30 Popular Festivals In California, USA

festivals in california
Sharon A.
Sharon A.  
| 13 min read

The Golden State is gifted at throwing parties - especially outdoors. As far as festivals are concerned, very few states compare to what California has to offer. It is home to some of the most premier festivals, and some even have worldwide recognition. These events usually attract crowds from all corners of the world. Whether they are music festivals held under the glare of the sun or indoor affairs such as gala dinners featuring celebrity chefs and top wineries, you can bet that California will not disappoint. Read below to discover some of the most popular festivals in California, USA.

1. California Lemon Festival

When life throws you lemons, pick them up and make some lemonade! Head over to the California Lemon Festival held every year in September. This festival is a two-day event jam-packed with all sorts of activities and entertainment. It is suitable for all family members, so don’t leave the young ones behind. During the festival, treat yourself to wonderful food, a wide range of family entertainment, pie-eating contests, and much more. Another highlight of the festival you must watch out for is the Street Rod Show and the incredibly popular Goleta Fall Classic Car Show.

California Lemon Festival

Address: 7050 Phelps Rd, Goleta, CA 93117, United States

Website: California Lemon Festival

Takes Place: September

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2. Laguna Beach Music Festival

Laguna Beach Music Festival is a February affair where visitors and locals get to enjoy watching incredible contemporary and classical music performances. It is one of the top five music events in Orange County. This festival usually features several free events held at various locations throughout the week. If you swear by contemporary and classical music, then take some time to come and watch your favorite artists perform at this event.

Laguna Beach Music Festival

Address: Laguna Beach, California

Website: Laguna Beach Music Festival

Takes Place: Usually held in February

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3. California Wine Festival

DCA Food & Wine Festival (28303163511)
Source: Photo by user HarshLight used under CC BY 2.0

California is a wine-producing state, and its wines are some of the best in the world. Therefore, it is only befitting to have a festival celebrating the state’s prowess in the art of winemaking, and we do have one: California Wine Festival. This is an annual event held in four locations in four months. It is a great opportunity to sample some of California’s vintage wines, as well as a variety of mouthwatering gourmet foods prepared by the region’s leading culinary kings and queens. There are also live music performances that accompany the event, which is also considered one of the largest outdoor festivals in the state of California.

California Wine Festival

Address: 1114 State St Suite 295, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States

Website: California Wine Festival

Takes Place: April, May, and July

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4. Gilroy Garlic Festival

Gilroy Garlic Festival 7 2018-08-06
Source: Photo by user View more used under CC BY-SA 4.0

This festival is a garlic-infused weekend with every kind of garlicky food you can think of. Most people know of garlic as a favorite ingredient in lots of meal preparations, but attending this festival will introduce you to another side of garlic you may have never known. Expect to find trays of bread spread with generous amounts of garlic butter, stir-fried garlic chicken, garlic popcorn, addictive garlic fries, and much more! In addition to the food, the festival will also be graced by a myriad of stage performances, with the most notable ones being Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen Pageant, live music performances across three stages, cooking competitions, and a kid’s area with lots of garlic-themed games and rides.

Gilroy Garlic Festival

Address: Christmas Hill Park, Gilroy, California

Website: Gilroy Garlic Festival

Takes Place: July

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California Tour Guide

Stephanie Eley

Stephanie Eley

I'm a graduate of ITMI, International Tour Management Institute and 17 years as a licensed Tour Director and Program Director. My expertise began in NYC and Washington, DC where I'm a licensed guide and has expanded to Europe, South America, Cuba and the Western / Southwestern National Parks of the US. I'd love to introduce you for a day or a week to Denver, Colorado and the 4 corners region of the US: Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona! Let's GO!! stepheley@gmail.com

Tours by Stephanie

5. Palm Desert Greek Festival

festivals in california | palm desert greek festival
Source: instagram

Greece may be miles upon miles away from California, but you can’t hide the Greek influences in the state, and the good news is that you don’t have to make the trip to Greece to have a piece of their world. All you have to do is make time for the annual Palm Desert Greek Festival held every February. This is a complete Greek affair, featuring music and folk dance and authentic Greek food, including some of the original Greek cookies and pastries that you can only find in cities such as Athens, Kalamata, and Heraklion. If you fancy this country and their way of life, then this is a festival you must not miss.

