, Costa Rica,  Brazil, and South Africa all gather in Memphis. They'll fire up hot wings and a huge array of sauces and flavors for the judges to compete for the coveted title of Hot Wing World Champion. 

The cause:
All proceeds from the event go to Ronald McDonald House, which gives families a place to stay while their child is getting treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Organizers say that the event has raised more than $300,000 over the years.

How to Eat The Wings At World Championship Hot Wing Contest & Festival

General Admission Tickets come with 3 Wing Bucks for redemption of 3 wings from the competing teams. If you ask nicely and bring some ones, you can taste wings for a $1-$3 per wing donation in the team's bucket, which goes directly to the Ronald McDonald House. Wings will not be officially for sale from competition tents. 

In short, give teams a buck or two, get a wing. Wings come out in batches so be aware that that exact moment you walk up to a team may not be the exact moment they have a batch ready. Just go with the flow, walk around, chat with people, and have fun. 

How do you sign up to compete, be a vendor, or a volunteer?
Volunteer: Volunteers are needed to make the day a success! Read all the details and apply here.
Teams: The first 100 teams are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Click here for Team applications.
Vendors: Vendors spots are accepted by application.

Do bring:
Cash, sunscreen, kids that you will supervise. 

Don't bring:
Pets, coolers, or outside food or drinks.

Music: There is live music and entertainment at multiple stages! 

For more info: worldwingfest.com

World Championship Hot Wing Contest & Festival Entertainment Schedule

RS Financial Stage | River Garden Park

  • 11 a.m. - Earl the Pearl
  • 12:30 p.m. - Memphis Funk and Horns 
  • 2 p.m. - Wing Eating Contest
  • 2:45 p.m. - Ratilla
  • 4:15 p.m. - Elevation Memphis ft. Tina Turner Review
  • 4:45 p.m. - Awards 

Blues Stage | Union & Riverside 

  • 11 a.m. - Delta Joe Sander
  • 12:15 p.m. - Terry 'Harmonica' Bean
  • 1:30 p.m. - Clarksdale
  • 3 p.m. - Uriah Mitchell & Lina Beach
  • 4:30 p.m. - Alexis Grace

Check out the Memphis Hot Wing Trail 

About the Author

Hey there! I’m Tyra Johnson, writer and content creator for the I Love Memphis Blog. I'm a Memphis native and after a few years away, I'm back home. I love art, good eats, and live music. Join me in reclaiming my passion for Memphis, mane.

Why do you love Memphis:

Memphis has so much personality-- the people, food, music-- it just all feels good! We have so much to be proud of when speaking about the city. Also, I'm big on memories, and most of my core memories involve Memphis.

What's on your Memphis playlist?

Stay Fly by Three 6 Mafia. It's the PERFECT hype song!

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