Santa Cruz Annual Events
Santa Cruz Vintners Festival
On the third Saturday of January, April, July and November, the Santa Cruz Mountains wineries open for a day of wine tasting. Buy one passport and you'll get admission to several featured wineries.
April through October: Wednesday Night Sailboat Races
Local sailors hold informal races around the harbor every Wednesday evening. If you don't have a boat, you can watch from the shore, or for more fun, reserve a spot on the Chardonnay II.
May: Santa Cruz Blues Festival
If you like the music, this is the festival for you, with some of the biggest names putting in an appearance. Labor Day weekend (last Saturday, Sunday, Monday in May).
June: Woodies on the Wharf
A gathering of wood-bodied automobiles, the "woodies" that are synonymous with surf culture.
July through Labor Day: Shakespeare Santa Cruz
It's been called one of the ten best Shakespeare festivals in the country and we concur. The combination of quality, price and ambiance is hard to beat.
August: Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music
Don't let the name fool you. In this case, contemporary means the music was written recently, but the works performed include symphonies and other classical styles. A recent season featured five world premieres, one U.S. premiere and six west coast premieres.
Labor Day: Begonia Festival, Capitola
This event, held over Labor Day weekend (last Saturday, Sunday, Monday in May) includes a nautical parade, sand sculpture contest, film fest, jazz concert, a fishing derby, rowboat races and a contest for the best hat.
September: Capitola Art and Wine Festival
This pleasant outdoor events features the handiwork of area artists, chefs and winemakers.
October: Open Studios
The Santa Cruz area is rich with artists, weavers, potters and artisans of all kinds. During this three-week event, you can take a self-guided tour of their studios, many of which are not ordinarily open to the public.
Mid-October through February: Monarch Butterflies at Natural Bridges
Monarch butterflies spend part of their life cycle in the eucalyptus trees at Natural Bridges, gathering in clusters to keep warm on chilly days. The best time to see them is just after sunrise as they start to wake up and fly away.
December through February: Elephant Seals at Ano Nuevo
The males arrive in December, followed by the females. Pups are born in January, nursed for four weeks, then their mothers return to the ocean. It's a spectacle not to be missed.