Palm Desert Greek Festival

Address: St. George Greek Orthodox Church of the Desert 74-109 Larrea, Palm Desert, Ca 92260

Website: Palm Desert Greek Festival

Takes Place: February

Price: 3 USD

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6. Mission Federal ArtWalk

festivals in california | mission federal artwalk
Source: instagram

There is no denying that California has one of the most vibrant art scenes, not just in the country, but in the world. Mission Federal ArtWalk is a festival designed to celebrate the state’s prowess in visual and performing arts in a two-day gala held in San Diego. The goal of the festival is to use art as a tool for connecting communities and to nurture new talents in the region. The event is known to attract thousands of attendees, including artists and art enthusiasts who congregate to sell and purchase all kinds of art. You can also enjoy a variety of music and dance performances here.

Mission Federal ArtWalk

Address: San Diego, California

Website: Mission Federal ArtWalk

Takes Place: April to May

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7. Palm Springs International Film Festival

THROWBACK to our 2019 Student Screening Day at the 30th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival. Each year,...

Posted by Palm Springs International Film Festival on Thursday, 7 November 2019

Palm Springs International Film Festival comes early in the year in January, and it is one of the largest film festivals in North America. The event features more than 200 films originating from nearly 80 countries. During the event, there are regular screenings where attendees get to watch some of the most exciting films and award-winning shows of the year. Whether you are an active player in film or your participation is limited to watching movies on Netflix, attending this festival will be a great eye-opener to the inner workings of the film industry.

Palm Springs International Film Festival

Address: Palm Springs, California, USA

Website: Palm Springs International Film Festival

Takes Place: January

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8. African American Festival

African American Day Parade in Harlem (2016)
Source: Photo by user Adjoajo used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This is one of the top festivals designed to appreciate and celebrate African Americans in California and the rest of the country. It is an exciting festival to attend if you want to learn more about African American heritage. This event attempts to bring home the African way of life through food shows, traditional performances, and other forms of cultural entertainment that you can only find in Africa. Whether you are fascinated by West African dance, or you fancy the interactive drum circle performances, then this is an event worth attending. You can even sample some ethnic food here. This is a two-day event held in February.

African American Festival

Address: Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, California, USA

Takes Place: February

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9. Joshua Tree Music Festival

Source: Photo by user Enkonis used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Joshua Tree Music Festival comes twice every year in May and October. The festival is to promote growth through different workshops, visuals arts, and musical performances. The three-day event also features desert-style festivals designed to create a great space for friends and families to hang out, and where the audience and the performers can come together. Expect to enjoy a wide range of diverse and eclectic music, and forget about all your worldly cares and focus only on your merriment.

Joshua Tree Music Festival

Address: 2601 Sunfair Rd, Joshua Tree, CA 92252, United States

Website: Joshua Tree Music Festival

Takes Place: May and October

Price: from 70 USD

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10. Festival of the Kite

There are many kite festivals in California, but Festival of the Kite is held every year in March at Redondo Pier. This is one of the best kite events you must attend. The festival features competitions where participants take part in a variety of kite-themed games, including flying the highest kites, making kites, and much more. At the backdrop of all these activities, participants can also join or watch hotdog eating contests, dance demonstrations, and live music performances.

Festival of the Kite

Address: Redondo Pier, California, USA

Takes Place: Usually held in March

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11. California Strawberry Festival

California Strawberry Festival 2012 - panoramio
Source: Photo by user Clotee Pridgen Al... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Just like the Gilroy Garlic Festival where everything is garlic-infused, California Strawberry Festival is also a festival themed around strawberries. It is one of the top festivals in the United States, and the aim is to present strawberries in every feasible way. During the festival, expect to find a plethora of food booths that serve everything strawberry, including flans, pizzas, cotton candy, margaritas, kebabs, and much more. There are also lots of strawberry competitions, with the most notable ones being best-dressed babies and strawberry pie-eating. Also featured is live music on two stages.

