By Michele E. Buttelman
With each passing month since the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of some of our favorite festivals and attractions more and more events are returning to the calendar.
Some events have used the time off to update, reengineer or reimagine events and some have changed locations.
The best news to date on the festival calendar is that after three long years the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival and the California Strawberry Festival will return in 2023.
Mark your calendars for these fabulously fun festivals!
30th Riverside Dickens Festival
3900 Main St.,
Riverside, CA 92501
The 30th Annual Riverside Dickens Festival will be held in downtown Riverside. This Victorian-themed event celebrating the life and works of author Charles Dickens, among others, kicks off at 10 a.m. with a parade followed by live entertainment, tasty food, unique shopping, a fashion show and more. Fun activities and games for kids young and old plus you will be able meet and greet actors portraying Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe and Marie Laveau, to name a few. Festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Don’t miss the Dickens After Dark Festival Fundraiser Party will be held 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Charles Dickens Tavern 3900 Main St., Riverside, CA 92501. Tickets for this event are $45 and can be found on Eventbrite. The Riverside Dickens Festival is a 501(c)(3) Organization that seeks to bring education and awareness of the Victorian Era to all.
Family Winemakers of California Wine Tasting
Del Mar Fairgrounds Activity Center
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.,
Del Mar, CA 92014
This well-respected tasting is a once-a-year opportunity to tour and taste California’s wine country under one roof. Try wines directly from the producer, most of which are not widely distributed.
Tickets include unlimited access to approximately 65 wineries from more than 50 California appellations pouring over 35 varietals and over 350 different wines, commemorative wine glass, a large variety of cheeses, breads and crackers.
This tasting is about the breadth of wineries from across California, with an enormous range of varietals, wine growing appellations and price points. All Family Winemakers of California tastings focuses on wineries that are small (generally under 5,000 cases), have limited marketing outreach, and will be represented by family members.
Consumer Tickets from 2 – 4 p.m.: $55
All Access Tickets from Noon – 4 p.m. $75
17th Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival
Grace Pavilion at Sonoma County Fairgrounds Event Center
1350 Bennett Valley Road,
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Who doesn’t love cheese? The Artisan Cheese Festival will include farmer and producers’ tours, cheese crawl and seminars.
In a banquet for the senses, the Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace, the signature event for the Artisan Cheese Festival, brings together more than 100 artisan cheese and food producers, winemakers, brewers, distillers, cidermakers and chefs who will offer hand-crafted cheeses, products that complement cheese, boutique wines, artisan-brewed beers and handcrafted ciders.
Discover the next wave of interesting cheese products, books and recipes. Taste, sip, and explore on Sunday, March 26. Bring your wallet as there will be an opportunity to purchase your favorite cheeses and artisan products. Every guest brings home a coveted Artisan Cheese Festival insulated cheese tote bag as well as a festive wine glass. Live entertainment included. Parking at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and Event Center is complimentary at the Pavilion and Brookwood lots.
Tickets: $65 per person, $30 for kids 12 and under.
March 31-April 4
6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028
The annual who’s who and what’s what from the Paley Center for Media. One of the advantages of living in the greater Los Angeles area is the ability to attend the nation’s premier TV festival for exclusive behind-the-scenes scoops, hilarious anecdotes and breaking news stories. Each event features a premiere screening or an episode specially chosen for PaleyFest fans, followed by a conversation with showrunners, producers, directors, stars and a Q&A with the audience.
This year’s lineup includes: “The Mandalorian,” “Abbott Elementary,” “Yellowstone,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” “Yellowjackets” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
Tickets from $75.
27th Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival
Old Town Newhall
Santa Clarita, CA 91321
Surrounded by historic charm in the heart of Santa Clarita’s Arts and Entertainment District in Old Town Newhall, the Cowboy Festival offers a unique festival atmosphere with more than 20 performances of live music, western swing dancing, vintage vendors and western festivities. Festival line up, tickets and other information is being finalized by festival officials.
California Strawberry Festival
Ventura County Fairgrounds
10 W. Harbor Blvd,
Ventura, CA 93001
The California Strawberry Festival is a celebration off all things strawberry.
Missing from the food festival circuit for three years because of the COVID-19 pandemic the festival has moved to a new location, the Ventura County Fairgrounds.
Festival organizers promise guests “all the same great fun you’ve come to love.”
The Strawberry Festival has raised more than $4.5 million to benefit local Ventura County charities.
Enjoy strawberry-inspired treats like build-your-own strawberry shortcake, chocolate-covered strawberries, strawberry beer and more. With more than 40 food vendors, a strawberry shortcake eating contest, Ninja Nation Obstacle Course, live music and entertainment and more than a hundred arts and crafts booths, the Strawberry Festival is fun for all ages.
The exciting new beachside location provides iconic views and Ventura offers up a vibrant downtown just a few blocks away, with hotels, restaurants and nightlife. The Fairground’s convenient location right off the 101 freeway offers parking onsite and free shuttle service.
Tickets: Adults $15
Seniors (62+) $10
Youth (ages 5-12) $8
Children (ages 4 and under) free
Tickets may be purchased at Festival entrance gates. Cash and credit cards accepted. Food booths accept cash only. ATMs on site.