A flavorful array of wine, beer and food festivals are celebrated year round on the Central Coast. Hungry visitors are invited to taste this local bounty, whether it be the latest wine vintage, local craft beer or delicious chef-crafted eats. More than simply a reason to eat or drink together, these colorful community festivals are often paired with local vendors, live entertainment and more, creating ongoing traditions for young and old to cherish. From the time-honored Pismo Beach Clam Festival to Avila Beach’s sumptuous Mac and Cheese Festival, there’s always something tasty to savor on the Central Coast.
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Cambria Art and Wine Festival
The Cambria Art and Wine Festival combines two of life’s greatest pleasures: art and wine. Each January, the seaside hamlet of Cambria welcomes visitors and locals alike to indulge in this enticing array of sensory delights, including artist demonstrations, plein air painting, artists’ faire, wine tasting, a silent auction and a five-course paired dinner. This popular three-day event sells out every year, so visitors are advised to secure tickets early.
Blendfest on the Coast in San Simeon and Cambria
The Central Coast’s only event dedicated to blended wines, BlendFest on the Coast celebrates Paso Robles’ classic and unconventional wine blends in a coastal setting. Occurring over several days in February within the beach towns of Cambria and San Simeon, BlendFest includes a winemaker dinner, Sunset Grand Tasting featuring 40+ Paso Robles wine blends, coastal excursions and a blending seminar led by venerated winemakers.
Cambria Christmas Market
A festive winter tradition, the Cambria Christmas Market brings together delicious food, holiday drinks, music, entertainment and thousands of holiday lights to the seaside town of Cambria. One of Highway 1’s most anticipated holiday gatherings, the Cambria Christmas Market is held in downtown Cambria. Featuring 30 miles of lights—nearly 2 million LED bulbs in total—the market showcases six acres of attractions. Children can enjoy miniature train rides circling the market or a visit to Santa’s House while parents take in the biergarten and live music from a wide array of local talent. Visitors are invited to stroll the length of the market, where handmade goods and gifts are available for purchase from local vendors. Attendees will also find warm mulled wine, cider, gingerbread, bratwurst, tri-tip and pizzas at this dynamic holiday market experience.
Avila Beach Tequila Festival
The Avila Beach Tequila Festival brought together locals and visitors alike for the love of margaritas and more. Not currently running, the celebrated event featured small-batch tequila offerings, live music and panoramic ocean views. Held each May at Avila Beach Golf Resort, this 21+ event included six tastings, a shot glass and food is available for purchase.
Cayucos Sea Glass Festival
The Cayucos Sea Glass Festival celebrates the unique arts culture of Cayucos. Held in the spring, this laid back surf beach town attracts art lovers from across the country for a weekend of local artisan goods, coastal fun, live music and the main event: an extensive marketplace of fine sea glass art. Naturally weathered by the ocean, sea glass comes in a range of colors and is often smooth to the touch like tumbled stones. From sea glass collectors to families looking to enjoy Cayucos, everyone can enjoy this artful excursion.
Paso Robles Wine Festival
The Paso Robles Wine Festival brings together dozens of top Paso Robles wine producers for a joyful weekend of wine, food and live music each spring. This popular multi-day event traditionally features wine tastings, winemaker dinners and more than 100 wineries and distilleries pouring at the Grand Tasting, hosted each year at the Paso Robles Event Center. The festival is also known to spotlight artisan vendors showcasing their wares, multiple food vendors serving festival-friendly food for purchase and more. For more information, visit pasowine.com.
Avila Beach Mac and Cheese Festival
The Avila Beach Mac and Cheese Festival is an annual celebration of all things cheesy and delicious. Spend an afternoon at the Avila Beach Golf Resort taking in the seaside scenery and tasting various mac and cheese recipes. Each summer, local chefs are invited to riff on the beloved dish, offering samples of their creations to attendees alongside sips of local wines, beer and spirits. Thousands of visitors are known to attend this 21+ event each year.
Festival Mozaic is an annual orchestral and chamber music festival held at a range of nontraditional venues throughout the Central Coast, ranging from wineries and orchards to churches and historic sites. Offering up a fresh way to enjoy time-honored music, attendees take away a new appreciation for the artform and the venue itself. Organized and presented by the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival Association, this unique arts event presents 20 musical performances each July with more than 500 people in attendance annually.
4th of July in Cayucos
Cayucos 4th of July Festivities combine patriotic fireworks, a charming home town parade and community events in downtown Cayucos. Expect large crowds for this popular gathering, which includes a sand sculpture contest, barbecue and Front Street Faire. The July 4th Town Parade begins at 10 a.m. and a tasty Lion’s Club Barbecue is offered at the Cayucos Vet’s Hall throughout the afternoon. This beloved community event culminates in dazzling fireworks launched from the Cayucos Pier come nightfall.
Strawberry Festival of Arroyo Grande
A Memorial Day tradition, the free Arroyo Grande Strawberry Festival attracted thousands of visitors to the Village of Arroyo Grande each year. No longer running, events included Strawberry Stampede Walk/Run, a strawberry pancake breakfast, Strawberry Blonde contest, kiddie carnival and arts and crafts booths. The star of the show was always ripe and juicy strawberries, whether enjoyed solo or in ice cream, shortcake and jams, barbecue sauce, cole slaw, tamales and more.
Cambria Olallieberry Festival
The Olallieberry Festival was a popular culinary event celebrating Cambria’s favorite berry. Although not currently running, visitors can still try the locally-celebrated berry—a cross between a “Black Logan” blackberry and a youngberry—at Linn’s restaurant in Cambria (ask for a slice of olallieberry pie).
