San Diego Festivals and Annual Events 2013
Last Updated - 1/10/2013
Martin Luther King Jr Day Parade and Festival
The annual event commemorates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. The Parade, featuring marching bands and floats, starts at the east side of PetCo Park (tailgate park at 13th and Imperial ) and travels north on Park Blvd to J Street and ends at the west side of PetCo Park. The Multi-Cultural festival is held at the Martin Luther King Jr Promenade, and features exhibits, food, vendors, music and entertainment.
Hillcrest Mardi Gras Street Party
San Diego gets in the spirit of New Orleans' favorite holiday as Hillcrest transforms into Mardi Gras party haven. Each year, the Hillcrest Mardi Gras Street Party promises to be a fun-filled evening featuring food, live entertainment, costumes and of course, beads! The Hillcrest Street Party may take the cake as the biggest Mardi Gras party in San Diego, but don't forget about the annual Mardi Gras Ball and Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp.
St. Patrick's Day Festival
What better reason to take down cabbage and corned beef sandwiches and listen to bagpipes than San Diego's annual St. Patrick's Day Festival. Beginning with a parade full of green floats, Irish dancers, and equestrians, the party continues all day with festivities including live art and music performances, craft workshops, Irish food and beverage stalls, and tons of Irish culture installments. Once the festivities are over, head to your favorite Irish pub or tavern to guzzle green beer and get your fill of authentic Irish whiskey. Whatever you do, don't forget to wear green.
SoCal Reggae Fest
The SoCal Reggae Fest is California's biggest celebration of the reggae music movement. With live performances from some of the biggest reggae bands in the nation, the fest brings fans from far and wide to groove the vibrant Jamaican beats. In case you're wondering, there's a bar for anyone old enough to drink and plenty of reggae's favorite herb being passed around.
Cinco De Mayo Festival
If there’s one city in America that sets the bar for Cinco De Mayo celebrations, San Diego is it. From the classic annual two day-fest held in Old Town, the birthplace of San Diego, to the taquerias and bars of the vibrant artistic Barrio, the Gas Lamp District Pub Crawl, or the Zonkey Fest at unique cantina El Camino, with the annual holiday occurring on a weekend, this year San Diego will be full of Cinco De Mayo mayhem.
Gator By the Bay
For a Cajun vibe, head to SD's annual music, dance and crawfish festival - Gator By the Bay. Inspired by Louisiana, serious southern flavor will infuse the Spanish Landing Park at this three day festival. Located right on the water, the fest features 6 stages with 85 performances from top zydeco, blues Cajun, swing, and country acts, a Mardi Gras parade, a fresh oyster bar and 10,000 lbs. of live crawfish straight from Louisiana.
Sun God Festival
The Sun God Festival is an annual campus festival at UCSD that includes a fair, as well as multiple stages which feature art performances, DJ performances, and a mix of underground/indie bands and mainstream groups. The festival and concert provide an opportunity for students to enjoy themselves after midterm examinations and gives all SD locals an excuse to party.
I Love This City: San Diego
Live Nation Entertainment has created a new festival that brings the biggest names in electronic music to both San Diego and San Francisco on Memorial Day Weekend. Originally set to take place at PETCO Park, the venue has since moved to the larger Cricket Wireless Ampitheatre to accommodate the masses of excited EDM fans.
I Love Poke Festival
If you like poke, you will love this festival. If you don’t like poke, you will still love this festival. A favored fest among sushi connoisseurs, the annual foodie fest and competition that celebrates Hawaiian culture and lifestyle. Back at the Bali Hai Resort, for the third year sample some of SD’s best restaurants take on “poke,” (pronounce "POH-keh") a traditional Hawaiian dish of soy and sesame-marinated raw ahi. Your price of admission guarantees a taste of each chefs creation in both the “Traditional” category (use of tuna is required) and the “Any Kine” category (anything goes). The evening also features a full Asian/Hawaiian infused menu of other fine Island styled grinds from restaurants like The Fish Market, Harney Sushi, and Urban Solace and more!
Fiesta Del Sol
What better way to kick off summer than with a free two-day arts and music festival? Set beachside in Fletcher Cove, Solana Beach, from 9am-9pm the community event will features entertainment for all ages with artist booths, live music, international food, beer and wine tents and a ton of hands-on activities like face painting, rides, special music and performances for kids too.
