For an exhaustive list of events, check http://events.frommers.com, where you'll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening in cities all over the world.
Tournament of Roses, Pasadena. A spectacular parade marches down Colorado Boulevard, with lavish floats, music, and extraordinary equestrian entries, followed by the Rose Bowl football game and a nightlong party along Colorado Boulevard. Call tel. 626/449-4100 or see www.tournamentofroses.com for details. January 1.
Santa Barbara International Film Festival. For 10 days, Santa Barbara does its best impression of Cannes. There's a flurry of foreign and independent film premieres, appearances by actors and directors, and symposiums on cinematic topics. For a rundown of events, call tel. 805/963-0023, or see www.sbfilmfestival.org. Late January to early February.
Chinese New Year and Golden Dragon Parade, Los Angeles. Dragon dancers and martial arts masters parade through the streets of downtown's Chinatown. Chinese opera and other events are scheduled. For this year's schedule, contact the Chinese Chamber of Commerce at tel. 213/617-0396, or visit www.lachinesechamber.org. Late January or early February.
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Pebble Beach. A PGA-sponsored tour where pros team up with celebrities to compete on three famous golf courses. Call tel. 800/541-9091 or 831/649-1533, or visit www.attpbgolf.com. Early February.
National Date Festival, Indio. Crowds gather to celebrate the Coachella Valley desert's most beloved cash crop, with events such as camel and ostrich races, the Blessing of the Date Garden, and Arabian Nights pageants. Plenty of date-sampling booths are set up, along with rides, food vendors, and other county-fair trappings. Call tel. 800/811-3247 or 760/863-8247, or visit www.datefest.org. Two weeks mid-February.
Festival of Whales, Dana Point. The Dana Point community celebrates the return of the gray whales migrating off the coast with an annual street fair, food, games, entertainment, and "Majestic Migration" parade. It's great for families. Call tel. 949/496-5794, ext. 7, or go to www.festivalofwhales.com for details. Early March.
Return of the Swallows, San Juan Capistrano. Each St. Joseph's Day, visitors flock to this village for the arrival of the loyal flock of swallows that nest in the mission and remain until October. The celebration includes a parade, dances, and special programs. Call tel. 949/234-1300, or visit www.missionsjc.com for details. March 19.
Kraft Nabisco Championship, Rancho Mirage. This 33-year-old LPGA golf tournament takes place near Palm Springs. After the celebrity Pro-Am early in the week, the best female pros get down to business. For further information, call tel. 760/324-4546 or visit www.nabiscochampionship.com. Other special-interest events for women usually take place around the tournament, including the country's largest annual lesbian gathering. Last week of March/first week of April.
Redwood Coast Dixieland Jazz Festival, Eureka. Four days of jazz featuring some of the best Dixieland, blues, and zydeco bands in the world. Call tel. 707/445-3378, or see www.redwoodcoastmusicfestivals.org. Late March.
Flower Fields in Bloom at Carlsbad Ranch. One of the most spectacular sights in San Diego's North County is the ranunculus blossoms that create a striped, floral blanket in March and April. This is a working ranch, but visitors are welcome to tour the fields. For information, call tel. 760/431-0352 or see www.theflowerfields.com. March and April.
San Francisco International Film Festival. One of the nation's oldest film festivals, featuring more than 100 films and videos from 30-plus countries. Tickets are inexpensive, and screenings are open to the general public. Call tel. 415/561-5000, or visit www.sffs.org. Mid-April to early May.
Toyota Grand Prix, Long Beach. An exciting weekend of Indy-class auto racing and entertainment in downtown Long Beach draws world-class drivers from the United States and Europe, plus many celebrity contestants and spectators. Contact the Grand Prix Association at tel. 888/82-SPEED (827-7333) or www.longbeachgp.com. Mid-April.
Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, Indio. This music festival, at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, rocks hard for 3 days on multiple stages and tents, with nearly 180 acts. In 2011: Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Lauryn Hill, Cut Copy, Robyn, The Drums, Kings of Leon, and more. Visit www.coachella.com for tickets. Mid-April.
ArtWalk, San Diego. This free, 2-day festival in stylish Little Italy is the largest art event in the San Diego/Tijuana region, attracting some 70,000 people each year. It features visual and performing arts -- painting, sculpture, photography, music, and dance -- in outdoor venues, galleries, artist studios, and businesses. The event also offers hands-on art experiences for kids. Call tel. 619/615-1090, or visit www.missionfederalartwalk.org. Late April.
