The saying “Thursday is the new Friday” is not just a cheeky adage in Palm Springs: Every Thursday evening, this desert city takes on new life for VillageFest, a weekly street fair that brings casual party atmosphere to its downtown neighborhood.
VillageFest first started in 1991 as a way to draw more people downtown, and the event (which runs every week except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s) has grown to over 200 vendors, taking up three blocks of Palm Canyon Drive. Today, you’ll find a large amount of locally made jewelry, pottery, paintings, and other artwork. “Eighty percent of our vendors on the street are the actual artists selling their wares to the buyers,” says Jasmine Waits of the Palm Springs Parks and Recreation Department.
You can also create an easy, local-favorites dinner out of the fair, like the homemade pizza at Livreri’s, tri-tip sandwiches from CV BBQ, or the breads and brownies from Aspen Mills Bakery. The convivial atmosphere, which lasts from 6 to 10 p.m., attracts a happy mix of out-of-towners and locals (the latter often bring their pooches for an evening stroll), while guitarists, drummers, and other musicians keep things humming.
The weekly fair has had an effect on the rest of downtown, too. Many stores on Palm Canyon Drive stay open late, such as Canyon Rose Boutique and Lappert’s Ice Cream (look for the “BOLT,” or Businesses Open Late Thursday, sign in the window). And many bars and restaurants offer Thursday night specials, like $4 sliders at Village Pub, or the half-price appetizers and drinks at LG’s Prime Steakhouse. If you want to see more art, the outstanding Palm Springs Art Museum does free admission on Thursday nights, too. “VillageFest is one of the longest running weekly art and craft festivals around,” says Waits, “because it has our small-town feel: local art, yummy local foods, and lots of good times.”