The Taste of Gaslamp Festival
Embark on San Diego’s original urban safari, The Taste of Gaslamp Festival. An outdoor celebration of the Gaslamp’s best cuisine, ticket holders may enjoy a self–guided adventure through the quarter’s finest restaurants and a special beer tasting garden, sponsored by the Samuel Adams family of fine beers..
San Diego Oyster Fest
San Diego's annual Oyster Fest is about more than shellfish. At Oyster Fest you'll find cooking demos, beer, live music and more to distract you from your oyster feasting frenzy. If you think you've got what it takes, enter the Shuck & Suck competition to prove your skills.
Beer and Sake Festival
Top local sushi chefs join forces with the The Japan Society of San Diego and Tijuana at the San Diego Marriott Del Mar, for the 10th anniversary of the Beer & Sake Festival. Showcasing Japanese culinary and sake traditions the event highlights local microbrews and imported Japanese beers in many flavors and styles, alongside delicious signature dishes. Get your tickets quick for the past two years the event has been a sellout!
San Diego's Comic-Con is one of the world's biggest comic conventions, featuring hundreds of booths from the most popular comics, tv-series and more. At Comic-Con you'll get to meet all your favorite comic book authors and actors that portray super hero characters in movies and tv shows. Dress in your finest costumed attire as Comic-Con tends to attract a very enthusiastic bunch of fans.
San Diego EDM fans rejoice - Identity Festival has come through SD two years in a row with a lineup of electronic music superstars. Each year, the festival grows bigger, wilder and louder, with a full day of phat beats, heavy bass and vibrant light shows. As an 18+ event, Identity Fest draws huge crowds and sells out quickly, so get your tickets before its too late.
San Diego Spirits Festival
The San Diego Spirit Festival is a highly anticipated event that gives local mixologists a platform to showcase their latest creations and demonstrate the passion for our craft. I love what Liz Edwards has done to help cultivate and spread awareness of our growing cocktail culture. Beyond cheering on cutting-edge bartenderery, and sampling libations, festival goers will learn about "the most exciting trends in cocktailing." Meaning a lot of brand representatives and label honchos will be at the Festival.
San Diego Festival of Beer
The annual San Diego Festival of Beer takes over the streets at Columbia and B again to bring you a fun-filled evening with 5,000 beer lovers enjoying the sounds of live music while sampling from over 70 different breweries. Inside the SD Festival of Beer you'll find food items and munchies for sale in addition to a selection of fine wines for purchase by the glass.
San Diego Film Festival
Every Fall, Hollywood’s hottest celebrities hit the Gaslamp for the San Diego Film Fest (SDFF). With five days of premieres and four nights of parties the event offers the best of cutting-edge American & International films, documentaries, short films and more before they head to Sundance. Be sure to hit the after parties as in years past all events have included a hosted bar at every event from past sponsors like Patron Tequila and Stella Artois.
A tradition for the community of San Diego is the annual Oktoberfest. This activity brings visitors and vendors from all over the region to La Mesa for a weekend that is dedicated to family, friends, great food and entertainment. This event has gone from a small street fair to a 3 day festival, with 400 vendors offering goods and services to over 186,000 attendees. Add great food, lots of children activities, entertainment and of course, good old German brats and cold beer and you have a family event that has something for everyone.
San Diego's annual Harvest Festival, taking place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, is one of the largest art and gift shows on the U.S. West Coast. The event includes gourmet food samplings, live music, a pumpkin patch and more than 300 artists and craftspeople featuring unique handmade works.
San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival
When classic cuisine, legendary wine, spirits and craft beer, and culinary all-stars come together, you know it’s time for the return of the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival. Each November, join fellow epicureans and connoisseurs for the weeklong star-studded culinary classic.
Dixieland Jazz Festival
Called the “crown jewel of jazz festivals,” the annual San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival is another great reason to rejoice over the holiday weekend. Held in the Mission Valley neighborhood of San Diego, this exciting event represents a wide variety of jazz styles and is sure to showcase something for every music lover.
Balboa Park December Nights is the largest free community festival in San Diego, attracting more than 300,000 visitors over two days. In the spirit of the holidays, participating Balboa Park museums open their doors free of charge from 5-9pm both evenings. Entertainment, wonderful food and holiday cheer are all part of this classic and elaborate San Diego celebration. Long-standing traditions include food from around the globe at the International Christmas Festival at the House of Pacific Relations Cottages; the charming Santa Lucia Procession at the San Diego Museum of Man; unique gift shopping at the museum stores and with the artisans of Spanish Village; and musical and dance presentations from the San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, Del Cerro Baptist’s Christmas Story Tree, and more.