Best Annual Events on the Monterey Peninsula

Looking for something to do on the Monterey Peninsula? With so many offerings in the area, weve curated some of the annual events you can’t miss. Less researching and more enjoying your time in the area. Enjoy!

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


Whalefest Monterey is a free fun and educational, interactive family event for all ages celebrates the migration of the gray whales, and benefits the many local and national marine organizations that build awareness.


Natural Bridges Park’s Monarch Grove provides a temporary home for up to 100,000 Monarchs each winter, though climate change and human interference are creating a major disruption in the force. In good years, from roughly mid-October through mid-February, the Monarchs form a “city in the trees.”


Santa Cruz Paddlefest-Monterey Peninsula Annual Events-credit Bryon Dorr-800x450
Photo: Courtesy of Bryon Dorr


PaddleFest is the largest paddle powered surf contest in the world, attracting some of the best paddle-powered wave magicians on the planet. Spectators can view the international champions at Steamer Lane.

More info:


Ducky Derby is a fun-filled day of activities with food, carnival games, live music, local entertainment and the highlight of the day: The racing of 12,000 rubber ducks down a man made waterway.


Centered around the visual arts, the Carmel Art Festival features sculptures, a plein air painting competition, art activities for children, live performances and more. In addition, galleries throughout Carmel will be holding receptions and demonstrations.


The Monterey International Blues Festival strives to preserve the blues, a great American music tradition, by introducing festival attendees to all of its forms, with the goal of increasing appreciation and thereby creating a new, expanded audience for the Blues.


Artichoke Festival-Monterey Peninsula-Things to Do-June-credit Castroville Artichoke Food and Wine Festival-800x450
Photo: Courtesy of Castroville Artichoke Food and Wine Festival

The Artichoke Festival

This event takes over the Monterey County Fairgrounds with a focus on local food and entertainment and the iconic thistle. Expect artichokes prepared in a variety of ways, including: fried, grilled, steamed, ice creamed, wrapped, sauced, reinvented and elevated in myriad ways.

More info:


If you’re a classic car enthusiast and sports car fanatic, there is no better series of events on the planet than Monterey Car Week. It’s full of auto shows, tasting events (with autos), auto memorabilia and so much more.


The Monterey Jazz Festival is the longest continuously-running jazz event in the world. The Festival features scores of artists performing on eight stages at the Monterey County Fairgrounds.


The Monterey Beer Festival attracts upwards of 3,500 attendees who enjoy tasting an array of incredible beer. In addition to many new beers to delight the senses, the Monterey Beer Festival features music from several live bands and special VIP ticket holder benefits, all in a fun and relaxed party atmosphere. 


Big Sur Food and Wine Festival-Monterey Peninsula-Things to Do-November 2021-800x450
Photo: Courtesy of Big Sur Food & Wine Festival

Big Sur Food & Wine Festival

Showcasing the many culinary and winemaking talents of this special stretch of California coast, here you can expect the best in regional and nationally acclaimed chefs and winemakers against the intimate backdrop of the beautiful Big Sur coast.

More info:


Sponsored by the Santa Cruz Yacht Club and including a canned food drive benefiting Second Harvest Food Bank, the Lighted Boat Parade features 50 beautifully-decorated power and sailboats parading through the Santa Cruz Harbor.

More Local Favorites on the Monterey Peninsula

You so deserve a vacation. 

Subscribe to our newsletter and we'll make it easy for you.

Scroll to Top