Harmony Beer & Wine Festival
Held in the tiny town of Harmony, the now defunct Harmony Beer & Wine Festival celebrated local craft beer in a big way. Attendees 21+ were invited to spend an afternoon “in perfect Harmony” with a picturesque backdrop, food trucks, live music and unlimited wine and beer tasting with purchase of a ticket. Although this festival is no longer in operation, visitors can still explore the event’s fascinating location. Located between Cayucos to the south and Cambria to the north, the whimsical road stop of Harmony, CA (population 18, if you count the cows) is home to glass blowers, a gift shop, chapel and nearby Harmony Cellars tasting room.
Roll Out The Barrels in San Luis Obispo
No longer running, Roll Out the Barrels paired more than 30 local wines with fresh cuisine and live music in San Luis Obispo’s Mission Plaza each summer. Hosted by the SLO Coast Wine, the event also offered tours, barrel samples, tastings and festivities to Roll Out The Barrels “passport” holders.
Avila Beach Oktoberfest
Avila Beach Oktoberfest honored the great German tradition of Oktoberfest each year with live music, German food and an authentic biergarten experience. No longer in operation, the Avila Beach Resort hosted this boisterous 21+ event in partnership with the Hofbräuhaus and Beda’s Biergarten. The event also included a lederhosen costume contest and lawn games on the green.
Cambria’s Oktoberfest was an all ages family tradition with arts and crafts, beer, wine, brats and live music unfolding at Cambria’s Pinedorado Grounds each October. The event also served as a place to officially announce Cambria’s annual Scarecrow Festival award winners on the Pinedorado Stage. Although Cambria Oktoberfest is no longer running, the free, family-friendly Cambria Scarecrow Festival continues each October, bringing a host of creative scarecrows to the city’s charming downtown.
Baywood Oktoberfest represents one of the oldest Oktoberfest events on the Central Coast, going strong since 1977. The free, family-friendly day kicks off with a fun run and is followed by a pancake breakfast, car show, beer garden, food booths and children’s arts and crafts and activities. Attendees and their furry friends are also encouraged to dress up for an amusing costume contest that includes “best dressed dog” honors.
Nipomo’s family-friendly Oktoberfest is a popular fall tradition on the Central Coast encompassing a barbecue tasting and competition plus a beer and wine garden. Also enjoy a Miss Nipomo Pageant, Battle of the Bands, car show, live entertainment and more. The kid’s area is not to be missed, featuring pony rides, face painting, bounce house, petting zoo and mechanical rides.
Avila Beach Apple Festival
Currently suspended, the Avila Beach Apple Festival celebrated all things crisp and juicy each fall. A prime apple growing region, the fertile coastal area of See Canyon was planted with apples in the late 1800s and remains home to many apple growers. Today, visitors can continue to explore Avila Beach and See Canyon’s many apple orchards, you-pick stands and cider tastings. Although the Avila Beach Apple Festival is not currently running, folks can still enjoy more than 75 types of apples each fall, including rare heirloom varieties.
Cambria Scarecrow Festival
The annual Cambria Scarecrow Festival commences each October bringing dozens of creative scarecrows to Cambia’s East and West Villages. Listed on the Travel Channel’s “Don’t Miss List,” this free month-long celebration of imagination and community brings quirky, cute and creepy-crawly scarecrow creations to shop windows, eateries and street corners for all to see.
Harvest Festivals on the Central Coast
Arroyo Grande Harvest Festival
A citywide celebration of the fall season, the Arroyo Grande Harvest Festival brings old-fashioned fun, food and community spirit to the Village of Arroyo Grande. The excitement kicks off Friday night with the annual Rotary Fish Fry, scarecrow contest and free movie night. On Saturday, take in a hometown parade, agriculture demonstrations, live music and entertainment. Visitors are also encouraged to sign up for festival contests, including a pie-eating contest, wheelbarrow races, diaper derby and baking contest.
Cambria Harvest Festival
Cambria’s annual Harvest Festival brings crafts, food, activities and music together for an afternoon of fun at the Cambria Historical Museum. As part of the Cambria Scarecrow Festival, this family-friendly event also features scarecrows in art, history and literature. Admission is free, and proceeds from food and activity purchases benefit the museum and Historical Society projects.
Harvest on the Coast
Experience the best of SLO Coast Wine with Harvest on the Coast, an annual celebration of the fall wine harvest. This tasteful autumnal wine festival kicks off with a popular Grand Tasting event featuring dozens of world class coastal wines, live music, winemaker demonstrations and more. Those seeking a deeper dive into the region can arrive early for a VIP Rare & Reserve Tasting offering up limited releases, small production and hard-to-find vintages. For more information on Harvest on the Coast, go to SLOCoastWine.com.
Pismo Beach Clam Festival
The Pismo Beach Clam Festival remains a celebrated Central Coast tradition since 1946. Each fall, generations of families continue to mark their calendars for the festival’s three days of seaside fun, including a Clam Festival parade, live music, local vendors, food trucks and a vast Kids Zone with bounce houses and more. Classic festival offerings include a Friday night wine walk with participating Pismo Beach businesses offering regional wines. Saturday’s Best Local Clam Chowder Cook-off contest remains a crowd favorite, spurring local restaurants to battle for the title of Best Local Clam Chowder Winner. Visitors are encouraged to pick their favorites for the People’s Choice winner. More information about the Pismo Beach Clam Festival can be found at ExperiencePismoBeach.com.