Spring has sprung and we’re ready to head out into the sunshine and party. Lucky for us, there are plenty of outdoor celebrations cropping up all over town. From kite flying and garden planting to music fests, Shakespeare performances, an ethnic food fair and more––there’s something for everyone. Read on for 12 family festivals and fairs that are sure to put a spring in your step.


Photo: Lisa Reynolds

San Diego Botanic Garden’s Planting Jubilee and Tomato Sale
Tomatoes are an easy vegetable to grow if you’re a newbie and a fun one for gardeners of any level. If you’re looking to plant a veggie garden with the kids this spring, don’t miss the San Diego Botanic Garden’s Planting Jubilee and Tomato Sale. Experts will give workshops and answer your gardening questions. You can stroll through the sale of locally-sourced herbs, veggies, flowers and beautiful garden art. Tour the garden with your family and get inspired. In the Kid Zone, plant a seedling, make a floral collage, ride a pony or visit the petting zoo.

Insider’s Tip: Get a $2 discount by downloading a coupon here.

Dates/times: Sat. and Sun. March 18-19, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: Adults/ $14; Children 3-12/ $8; Parking $2; Pony rides $3

230 Quail Gardens Dr.
Encinitas, Ca
Online: sdbgarden.org/springfest.htm


Storytelling Festival
Do you love to spin a good tale? Are books a central part of your family? If so, gather your clan together and visit the Storytelling Festival at the Encinitas Library sponsored by Storytellers of San Diego. Kids can hear tales from around the world performed by professional storytellers and play storytelling games. Local students will perform their own stories, and kids who have a story to read can give the open mic their all at noon. Grab some lunch from the food truck on site from 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. View the day’s schedule online.

Dates/times: Sat., March 18, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Cost: Free

540 Cornish Dr.
Encinitas, Ca 92024
Online: storytellersofsandiego.org

Photo: Courtesy of Linda Vista Multicultural Fair 

Linda Vista Multicultural Fair
Linda Vista is a hub of diversity with over 22 languages and dialects spoken. Enjoy a vibrant day of cultural fun at this event that celebrates cultural awareness and understanding. The day begins with a parade bringing hometown spirit with local bands and a terrific Brazilian dance troupe. The events hosts a Kid’s Zone with interactive games and crafts, and 3 stages of artistic performances including lion dancers, taiko drummers, ballet folklorico and tons of great music from Zydeco to Afro-Cuban and Filipino.
Dates/times: Sat., March 18, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Cost: Free; carnival rides $5 each

6900 block of Linda Vista Road, (between Comstock and Ulric Streets)
San Diego Ca 92171
Online: lindavistafair.org

Photo: Nur Afni Setiyaningrum via Unsplash

Fallbrook Avocado Festival
Avocados make everything taste better. Families will love this festival that celebrates local delicious avocados. Before the festival, kids can construct their own car made from an avocado and join in the fun of the Avo 500 Race the day of the event. Or have fun dressing up an avocado Mr. Potato Head style to win the Best Dressed Avocado contest. The festival also features two stages of music and dance performances and plenty of avocado and guacamole vendors.

Insider’s Tip: Arrive early! The festival heats up and gets busy in the afternoon. You’ll find plenty of free parking on the streets and lots.

Dates/times: Sun., April 23, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: Free

Main St. and Alvarado St.
Fallbrook, Ca
Online: fallbrookchamberofcommerce.org/events

Shakespeare Student Parade and Festival
The Prado at Balboa Park is the place to be to watch students, ages 5 through 17 bring Shakespeare to life through spoken word, music and dance.  Students in terrific costumes will perform 10-minute scenes on multiple outdoor stages. The day begins with a Grand Procession and opening ceremony at 12:00 p.m. followed by performances at 12:30 p.m. Introducing students to the Bard at a young age can truly make a memorable impact.  One teacher associated with the The San Diego Shakespeare Society states, “My students often remark that this is the best day of their lives.”

Date/time: Sun., April 29, noon – 4 p.m.
Cost: Free

The El Prado Promenade at Balboa Park

Online: sandiegoshakespearesociety.org/festival/

Photo: Cherie Gough

Butterfly and Garden Festival
Dress like butterflies, bees, beetles or bats and flutter over to The Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon to celebrate opening day of the Dorcas E. Utter Memorial Butterfly Pavilion. Wear colorful, bright clothing and watch your kids’ eyes light up when butterflies land on their shoulders. Learn about the importance of butterflies and other pollinators from the garden’s educator Ms. Smarty Plants. Watch beautiful butterfly releases and make butterfly crafts. Take some home milkweed and drought-tolerant plants that butterflies seek out and extend the magic into your own backyard.

Insider’s Tip: Arrive early and sign up for a designated time slot for your tour of the butterfly pavilion to avoid long lines later in the day.

