California Festivals, Annual Event Celebrations


California Festivals are enjoyed by millions of people each year as a way to celebrate some special food, cause, sport, culture or even an era. The festivals provide entertainment, learning, nourishment for the soul & mind, and they bring people together for common enjoyment and causes. Ranging from wacky & weird in events such as the Poison Ivy Contest, Bed Races and Golf Cart Parade, to tasty in Gourmet Chocolate Festivals, Olive Fests, Almonds & Wine, the festivals take months to plan and execute, and they create a fan-base when they offer something that locals and visitors can sink their teeth into.

Often there is an element of a festival that also contains a California fair. One example is the Indio Date Festival & Riverside County Fair, for instance. Such events can combine the county fair with the county food crop that people celebrate, making for extra dimensions to the themes and celebrations.

Annual Festivals by Month

For those seeking a season to travel and celebrate, we've created this month-by-month festival list.

Festivals Alphabetical List by City

For the festivals that may or may not report (we saw many annual events come to their end in 2009 - 2011), we've created the simple directory of festivals. It's basically a listed alphabetically by city.

Best festivals in California include:

Lobster Festivals - The audience participation at lobster festivals is amazing. Shipping in the fresh Maine lobster guarantees that Californians can sample what New England takes for granted.

Food Festivals - An effort to create a state-wide food dining event in January has built on the individual celebrations that have proven extremely successful in San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Napa Valley, Temecula, Paso Robles and other such cities where festivals have celebrated food, music and liquor beverages for decades.

Fruit & Produce Festivals - Nothing beats the Strawberry Shortcake, Guacamole Dip or Roasted Garlic Entrees served at festivals showcasing California's abundance of artichokes, garlic, strawberries, avocados, apples, almonds, butter & eggs and farm fresh foods that California serves to the world.


Christmas - The biggest holiday of all is Christmas. The economic impact of shopping for gifts, the air quality improvement when businesses shut down for the day, and the surrounding industries that have blossomed--ornaments, lights, trees, boat decorating, ice rinks, civic gatherings, and helping those in need all have become a large part of this holiday. Few other such holidays have such an impact as does Dec. 25. Even the economic forecasts are based on the sales of this one holiday event.

Valentine's Day - Held each year on Feb. 14, this is an important holiday to the florists, candy manufacturers, hotels, spas, bakeries and restaurants. All increase revenue when the event falls on a weekend versus a week day. The primary festivals for this holiday combine chocolate with wine, other items, or feature chocolate as a major component. There aren't many festivals for Valentine's Day.

Easter - This holiday is celebrated by most cities in the form of an event they call either a community Easter Hunt or Bunny Hunt. While the economic impact of Easter is not as great as other religious holidays, cities embrace the traditions and rites of spring through their community services departments. Festivals surrounding Easter include local attractions such as parks with kids train rides, and Mardi Gras, celebrated by a few cities in California. Easter is always on a Sunday.

Halloween - Always on Oct. 31, Halloween is the biggest holiday for the costume industry, make-up artists, and specialty companies selling items for costumes and decorating. The candy industries haven't joined forces to sell a single message about eating candy, but they do quite well selling their chocolate bars, crunchy and sweet treats. The festivals that surround Halloween in California involve corn mazes, hayrides, pumpkin patches and carnivals for kids.

4th of July - This holiday that celebrates America's independence is not a huge sales event for stores. Hot dogs, beer, sodas, BBQ, and clothing and decorations in red, white & blue are the top sellers. Most cities in California celebrate July 4 with a community fireworks show, and some host parades and free concerts.

St. Patrick's Day - Mar. 17 each year is a day in which Californians wear something green. Important to bars and places that serve beer & cocktails, this holiday is about drinking and food. Most restaurants all shift gears and offer corned beef & cabbage on this one day.

Thanksgiving - The November holiday is about food & football primarily. The turkey industry, pumpkin manufacturers and cranberry producers all gear their production to meet the one-day demand from Americans cooking in their homes or eating out at restaurants. Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday and is crucial to the hype surrounding Christmas which follows it. The day after Thanksgiving is important to retailers who roll out their sales to lure shoppers to buy items for Christmas gift-giving.

Carpinteria California Avocado Festival in
Castroville California Artichoke Festival in
Crescent City's World Famous Crab Race Annual CA Event
Fair Oaks Chicken Festival
Garden Grove, California Tet Festival
Irvine Park Railroad Easter Eggstravaganza in Orange, CA
Long Beach Scottish Festival at Queen Mary
Long Beach Rancho Los Alamitos Harvest Festival
Long Beach Lobster Festival, California Events
Los Angeles County Fair
Mariposa Art and Wine Festival, California
Mariposa Butterfly Festival, California
Mendocino Crab & Wine Days Festival
Orange, CA Irvine Park Railroad Easter Eggstravaganza
Palm Springs The Art of Food and Wine Palm Springs Festival
Redondo Beach Riviera Summer Festival, California
San Diego Mardi Gras Gaslamp Quarter
San Diego St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Festival Gaslamp Quarter
San Francisco Tulipmania Tulip Festival at Pier 39
Torrance Alpine Village Celebrates Oktoberfest

California Festivals include thousands of cultural style festivals celebrating heritage, ethnicity and the lifestyle of the many people that make up California. The Polynesian, African American, Native American, Greek, Turkish, Armenian, Italian, German, Danish, Portuguese, Mexican, Brazilian, Irish and Scottish are but some of these cultural festivals held in California throughout the year.

In addition to the ethnic events, there are festivals celebrating holidays, animals, and foods. Sometimes a festival will also celebrate a sports activity or natural asset of California. Whales, fish fry, lobster fests, pet parades and fests, chicken festivals, and many more of these types of festivals provide a reason to have fun.

Food festivals range from carrots, garlic, tomatoes, wine, strawberries, apples, avocados, almonds and even pizza to chocolate and gourmet. If a festival is your idea of fun, you've come to the right place--here on SeeCalifornia... and to California, the capital of festival fun.

Events are not guaranteed. It is your responsibility to confirm before going.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More Info