Spring has sprung. Time to put away the rain boots and walk on sunshine. We’ve handpicked 11 fabulous spring fests to fit every family’s interests from kite flying to gardening to arts and music and cultural celebrations. Read on, then clear your calendar and hop to it for some springtime fun.

photo: Rachel Cobb

San Diego Botanic Garden’s Planting Jubilee and Tomato Sale
Tour the garden with your family and get inspired to plant tomatoes and locally-sourced herbs, veggies and flowers. Beautiful garden art is also for sale at this festival that rings in spring. Stroll through the The Kid Zone, plant a seedling, make a floral collage, ride a pony or visit the petting zoo. Experts give workshops and answer your gardening questions to make this year’s home garden a success.

Dates/times: Sat. and Sun. March 17-18, 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
Are books and imagination a central part of your family? If so, gather your clan and visit the Storytelling Festival at the Encinitas Library. This year’s event, held on St. Patrick’s Day, has an Irish theme. Professional storytellers will tell multicultural tales and play storytelling games with the kids. Local students will perform their own stories and kids who have a story to read can give the open mic a try. Grab some lunch from the food trucks on site from 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. View the day’s schedule here.

Date/times: Sat., March 17, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Cost: Free
540 Cornish Dr.
Encinitas, Ca 92024
Online: storytellersofsandiego.org

photo: Nur Afni Setiyaningrum via Unsplash

Fallbrook Avocado Festival
Celebrate local delicious avocados at this one-of-a-kind festival. Beforehand, have the kids design and construct their own car made from an avocado and join in the fun of the Avo 500 Race the day of the event. Or, dress up an avocado Mr. Potato Head style to win the Best Dressed Avocado contest. The festival features two stages of music and dance performances and plenty of avocado and guacamole vendors.

Insider’s Tips: No Pets of any kind allowed. Arrive early! The festival heats up and gets busy in the afternoon.

Dates/times: Sun., April 15, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: Free
Main St. and Alvarado St.
Fallbrook, Ca
Online: fallbrookchamberofcommerce.org/events

photo: San Diego Shakespeare Society

Shakespeare Student Parade and Festival
Gather ye family at The Prado in Balboa Park to watch students bring Shakespeare to life through spoken word, music and dance.  Students dressed in terrific costumes perform 10-minute scenes on multiple outdoor stages. A Grand Procession and opening ceremony takes place at 12 p.m. followed by performances at 12:30 p.m. Introducing students to the theatre and the Bard at a young age can truly make a memorable impact.

Date/time: Sun., April 28, noon – 4 p.m.
Cost: $30
The El Prado Promenade at Balboa Park
Online: sandiegoshakespearesociety.org/festival/

Linda Vista Multicultural Fair
Honor San Diego’s rich, diverse culture at Linda Vista’s annual fair that celebrates cultural awareness and understanding. In this neighborhood, over 22 languages and dialects are spoken. The day begins with a parade where local bands bring hometown spirit. Check out the interactive games and crafts in the Kid’s Zone and 3 stages of artistic performances celebrating the many cultures that make up Linda Vista.

Dates/times: Sat. April 28, 10 a.m. – 5 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: Water Conservation Garden

Spring Garden and Butterfly Festival
Dress like butterflies, bees, 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. Attend a pollinator party, watch beautiful butterfly releases and make crafts. Take 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 pavilion to avoid long lines later in the day.

Dates/times: Sat., April 28, 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 92019
Online: thegarden.org/springfestival/

photo: Paul Nestor

Mission Federal ArtWalk
This popular festival in Little Italy is perfect for budding artists with over 17 blocks of artwork on display from all over the world . Watch live music and dance performances throughout the day on the event’s many stages. The highlight for families is Kidswalk, this year at a new location on Date Street between State and Union. Young artists can try out many hands-on art projects from nature-inspired art to STEAM based art to storytelling. A percentage of the proceeds from the event helps to fund Art Reach, a nonprofit that provides art education in schools.

Insider’s Tip: Parking can be tricky in Little Italy. Taking the trolley is highly recommended. 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 and a Lyft discount.

Dates/times: April 28-29, 11 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Cost: Free
Little Italy
India St., Between Ash and Grape Streets
San Diego, Ca
Online: artwalksandiego.org

photo: Ho’olaule’a Facebook

Hawaiian Cultural Festival
Transport your family to the islands and fill your souls with aloha spirit at the Ho’olaule’a (Hawaiian Cultural Festival). Enjoy a full day of entertainment with beautiful costumed performers on 2 stages. Taste delicious Hawaiian food and enjoy shopping at the many boutique vendors.  At the cultural village, make a lei, pound some poi and learn more about Hawaiian traditions and customs.

Dates/times: Sat. May 5, 9 a.m. – 6p.m.; Sun., May 6, 10 a.m. – 4p.m.
Cost: Free; small fee for some craft-making
De Anza Cove at Mission Bay
Online: sdhoolaulea.com

photo: OB Kiwanis Facebook

Ocean Beach Kite Festival
Both the young and young at heart will love making kites together at The Ocean Beach Kite Festival. Celebrating its 70th year, this is the oldest children’s kite festival in the U.S. All kite-making materials are provided and local Kiwanis volunteers are eager to help. Any handmade kite is eligible to earn prizes for the best decorated kites by age group. Carnival rides, games and professionals showing off kite stunts will delight little ones. Enjoy perusing the many artisan crafts and fill hungry tummies with food truck delights.

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

Dates/times: Sat., May 12, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Cost: Free
Dusty Rhodes Park
Sunset Cliffs Blvd. at Nimitz
Ocean Beach, Ca
Online: oceanbeachkiwanis.org

photo: Fiesta del Sol Facebook

Fiesta del Sol
Fun, danceable tunes fill the stage at Fiesta del Sol in Solana Beach. Local music and dance performers have a stage of their own too. Little ones can let loose 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 7:30-10:30 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 19-20 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Cost: Free
Fletcher Cove
Solana Beach Ca 92075
Online: fiestadelsol.net

photo: House of Korea 

House of Pacific Relations Ethnic Food Fair
Nothing unites people more than food. With Olympic spirit still in the air, bring the whole family to learn about world cultures and enjoy an amazing spread of food from over 30 countries. The day is filled with dancers and music from Israel, India, Ireland and more. Watch performers at your leisure on the grass or from benches as your kids try baklava, paella, and samosas. It’s a taster’s dream!

Dates/times: Sun., May 27, noon – 5 p.m.
Cost: Free entertainment. Bring cash to enjoy the great food!
House of Pacific Relations Cottages, Balboa Park
Online: sdhpr.org/events-food

Which spring festivals will you be attending? Share in the comments!

–Cherie Gough


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