Dates/times: Sat., April 29, 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Cost: $5/adults; $1/kids ages 3-17; Free/3 and under

12122 Cuyamaca College Dr. West
El Cajon Ca
Online: thegarden.org/springfestival/

Photo: Mission Federal ArtWalk

Mission Federal ArtWalk
Take a break from scissors, glue, and glitter and wander over to this poplar festival in Little Italy. Your little Monet will enjoy roaming through 17 blocks of artwork from all over the world. Relax and watch live music and dance performances throughout the day on the event’s many stages. The highlight for families is Kidswalk at Beech Street and India Street. Young artists can try out many hands-on activities such as making nature-inspired art from recycled materials with The Living Coast Discovery Center, creating some STEAM based art and being silly in the Museum of Photographic Art’s interactive booth. A percentage of the proceeds from the event helps to fund Art Reach, a nonprofit that provides art education in schools that do not receive funding for the arts.

Insider’s Tip: Parking can be tricky in Little Italy even on a quiet day, so taking the trolley is highly recommended by event coordinators. The green line stops right at the western edge of the event area. If you choose to drive, there are Old Town trolley shuttles available. Click here for more detailed shuttle information.

Dates/times: April 29-30, 11 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Cost: Free

Little Italy
India Street, Between Ash and Grape Streets
San Diego, Ca
Online: artwalksandiego.org


Photo: SD Hoolaulea Facebook Page

Hawaiian Cultural Festival
Transport your family to a day filled with aloha spirit at the Ho’olaule’a (Hawaiian Cultural Festival). Enjoy a full day of entertainment with beautiful costumed performers on 2 stages. Try some delicious Hawaiian food and enjoy shopping at the many boutique vendors.  At the cultural village, anyone can make a lei or do some Ipu (gourd) painting and learn more about Hawaiian traditions and customs.

Dates/times: Sat. May 6, 9 a.m. – 6p.m.; Sun., May 7, 10 a.m. – 4p.m.
Cost: Free; small fee for some craft-making

De Anza Cove at Mission Bay
Online: sdhoolaulea.com

Carlsbad Village Faire
Carlsbad will host its huge annual fair with family-friendly activities including a rock climbing wall, face painting, super slide, bounce house, crafts and games. A family favorite at the event is the Kiwanis pancake breakfast held at the Carlsbad Railroad Depot from 7 a.m.- 12 p.m. With more than 900 vendors selling their wares and 50 food booths in the international food court, you are sure to find something for everyone at this massive faire.

Insider’s Tip: Complimentary shuttles will pick up and drop off passengers at the Poinsettia Coaster Station and the northwest corner of Sears at Westfield Carlsbad.

Dates/times: Sun., May 7, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Cost: Free

Carlsbad Village
Grand Ave. from Carlsbad Blvd. to Jefferson St.
Carlsbad, Ca
Online: kennedyfaires.com/carlsbad


Photo: Ocean Beach Kiwanis Facebook Page

Ocean Beach Kite Festival
The Ocean Beach Kite Festival is a time-honored tradition hosted by the local Kiwanis Club. Kids can learn to make a kite with all materials provided and plenty of help from volunteers. Prizes will be awarded for the best decorated kites by age group. Any handmade kite is eligible to compete. Carnival rides, games and professionals showing off kite stunts will delight little ones. Enjoy perusing the many crafts made by artisans. Food trucks will provide plenty of nosh for hungry tummies.

Insider’s Tip: Park at Robb Field and take the free shuttle to the event.

Dates/times: Sun., May 13, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Cost: Free

Dusty Rhodes Park
Sunset Cliffs Blvd. at Nimitz
Ocean Beach, Ca
Online: oceanbeachkiwanis.org

Fiesta Del Sol
Fiesta del Sol in Solana Beach features a terrific, diverse live music lineup, all for free! With guests booked by Belly Up, you’ll dance the day away to some impressive tunes. Local unplugged bands have a stage of their own too. Little dancers can get some “me time” in the KidsZone with rides, games and hands-on arts and crafts. Face painting and the Dragon ride are family favorites. On Sunday morning from 7:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. local firefighters host a pancake breakfast at the west end of Lomas Santa Fe Drive.

Parking with free shuttle is available – Follow the signs to find plenty of parking just off Lomas Santa Fe on Stevens Avenue and at the west end of Via de la Valle (at the intersection of Sierra Ave). There is also plenty of free parking along Highway 101 and South Sierra Avenue. Click here for more parking information.

Dates/times: Sat.-Sun., May 20-21 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Cost: Free

Fletcher Cove
Solana Beach Ca 92075
Online: fiestadelsol.net


Photo: Chris C. via Yelp

House of Pacific Relations Ethnic Food Fair
This annual Balboa Park fair features a family-friendly way to learn about 32 cultures from around the world. The day is filled with dancers and music from Puerto Rico, Panama, Ireland and more. Watch performers at your leisure on the grass or benches as your kids try spumoni, paella, yuca and samosas. Okay, maybe the adventurous eaters will try those bites. But with food from all over the world, it’s a taster’s dream, and if the stars align, this just might be the day your little one’s palate expands just a bit.

Dates/times: May 28, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: Free entrance, but bring cash for the great food!

Balboa Park
Online: sdhpr.org/events-food

What are your favorite spring festivals? Tell us in the comments below!

––Cherie Gough