Monterey EventsIn addition to its many cultural and historic landmarks, this destination hosts a number of outstanding festivals and events that may coincide with your visit.
Dedicated to protecting marine life in general and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in particular, Whalefest Monterey is an event for the entire family. Adults can attend lectures given by noted marine scientists and watch award-winning documentaries about whales, squid and other bay denizens, while kids can climb inside a 60-foot model of a gray whale. Other activities include whale-watching trips and musical performances, and local restaurants offer yummy small bites like garlic prawns and shrimp quiche. Whalefest takes place in late January at Fisherman's Wharf.
In early February, serious golfers and casual spectators alike head to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am . The beautifully landscaped Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club courses are the site of this world-class golf tournament, first hosted by Bing Crosby in 1937—when the winning purse was $500. Celebrities as well as pros play for charity.
The Subaru Sea Otter Classic lures folks out for some exercise in mid-April. Serious cyclists swarm the Laguna Seca Recreation Area for challenging road races and mountain bike endurance and gravity events, while a schedule of recreational bike tours will appeal to more casual riders.
A long-running Pacific Grove tradition is the Good Old Days Celebration weekend, which takes place along Central Avenue in early or mid-April. This family-oriented event features an arts and crafts show, a parade, games and contests for children, kiddie rides, live entertainment and lots of food vendors.
Mid-April brings flower lovers to the Wildflower Show at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History . The 3-day event started back in 1961 and was the first of its kind in the state. In addition to displays of wildflower species collected by the Monterey chapter of the California Native Plant Society, there are classes and workshops on plant identification and botanical sketching.
Wine connoisseurs look forward to the Monterey Wine Festival in early June. California's longest-running wine festival celebrates the vine at Custom House Plaza in historic downtown Monterey with sips of world-class wines paired with savory bites prepared by West Coast chefs. A chowder competition pits chefs in clam, seafood and creative categories, and you can sample their mouthwatering creations. Live music provides a tasty backdrop.
The sound of baroque orchestral and choral music perfectly complements Carmel's exquisite natural beauty during the Carmel Bach Festival , which occurs the last 3 weeks in July. The festival's centerpiece is the concert series that takes place in the Sunset Theater. Chamber music concerts are given in churches and other venues throughout town.
Late July brings the Feast of Lanterns to Pacific Grove, a citywide festival offering fun things to do with kids that include a boat parade and a lively street dance. Clowns entertain children, who can also participate in activities like a sandcastle building contest, chalk drawing and a pet parade. A Royal Court of middle school and high school-age girls is chosen to reign over the festival, a program that provides educational scholarship opportunities for local students.
Classic car buffs will want to inspect the gleaming vehicles on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in mid-August. Entrants drive their impeccably maintained roadsters along portions of 17-Mile Drive and then parade down Carmel's Ocean Avenue. This automotive street party is held in conjunction with the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion on the same weekend. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey comes alive during this tribute to past glory, as drivers of more than 500 vintage vehicles compete in groups—grand touring cars, Trans Am Series, Formula One—that span every era of motor sports racing history.
The Monterey Fairgrounds, at 2004 Fairground Rd. (off SR 1 via Casa Verde Way) is the site of the 3-day Monterey Jazz Festival the third week in September. Masters share the stage with up-and-coming artists at an event that year after year attracts the world's best jazz musicians.
The Robinson Jeffers Fall Festival , in early or mid-October, takes place at the Carmel home of early 20th-century poet Robinson Jeffers. Re-enactments, readings and other activities pay tribute to Jeffers' works. Participate in a music beach walk or simply take in the dramatic view from the grounds, as the house is perched atop craggy cliffs overlooking the coastline.
Monterey's Cannery Row Holiday Tree Lighting kicks off the season in Steinbeck Plaza the day after Thanksgiving. Music fills the air along Cannery Row, which is all gussied up for the holidays, as crowds gather to welcome Santa and watch the lighting ceremony.
At Monterey's Brighten the Harbor Lighted Boat Parade in early December, craft adorned with twinkling lights promenade from Coast Guard Pier to Lover's Point in Pacific Grove and back. A team of judges votes to honor the most impressively decorated vessel. Also in early December is Pacific Grove's Holiday Parade of Lights , a parade along Central Avenue complete with marching bands, lighted and holiday-themed floats, dance teams and an appearance by old Saint Nick.
Wrapping up the holiday season is First Night Monterey , which rings in the new year on Dec. 31 with a twilight procession. Earlier in the afternoon there's lots of music, song and dance, plus face art, hat making and other creative activities for kids. Evening entertainment runs the gamut from flamenco and Chinese lion dancers to West African drummers, rock and oldies bands, and Celtic and folk musicians. This is an alcohol-free event that can be enjoyed by the entire family.
See all the AAA recommended events for this destination.
Monterey Peninsula, CA
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