Best Annual Events in the South Bay

You know it best for its shiny nickname “Silicon Valley.” But this part of the bay, about 50 miles south of San Francisco, is not just a global center for more than 2,000 innovative tech companies and home to Adobe, Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Google, HP and Netflix. Palo Alto has tons of greenspace, including 40 miles of walking and biking paths. Walk through Stanford University’s historic campus or opt for the modern Stanford Shopping Center open air mall. Burlingame offers a charming downtown with upscale boutiques, a Shorebird Sanctuary along the Peninsula, and the IT’s-IT Factory, which is still making incredibly delicious ice cream sandwiches.

If you’re traveling with children, or are a youthful spirit yourself, California’s Great America amusement park is in Santa Clara; as is Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers.

Whatever you do, wherever you go, don’t miss out on the food scene in the South Bay — especially in San Jose. Known for its ethnic diversity in the historic downtown district, find Mediterranean, Hawaiian, Mexican, Californian cuisine (of course) and more.

*Things change, so please check in with the organizers of these events for details.


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Start the year off with an event that leans into the Silicon Valley’s love for tech in events: Robots on Ice at the Holiday Ice Rink. Or pick up a new hobby with their Learn to Curl workshop, which expands the sport of ice skating beyond its user base.

Read more about the best things to do in the South Bay in January here.


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Photo: Courtesy of @TetSanJose

Join on one of the biggest Vietnamese New Year Festival in San Jose. The Vietnamese New Year takes place at Eastridge Mall and features live entertainment, lion and dragon dance, contests, carnival rides and games, food booths, and more.

Read more about the best things to do in the South Bay in February here.


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Photo: Courtesy of Laughing Monk Brewing

Head to Los Altos for Saint Paddy’s Day, where downtown hosts a Beer Stroll that combines lives music with craft beer, presumably two of the Irish Saint’s pastimes. Then scoot down to Santa Cruz for their annual Jazz Festival.

Read more about the best things to do in the South Bay in March here.


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Photo: Courtesy of Filoli

Usher in spring with the help of Filoli’s Horticulture Team: learn the basics of building a floral arrangement, artfully combining a mix of fresh flowers and greenery. Tour the gardens and the house in Woodside; be inspired by the luscious bouquets painted by the Dutch masters.

Read more about the best things to do in the South Bay in April here.


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Photo: Courtesy of Recreation Services, City of Palo Alto

Get out in the sunshine with Palo Alto’s Childrens’ May Festival. It’s grown into one of the major events in Palo Alto, featuring a parade on University Avenue with kids walking their pets, riding their bicycles, pulling their wagons or showing off their homemade floats. 

Read more about the best things to do in the South Bay in May here.


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Photo: Courtesy of @SanMateoCoFair

Kick off the summer at the Art & Wine Festival in Downtown Sunnyvale. Follow it up with a visit to the San Mateo County Fair, ogling restored vehicles at an antique car show, or live music at one of the many venues in the area.

Read more about the best things to do in the South Bay in June here.


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One of Northern California’s longest-running fireworks events is at Mountain Views Shoreline Amphitheatre on July 4th, a special celebration with the San Francisco Symphony. On the second weekend of July, downtown Los Altos hosts the two-day Art + Wine Festival showcasing 300 artistshandcrafted works, attracting makers from a dozen states. And the Gilroy Garlic Festival, a major community event known for its garlic ice cream and garlic fries among others, is the last full weekend in July. 

Read more about the best things to do in the South Bay in July here.


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The San Jose Jazz Summer Fest has been attracting jazz lovers for more than 30 years…plus blues, R&B, Latin, New Orleans, and more. And for those who are pro-dog, hang out on the beach and watch incredible dogs catch some waves at the World Dog Surfing Championships.

Read more about the best things to do in the South Bay in August here.


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Photo: Courtesy of City of Santa Clara Parks & Recreation

The Santa Clara Art & Wine Festival takes place in the 52-acre Central Park and features over 160 art vendors, 25+ food groups, 3 entertainment stages and large children’s area. All proceeds go to local non-profit organizations.

Read more about the best things to do in the South Bay in September here.


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Half Moon Bay is home of the pumpkin. On a peak harvest weekend in mid-October, the Main Street Pumpkin Festival salutes pumpkins, carving skills, art, food, wine, and community. The heaviest of the giant gourds — typically over a ton — is crowned the winner after a weigh-off and then The Great Pumpkin Parade is on. Love Donuts? Who doesn’t. Donut Fest is for those who simply want to enjoy a Sunday Funday while sampling donuts, enjoying beer, coffee and more.

Read more about the best things to do in the South Bay in October here.


Windy Hill Loop

From concerts to sporting events to theatre and film festival showings, there’s a lot to be thankful for this month in the South Bay. If you’re into getting outdoors, enjoy crunching  autumn leaves as you walk one of the South Bay’s best hikes in the crisp air.

Read more about the best things to do in the South Bay in November here.


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Celebrate the season with Downtown Ice in San Jose — the only rink in the world that offers skating in and around a circle of 32 palm trees.

Read more about the best things to do in the South Bay in December here.

Event Venues

Looking to see what’s happening right now in the South Bay? Our comprehensive list of venues below will help you find what you need to know what’s going on.

Looking for more things to do in the area?

Visit our What to Do in Northern California page!

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