This year will be a big one in California. From highly-anticipated theme park openings to bigger-than-ever annual music festivals, there’s no time like the present to book your tickets to be a part of it all.
NHL All-Star Weekend, San Jose, Jan. 24–27
Some of the world’s best hockey players will gather at the SAP Center San Jose for a weekend of fan fun starting on Thursday, Jan. 24. The NHL All-Star Skills Competition takes place on Friday followed by the NHL All-Star Game on Saturday. Before the big events, head to the NHL Fan Fair at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center to play interactive hockey games, pose with the Stanley Cup, meet NHL players, and create your own personalized hockey trading card. All-Star Weekend tickets start at $179; general admission tickets to the Fan Fair are sold separately.
Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Mammoth Mountain, March 4–9
Olympic-caliber skiers and snowboarders go head-to-head in halfpipe and slopestyle events at this spectator-friendly event at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. Competing for a $400,000 prize purse and position in overall rankings, past and future Olympians can be seen shredding around the Unbound Terrain Parks’ Main Park and 22-foot superpipe. Watch from the sun deck at Main Lodge or check out the action from the slopes—seen best from the Lower Panorama Gondola and Chair 6.
Amgen Tour of California, various locations, May 12–18
Watch North America’s largest professional cycling race in person as it rolls through multiple iconic California destinations, including Lake Tahoe, Pismo Beach, Pasadena, and more. Enjoy the thrill of getting an up-close view of both male and female Olympic medalists, World Champions, and Tour de France competitors.
U.S. Open Championship, Pebble Beach, June 10–16
The biggest names in golf gather in the Monterey Peninsula’s iconic Pebble Beach Golf Course for the sixth time this summer. Fans can choose from a variety of daily tickets, starting at $60 for general admission tickets to a multi-day $40,000 luxury Championship Experience, which gets you a guest room for seven nights, two premier tickets for Championship Week, tee times at one of three golf courses every day, and much more.
Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, Huntington Beach, July 27–Aug. 4
This lively event has been named one of the best for surf addicts, with more than half a million fans gathering to watch well-known and up-and-coming shredders tackle the waves in Huntington Beach, aka Surf City USA. Over the course of nine days, festival goers can also check out BMX and skateboarding competitions, product demos, and movie premieres.
Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Jan. 30–Feb. 9
Pick a month and you can find an awesome film festival somewhere in California. In January alone, you can see independent films and big-name celebrities at the popular Palm Springs International Film Festival, running through Jan. 14. In Nevada City and Grass Valley, you can pick from 150 environmental and activist films at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival from Jan. 17–21. Later in January comes the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which will include world premieres, industry panels, and celebrity tributes over two weekends.
Diana: World-Premiere Musical, La Jolla, Feb. 9–April 7
The highly-anticipated musical about Princess Diana will debut at San Diego’s Mandell Weiss Theatre (home to La Jolla Playhouse events) in February. Set in 1981, the musical—created by the Tony-award winning duo behind Memphis—explores Diana’s life as she marries Prince Charles and deals with the aftermath of his very public affair. Directed by Christopher Ashley, La Jolla Playhouse’s artistic director, Diana may follow suit of many productions at the theatre (Jersey Boys, Memphis) and make its way to Broadway, so get your tickets to see it in its early iteration.
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Indio, April 12–14, April 19–21
The lineup was announced on Jan. 2 and passes go on sale Jan. 4 for this massive music and arts festival in the desert. Set over two weekends, artists Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, and Ariana Grande will headline the 2019 festival, which is also jam-packed with art exhibits, great food, and fun activities. If you miss your chance at tickets but still want the Coachella experience, try your luck at getting into some of the hottest pool parties around Greater Palm Springs.
The Pageant of the Masters, Laguna Beach, July 7–Aug. 31
This unique “living art” festival is something you need to see at least once. The Pageant of the Masters recreates famous works of art with real people, set to music from a full orchestra with a live narrator. The 2019 theme is “The Time Machine,” described as taking its cues from science fiction and steampunk fantasies throughout the past, present, and future. Tickets for the pageant range from $15–$240 and also grant you access to the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show, featuring 140 artists, workshops, and live music, throughout the summer.
Comic-Con International, San Diego, July 18–21
Passes may be sold out for the 2019 convention, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the superhero and sci-fi fun. Check out this guide on How to Hack Comic-Con for ways to experience the festival, with or without a badge.
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles, opening late 2019
This soon-to-be-opened museum will fulfill your curiosities about the magic of filmmaking when it opens later this year. One long-term exhibit is titled “When Dreams Are Made: A Journey Inside the Movies,” and will include a behind-the-scenes look at the process of making The Wizard of Oz. (The famous ruby slippers will also be on display.) According to Variety, the museum’s exhibits “are intended to tell the story of the development of film technology and craft, while conveying its social and cultural impact.”
THEME PARK OPENINGS
Disneyland Resort’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, opening summer 2019
Easily one of the most exciting theme park debuts in years, Disneyland’s new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is set to open this summer. Two new attractions—including Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, a motion-based ride and Millennium Falcon, an immersive theatre ride—will be the highlights of the new Planet Batuu. “It will be jaw-dropping and incredibly emotional to walk into the land the first time—to actually be standing there amongst the buildings, amongst the ships, and have this feeling that it is all real and it has been brought to life—it’s overwhelming,” says Carrie Beck, VP of Lucasfilm Story Group.
Universal Studios Hollywood’s Jurassic World, opening TBD 2019
The former Jurassic Park – The Ride closed in September 2018 to make room for this coming-soon new attraction. Universal Studios Hollywood has not released much information about the ride yet, but the park’s site says it will be “part expedition, part heart-pounding water ride,” based on the films.
SeaWorld San Diego’s Tidal Twister, opening summer 2019
The first of its kind in the world, SeaWorld San Diego’s new dueling roller coaster will get up to speeds of 30 mph as it twists, twirls upside-down, and quickly corners around a figure-eight track. Two trains will hold 16 passengers each, and riders will face both forward and backwards. Also opening this year: a racing launch coaster named West Coast Racers at Six Flags Magic Mountain and a reimagined white water rafting ride called Calico River Rapids at Knott’s Berry Farm.
California Restaurant Month, various locations, January
It’s not too late to take advantage of the state-wide California Restaurant Month, where you’ll find special prix fixe menus and discounted meals in 40 regions throughout the state.
San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, November 17–24
Around 10,000 people attend this annual food fest, which includes cocktail parties, a taco showdown, and plenty of food and wine tasting—often while overlooking the ocean. As a culinary hub, California is home to endless incredible food festivals. Love seafood? Eat all the crab you can at Crab Feast Mendocino, a 10-day crustacean celebration Jan. 18–27. Want to eat your way through San Francisco’s best cuisine? Get tickets to Eat Drink SF (2019 August dates TBD). Sample garlic everything at the Gilroy Garlic Festival (July 26–28), enjoy local fare and celebrity chef cooking demos at the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival (Oct. 3–6), or taste all the beer you can handle at the California Craft Beer Summit (Sept. 12–14) in Long Beach.