Spring is a time of renewal, growth, and celebration, and what better way to enjoy it than by attending one of the many festivals held in this beautiful region of California. The Central Coast is known for its stunning natural landscapes, delicious food and wine, and vibrant culture, making it the perfect place to welcome the arrival of spring.
May 13 – Santa Maria Barbecue Festival
Santa Maria Valley, renowned for its Santa Maria-Style barbecue, the Santa Maria Barbecue Festival is making a comeback this May. Previously named Brews & Cues, this significant event is scheduled for Saturday, May 13, from noon to 4 p.m., coinciding with National Barbecue Month.
Visitors will have the opportunity to try out various barbecue offerings and cast their vote for their preferred “cuers.” Additionally, they can relish live music, games, and a diverse selection of regional beers.
May 15 – 21 – Taste of Santa Barbara
The Santa Barbara Culinary Experience, in collaboration with the Julia Child Foundation, is proud to present the Taste of Santa Barbara. This multi-day gathering, taking place on May 15-21, 2023, highlights the local culinary, hospitality, tourism, artisan, and small business communities, and pays tribute to the region’s exquisite food and drink. Among the prominent events are Lights, Camera, Julia, which showcases Julia Child’s iconic TV shows and takes place at The New Vic Ensemble Theatre Company in downtown Santa Barbara, and Cherry Bombe x Taste of Santa Barbara, featuring a thought-provoking discussion with local female winemakers, chefs, and producers who play a vital role in the food and drink scene of Santa Barbara. Additionally, the annual Taste of Santa Barbara Wines held at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park in Santa Barbara is another must-attend event.
May 19 – 21 – Carmel Art Festival
Participate in the Carmel Art Walk to welcome the spring season and enjoy the wonderful weather. For over a century, Carmel has been an artist’s haven and a sanctuary for writers and intellectuals who have helped shape this unique artist community. The Carmel Art Walk offers a chance to visit artist-owned galleries, meet the artists, and experience the legacy of the Carmel-by-the-Sea artist colony. The event is free and takes place from 4pm-7pm.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Carmel Art Festival, which has been held in Carmel-by-the-Sea since 1993. The festival will be held once again in Devendorf Park, starting at 11am on Friday, May 19 and ending on Sunday, May 21 at 3pm. Sixty plein air artists, all-star winners of the past 30 years, will arrive in Carmel on May 17 and spend two days painting all over the Monterey Peninsula. Their artwork will be showcased, judged, and available for purchase in Devendorf Park starting on Friday, May 19. Collectors from all over the country come to buy these new paintings.
May 19 – 21 – California Roots Music and Arts Festival
At the Monterey County Fair and Event Center, the California Roots Music and Arts Festival spans three days, offering an array of live music, delicious food, refreshing drinks, unique artwork, and environmentally-friendly practices. Reggae artists from across the world come together to spread positive vibes and create an atmosphere of joy and relaxation.
May 20 – 21 – California Strawberry Festival
The California Strawberry Festival is making a comeback this year at a new location: the Ventura County Fairgrounds! Despite the change of venue, you can still expect the same level of excitement and amusement. However, this year’s festival offers the added bonus of a seaside backdrop, where you can bask in the gentle ocean breeze while enjoying strawberry-inspired activities like crafting your own strawberry shortcake, indulging in chocolate-covered strawberries and strawberry beer, and more. With over 40 food vendors, a Ninja Nation Obstacle Course, live music, and over a hundred arts and crafts booths, there’s plenty to explore at the California Strawberry Festival. Don’t miss out on this exciting event!
May 27 – 29 – Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival
The annual Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival, held in front of the Santa Barbara Mission, attracts hundreds of local artists who adorn the plaza with their artwork. Each day, the street painters (known as Madonnari in Italian) use pastel chalk to create magnificent, large-scale images on the pavement, transforming public squares into colorful works of art. Visitors can also enjoy an Italian market, live music, and a variety of food options for purchase. Moreover, the event supports the Children’s Creative Project, a non-profit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Office of Education.
June 2 – 10 – Carmel-by-the-Sea Culinary Week
Come out for the Carmel-by-the-Sea Culinary Week from June 2 to June 10, and discover the “Art of the Plate” through a range of interactive culinary events, special menus, and incentive offers that will be available all week long at more than 30 participating restaurants and other entertainment venues. The festivities kick off with a grandiose opening party, which will be held at Carmel Plaza on Friday, June 2 from 3-5 pm, and culminates with the 30th Annual Monterey Winemakers’ Celebration on Dolores Street in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea on June 10. Don’t miss this exceptional opportunity to indulge in the culinary wonders that Carmel-by-the-Sea has to offer!
Check out our other events here.