Annual Festivals & Events

Orange County is lucky to lay claim to incredible annual festivals and events, many of which are culture-related due to the diversity within OC. Find out what's happening when you are visiting and enjoy an experience rich in culture and tradition - one that is uniquely OC.

Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year), February

Little Saigon, Westminster

Tet, the Lunar New Year, marks the beginning of spring and is the most observed holiday within the Vietnamese community. As a means to preserve culture, the Vietnamese American community celebrates Tet through a vibrant array of traditional foods, ceremonies and customs. Hosted annually by the Union of Vietnamese Student Association, the Tet Festival in Garden Grove is the largest Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration in the U.S. http://tetfestival.org/

Laguna Beach Music Festival, February

Laguna Beach

This week-long Festival, a multi-faceted event, presents classical quartet repertoire, contemporary musical composition, world music traditions and visual arts collaborations. As always, the Festival will match prominent and promising artists, creating unique opportunities for the audience. http://lagunabeachmusicfestival.com/         

OC Restaurant Week, March

All over OC

The top 100 restaurants across Orange County’s vast dining landscape dish out amazing food at fantastic prices during one of Orange County’s most anticipated culinary events. From all corner’s of the county, this foodie celebration provides the opportunity to indulge in a selection of specially priced prix-fixe menus form Orange County’s best restaurants. http://www.orangecountyrestaurantweek.com/ 

Laguna Beach a la Carte – A Food & Wine Experience, March

Laguna Beach

The Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau will embark on the second annual food and wine event. Guests will experience world-class cuisine, prix-fixe menus, food & wine pairings, and special offers by local restaurateurs … taking place at various restaurants over four special days. www.lagunabeachfoodies.com

Festival of Whales, March

Dana Point

This special festival celebrates the round-trip migration of the California Gray Whale from Alaska to Baja and includes an art show, street fair, parade, sand sculptures whale-watching tours and sailing and rowing instruction. http://www.dpfestivalofwhales.com/

Return of the Swallows Festival, March

San Juan Capistrano

The Return of the Swallows Festival begins each year with the traditional observance of the Swallows Day, March 19, and includes performances, food, arts and crafts, and much more. 

The Swallows are said to migrate annually to Goya, Argentina, in October and return to their spring and summer home in San Juan Capistrano each March. The celebration began centuries ago when mission padres observed that the birds’ return roughly coincided with St. Joseph’s Day, March 9 on the church calendar. http://www.swallowsparade.com/

Newport Beach Film Festival, April

Newport Beach

Set in beautiful Newport Beach, a few blocks away from the spectacular coastline and less than an hour from Hollywood, the annual festival hosts several premiers, galas and yacht parties for a singular festival experience. Films are shown throughout the city, which boasts one of the largest movie consumer groups in the world, a rich filmmaking history, as well as fine dining, shopping and exceptional recreational activities. 

In addition, the Newport Beach Film Festival offers filmgoers an opportunity to meet the filmmakers. 

Directors, screenwriters and cinematographers eager to share their work will provide an exclusive, inside look at the industry during post-screening Q & As. http://www.newportbeachfilmfest.com/

Doheny Blues Festival, May

Doheny State Beach, Dana Point 

Every May, the Doheny Blues Festival kicks off the summer concert season in Southern California. Blues legends and up-and-comers take over Doheny State Beach for three days of the best music you’ll ever hear. Bonnie Raitt, Brian Setzer, B.B. King, John Fogerty and Derek Trucks have all graced the stage in Dana Point in years past, and it is this caliber of talent that brings this music fest worldwide acclaim. http://www.omegaevents.com/dohenyblues

Strawberry Festival, May

Garden Grove

Dating back to the late 50s, this festival features games, arts and crafts, food and carnival rides, as well as local performers, a parade and surprise celebrity appearances. The festival also features a fair amount of strawberry shortcake. http://www.strawberryfestival.org/

Newport Beach Jazz Festival, May

Newport Beach

Four nights and three days of he world’s finest mainstream jazz artists, including six big bands – all in an intimate setting of the Newport Beach Marriott. In the event of inclement weather, outdoor sessions are generally held in the Grand Ballroom. https://hyattnewportjazzfestival.tix.com/schedule.asp

Festival of the Arts, July-August

Laguna Beach

California’s finest summer art event is staged in a six-acre canyon park near the ocean in Laguna Beach. The stars of his summertime tradition, which began here in 1932, are more than 140 of the Southland’s most accomplished artists. This is a rigorously juried show; requiring exhibitors to demonstrated and maintain high aesthetic standards. Their work is truly fine art! http://www.foapom.com/