California Strawberry Festival

Address: 3250 S Rose Ave, Oxnard, CA 93033, United States

Website: California Strawberry Festival

Takes Place: May

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12. Santa Barbara International Film Festival

On the red carpet at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival with The Artist (6995078085)
Source: Photo by user Louise Palanker used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Here is another film festival worth attending if you are in California in January. It is a ten-day event that features the screening of more than 200 films, as well as panel discussions and tributes to some of the big names in the industry. If you plan to attend, be sure to not miss the opening night film and gala, as well as the award presentation ceremonies so that you learn more about the award winners and also come face to face with some of the leading directors, actors, and producers in the industry.

Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Address: 1528 Chapala St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States

Website: Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Takes Place: Usually held in the last week of January

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13. The Lavender Festival

The Lavender Festival starts from mid-May and runs till the first day of August. It is an event that promises all kinds of fun for every family member. It includes guided tours of the largest organic lavender farm in California, as well as demonstrations of the extraction of lavender oil. Additionally, attending this festival will allow you to taste lavender-inspired cuisines and enjoy dancing to music.

The Lavender Festival

Address: 10600 Highland Springs Ave., Cherry Valley, CA 92223

Website: The Lavender Festival

Takes Place: May to August

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14. Beaumont Cherry Festival

Cherry Festivals are very popular in the US, and each state has its own distinct way of celebrating the blossoming of the cherry trees. In California, Beaumont Cherry Festival is one such festival you should attend for mad fun and entertainment. It is an annual celebration accompanied by fun and festivities ideal for every member of the family. These include parades, carnival rides, vendor booths, car shows, and lots of live entertainment. Also, you will learn about the origins of this festival, and why the Japanese still celebrate it with such great passion up to the present time.

Beaumont Cherry Festival

Address: 1310 Oak Valley Pkwy, Beaumont, CA 92223, United States

Website: Beaumont Cherry Festival

Takes Place: June

Price: 7 USD

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15. Oxnard Salsa Festival

Oxnard Festival Fun - panoramio
Source: Photo by user Clotee Pridgen Al... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you love salsa, then here is a festival that lets you celebrate everything salsa. Enjoy salsa tasting, salsa music, and salsa dancing. Also featured during the event is a marketplace where you can buy items such as handcrafted jewelry, apparel, and boutique clothes. This is not to mention the great salsa and Latin bands that will be entertaining the crowds with live performances.

Oxnard Salsa Festival

Address: 471 S B St, Oxnard, CA 93030, United States

Website: Oxnard Salsa Festival

Takes Place: July

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16. Hollywood Fringe Festival

We are proud to announce our #HFF17 Fringe Central social space will be hosted at a new club located in what was...

Posted by Hollywood Fringe Festival on Monday, 10 April 2017

Another festival worth attending if you are a film buff is Hollywood Fringe Festival. The festival normally takes place in the last two weeks of June and it features presentations by local, national, and international art companies. On some occasions, the event may also include performances by independent groups from all around the world. If you have ever wanted to step foot in California and witness the celebrity lifestyle, this is your chance because the event is held in multiple venues in Hollywood and Los Angeles.

Hollywood Fringe Festival

Address: Los Angeles, California, USA

Website: Hollywood Fringe Festival

Takes Place: Usually held in June

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17. Temecula Art & Street Painting Festival

festivals in california | temecula art & street painting festival
Source: instagram

Temecula is well-known for its art scene. Strolling down the streets, you can’t miss the conspicuous street paintings. Well, this is partly due to the strong art culture, as well as festivals such as Temecula Art & Street Painting Festival. This festival has been happening every year for the last 20 years. During the event, artists in various genres gather to showcase their talents through previous works as well as live competitions. The highlight of the festival, however, is the detailed and colorful murals that beautify the streets of Old Town Temecula.

Temecula Art & Street Painting Festival

Address: Temecula, California

Takes Place: June

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18. International Surf Festival

Hermosa beach pier statue
Source: Photo by user Estrategy used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Contrary to what many think, the International Surf Festival’s main objective is not all about surfing, but promoting lifeguard services and physical fitness. The annual event still features a myriad of surfing and body contests, dory races, pier-to-pier swims, paddleboard races, and thrilling beach runs. If you are passionate about surfing, or if you are in love with water sports, then you should definitely plan to attend this event so you don’t miss out!

