November in California provides an irresistible intersection of autumn and winter. Harvest festivals are still rolling out the fresh produce, wine, and craft beer, while snow season is kicking off in the mountains and the desert is heading into its own prime time. The theme parks are starting to throw their holiday parties, and little towns across the Golden State are starting to hang lights and decorations. And if you want to get a leg up on holiday shopping, November is rich with arts festivals, teeming with unique treasures. Here are 22 festive events around the state worthy of a November getaway.
Nov. 1–3: Palm Springs Pride
While most cities do their annual pride events in June, November is the perfect season for the LGBT weekend in Palm Springs, just as the desert’s high season kicks off. This year’s events include the parade, street parties, architectural tours, a golf tournament, and a 5K.
Nov. 1–3: Contemporary Crafts Market, Pasadena
Start your holiday shopping early at this juried, public event with a wide array of hand-crafted works of art, from jewelry to ceramics, furnishings, blown glass, wood, and more. Meet the artisans and, while you’re at it, explore the surrounding Old Pasadena.
Nov. 1–3: Harvest on the Coast, Avila Beach
This weekend showcases the flavors of the Central Coast against the lovely backdrop of Avila Beach. A beachside grand tasting features over 50 wineries and restaurants, including exclusive library, large format, and reserve wines. Later in the weekend, an auction offers up rare wines, culinary goodies, and San Luis Obispo Wine Country experiences.
Nov. 1–10: Feast Mendocino
This annual festival on the North Coast used to be called the Mendocino County Mushroom, Wine & Beer Festival, and fungi, paired with beer and wine, still play a central role. Peruse the wide range of events, from mushroom-foraging walks to winemaker dinners, along with beach horseback rides, historic tours, breakfasts, and tastings of (yes) mushroom ice cream.
Winter’s pomegranate season is starting in farm-rich Madera County—but this annual festival near Yosemite National Park also includes local almonds, pistachios, and walnuts. Taste the local crops, watch cooking demos, pan for gold, let the kids ride a mini train—then take some of the local treats home.
Nov. 2–3: Ridgecrest Petroglyph Festival
This Kern County town has one of the world’s best treasure troves of ancient rock drawings, which are only accessible by tour. They’re also the centerpiece of this annual festival during Native American Heritage Month; festivities include a street fair, Native American live music and dancers, and tours to the Coso Petroglyphs, some of which are more than 10,000 years old.
Nov. 2: Diablo Summit Stomp 30K, Concord
Mount Diablo is a scenic hike on any weekend, with views all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. This annual fun run offers the chance to hike the mountain and it surroundings, whether you want to do a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or 30K.
Nov. 3: De Portola Wine Trail Harvest Festival, Temecula Valley
One of the best ways to explore the Inland Empire’s wine region is to taste your way along its De Portola Wine Trail. Come to this one-day festival to sip and savor among 10 wineries, including Robert Renzoni Winery, Somerset Winery, and Leoness Cellars.
Nov. 3–Dec. 6: Vintner’s Holidays, Yosemite National Park
Chefs from around the nation come together at this annual event of cooking demos, meet-and-greets, and a lavish dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel. The menus highlight traditional American favorites, blended with anything from French to Asian accents.
Starting Nov. 8: Holiday season begins at the theme parks
The halls get all decked out well before Thanksgiving at many SoCal theme parks, and the holiday season perks multiply, from the much-anticipated candy canes at Disneyland Resort (Nov. 8) to the snowfall at Knott's Merry Farm (starting Nov. 22) to the LEGO-themed holiday spirit at LEGOLAND California (Nov. 23) and Grinchmas plus “Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Studios Hollywood (Nov. 28).
Nov. 8–9: Santa Barbara Surf Film Festival
The debut outing for this film festival will take place on Santa Barbara’s State Street, but the lineup celebrates a world just a few blocks away—at the beach. Flms include some older cult classics, such as Bruce Brown’s Endless Summer and Volcom’s MagnaPlasm, as well as newer pieces like the environmentally minded documentary Better Together and the cheeky thriller Zombie Tidal Wave, starring Beverly Hills 90210’s Ian Ziering.
Nov. 9–10: L.A. Coffee Festival
Barista demos and serious latte art both get love at this weekend devoted to java. Housed at downtown L.A.’s Magic Box, the weekend also includes interactive workshops, street food, coffee cocktails, live music, and “endless free coffee tastings.”
Nov. 8–10: 27th Annual Placer Studio Tour
Experience Placer County’s thriving art scene in this open-house-style festival spread over a variety of Gold Country towns. The suggested itinerary takes you to watercolor, glass-blowing, and craft galleries in towns such as Colfax and Auburn, with stops at wineries and cheese shops along the way.
Nov. 8–10: California Swan Festival, Yuba City
Migratory season means more than 50 million birds are making their way along the Pacific Flyway route in the Yuba-Sutter area, 45 miles north of Sacramento. This annual festival is a great chance to see some of those birds—including gorgeous tundra swans that winter in the area’s rice fields. The festival also includes tours, hikes, and a wine tasting.
Starts Nov. 9: Magic Lantern Art Festival, Arcadia
Walk through the illuminated “Moonlight Forest”’ at the Los Angeles County Arboretum to see ancient-style lantern art created by artisans from the Sichuan Province, using themes such as “Polar Dreams” and “Ocean Visions.” The evenings, which last from 5:30 to 10 p.m., include food trucks, a café, and a full bar. Runs through Jan. 12.
Nov. 9–10: Goat Hill Fair, Watsonville
Browse among 100 juried dealers showcasing antiques, vintage pieces, and “clever up-cycled junk,” all paired with artisan food at the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds. Only 20 percent of any vendor’s merchandise can be new or crafts, so this is a treasure trove for cool old treasures.
Nov. 9-17: San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival
The annual food festival—located at the new Intercontinental San Diego, along the waterfront—offers plenty of local flavor, such as home-grown chefs, local crops, a taco competition, and acclaimed San Diego craft beer. It also goes beyond the SoCal city: The weekend’s Grand Tasting features more than 200 domestic and international wines.
Set on a cliff 20 miles south of Half Moon Bay, this 1872 lighthouse is one of the tallest in America, standing 115 feet tall. To celebrate, come for the live music, native plant sales, tours, and the lovely views over the water.
Nov. 23–24: Colony of Coastside Artists Open Studios
This weekend art walk in the Half Moon Bay area features artists who work in paint, ceramics, photography, textiles, jewelry, and more. Get your passport brochure stamped at each studio you visit and you’ll have a chance to win a piece of art to take home.
Nov. 23– Dec. 22: Sawdust Festival Winter Fantasy, Laguna Beach
When this Orange County arts festival started in the 1960s, organizers scattered sawdust at its location along the Pacific Coast Highway to keep dust from kicking up on the art. Today, the twice-a-year festival has moved off the PCH but the name and plucky spirit remains—and the winter session is a great time to pick up cool holiday pieces, meet Santa, see marionette shows, and watch glass-blowing.