Pageant of the Masters, July-August

Laguna Beach

Ninety minutes of “tableaux vivant" or "living pictures” - incredibly faithful art recreations of classical to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces. An outdoor amphitheater, professional orchestra, original score, live narration, intricate sets, sophisticated lighting, expert staff and hundreds of dedicated volunteers have won recognition.  http://www.foapom.com/

Sawdust Art Festival, July-August

Laguna Beach

The Sawdust Art Festival’s Summer Show is a gathering of art fans, collectors and beginning artists that showcases the unique art created in Laguna Beach. Highlights include hourly glass-blowing demonstrations, complimentary art activities for children and adults, live entertainment, three cafes and a saloon. http://www.sawdustartfestival.org/

Art-a-Fair, July-August

Laguna Beach

The Art-a-Fair features 125 internationally juried artists and master craftsmen and is a premier event for up-and-coming talent. Artists are primarily from California, with a few from other states and countries. Media include oil, acrylic and water color paintings, sculpture, ceramics, glass, mixed media, digital art, jewelry and wood. http://www.art-a-fair.com/

US Open of Surfing, July

Huntington Beach

What’s the closest thing to watching the world’s best surfers compete in a full-on stadium atmosphere? Look no further than Huntington Beach in late July, when more than 500,000 people will find their way to Surf City USA®, post up in the sand and cheer on their heroes at the pier. It’s been that way for more than 50 years, starting with the US Championships in 1959 and evolving to what it is today, the Nike US Open of Surfing. http://www.usopenofsurfing.com/

OC Fair, July

Costa Mesa

The first incarnation of the OC Fair dates all the way back to 1890 (a horse race and a few exhibits made up the first fair’s events). Since then, the fair has blossomed into one California most prestigious fairs. It is rife with carnival rides, midway games, top-tier live entertainment and, of course, delicious fair food. http://www.ocfair.com/ocf/

Toshiba Tall Ships Festival, September

Dana Point

This is the largest annual gathering of tall ships on the West Coast. You can explore the majesty and wonder of tall ships through the smells, sounds and sights of real working tall ships. Interactive living-history encampments, including blacksmiths and scrimshaw artists, and the infamous Port Royal Privateers, are sure to entertain and amaze quests of all ages. http://www.tallshipsfestival.com/

Orange International Street Fair, September

Orange

Every Labor Day weekend for the past three decades, the Orange International Street Fair in downtown Orange has been the place where friends, families and neighbors get together to experience the wide variety of intentional cuisine, folk dancing, music and more that 100 craft booths that fill the streets of the Orange Circle for this annual cultural celebration. http://orangestreetfair.org/

OC Wine & Beer Weeks, September - October

All over OC

A two-week event in which restaurants throughout OC create fantastic meals to enjoy with wine or beer pairings. For the two back-to-back weeks of wine and beer fun, the selections will be varied for every taste and budget so that those interested may take advantage of amazing deals at the best restaurants. http://www.ocwineandbeerweek.com/

Laguna Dance Festival, October

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach Dance Festival, held in the spring and fall, brings world-class dance companies and performers to Laguna Beach for a week-long celebration of movement and choreography. The event features dance classes on Main Beach, performances at The Laguna Playhouse and dance installations at local art galleries. www.lagunadancefestival.org

Plein-Air Invitational, October

Laguna Beach

Each year Laguna Beach turns into an outdoor studio with the Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational. This event showcases fifty of the nation’s top plein air landscape painters who compete for prestigious prizes and participate in the week-long festivities including public paint outs, environmental awareness activities, and educational events. Culminating with the Collectors’ Soirée and Public Sale at Laguna Art Museum, this event celebrates the artistic legacy of Laguna Beach. http://lagunaartmuseum.org/pleinair 

Sawdust Festival Winter Fantasy, November-December

Laguna Beach

The festival grounds will be transformed into a winter wonderland where exhibitors create, display and sell original creations. Art media will include: jewelry, clothing, fused and blown glass, ceramics, woodwork, forged metals, painting, sculpture and more. www.sawdustartfestival.org

Christmas Boat Parades, December

Newport Beach, Huntington Harbor, Dana Point

Join more than one million viewers and watch beautifully decorated yachts, boats, kayaks, and canoes sail along the harbor in the Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. As Newport Beach’s Christmas card to the world, the boat parade will set the harbor ablaze for five consecutive nights. The parade starts off Bay Island at 6:30 p.m. and finishes at the same site at approximately 9 p.m. each evening.

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