It has hundreds of uses, millions of followers, and consumers spend more than $20 billion annually on it. It’s no wonder that chocolate is celebrated all over the world with festivals in its honor. Here’s a list of the top 10 chocolate festivals 2011 so you can find the one nearest you!

Chocolate Truffle Chocolate Festivals Alabama – The Mobile Chocolate Festival

Set aside time every February to enjoy the finest chocolate festival in the panhandle. Started to raise money to benefit the Penelope House, this chocolate festival has turned into an annual event residents look forward to. Have fun participating in activities like the youth, amateur, or professional bakers chocolate challenge or the Project Yum Way, where contestants fashion candy wrappers and candy products into clothing items. General Admission is $3, kids 13 and under are free, and senior citizens who are 65 and older are free.

www.mobilechocolatefestival.com

Chocolate Festivals in California

California is the host to several annual chocolate festivals, but here are the two largest in the state for you to check out.

Annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival: San Francisco

Going on for over a decade, this festival has become famous in California and across the country. Fun-filled activities include chef cooking demonstrations, live music, chocolate tasting, and ice cream sundae eating contests for people of all ages to participate in. In addition, all proceeds benefit Project Open Hand. Look for the festival to arrive during September. Tickets are sold for $20 and must be purchased to be able to sample chocolate.

www.ghirardellisq.com/events/chocolate-festival/chocolate-festival

O.C. Chocolate Festival – Fountain Valley

This annual November festival is exclusive to all others with unique activities such as holiday gift shopping, a diamond raffle and the chocolate fashion show. Don’t miss other traditional festival activities like live music, chocolate tasting and more.

General Admission is $25, but VIP Party admission tickets can be bought for $50. This includes hors d’oeurves and wine amongst other perks. Group tickets are available for parties of 10 or more.

www.occhocolatefestival.com

Chocolate Brownies

Colorado Chocolate Festival: Denver

Not only do they have the standard activities of chocolate samplings and chocolate contests, but this gala also crowns a Miss Colorado Chocolate Queen. This festival features over 30,000 square feet of fun events and brings in over 100 vendors, including the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Admission is free to this yearly May festival, but you must purchase tasting tickets for chocolate samples. Get 10 taste tickets for $10 and 20 taste tickets for $20.

www.chocolate-festival.org

The Festival of Chocolate: Orlando, Florida

Being one of the more interactive festivals in the United States, goers have the opportunity to participate in a chocolate and wine pairing education seminar, educational chocolate tastings, as well as chocolate making classes. Regular attendees also look forward to the wedding cakes decoration competition in this annual March event. Adult admission is $17, senior (55+) admission is $16, kids (3-11) $12, and kids 2 and under are free.

www.orlando.festivalofchocolate.com

Chocolate Festivals Illinois: Long Grove Chocolate Festival

Held annually in May, this popular festival boasts entertaining children’s activities, chocolate workshops, live music and even shopping. And if you love wine, they’ll teach you how to pair it with the right chocolate for the best flavor combinations.

www.longgroveonline.com/chocolate.html

Chocolate Lovers Affair: Prince Frederick, Maryland

Take your sweetheart to this posh gala in February for a night of chocolate. They invite you to dance to live entertainment, participate in live and silent auctions, and enter a raffle amongst other events. Tickets are $75 Per Person to attend. Purchase 2 or more for $70 per person. The tickets include Running Hare Vineyard wine and an open bar. A percentage of the earnings are donated to the Chambers scholarship fund.

www.chocoloversaffair.com

Carolina Chocolate Festival: Morehead City

Come to this 3-day annual event in February to participate in more fun-filled activities than you’ll know what to do with. Events include the following:

Day 1: Tee Off Fore Charity and Chocolate Golf Event and a special chocolate dinner.

Day 2: Chocolate festival begins: Includes an amateur chocolate bake off, chocolate spa event opportunity, chocolate demonstrations, wine and chocolate sampling, and more.

Day 3: Chocolate festival continues: Includes activities from day 2, as well as bingo. Military get in free on day 3.

Proceeds are divided among various charities. Over the years, this event has assisted more than 30 charities. See website for all ticket and event prices.

www.carolinachocolatefestival.com

Chocolate Festivals Texas: Austin Chocolate Festival

This October annual event is not only tasty, but it raises money for Multiple Sclerosis too. Schmooze with chocolate vendors to get taste samples, buy their delicious products, and decide who to cheer on in the chocolate vendor competition. See website for all ticket prices.

www.austinchocolatefestival.com

Chocolate Lovers Festival: Fairfax, Virginia

Attendees come from all over in the month of March to get a taste of this large event. The festival includes a chocolate challenge, a taste of chocolate exhibit, a chocolate arts extravaganza, and a Kiwanis pancake breakfast. Proceeds from this event sponsor a new charity every year.

www.chocolatefestival.net