Are you planning a move to Santa Cruz or just looking for exciting things to do in the area? Santa Cruz is home to some of California’s best festivals and events, making it an ideal destination for tourists and locals.
From food and music festivals to outdoor adventures and cultural events, there is something for everyone in Santa Cruz. In this guide, we’ll highlight some of the best festivals and events in the area, so you can start planning your next adventure.
The Best Festivals and Events in Santa Cruz
As a vibrant coastal city located in the heart of California, Santa Cruz is best known for its stunning beaches, redwood forests, and lively culture. Santa Cruz offers a unique blend of nature and urban attractions. In addition, the city is home to some of the best festivals and events in the state, ranging from food and wine festivals to music and art events.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
It is one of the most iconic attractions in the area, and for a good reason. This historic boardwalk has entertained visitors since 1907; it’s home to many attractions, including classic rides, games, and food stands.
The boardwalk hosts various events throughout the year, such as concerts, movie nights, and festivals. Some of the most popular events include the Boardwalk Chili Cook-Off and the Boardwalk Classic Car Show.
Santa Cruz Music Festival
If you’re a fan of live music, you should attend the Santa Cruz Music Festival. This annual event features over 200 artists performing across multiple stages throughout downtown Santa Cruz.
The festival showcases various genres, including rock, electronic, hip-hop, and more. In addition to music, the festival also offers art installations, food vendors, and other attractions.
Santa Cruz Greek Festival
Experience the flavors and culture of Greece at the Santa Cruz Greek Festival. This annual event takes place at the Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church. It features a variety of Greek cuisine, music, and dance performances. The festival also offers church tours, traditional crafts, and other activities.
Santa Cruz County Fair
The Santa Cruz County Fair is a unique annual event celebrating the area’s agricultural heritage. The fair features livestock shows, horse racing, carnival rides, and various food vendors. Live music performances, contests, and exhibits showcase local arts and crafts.
Capitola Art and Wine Festival
Located just a few miles from Santa Cruz, the Capitola Art and Wine Festival is a popular event that celebrates the local art and wine scene. The festival features over 160 artists and multiple wine and food vendors showcasing their work.
Santa Cruz Shakespeare Festival
Experience the magic of live theater under the stars at the Santa Cruz Shakespeare Festival. This annual event takes place in the stunning outdoor setting of DeLaveaga Park. It features a variety of classic and contemporary plays. In addition to the performances, the festival also offers pre-show lectures, backstage tours, and other activities.
Santa Cruz Film Festival
If you’re a movie buff, you should attend the Santa Cruz Film Festival. This annual event showcases a wide range of independent films from around the world, as well as workshops, panels, and other events. The festival also hosts a variety of parties and receptions, providing a fun and engaging atmosphere for filmmakers and film enthusiasts alike.
Santa Cruz Wharf to Wharf Race
Get your running shoes on and join thousands of other Santa Cruz Wharf to Wharf Race participants. This annual event features a 6-mile race from the Santa Cruz Wharf to the Capitola Wharf, showcasing stunning coastline views. The race attracts runners of all ages and abilities and is a fun and exciting way to explore the area.
Santa Cruz Pride
Celebrate diversity and inclusivity at Santa Cruz Pride. This annual event features a parade, live music performances, food vendors, and other activities. The festival celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and its allies and provides attendees with a fun and welcoming atmosphere.
Santa Cruz Open Studios Art Tour
Explore the vibrant art scene in Santa Cruz during the Open Studios Art Tour. This annual event allows visitors to meet local artists in their studios and view their work up close. The tour features over 300 artists working in various media, including painting, sculpture, photography, and more.
Santa Cruz VegFest
If you’re a vegetarian or just looking for healthy food options, check out the Santa Cruz VegFest. This annual event features a variety of vegan and vegetarian food vendors, as well as cooking demonstrations, lectures, and other activities. The festival celebrates plant-based living and offers something for everyone, regardless of dietary restrictions.
Santa Cruz Garlic Festival
Garlic lovers rejoice! The Santa Cruz Garlic Festival is a celebration of all things garlic, featuring a variety of garlic-themed food vendors, cooking demonstrations, and other activities. In addition, the festival offers live music performances, arts and crafts vendors, and a children’s area.
Santa Cruz Mountain Sol Festival
Experience the beauty of the Santa Cruz Mountains at the Mountain Sol Festival. This annual event features a variety of live music performances, as well as food and craft vendors. The festival showcases a variety of genres, including rock, reggae, and blues. It provides a fun and engaging atmosphere for all attendees.
Santa Cruz Antique Faire
Take a step back in time at the Santa Cruz Antique Faire. This monthly event features over 50 vendors selling various antique and vintage items, including furniture, clothing, jewelry, and more. The fair is a fun and unique way to explore the history of Santa Cruz and the surrounding areas.
Santa Cruz is a vibrant and exciting destination, annually offering various festivals and events. From food and wine festivals to music and cultural events, there is something for everyone in Santa Cruz. So whether you’re a resident or just visiting the area, check out some of these top festivals and events and experience all Santa Cruz offers.
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