Northern Californians are a fun bunch. We grow some of the best produce and make some of the best wine in the entire world, so it makes sense that we love to celebrate it. There’s not a month on the calendar without a city or small town making any excuse to throw a fantastic shindig. And what better reason is there than food and wine?
Here are some of our favorites in no particular order.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The Garlic Festival, Gilroy
Vampires beware: this is one garlic-infused weekend that creatures of the night may want to miss. Everyone else: go, at least once, to this unforgettably odiferous and one-of-a-kind event. See how creative chefs can be when it comes using this iconic flavoring: you’ll find garlicky stir-fried shrimp and chicken, breads slathered with every kind of garlic butter, and addictive garlic fries - as well as more adventurous offerings like garlic ice cream.
2. Hayward Zucchini Festival
Are you ready for all things zucchini? Here's our chance! Clear your calendar for the third weekend of August when the annual Hayward Zucchini Festival swings into action. There's sure to be something for the entire family including live music, arts & crafts and a Kids' Town area with fun games, cool prizes, face painting and rides.
3. Pumpkin Festival, Half Moon Bay
The Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival began in 1971 with the formation of the Main Street Beautification Committee. The group was formed to raise funds for the revitalization of Main Street, which was beginning to show signs of decay. With an abundance of pumpkin patches in the area, the committee organized an old-fashioned harvest-style pumpkin festival. The first festival attracted 30,000 people.
4. Mushroom Mardi Gras Festival, Morgan Hill
Morgan Hill knows about mushrooms! It's their biggest crop. The Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras Festival is now in its 37th year of turning Memorial Day weekend into a celebration of the mushroom. The free event is May 28-29 in downtown Morgan Hill, California.
The two-day festival of family-fun includes live entertainment on two stages, arts and crafts, gourmet offerings, mushroom education, strolling musicians, street performers, and several city blocks of unique booths. For children, Munchkinland captivates kids with rides, games and continuous entertainment. And, who doesn't want a portobello and cheese burger?
5. The Shasta Damboree, Shasta
Kettle corn, anyone? The Shasta Damboree may not be best known for its amazing food; it's an annual springtime event that celebrates the construction of Shasta Dam. The construction of Shasta Dam began in 1938 and was completed in 1945. The Shasta Damboree is held in the City of Shasta Lake and includes fun events like a pancake breakfast, a parade, and a show & shine for all you guys who love looking at cars - a lot!
6. Berryfest, Roseville
Roseville has a lot more to offer than their Westfield Galleria. How about their annual Berryfest? Since 1990, Celebrating the Harvest of the Strawberry on Mother’s Day weekend at the Placer County Fairgrounds on Washington Blvd in Roseville. What makes a happy mom on Mother’s Day? Happy kids! So besides loads of strawberry treats, shopping, cooking demonstrations and live bands; BerryFest is loaded with fun for the kids with Petting Zoo, Pony Rides, Princess Pageant, Strawberry Shortcake Eating Contest, Berry Fun Color Run, Nonstop shows on the Kids Caboose Stage and a full kid’s carnival and fun zone.
7. San Ramon Art & Wind Festival, San Ramon
Yes, I know we're supposed to be talking about food, but c'mon - how cool is this? The San Ramon Art & Wind Festival blows into town on Sun. and Mon. May 29-30th at San Ramon Central Park. The festival includes over 200 arts & crafts booths, entertainment on three stages, kite-flying demos, free kite making workshops, kids' activities, a non-profit info alley, displays, and more!
8. Oktoberfest, Alameda
The City of Alameda may be known for its adorable Victorian homes and bayside location, but these folks LOVE their Oktoberfest. On the first Saturday in October, come and enjoy some great beer and pretend you're German for the day!
9. California Capitol Airshow, Mather Airport
Merica! We can't enjoy our foodie freedom without these guys! Have you ever wanted to be a pilot or see the underbelly of a cargo plane? Now you can! Get up close and personal with aircraft, talk with pilots and crew and experience unique exhibits. Explore miles of entertainment, music, food, exhibits and FUN along the ramp. This thrilling, family-friendly and patriotic event has something for everyone. But, let's be honest - you had me at "Blue Angels."
10. Western Festival, Elk Grove
April 29th & May 1st, the City of Elk Grove is putting on its 59th Western Festival. Join the festivities at the Elk Grove Regional Park for a weekend filled with wonderful entertainment, great food, classic cars, an art exhibition showing the talents of local high school students, the Kids' Zone, crafters, and a fabulous carnival of fun. And, remember...western = BBQ.
11. Sonoma Olive Festival, Sonoma
Celebrating the olive is an all-year event. From the blessing of the olive to culinary exhibits, Sonoma highlights the olive in grand ways.
12. Sacramento Food Truck Events
Here's the thing: food trucks are the "it" place to be. Call it a festival, call it a gathering - whatever it is, there's one near you if you're in Sacramento. We don't even know what this food is, but it's delicious, we're sure of it!
There are hundreds of festivals around Northern California each month – seriously! Which one is on your calendar every year?