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Santa Cruz Festival Guide

Our guide to reader-suggested summer festivals. Have more to add? Tell us in the comments!

From Woodies on the Wharf to the Capitola Begonia Festival and the Watsonville Strawberry Festival, Santa Cruz County is filled with fun, entertaining and wacky festivals over the summer.

We asked readers to list their favorite summer festivals, and here's what they said. Did we leave any of your favorites out? Tell us in the comments!

May 10-19: Santa Cruz Film Festival

Feel like an artsy, air-conditioned retreat away from the heat? Movie theaters around town will host more than 100 often locally produced films.

May 26-27: Santa Cruz Blues Festival

Listen to masters of Blues and American Roots music jam all weekend long at Aptos Village Park for this 20th anniversary event.

June 2-3: Redwood Mountain Fair

Enjoy a weekend at Roaring Camp in Felton with local live music, arts and crafts and beer on tap. All ticket sales benefit local non-profits.

June 23: Woodies on the Wharf

Only once a year does the Santa Cruz Harbor host 200 stylish, pre-bodied cars from before 1952. The day is accompanied by live music, “woodie goodies” and prize-drawings.

July 4: Spirit of Watsonville Festival

Gather downtown for food and festivities to kick off Independence Day.

July 22: Festival del Nopal

Celebrate the prickly albeit edible plant at this second annual festival in downtown Santa Cruz. There’s also traditional dance and live music performances. 

July 27-29: Gilroy Garlic Festival

Okay, it’s not in Santa Cruz County, be we think it’s worth it to trek over the 17 or across the 152 to sample some garlic ice cream. Or, for less adventurous eaters, simply to be immersed in sizzling garlic cook-offs, live music, and dancing.

August 4-5: Watsonville Strawberry Festival

Pay homage to one of Watsonville’s sweetest crops through live music, dancing, and of course strawberry cakes and other tasty goodies.

August 11-12: Scotts Valley Art and Wine Festival

What better way to enjoy modern art than with a sampling of the area’s best beers and wines? Come one, come all to Scott’s Valley’s , filled with booths of painting, photography, jewelry, and glass art.

August 31-Sept. 3: Capitola Begonia Festival

For the 60th Labor Day weekend, Capitola is hosting a decorative boat parade, along with lots of fun summer activities like a horseshoe competition.

September 8-9: Capitola Art and Wine Festival

Seal off the summer in style with over 150 fine artists and 21 wineries in Capitola Village.

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