Throughout the year, the calendar of events on Catalina overflows with great things to do. There are so many great island events, in fact, that it can be hard to chose which to attend. Here are our Top Ten events on Catalina.
JazzTrax: For two weekends every October, Catalina Island is filled with the cool sounds of smooth jazz. Artists and bands from around the country perform in the Casino Ballroom, attracting jazz fans from near and far.
Catalina Festival of Art: Catalina’s oldest festival is also one of its most popular. For three days every spring, Avalon’s waterfront hosts artists and art from a range of mediums. Whether you are looking for a personal masterpiece or just looking for inspiration, this September weekend is not to be missed.
Fourth of July: In Avalon, Independence Day is the perfect combination of small town patriotism and island style. A flag-waving golf cart parade along Crescent Avenue, a dance in the Casino Ballroom and fireworks over Avalon Harbor are just some of the ways Catalina does the Fourth of July. This is Catalina’s most popular holidays, so make sure to make reservations well in advance.
Taste Around of Avalon: Catalina kicks off Avalon Restaurant Week with the Taste Around of Avalon, an evening featuring cocktails and culinary creations from some of the seaside city’s best dining establishments. Foodies – and those who just like to eat really good food – won’t want to miss this late spring evening of deliciousness. If your dance card is full that night, check out the Avalon Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour, which was inspired by the event and is held throughout the year.
Catalina Triathlon: With its rugged terrain and splendid scenery, the island has become a mecca for endurance athletes. Marathons, 10Ks and a 50 miler are just some of the races and runs on Catalina. For the ultimate challenge, take on fall’s Catalina Island Triathlon, either as an individual or as a team.
Catalina Wine Festival(s): The most infamous event on Catalina started out as fiction. The Catalina Wine Mixer was a luxury event that drove much of the action in the cult comedy Step Brothers. Always referred to with plenty of, shall we say, colorful adjectives, the mixer looked like too much fun not bring to life and the Catalina Island Company did just that. Every September, the mixer takes over Descanso Beach with an array of movie-inspired shenanigans.
If it’s actual wine you’re looking for, you’d be better off attending the Catalina Women’s Forum Wine Festival, also held in September. That event features live music, appetizers and plenty of wine tasting. Speaking of which, Catalina hosts another annual wine festival, this one at the other end of the island. The Summer Wine Festival happens in Two Harbors in early June.
Silent Film Benefit: The Catalina Island Museum is a must-visit attraction on Catalina. With fascinating permanent collections and compelling temporary exhibits, the museum always offers a reason to return. Each May, you can support the museum and take a trip to the past at the Silent Film Benefit. Held in the Avalon Theatre, the benefit features a classic silent film with period dress optional. Can’t make it in May? The museum’s monthly First Fridays evenings offer an opportunity to learn more while being entertained.
Fallfest (and Springfest): Part of the magic of Catalina Island is that it’s not only a resort destination, it’s also a community – and one of the best ways to see that community is at Fallfest and Springfest. Held every, well, fall and spring, these evenings of community fundraising feature live music, game booths, crafts, food and more, all set up along the Avalon waterfront.
Catalina Conservancy Ball: Thanks to the Catalina Conservancy, the island is a wonderland of wild places and untamed spaces – rather than a continuation of the mainland metropolis. Throughout the year, there are plenty of ways to support the Conservancy, ranging from becoming a member to taking an Eco Tour. Every April, you can also support the Conservancy at one of the most iconic buildings in California. The Catalina Conservancy Ball is a black-tie gala in the Casino Ballroom that has raised millions of dollars for the non-profit over the decades of the its existence.
New Year’s Eve: What better way could there be to ring in the New Year than spending it in paradise? And from a black-time gala at the Casino Ballroom to well-lubricated shindigs at the diviest of Catalina dive bars, the island knows how to do New Year’s Eve celebrations. Make your resolutions now – and your reservations.