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Best Summer Festivals

Best Summer Festivals in Santa Cruz County


From performing arts to wine tasting to living history and kid-friendly events, summer is a celebration of festivals in Santa Cruz County.

Santa Cruz Shakespeare
July 12 – August 28, 2016
This season, Santa Cruz Shakespeare will present William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet, and Orlando by Virginia Woolf at its new outdoor home in The Grove at DeLaveaga Park.  Bring a low-back chair, picnic and a jacket.  Order tickets at

Day Out with Thomas
July 29 – 31 and August 5 – 7, 2016
Thomas the Tank Engine™ and his friends come to Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton for two weekends of family fun. The Ready, Get, Set Tour 2016 includes a full roster of activities including train rides, bounce houses, storytelling, live entertainment, and train play tables.  Purchase tickets online or at the event.

Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music
July 31 - August 13, 2016
The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music has been delighting audiences with music of orchestra for more than 50 years.  Evening concerts, open rehearsals, and pre-rehearsal talks are among the festival’s public events.  This season’s performance schedule includes three world premieres and six west coast premieres.  Tickets are available online, by phone or mail, and in person.

22nd Annual Watsonville Strawberry Festival
August 6-7, 2016
The taste of summer bursts with flavor at the annual strawberry festival in downtown Watsonville.  The free event features live music, pie eating contests, arts and crafts, and a food court showcasing delicious interpretations of the city’s legacy crop.     

Scotts Valley Art, Wine & Beer Festival
August 20 – 21, 2016
Raise your glass to art, wine and craft beers at Skypark in Scotts Valley.  The festival features beer and wine tasting, live music, 150 artists, and an action-packed Kids Korner.  On Saturday, over 150 vintage cars will be on display in connection with Scotts Valley Police Department’s Cops n’ Rodders Car Show.

Summer Gathering of Mountain Men
August 20 – 21, 2016
Step back in time to 1830’s Felton when Roaring Camp Railroads sets the scene of a rugged bygone era.  See how frontiersmen and trappers worked, lived and relaxed in their Santa Cruz Mountains home nearly 200 years ago.

24th Annual Aloha Races and Polynesian Festival
August 21, 2016
Feel the aloha spirit during this fun-filled day of outrigger canoe races, hula, ukulele, shave ice and more at the Santa Cruz Wharf.  The festival is a celebration of Santa Cruz’s historic connection to Hawaii. 

64th Annual Capitola Begonia Festival
Labor Day weekend, September 2 – 5, 2016
Join generations of locals who celebrate Capitola’s begonia legacy with four days of family fun.  The festival’s crown jewel is the time-honored parade of begonia-covered floats traversing Soquel Creek.  Other activities include a sand sculpture contest, fishing derby, row boat races, and live music.