Summertime brings to San Diego entertaining street festivals, community celebrations and a dazzling array of visual and performing arts. Whether planning a weekend getaway or a long leisurely stay, visitors to San Diego have plenty of fun-filled activities to choose.
Guests can wiggle their toes in the sand and view hundreds of sand sculptors at work during the Annual U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, July 18 – 19, at Imperial Beach Pier.
The “turf meets the surf” at the Del Mar Racetrack where fans flock each summer to wager on their favorite horses during the popular, annual Del Mar Thoroughbred Club racing season, July 22 – September 9. The races run six days weekly, except Tuesday. Every Friday, guests can catch 4 O’Clock Fridays, a free headliner concert following the day’s last race.
On September 6, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s Grade 1 Pacific Classic treats guests to a prestigious event with a race between the nation’s top thoroughbreds and $1 million purse.
Visitors can be Super Man or Wonder Woman for a day at Comic-Con International, July 23 – 26, at the San Diego Convention Center. Comic-Con has become a signature summertime event for San Diego; it is the largest comics and pop culture event in the United States, attracting thousands of artists, celebrities and fans of comic books, movie memorabilia and all things related to pop culture.
San Diego’s culinary community joins forces during September 13 – 18 for San Diego Restaurant Week. Hundreds of the region’s top restaurants offer prix-fixe, three-course dinner menus, at just $20, $30 or $40 per person, so visitors can sample the signature cuisine and sophisticated style that makes San Diego’s dining scene one of the region’s top attractions.
During September 18 – 20, the thrilling San Diego Bayfair features thunderboat racing, tunnel hulls, drag boats, hydroplanes, fireworks and concerts, as well as specialty vendors and food, along and on the waters of Mission Bay.
FESTIVALS AND FAIRS
During June 12 – July 5, this year’s San Diego County Fair, themed “Music Mania,” features music of all types and genres. The San Diego County Fair is the largest annual event in the county and features top performing artists and popular attractions like the Craft Brewers Competition & Festival, livestock exhibits, home and hobby displays, woodworking and an award-winning flower show.
The 23rd Annual La Jolla Festival of Arts and Food Fair, June 20 – 21, hosts over 190 award-winning local and national artists displaying paintings, sculptures, fine jewelry, photography and more. Guests can enjoy a variety of cuisines in the festival food area, listen to live entertainment and visit the children’s area featuring interactive booths, hands-on games and activities.
San Diego celebrates Independence Day with a variety of Fourth of July celebrations, throughout the county. Coronado’s popular Independence Day Celebration on July 4 features a two-hour parade followed by a family concert in Spreckels Park and spectacular fireworks over Glorietta Bay.
Residents and visitors alike show their pride at the 34th Annual San Diego LGBT Pride Parade and Festival, July 18 – 19, one of the most popular events of its kind in the country. Highlights include a mile-long parade through Hillcrest and two-day festival in Balboa Park
The 15th Annual San Diego Festival of Beer will take place September 18 in downtown San Diego. More than 75 breweries will be in attendance, providing samples and tastings alongside live musical performances, vendors and food.
During September 25 – 28, the annual San Diego Film Festival in downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter showcases the best in American and international full-length films, documentaries and short films; it also features Q & A sessions with directors and guest appearances by film artists.
Visitors can become a part of history and celebrate the discovery of San Diego during the Cabrillo Festival, September 26 – 27. Guests can enjoy cultural festivities, educational activities, music, food, dancing and a reenactment of the explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s landing on the shores of San Diego Bay in 1542
During May 23 – September 7, guests can visit SeaWorld San Diego for Summer Nights at SeaWorld featuring extended park hours, fireworks, live music and special nighttime animal shows during the evening. Specialty acts, percussionists, hip-hop dancers and gymnasts entertain at the front entrance plaza in the award-winning show “Riptide,” Clyde and Seamore entertain with hilarious antics in “Sea Lions Tonite,” and Shamu takes guests on a 20-minute musical aquatic voyage around the globe in “Shamu Rocks.”
In June 2009, the San Diego Zoo will unveil a journey through time with the opening of its newest exhibit, The Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey. Highlighting animals of the past, present and future, the $44 million, seven-acre habitat will feature Asian elephants, a California condor, sloths, snakes and rodents, as well as life-size replicas of animal species that dotted the Southern California landscape more than 10,000 years ago. A herd of eight elephants will roam the 2.5-acre exhibit that will include a 120,000-gallon pool, gentle rolling hills and the Conrad Prebys Elephant Management Facility, where visitors can see keepers and veterinarians at work with the animals; they can also tour the facility for educational and interactive experiences. Additional highlights of Elephant Odyssey will include a tar pit replication, fossil dig, children’s play area and a tunneled walkway through a herd of elephants.
Guests can experience Park at Dark when the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park extends its summer hours to 9:00 p.m. during June 20 – September 7. As daylight turns to darkness, guests can watch the park’s nocturnal creatures emerge, take sunset tours on Journey Into Africa and catch two new summer shows. At the Benough Amphitheater, bubblologists entertain visitors with millions of bubble molds and sculptures; at the Discovery Station Amphitheater, animal ambassadors teach guests the fascinating side of poop, including how many volunteers is takes to weigh an elephant’s output per day.