Cinco de Mayo. A weeklong celebration of one of Mexico's most jubilant holidays takes place throughout Los Angeles near May 5. Large crowds, live music, dances, and food create a carnival-like atmosphere. The main festivities are held in El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park. Call tel. 213/485-6855 for information.
The Cinco de Mayo celebration in Old Town, San Diego, features folkloric music, dance, food, and historical reenactments. Call tel. 619/260-1700 for more information. Early May.
Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee, Angels Camp. Inspired by Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," this race draws frog contestants and their guardians from all over. Call tel. 209/736-2561, or see www.frogtown.org. Third weekend in May.
Paso Robles Wine Festival. What began as a small, neighborly gathering has grown into the largest outdoor wine tasting in California. The 3-day event features winery open houses and tastings, a golf tournament, a 5K run and 10K bike ride, and concerts, plus a festival in downtown's City Park. For a schedule, call tel. 805/239-8463 or visit www.pasowine.com. Third weekend in May.
Bay to Breakers Foot Race, San Francisco. One of the city's most popular annual events, it's more fun than run. Thousands of entrants show up dressed -- or undressed -- in their best costumes for the 7 1/2-mile run. Call tel. 415/359-2800, or log on to www.baytobreakers.com. Third Sunday of May.
Carnaval, San Francisco. The Mission District's largest annual event is a 2-day series of festivities culminating with a parade on Mission Street. Half a million spectators line the route, and samba musicians and dancers continue playing on 14th Street, near Harrison, after the march. Call tel. 415/920-0125, or visit www.carnavalsf.com. Memorial Day weekend.
Ojai Music Festival. This event has been drawing world-class classical and jazz personalities to the open-air Libbey Bowl since 1947. Past events have featured Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, and the Juilliard String Quartet. Seats (and local lodgings) fill up quickly; call tel. 805/646-2094 for more information, or log on to www.ojaifestival.org. Early June.
San Diego County Fair. Referred to as the Del Mar Fair by locals, this is the other big happening (besides horse racing) at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The entire county turns out for the 3-week event, with livestock competitions, rides, flower and garden shows, food and craft booths, carnival games, and home-arts exhibits. There are also grandstand concerts by big-name performers. Call tel. 858/793-5555, or check www.sdfair.com. Mid-June through early July.
Mariachi USA Festival, Los Angeles. For this 2-day, family-oriented celebration of Mexican culture at the Hollywood Bowl, festivalgoers pack their picnic baskets and enjoy music, folkloric ballet, and related performances by top groups. The all-day, all-night celebration is one of the largest mariachi festivals in the world. For tickets, call tel. 800/MARIACHI (627-4224) or 323/850-2000 (the Hollywood Bowl), or log on to www.mariachiusa.com. Late June.
Los Angeles Film Festival, Los Angeles. With an attendance of more than 60,000, the festival showcases more than 175 American and international indies, short films, and music videos during a 10-day event. Call tel. 866/345-6337, or log on to www.lafilmfest.com. Late June.
San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Parade. It's celebrated over various weekends throughout the state in June and July, but San Francisco's party draws up to half a million participants. The parade heads west from Market Street and Beale to Market and Eighth streets, where hundreds of food, art, and information booths are set up around several stages. Call tel. 415/864-0831, or visit www.sfpride.org for info. Late June.
Mammoth Lakes Jazz Jubilee. This 4-day festival features 20 bands on 10 different stages, plus food, drink, and dancing -- all under the pine trees and stars. Call tel. 760/934-2478, or see www.mammothjazz.org. Second weekend in July.
World Championship Over-the-Line Tournament, San Diego. This beach softball event, dating from 1953, is renowned for boisterous, beer-soaked, anything-goes behavior. More than 1,000 three-person teams compete, and upwards of 50,000 people attend. It's a heap of fun for the open-minded but a bit much for small kids. It takes place on Fiesta Island in Mission Bay; admission is free. For more details, call tel. 619/688-0817 or visit www.ombac.org. Mid-July.
Thoroughbred Racing Season, Del Mar. The "turf meets the surf" during the thoroughbred racing season at the Del Mar Race Track. Post time is 2pm most days; the track is dark on Tuesdays. Special events are held throughout the season, including Friday afternoon concerts by top bands. For this year's schedule, call tel. 858/755-1141 or visit www.dmtc.com. Mid-July to mid-September.
Gilroy Garlic Festival. A gourmet food fair with more than 85 booths serving garlicky food from almost every ethnic background, plus close to 100 arts, crafts, and entertainment booths. Call tel. 408/842-1625, or visit www.gilroygarlicfestival.com. Last full weekend in July.
