Gaslamp Quarter • Feb/Mar
Be quick to grab the strings of beads thrown off the floats at the Masquerade Parade. The parade begins in the afternoon at Fifth Avenue, and the music and revelry carry on until the early morning. The food booths serve up New Orleans-style Cajun food.
A grand parade of marching bands, bagpipes, community organizations, horses, and school groups begins at Sixth and Juniper. Afterward, an Irish festival takes place at Balboa Park with Irish dancers, lots to eat, green beer, and fun for the entire family.
North of the Mexican border, commemorating the French defeat by Mexican troops is a serious business. Restaurants overflow, the Old Town State Historic Park sponsors folkloric ballet performances and mariachi bands, and the historic Gaslamp Quarter hosts a musical street fair.
Nearly every San Diego community has its own July 4th festivities, such as fireworks, surfing contests, parades, and street festivals. Since the ban of home fireworks, commercial firework shows are the way to go. The biggest show in the county is held over San Diego Harbor.
Convention Center • Late Jul
Comic-Con draws more than 150,000 devotees over several days and literally bursts out of the huge San Diego Convention Center. Tickets sell out super-fast for this wildly popular all-things-comic-and-then-some gathering. Celebrity guests, panels, retailers, games, anime, film screenings, and fringe events line the program.
San Diego’s gay community hits the streets in celebration of diversity. The iconic parade begins at Fifth Avenue and Laurel in Hillcrest and moves to Balboa Park, where live bands, food booths, and a party atmosphere prevail. Outrageous costumes are the rule of the day.
Gaslamp Quarter & Balboa Park • Oct • Adm
Your worst nightmares may come true at the historic 1889 Haunted Hotel, which features ghouls, a clown asylum, and a haunted subway station. The Chamber and Haunted Trails of Balboa Park will terrify you.
El Cajon • Sun before Thanksgiving
Floats, equestrian units, and marching bands make up part of the 200 entries in the largest single-day event in San Diego County, attended by about 400,000 people. A tradition since 1947, the parade revolves around a celebration of children.
Balboa Pk • First Fri & Sat of Dec
Balboa Park launches the Christmas season by opening its doors to the community. Museums are free after 5pm, carolers sing, and food booths are set up. The park is closed to traffic, but shuttles reach the outer parking lots. Dress warmly.
Yachts and sailboats vie for the title of best decorated in Mission Bay and the San Diego Harbor. The best viewing areas for the Mission Bay parade are at Crown Point and Fiesta Island; for the San Diego Harbor Parade, head to the Embarcadero.
Ocean Beach • Mar
A kite competition with prizes and demonstrations on the beach.
Fallbrook • Apr
Special tours, 50 food booths, and awards for best dishes draw big crowds.
Apr–Jun • Adm
Concerts at San Diego and Tijuana feature works by the wunderkind and his contemporaries.
Del Mar • Jun • Adm
Animals, rides, food, and music.
Gaslamp Quarter • Jun • Adm
A self-guided tour passes restaurants displaying their kitchen samplings.
Imperial Beach • Aug
Competitors build the most complex and imaginative sand castles.
Classical music and modern compositions in La Jolla, with artists and ensembles from around the world.
Music, apple cider, and apple pies in a charming mountain town.
Cabrillo National Monument • End Sep • Adm
Soldiers re-enact the Cabrillo landing, and performers showcase Native American, Aztec, and Mayan dances.
Navy ship tours and air and sea parades honor the military.