During June 27 – September 7, the San Diego Zoo will allow guests to roam the park until 9:00 p.m. for Nighttime Zoo. As the sun sets, the Caras Silvestres celebrations will begin honoring the cultures of California and Central and South America with authentic craft making, live music and colorful dance performances. The Nighttime Zoo shows will include “TALAMASCA – Jungle Myths” featuring stilt walkers, drums and exotic animals and “Dr. Zoolittle’s Amazing Amazon Adventure,” a children’s educational and interactive production.
SPORTING GOOD TIME
San Diego’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on May 31 is the most entertaining marathon in the United States, featuring 45 bands located at entertainment centers along the 26.2-mile route. Runners and spectators also enjoy a headliner concert shortly after the race at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot finish line.
On June 20, the 4th Annual Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition takes place at Imperial Beach. Guests can take in the action as fun loving canines ride the waves in three different heats: small dogs, large dogs and tandem.
The 26th Annual San Diego International Triathlon sprints into action on June 28; the event includes a 1,000-meter swim, 30K bike ride and 10K run. The race begins at Spanish Landing and finishes along the Embarcadero in downtown San Diego.
The San Diego Padres’ season sizzles during the summer months. Baseball fans can watch the pros in action at the Padres’ downtown PETCO Ballpark featuring 46,000 seats, garden terraces, spacious concourses and state-of-the-art amenities for the fans.
The 56th Annual World Championship Over-the-Line Tournament takes place on Mission Bay’s Fiesta Island, July 11 – 12 and July 18 – 19. This boisterous, fast-paced beach softball event is open to the public; games begin at 7 a.m. each day and end at 7 p.m.
During August 22 – 23, the Annual World Body Surfing Championships showcases international and U.S. body surfers competing to be “the world’s best” at the Oceanside Pier and Beach in San Diego’s North County.
The 79th La Jolla Rough Water Swim, the largest rough-water swimming competition in the U.S., takes place at picturesque La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, September 13.
MUSIC FESTIVALS AND CONCERTS
During its 4th Annual Green Flash Concert Series, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps in La Jolla offers a unique summertime experience with live music and spectacular ocean sunsets. The concert series occurs on May 20, June 17, August 19 and September 16. These monthly summer concerts, set on the aquarium’s stunning outdoor tide-pool plaza, offer food, drinks and a sophisticated mix of national performers. Green Flash Concerts take place 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. and are for guests ages 21 years and older.
This year, the Mainly Mozart Festival, June 6 – 20, brings the famous sounds of 19th century Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky to San Diego’s Balboa Theatre. Highlights of the festival include 13 of Tchaikovsky’s popular works, including pieces from his most famous ballets, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.
The 29th season of Balboa Park’s Twilight in the Park offers its free concert series Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, June 16 – August 27. Twilight’s live music under the stars features a mix of musical performances, including military bands, Dixieland jazz, big band swing and Latin salsa. Concerts take place 6:15 – 7:15 p.m. on the stage of the majestic Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.
Guests can visit Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion for its free International Summer Organ Festival, occurring every Monday at 7:30 p.m., June 22 – August 31. San Diego’s warm summer nights allows for guests to enjoy the majestic sound of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ, while enjoying music played by world-renowned concert and theater organists.
The San Diego Symphony’s Summer Pops Series features food, fireworks and fantastic orchestral performances under the stars at picturesque Embarcadero Marina Park South in downtown San Diego. This year’s pop series takes place June through September and includes performances from Gladys Knight, John Pizzarelli, Marvin Hamlisch, Davy Jones, Burt Bacharach and more.
The popular 26th Annual Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay features top name entertainers and takes place June through October at Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn & Suites on Shelter Island, adjacent to a picturesque marina.
During July 31 – August 23, the La Jolla Music Society SummerFest 2009 features over 70 world-class, classical artists and ensembles performing 13 diverse concerts.
On August 9, visitors can experience a rockin’ good time at North Park Music Thing’s Street Fest, which features a live art show, international food court, street vendors and a number of musicians performing live on three different stages.
For music lovers, San Diego’s biggest music festival, Street Scene, occurs in downtown’s East Village neighborhood, August 28 – 29. The two-day annual music festival brings more than 40 of the hottest names in indie rock and hip hop to San Diego’s city streets.
ARTS & CULTURE
The Tony Award®-winning La Jolla Playhouse presents the West Coast premiere of Terrance McNally’s Unusual Acts of Devotion, June 2 – 28. During a hot summer night, a couple celebrates their fifth wedding anniversary with friends, but danger lurks in the air as each confronts unfulfilled desires and secret longings for one another. The Playhouse also presents the World Premier of Claudia Shear’s Restoration, June 23 – July 19. Inspired by the restoration of Michelangelo’s David in 2004, this illuminating and imaginative play follows an unexpected love story and offers a comedic portrait of survival and endurance.
The Tony Award®-winning Old Globe theater in Balboa Park presents the World Premiere of The First Wives Club — A New Musical, July 15 – August 23. Based on the Hollywood blockbuster, this Broadway-bound musical follows former college friends who reunite at middle-age and discover they share the same unhappy story – their ungrateful husbands leaving them for younger women. The women band together, and stylishly get even with their exes.
The Old Globe also presents its annual Summer Shakespeare Festival, June 13 – September 27. Guests can watch three productions, Twelfth Night, Coriolanus and Cyrano de Bergerac, performed in nightly rotation in the Globe’s outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre.
Actors perform outdoors and under the stars at the Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park. Starlight Theatre presents three musical favorites for warm summer nights: High School Musical, June 4 – 21; The New Mambo Kinds, July 31 – August 1, and Annie, August 13 – 30.