International Surf Festival

Address: Torrance, California

Website: International Surf Festival

Takes Place: August

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19. Long Beach Greek Festival

Long Beach Greek Festival
Source: Photo by user InSapphoWeTrust used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Another notable Greek festival worth attending in California is Long Beach Greek Festival. The event comes during the first three weeks of September, and it is a chance to dig deep into everything Greek. Top features include Greek food and cooking demonstrations, Greek music and dances, and a myriad of Greek-themed contests, including fun and entertaining kids’ activities. You will particularly fall in love with the entertainment segment of the festival, which normally includes RnB and pop music performed by Greek artists.

Long Beach Greek Festival

Address: 5761 E. Colorado Street, Long Beach, CA 90814

Website: Long Beach Greek Festival

Takes Place: September

Price: 5 USD

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20. Alpine Village Oktoberfest

Alpine Village Oktoberfest is one of the best Oktoberfests you will ever find anywhere in the world. It is one of the oldest and largest celebrations in Southern California, with typical attendance ranging up to 200,000 every year. The festival features many different entertainments, with some of the top highlights being yodeling competitions, sing-a-longs, and fun contests like beer stein-holding. Expect to find a superfluity of traditional German cuisines and authentic German beers. For family fun, be sure to attend on Sunday since this the day dedicated solely for family entertainment.

Alpine Village Oktoberfest

Address: 833 W Torrance Blvd, Torrance, CA 90502, United States

Website: Alpine Village Oktoberfest

Takes Place: October

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21. Chalk Art Festivals

There are several chalk art festivals held at different dates in California. These festivals are designed to celebrate this specific genre of art, and both children and adult artists are given a chance to express their talents by creating art using only chalk on sidewalks or on a canvas. The one in Palm Springs will be held in March and is free to the public.

Chalk Art Festival

Address: 101 N Museum Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Takes Place: March

Price: Free

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22. Anime Los Angeles

Anime Expo 2010 - LA (4836639905)
Source: Photo by user The Conmunity - ... used under CC BY 2.0

Anime may have originated in Japan, but it currently has a strong and passionate fan base in the country. To celebrate the culture, there is the annual Anime Los Angeles Festival held every January. The festival celebrates animation and pop culture through a myriad of fun and exciting activities such as cosplay, karaoke, and table-top gaming, among others. The festival also features various guests and experts in animation, with past events having featured names such as Clifford Chapin, Mary Claypool, and Kristen McGuire.

Anime Los Angeles

Address: Ontario Convention Center and DoubleTree Ontario Airport, 222 N Vineyard Ave, Ontario, CA 91764, United States

Website: Anime Los Angeles

Takes Place: January

Price: From 30 USD

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23. Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival

Since 1974, Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival has been held as a way of celebrating the date palm harvest in Coachella Valley. The festival is, however, more than just celebration for a harvest, but a flurry of fun and entertaining activities for the locals. Some of the exciting things you can look forward to are camel races, carnival rides, a plethora of family-friendly activities, and numerous date-inspired cuisines. As usual, the main stage acts and other live performances are not to be missed.

Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival

Address: Riverside County, California

Takes Place: February

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24. San Gabriel New Year Lunar Festival

Posted by San Gabriel Lunar New Year Festival on Saturday, 27 January 2018

Lunar New Year is one of the most cherished celebrations in Asia, and Asian communities living abroad will never let it pass uncelebrated. San Gabriel New Year Lunar Festival brings together this Asian tradition in a modern celebration to birth an event that is enjoyable to people of all ages. It features a lot of Asian street food, chalk art contests, plenty of carnival games, and a kids’ fun zone, among others.

San Gabriel Lunar New Year Festival

Adress: 323 S Mission Dr, San Gabriel, CA

Website: San Gabriel Lunar New Year Festival

Takes Place: February

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25. Dana Point Festival of Whales

"To have a huge, friendly whale willingly approach your boat and look you straight in the eye is without doubt one of...

Posted by Dana Point Festival of Whales on Tuesday, 19 March 2019

This festival takes place over two weekends, and it comprises a myriad of outdoor activities at Dana Point Harbor. Participants are free to experience the celebrations on land or sea to watch the epic and unique grey whales’ migration as they flood the waters of Dana Point Harbor on their way to Mexico from Alaska. Apart from watching the whales, the festival also includes art displays, art lessons, fishing clinics, walking tours, sand-sculpting contests and much more.

