These 10 amazing under-the-radar festivals in California are perfect for travelers and locals alike! Don’t miss these on your next visit!
We love California and we love festivals. It has recently come to our attention that we have been missing out on a few big events on the West Coast, so we put together this list of under-the-radar festivals in the Golden State. You can’t go wrong with food, music, activities, art, and community — and California is a great place for them! Whatever you’re looking to celebrate, there’s a festival here for it.
10 Amazing Under-the-Radar Festivals in California
Dana Point Festival of Whales
Take some time to celebrate the return of the whales as they continue their migration. The downtown area comes alive with an art walk, parade (complete with large whale balloons and floats), educational lectures and, of course, whale watching cruises.
Ultimate Beerfest Orange County
Celebrate your next Oktoberfest with a wide range of drafts from breweries like Blue Moon, Widmer Bros., Kona Brewing Co. and more. This festival will more than satiate your appetite with its numerous food trucks, beer tastings, and opportunities to learn about brewing.
Scandinavian Festival of Southern California
Whether you have Scandinavian ancestry or just really like Vikings, this festival is a great way to learn about the culture and history of Scandinavia with crafting demonstrations, traditional music, dancing, delicious food, and games. (A good distraction for families with young children who have recently become obsessed with the movie Frozen.)
Actually a combination of three Lobster Festivals, the three-week celebration of delicious shellfish starts with the Original Long Beach Lobster Fest, then follows with the Port of LA and Redondo Beach festivals. Lobster salad, lobster gumbo, fresh lobster tail, lobster mac & cheese — delicious!
The Palm Springs International Film Festival
Start your build-up to the Oscars buzz early or just enjoy access to a bevy of the year’s best independent, international, student, LGBT, and documentary films. Along with amazing cinematic experiences, the Palm Springs Film Festival offers talks with some of modern film’s most talented stars, writers, and directors.
Joshua Tree Music Festival
There are actually two of these festivals, one in the Spring and one in the Fall. The Joshua Tree Music Festival is a celebration of art, community, spirituality, and the ways that music binds us all together. If you’re into electronic, rock, world, hip-hop, or even gospel, you may find your next new favorite album here. We have camped in Joshua Tree several times and it’s a place we come back to every year.
California Avocado Festival
Completely free to the public, Avo Fest is a fun collection of music and shows on four stages, a craft marketplace, plus the world’s largest vat of guacamole! And did we mention the contests? From the famous guacamole recipe contest to art & design contests, there’s definitely something worth trying for yourself.
Castroville Artichoke Festival
A celebration of California’s official vegetable! In between enjoying the live music, parades, and chef’s demonstrations, make sure to check out the “agro art” competition — a competition of 3D art made completely of fruits and veggies! We highly recommend staying in Carmel and making the short drive to Castroville for the festival.
California Roots Festival
A great celebration of roots music, art, craft, and keeping it green. This festival mixes great music with friendly vibes and a spirit of peaceful revolution; the festival prides itself on being as locally sourced as possible and on using its influence to help the nonprofits that support it make real change.
Bacon & Barrels Festival
Often called the Coachella of Bacon, this festival is a must for bacon lovers. One entry fee gives you all-you-can-eat-and-drink access to 30+ chefs, bakers, and brewers providing plenty of delicious bacon, beer, bourbon, wine and scotch. Bacon sandwiches, bacon cupcakes, bacon salsa — the number of mouth-watering uses these cooks have discovered for savory breakfast meats are absolutely astounding.
Photo Credit: Raymond Shobe