By Alli Hill
When it comes to festivals, California reigns supreme. California’s got the best of every environment, from lush forests to majestic mountains to sandy beaches and beyond, so there’s no surprise so many outdoor activity-related festivals happen here each year. Whether you love water sports or extreme sports, hiking or camping, fishing or hunting, you won’t want to miss these 10 best outdoor festivals and events in California this year.
World-renowned surfers and musicians come together in this unique weekend festival that’s true to California’s roots. The festival’s lineup includes 25 bands, dozens of surfing competitions, beachfront beer gardens and food stands, tons of games and entertainment, and a kiddie corral. Sponsored by Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, Discovery Ventura, j7 Surfboards, and many others, this festival has the best activities of both land and sea.
Hosted by tree tent maker Tentsile, this weekend camping event offers the best in free food, free drinks, free activities, and your choice of lodging. It’s just like the summer camp you enjoyed as a kid (or at least dreamed out), only bigger, better, and made for grown ups. Stand up paddleboarding, yoga, hiking, kayaking, slacklining, tree climbing, and live music are just a few of the things you have to look forward to. The festival is put on by Sunski, 10 Barrel Brewing, and Recover.
With 11 years and counting, this show isn’t your typical group bike ride. This three-day event has the biggest bike party in the world, along with BMX stunt shows, food and merchandise vendors, food trucks, live music, raffles, and more. Presented by The Cruiser Shop and others, you might just roll home on a new bike of your own.
Whether you own a wooden boat or just like being at sea, you won’t want to miss San Diego’s Wooden Boat Festival. Over 80 handmade wooden boats are on display as crafters share their passion and knowledge. This is a rare opportunity for the public to see some of the most extraordinary wooden boats. Hosted and sponsored by Koehler Kraft Boat Yard, the proceeds from the show will go to benefit the Sea Scouts, a local charity.
These aren’t your standard store-bought kites! This July weekend event will color the sky with some of the most intricate, masterfully-created kites you’ve ever seen. Kite flying competitions, kite battles, kid’s area, and a kite making space are just a few of the highlights of this free event. They Bay Area Sports Kite League, the Sode-cho Kite-Flying Society of Hamamatsu, Japan, and the Berkeley Kite Wranglers have a lot to do with the festival’s success. There will also be a mega merchandise tent from highlinekites.com. Hill Physicians, and Revolution Kites, and Prism Kite Technology have a lot to do with this year’s festival. It’s a great time in the air and on the ground!
Prepare yourself for the ultimate healing experience with the second annual Mass Meditation Initiative. Taking place Saturday, June 23, this festival incorporates many different techniques in meditation—from yoga, sound baths, music and art walks, to guided meditations, workshops and ceremonies. Find your way to inner peace with this crowd of likeminded individuals and guest speakers such as David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe. Food venders will be serving vegan food to fuel yourself with pure energy to carry on through the day and participate in the abundance of activities going on. This festival partners with California State Parks, GT’s Living Foods, LA Weekly, and Agraloop Bio-Refinery.
This mega stand up paddleboarding event takes place on one of the most beautiful lakes in the country. With its Hawaiian vibe and feel-like-family comforts, these races will keep you energized whether you’re on land or in the water. This year, the event includes non-competitive guided paddle tours, SUP polo, and team challenges—something for every paddler no matter your skill level! This event is made possible by Kona Brewing Company, Jake’s on the Lake, Tahoe TV, and Lithia Reno Subaru.
The Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area will be filled with dragons come October 6 this year. Luckily, they aren’t the fire-breathing type. Dragon boat racing is an ancient Chinese tradition that’s as exciting for the spectators as it is for the participants. Long, sleek vessels that resemble Chinese dragons will fill the water and race to the finish line. It’s a fun way for kids and adults alike to get out on the water and enjoy a new way to experience the outdoor lifestyle. With sponsors like Cali Paddler, Del Rey Marketing, and LA Racing this event is made possible.
Part camping trip, part music fest, part spiritual retreat, this epic four-day festival knows how to bring you back to nature. Chock full of personal nourishment like yoga and meditation, team building activities that create something from nothing, and celebrations filled with music, food, and scenery, this lakeside experience is sure to make you a happy camper. This year’s entertainment lineup includes YoHm, RA SO, KR3TURE, and Heartwurkz, among others.
California’s biggest whitewater festival is happening in September this year. Primitive camping, a film festival, raffles, clinics, and all the food and drink you need are some of this year’s highlights. White water rafters of all classes can participate in events, including the low flow slalom course. Sponsors such as American Canoe Association make this festival possible.