Dana Point Festival of Whales

Address: 34675 Street of the Golden Lantern, Dana Point, CA 92629, United States

Website: Dana Point Festival of Whales

Takes Place: March

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26. Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival

festivals in california | temecula valley balloon & wine festival
Source: instagram

Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival is an annual event held on the first weekend of June. The event has been held for nearly four decades now and, as such, it has grown to become one of the highly anticipated events in California. The major highlights of this event are the hot air balloon flights and wine tasting. It is a great opportunity to enjoy aerial glides while you admire the beautiful valley landscapes below. Being a major wine-producing region, expect to sample some of California’s best wines during the festival. Apart from the balloon rides and the wine tasting, the event also features a variety of commercial exhibits, arts and crafts displays, and lots of fun activities for the younger attendees.

Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival

Address: 37701 Warren Rd, Winchester, CA 92596, United States

Website: Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival

Takes Place: June

Price: from 35 USD

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27. Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Coachella 2013
Source: Photo by user Ben 1_ used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is held annually at Empire Polo Club in Riverside County. Since it comes at the end of April, most people view it as the perfect way to kick start the long-awaited summer. Featured during the festival is a myriad of acts that will suit the entertainment needs of both adults and kids. Expect great displays of performing arts, contests, and plenty of live music by some of the region’s favorite artists and bands.

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Address: 81800 51st Ave, Indio, CA 92201, United States

Website: Coachella

Takes Place: April

Price: from 399 USD

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28. Los Angeles County Fair

L.A. County Fair_1261
Source: Photo by user Omar Bárcena used under CC BY 2.0

Los Angeles County Fair is one of the oldest festivals in California, and the first one was held in October of 1922. It features a wide range of entertainment and exhibitions, with the major highlights being games and carnival rides, plenty of flavorful cuisines, arts & crafts markets, and a wine, beer, and spirits market. Also featured are unique and exciting outdoor activities such as airplane wing-walking exhibitions, chariot races, and harness racing. The entertainment on offer here will suit the needs of nearly every type of visitor.

Los Angeles County Fair

Address: Los Angeles, California, USA

Website: Los Angeles County Fair

Takes Place: Usually held in September

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29. Citrus Harvest Festival

Citrus Harvest Festival is a family-oriented event held in a single day in late March or early April to celebrate and appreciate the rich history of citrus in Highland City. The major highlight of the event is the lifestyle, trade, and craft that formed the way of life of the local communities during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Additionally, the festival also includes a tour of historic homes, antique car shows, games, contests, and lots of live entertainment. Expect to get a bit of knowledge about the past, and also enjoy dancing, pie-eating competitions, and more.

Citrus Harvest Festival

Address: Palm Ave between Fisher St and Pacific Street, Highland, CA 92346

Website: Citrus Harvest Festival

Takes Place: March

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30. Latin Food Fest [Event has passed]

The Latin influence in California cannot be denied, and one of the best places to get a full scope of their culinary diversity is during the Latin Food Fest - a two-day event held at the end of March of every year. During this festival, you will get to sample some delicious Latin flavors, including leading wines and spirits. And while you enjoy the foods and drinks, the atmosphere will be accentuated by Latin music from respected singers and bands.

Latin Food Fest

Address: LA State Historic Park, Downtown Los Angeles, CA

Website: Latin Food Fest

Takes Place: May

Price: from 30 USD

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Have fun and make merry attending festivals in California

California’s appeal to tourists from all walks of life is due to several factors: It is a state blessed with a rich history, culture, and lots of breathtaking natural attractions. Its beaches are envied by many, and so are its universities, which attract thousands of students from different countries across the globe. On festivals, the state enjoys one of the top locations compared to the rest, given that it has numerous events throughout the year. If you know where to search, you are certain to find a festival going down somewhere every weekend in California. Time your visit to participate in one of these popular celebrations to increase the scope of your entertainment options in the state.

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Sharon, also known as Shaz, resides in the vibrant City in the Sun. Her passion is to travel, immerse herself in diverse cultures, savor their cuisines, dance with the locals, and share her...Read more

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