Happy New Year! Below you will find a sampling of what’s happening in the Golden State during the first quarter of 2015. (Please visit the sites noted in parenthesis after the listing for details about a specific event.) If you’re looking for California current events in a different season, please click on these links:
The big event on the North Coast during the first quarter of the year is the Whale Festival. The event will transpire in three different North Coast cities on three different March weekends:
Mendocino on March 7 & 8, 2015
Little River on March 14 & 15, 2015
Fort Bragg on March 21 & 22, 2015
Along with whale watching, these celebrations offer games for kids, informative presentations, wine/beer tastings and more. (MendoWhale.com)
Also on the North Coast, you may want to check out Bodega Bay’s Chowder Day on January 31, 2015. Spud Point Crab Company went home with top honors last year… and you can help choose this year’s winner! (visitbodegabayca.com/#!chowder-day/czk2)
Shasta & Cascades
Hearty and adventuresome souls may want to head up to Weed, CA on February 7 & 8, 2015 for the Siskiyou Sled Dog Races. (Last year’s event was cancelled because of a big storm, so do keep on eye on the weather.) The event is held at Deer Mountain Snowmobile Park, which is about 20 miles NE of Weed. (siskiyousleddograces.com)
One of our favorite California winter events, the Sonoma Valley Olive Season, offers you the chance to partake in various olive-related activities during January and the first half of February this year. The event schedule is jam-packed with fun, including an Olea Hotel “Pig Out Feast” cooking class on February 7, 2015. (olivefestival.com/home.html)
Meanwhile, in Napa, check out the Napa Valley Truffle Festival on January 16-19, 2015. This is the fifth year for the event, and leading truffle cultivation experts and special culinary-centric guests will discuss, examine, prepare and feast on the rare and delectable fungi. This is North America’s premiere truffle event! (napatrufflefestival.com)
Something else to keep in mind: these Wine Country travel destinations break from the pack a bit. Whereas many California cities celebrate Restaurant Week / Month in January, Napa County has selected February for their festivities, and Sonoma County celebrates on March 9-15 this year. (Click the link for more details!)
San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Restaurant Week is January 21-30, 2015, when dozens of San Francisco’s most popular restaurants will offer prix fixe meals at reduced rates. The savings are impressive, and the meals and restaurants are even more so! (sfrestaurantweek.com/)
Named one of the top ten parades in the world by the IFEA (International Festivals and Events Association), the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco is definitely a California current event worth making a special trip to see. The largest celebration of its kind outside Asia, 2015’s festivities will usher in the Year of the Ram, Lunar Year 4713, culminating with a spectacular parade of elaborately decorated floats, school marching bands, martial arts groups, stilt walkers, lion dancers, Chinese acrobatics, the newly-crowned Miss Chinatown USA and the grand finale, 200-foot long Golden Dragon (Gum Lung). This year’s parade is on March 7, 2015, but the fun actually begins in Chinatown on Valentine’s Day. Check out the event schedule… and Gung Hei Fat Choy! (chineseparade.com)
There are some seriously cool birds on the Central Coast, and the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival celebrates them on January 16-19, 2015. There are land, ocean and bay field trips plus workshops, presentations, displays and vendor booths. This is a great event in one of our favorite California cities! (morrobaybirdfestival.org)
Cambria Art & Wine Festival offers three days of shopping, wine tasting, food pairing and local artists demonstrating their work. This year’s festival takes place January 23-25, 2015, in downtown Cambria. (seecambria.com/artwine)
The 27th Santa Barbara International Film Festival will take place January 27 through February 7, 2015, and will feature celebrity guests, tributes, panels, awards, screenings and more. Plus, many area restaurants offer special “Film Feast” deals to coincide with the event. (sbfilmfestival.org and santabarbaraca.com/filmfeast/)
In Marysville on March 21, 2015, the 135th Bok Kai Festival will honor the Year of the Ram. The event, a tribute to the many Chinese emigrants who worked the area’s gold mines in the 1800s, typically includes a parade, pancake breakfast, 5k run/walk and a vast range of multi-cultural entertainment. In past years, firecrackers were set off around the city’s downtown area for a “Bomb Day” close to the festivities. (facebook.com/bokkaifestival)
Sierras & Gold Country
Yosemite’s Chefs’ Holidays at The Ahwahnee®, held each year in January and February, feature some of the world’s most innovative and acclaimed chefs. This California cooking adventure provides a showcase for the range of styles, personalities and trends that characterize the American culinary scene. (yosemitepark.com/chefs-holidays-sessions.aspx)
Weather permitting, for two weekends in March – March 7 & 8 and March 14 & 15, 2015 – Dana Point will celebrate the return of the California Grey Whales off its coast by hosting the 44th annual Festival of the Whales. This eco-friendly event offers a parade, contests, vendor booths, entertainment and lots of fun things to do for the whole family. (festivalofwhales.com) Additionally, area boat charters – including Captain Dave’s Dolphin Safari (dolphinsafari.com) and Dana Wharf Sportfishing (danawharf.com) – offer whale watching excursions.
The annual Golden Globe Awards will be held in Beverly Hills on Sunday, January 11, 2015 (goldenglobes.org), and the Academy Awards will be presented at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, February 22, 2015 (oscars.org).
If movies and glamor aren’t necessarily “your thing,” the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach has lots of fun events on tap: the 12th annual Festival of Human Abilities on January 24 and 25, 2015 (highlighting the creative talents and abilities of people with disabilities); a special Valentine’s Day Late Night and Dinner on February 14th; and Shark Lagoon Nights on various January-March dates. (aquariumofpacific.org)
Inland Empire & Deserts
The Humana Challege (in conjunction with the Clinton Foundation) will take place January 21-25, 2015, at various venues in La Quinta. Two-time champion Phil Mickelson is committed to compete in this year’s event. (humanachallenge.com)
Palm Springs Modernism Week (and a half) runs February 12-22, 2015, with shows, lectures, tours, film screenings and parties to celebrate the area’s distinctive “Desert Modern” architectural heritage. (modernismweek.com)
Death Valley is home to more than 1,000 wildflower species, and 2015’s Technicolor fields could blossom anytime during late February or March. If your schedule is flexible, you can keep up to date on the blossoms and visit during the very peak of their brilliance. (desertusa.com)
The west coast’s largest Mardi Gras party takes place on Fat Tuesday (February 17, 2015) in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. This is a ticketed event for people aged 21 and older. It’s a Block Party, of sorts, with a parade, live music and beer and cocktails, of course. (gaslampmardigras.com/)
If you travel to San Diego for the festivities, keep in mind that February is also Macy’s Museum Month. It’s a great time to visit! (sandiegomuseumcouncil.org/events/item/122-macy-s-museum-month-back-in-february-2015)
You may want to send an email to the visitor’s bureau where you plan to spend your California vacation, holiday or weekend getaway. Follow the link below to a list of the convention and visitor’s bureaus for some of the state’s major tourist destinations. This is a great way to learn what local California current events might be occurring during your visit.
Note: Information in this article was accurate
when it was published, but hours, prices, etc.
change constantly. Please confirm details
with local contacts before traveling.