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Northern California Events and Festivals
Northern California Events and Festivals: Gather Together and Celebrate
You’ll always find a reason to celebrate in California. Escape to decadent food fairs and wine extravaganzas. Have a blast at forward-thinking music, art, and movie festivals. Find family-friendly county fairs and edgy street parades. Indulge your love of the spiders, jumping frogs, and the lumberjack lifestyle. Live for the moment at one-of-a-kind festivals and events
Tickle Your Taste Buds at Wine and Food Festivals
Celebrate California’s innovative cuisine and incredible agricultural bounty at flavorful food and wine festivals. Splurge at Pebble Beach Food and Wine (April) and savor star-studded tastings with mega-celebrity chefs. Feast on just-caught Dungeness crab at the Mendocino Crab, Wine, and Beer Festival (January). Sample fresh everything at Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork Festival (September), a street party that spills onto the Capitol Mall downtown. Enjoy tastings and live performances at beautiful wineries during Paso Robles Wine Fest (May) and Festival Napa Valley (July).
Savor Artisan Cheese, Bacon, Garlic, Avocados, and Artichokes
Discover bacon-inspired delights in San Luis Obispo at Bacon and Barrels (July). Nibble fresh goat cheese and tour Sonoma County creameries at the California Artisan Cheese Festival (March). Sometimes, entire celebrations are based on one beloved food. Obsess all you want at the Castroville Artichoke Festival in Monterey (June), the Gilroy Garlic Festival (July), and the California Avocado Festival (October).
Be Moved at Music Fests: Jazz, Blues, and Bluegrass
No matter what type of beat you’re searching for, there’s a music festival where you can vibe. Jazz lovers will find classic tunes and avant-garde modern sounds at the Monterey Jazz Festival (September) and the San Jose Jazz’ Summer and Winter Fests (February and August). The Russian River Jazz and Blues Festival in Sonoma County (September) is one of the top outdoor events in the state. Tap your toes at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco (October).
Rock, Hip Hop, and Electronic Music Festivals
Are you ready to rock out and dance? SF’s Outside Lands (August) takes over Golden Gate Park with a killer collection of indie, alternative, EDM, and hip hop artists. BottleRock Napa (May) brings the biggest stars in every genre to California Wine Country. Want to turn on, tune in, and drop out? Connect with the counterculture at Lightning in a Bottle (May), a far-out tribal fest in the Central Coast region.
Curated Art Fairs: Feel Inspired by Creative Expression
Admire curated collections of top-talent artwork at the Sausalito Art Festival (September), one of the most prestigious in the country. Be amazed by street art at San Jose’s Chalk Art Festival (September). Art fairs abound across Northern California and are often paired with wine. You’ll find art festivals in numerous communities including Santa Clara, Almaden, Lafayette, Capitola, Mountain View, Woodside, Millbrae, Carmel, Palo Alto, and many more.
Red-Carpet Film Festivals: Get the Popcorn Ready
California celebrates the silver screen like no place else. Hollywood may be in Southern California, but there are plenty of star-studded film festivals north of LA as well. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (January/February) and the San Francisco International Film Festival (April) both roll out the red carpet for A-list actors. Rub shoulders with celebrities at Mill Valley Film Festival (October). Enjoy numerous special-interest film festivals in the Bay Area, including festivals for Jewish, German, French, African-American, eco-friendly, and ocean-inspired movies.
Cultural Gatherings and Ethnic Festivals: Celebrate Diversity
Embrace the colorful character of California at unique events that showcase the state’s many different cultures. Dragons, drummers, and dancing lions take over the streets of San Francisco each year at the Chinese New Year Parade (February). Encounter traditional Japanese crafts, music, and martial arts at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown (April). Celebrate love with the LGBT community at the Castro Street Fair (October) and at the Pride Parade (June), the biggest parade in the Bay Area.
Old-Fashioned Family-Fun at County Fairs
Carnival rides, fair foods, concerts, and animal shows are just the beginning. Classic county fairs feature funky entertainment like pig racing, demolition derbies, rodeos, and antique tractor shows. The California State Fair (July) is the biggest and the best, with horseracing, classic cars, and wine tasting. See a cattle drive at the Alameda County Fair (June) and a stilt circus at the Monterey County Fair (August/September). In Wine Country, feast on blue-ribbon barbecue at the Napa County Fair (July) and a fabulous floral show at the Sonoma County Fair (August).
Only-in-California Festivals: Amphibious Art Cars and Jumping Frogs
Be dazzled a parade of flower-laden boats at the Capitola Begonia Festival (September) and sand sculptures at the Pacific Coast Fog Fest (September). See human-powered amphibious all-terrain works of art race towards the finish line at the Kinetic Grand Championship in Humboldt (May). Cheer for your favorite frog at the Calaveras County Fair and Frog Jump Jubilee (May). Channel your inner lumberjack at Paul Bunyan Days in Fort Bragg (September) and get creeped out at the Tarantula Festival in Coarsegold (October). Watch for migrating whales (including baby whales) off the coast at the Mendocino Whale Festival (March).
Enjoy these popular events in Northern California
Make the most of your next visit to the Bay Area with time spent at the Moscone Center. The largest convention and exhibition center in San Francisco, the Moscone Center is located just northwest of the I-80, on Howard Street, not far from 3rd Street.
Opened in 1981, the Moscone Center features an exhibit hall of more than 700,000 square feet in size. There are also 106 meeting rooms at the Moscone Center, totally 256,225 square feet. Throughout the year, you'll find a wide range of events, conventions, and banquets hosted at the Moscone Center. Some events include the San Francisco Summer Gift Fair, and the Women's Empowerment Summit.
Santa Clara Convention Center
Host to 100s of events throughout the year, the fully equipped Santa Clara Convention Center is a great economic asset to the San Francisco Bay Area. It includes 300,000 square feet of meeting spaces, exhibitions halls, trade show space, ballrooms, breakout rooms, and terraces. Make the short drive from downtown Santa Clara.
Opened in 1986, the Santa Clara Convention Center features 262,000 square feet of space for conventions, expos, events, and entertainment. Some of the events and summits hosted by the Santa Clara Convention Center include the Augmented World Expo, Open Networking Summit, Scrapbook EXPO, and the Hula Hulau'o Pi'ilani.
Alameda County Fairgrounds
The host of the Alameda County Fair since 1912, this 267-acre facility features the Pleasanton Fairgrounds Racetrack, a 3,000 seat amphitheater, and a nine-hole golf course. Throughout the year, the fairgrounds play host to over 300 different events, both private and commercial.
While the Alameda County Fair had its inaugural campaign in 1859, it would eventually move to Pleasanton in 1912. When you visit the fairgrounds in Alameda, be sure to check out the oldest one-mile horse racing track in the U.S. The annual Alameda County Fair is typically held from mid-June through the early part of July. It's a staple of Bay Area fun.
Monterey County Fairgrounds
Host of year-round fun and exciting events, the Monterey County Fairgrounds are located in the central California coast community of Monterey.
Lodi Grape Festival Grounds
Hosting a wide range of events throughout the year, the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds make for an ideal destination when you visit Lodi and the California's central valley. In mid-March, check out the Lodi March Madness Tournament display on multiple televisions over a few days, and late March sees the Lodi Spring Wine Show.
Lodi, a pleasant and charming city found almost directly between Sacramento and Stockton, is an ideal destination for any California visit. In late June, the festival grounds in Lodi host the annual Lodi Craft Beer Festival. In late March, be sure to check out the annual Lodi Spring Wine Show, also held at the festival grounds.