Beach Festival, Huntington Beach. Two weeks of fun in the sun featuring two surfing competitions -- the U.S. Open of Surfing and the world-class Pro of Surfing -- plus such extreme sports as BMX biking, skateboarding, and more. The festival includes entertainment, food, product booths, and giveaways -- and plenty of tanned, swimsuit-clad bodies of both sexes. For more information, call tel. 714/969-3492 or log on to www.surfcityusa.com. Late July.
Festival of Arts & Pageant of the Masters, Laguna Beach. A 60-plus-year tradition in artsy Laguna, this festival centers on a fantastic performance-art production in which actors re-create famous old masters paintings. Other festivities include live music, crafts sales, art demonstrations and workshops, and the grass-roots Sawdust Festival across the street. Call tel. 800/487-FEST (3378) or 949/494-1145; there's online info at www.foapom.com. July through August.
Comic-Con International, San Diego. Some 60,000 people attend America's largest comic book convention each year when it lands at the San Diego Convention Center for a weekend of auctions, dealers, autographs, and seminars focusing on graphic novels and fantasy/sci-fi movies and television shows. Past special guests include Hugh Jackman, Matt Groening, Halle Berry, Stan Lee, Angelina Jolie, and Quentin Tarantino. For further details, call tel. 619/491-2475 or check www.comic-con.org. Late July.
U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, Imperial Beach. The quintessential beach event: a parade and children's castle-building contest on Saturday, followed by the adult event on Sunday. Astounding creations are plundered after the awards ceremony. For details, call tel. 619/424-6663 or visit www.usopensandcastle.com. Late July.
Old Spanish Days Fiesta, Santa Barbara. The city's biggest annual event, this 5-day festival features a parade with horse-drawn carriages, music and dance performances, marketplaces, and a rodeo. Call tel. 805/962-8101, or visit www.oldspanishdays-fiesta.org. Early August.
La Jolla SummerFest, San Diego. This is perhaps San Diego's most prestigious annual music event. It features a range of classical and contemporary music, from tango to Tchaikovsky, with guest composers and musicians ranging from Chick Corea to Yo-Yo Ma. SummerFest also offers master classes, open rehearsals, and workshops. Contact the La Jolla Music Society at tel. 858/459-3728, or visit www.ljms.org. Early to mid-August.
Nisei Week Japanese Festival, Los Angeles. This weeklong celebration of Japanese culture and heritage is held in the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center Plaza in Little Tokyo. Festivities include parades, food, music, arts, and crafts. Call tel. 213/687-7193, or see www.niseiweek.org. Mid-August.
Los Angeles County Fair, Pomona. Horse racing, arts, agricultural displays, celebrity entertainment, and carnival rides are among the attractions at one of the largest county fairs in the world, at the Los Angeles County Fair and Exposition Center. Call tel. 909/623-3111, or visit www.fairplex.com for information. Throughout September.
Long Beach Blues Festival, Long Beach. Great performances by blues legends such as Etta James, Dr. John, the Allman Brothers, and Ike Turner make this an event you won't want to miss. In the middle of the athletic field at Long Beach State, the event serves cold beer, wine, and food. Call tel. 562/985-2899, or log on to www.kkjz.org. Labor Day weekend.
Sausalito Art Festival, Sausalito. A juried exhibit of more than 180 artists. It's accompanied by music provided by Bay Area jazz, rock, and blues performers and international cuisine enhanced by wines from some 50 Napa and Sonoma producers. Call tel. 415/331-3757, or log on to www.sausalitoartfestival.org for information. Labor Day weekend.
Monterey Jazz Festival. Features top names in traditional and modern jazz. One of the oldest annual jazz festivals in the world. Call tel. 831/373-3366, or see www.montereyjazzfest.com for more info. Mid-September.
Danish Days, Solvang. Since 1936, this 3-day event has been celebrating old-world customs and pageantry with a parade, gymnastics exhibitions by local schoolchildren, demonstrations of Danish arts and crafts, and plenty of aebleskivers (Danish fritters) and medisterpolse (Danish sausage). Call tel. 800/468-6765 for more information, or see www.solvangusa.com. Mid-September.
Fleet Week, San Diego. The name is a bit of a misnomer; the nation's largest military-appreciation event actually lasts a full month. It features navy ship tours, a college football game, an auto race of classic speedsters, the renowned Miramar air show, and more. For more info call tel. 800/FLEET-WEEK (353-3893), or log on to www.fleetweeksandiego.org. Mid-September to mid-October.
Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival, Los Angeles. This event pays tribute to the roots of jazz in gospel and blues, as well as celebrating the avant-garde and Latin jazz scene. It's also a great opportunity to visit the Watts Towers. Call tel. 213/847-4646, or log on to www.myspace.com/drumnjazz. Late September.
The Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival, Half Moon Bay. The festival features a Great Pumpkin Parade, pie-eating contests, a pumpkin-carving competition, arts and crafts, and all manner of squash cuisine. The highlight of the event is the Giant Pumpkin weigh-in. October (for exact date and details, call the Pumpkin Hot Line at tel. 650/726-9652).
Catalina Island Jazz Trax Festival, Catalina Island. Contemporary jazz artists travel to the island to play in the legendary Avalon Casino Ballroom. The festival is held over 2 consecutive 3-day weekends. Call tel. 866/872-9849, or visit www.jazztrax.com for advance ticket sales and a schedule of performers. Early October.
Sonoma County Harvest Fair, Sonoma County Fairgrounds. A 3-day celebration of the harvest with exhibitions, art shows, and annual judging of the local wines. Contact tel. 707/545-4203 or www.harvestfair.org. Dates vary.
Hollywood Film Festival, Los Angeles. More than 50 films from the U.S. and abroad are screened, amid celebrities galore. Actors and filmmakers will find a variety of workshops and marketplaces. Call tel. 310/288-1882, or visit www.hollywoodawards.com for info and tickets. Mid-October.
West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnaval, Los Angeles. This is one of the world's largest Halloween parties. More than 400,000 people, many dressed in outlandish drag couture, party all night along Santa Monica Boulevard. Call tel. 310/289-2525, or see www.visitwesthollywood.com for info. October 31.
Catalina Island Triathlon, Catalina Island. This is one of the top triathlons in the world. Participants run on unpaved roads, swim in the cleanest bay on the West Coast, and bike on challenging trails. There's also a "kids' tri." Call Pacific Sports at tel. 714/978-1528, or visit www.pacificsportsllc.com. Early November.
Doo Dah Parade, Pasadena. This outrageous spoof of the Rose Parade features such participants as the Briefcase Precision Drill Team and a kazoo-playing marching band. Call tel. 626/590-1134, or visit www.pasadenadoodahparade.info. Near Thanksgiving.
Hollywood Christmas Parade, Los Angeles. This spectacular, star-studded parade marches through the heart of Hollywood. For information, call tel. 323/469-2337. Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Balboa Park December Nights, San Diego. The city's urban park is decked out in holiday splendor for a weekend of evening events, including a candlelight procession, caroling and baroque music, craft displays, ethnic food, and hot cider. The event and the park's 13 museums are free these evenings. For more information, call tel. 619/239-0512 or visit www.balboapark.org. First weekend in December.
Christmas Boat Parade of Lights. Following long-standing tradition, sailors decorate their crafts with colorful lights. Several Southern California harbors hold nighttime parades to showcase the creations, which range from tiny dinghies draped with a single strand of lights to showy yachts with entire Nativity scenes twinkling on deck. Contact the following for schedules and information: Ventura Harbor, tel. 805/382-3001; Long Beach, tel. 562/435-4093; Huntington Harbor, tel. 714/840-7542; and San Diego Bay (www.sdparadeoflights.org). December.
Whale-Watching Season, San Diego. From mid-December to mid-March, more than 25,000 California gray whales make the trek from chilly Alaskan seas to the warm-water breeding lagoons of Baja California. Cabrillo National Monument, on the panoramic Point Loma peninsula, offers a glassed-in observatory from which to spot the whales, examine whale exhibits, and listen to taped narration describing these popular mammals. Many boating excursion companies offer whale-watching tours throughout the season. For more information, visit www.sandiego.org. Mid-December through mid-March.
College Bowl Games, San Diego. The city hosts two college football bowl games: the Holiday Bowl and the Poinsettia Bowl. The Holiday Bowl features top teams from the Pac 10 and Big 12 Conferences, while the Poinsettia Bowl pits a team from the Mountain West Conference against an at-large opponent. The fledgling Poinsettia Bowl (tel. 619/285-5061; www.poinsettiabowl.net) was inaugurated in 2005; while the Holiday Bowl (tel. 619/283-5808; www.holidaybowl.com) has been played since 1978, augmented by several special events, including the nation's biggest balloon parade of giant inflatable characters. Late December.
New Year's Eve Torchlight Parade, Big Bear Lake. Watch dozens of nighttime skiers follow a serpentine path down Snow Summit's ski slopes bearing glowing torches -- it's one of the state's loveliest traditions. Afterward, the party continues indoors with live bands, food, and drink. Call tel. 909/866-5766, or log on to www.bigbearmountainresorts.com. December 31.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.