San Diego’s Summer Events Sizzle in 2014

Entertainment, Travel — By on May 30, 2014 at 8:31 am

Cover photo,Gail Jhonson, a keyboardist and musical arranger heads an ensemble, "Jazz In Pink." She was among the many performers that performed in the San Diego Jazz Festival. Photo by Lamar Webster. Inside photo- Fireworks over Coronado Bridge -Courtesy Hornblower Cruises and Events.

Courtesy of the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau and Lamar Webster, Contributor

San Diego is a fantastic destination year-round, but summer events in this SoCal coastal city really make it shine. An ideal destination offering a nearly perfect climate, 70 miles of sparkling beaches, popular annual events, new attractions at its world-famous theme parks and a dazzling array of visual and performing arts make summer in San Diego an experience not to be missed.

Whether planning a weekend getaway or a long leisurely stay, visitors to San Diego have plenty of fun-filled activities to enjoy. This past weekend illustrated one of the many interesting and fun things to do- attending a music festival in San Diego. In May 2014, Payne Pest Management presented the San Diego Jazz Festival, that included a stellar line up of musical artists. Held at the Carlsbad at the Omni Resort La Costa Hotel, the three day festival over the Memorial Day weekend included Boney James, Maxwell, Charlie Wilson, Ledesi, Norman Brown, Anthony Hamilton and Jill Scott. Several vendors sold various artifacts and the concert captured the spirit of San Diego.

Boney James. Photo by Lamar Webster.

San Diego Jazz Festival fans enjoy music on Memorial Day weekend. Photo by Lamar Webster.

Jill Scott electrifies the audience at the San Diego Jazz Festival. Photo by Lamar Webster.

Guitarist Norman Brown. Photo by Lamar Webster.

Major Events

  • The San Diego County Fair takes place June 7–July 6 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. This year’s theme, “The Fab Fair,” celebrates the 50th anniversary of the British Invasion, an era when musical acts and other aspects of British culture changed America. The fair is the largest annual event in San Diego County and features top performing artists and popular attractions like the International Beer Festival, creative assortments of deep-fried food novelties, livestock exhibits, home and hobby displays, woodworking and an award-winning flower show.
  • San Diego celebrates Independence Day with a variety of Fourth of July celebrations throughout the county. Coronado’s popular Independence Day Celebration features a two-hour parade followed by a family concert in Spreckels Park and spectacular fireworks over Glorietta Bay. The Port of San Diego celebrates with its Big Bay Boom fireworks extravaganza over San Diego Bay, the largest fireworks display in the county. La Jolla’s popular 4th of July gathering features spectacular fireworks over La Jolla Cove beginning at 9:00 p.m. LEGOLAND California Resort in Carlsbad celebrates July 4th with Red, White and BOOM! Special family activities are available throughout the day with the fireworks starting at 8:30 p.m.

    Downtown Skyline and Ferry from Coronado -Courtesy

  • Visitors can be Superman or Wonder Woman for a day at Comic-Con International, July 24-27 at the San Diego Convention Center. Comic-Con has become a signature summertime event for San Diego; it is the largest comics and pop culture event in the United States, attracting tens of thousands of artists, celebrities and fans of comic books, movie memorabilia and all things related to pop culture.

    Downtown Horton Plaza Shopping Mall -Courtesy Joanne DiBona

Festivals and Fairs

  • Encinitas’s Classic Car Nights are held 5:30-7:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month, May–Sept. Visitors can stroll along historic Highway 101 between D and J Streets to view hot rods, Woodies and other classic and vintage cars and listen to live music.
  • The Taste of Little Italy in downtown San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood occurs from 5-9 p.m. on June 18 and offers a chance to sample many of the newly opened and landmark restaurants in this colorful neighborhood. Appetizers, desserts and specialty beverages are offered as guests stroll through the district and enjoy live musical entertainment.
  • Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first mission in California, celebrates its establishment and the beginning of Christianity in the western United States during the Festival of the Bells, July 18-20. The event features food, entertainment, dancing and the blessing of the bells. All five mission bells, including an original bell dating back to 1802, are rung during the weekend festivities.
  • Residents and visitors alike show their pride at the 40th Annual San Diego LGBT Pride Parade and Festival, July 19-20. One of the most popular events of its kind in the country, San Diego’s Pride Festival includes a mile-long parade through Hillcrest and two-day festival in Balboa Park.
  • The 20th Annual San Diego Festival of Beer takes place Sept. 19 on San Diego’s downtown bayfront at The Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier. More than 50 breweries provide samples and tastings alongside live musical performances, vendors and food.

At the Attractions

  • Summer Nights at SeaWorld features extended park hours, fireworks and special nighttime animal shows including the sea lion and otter comedy show, Sea Lions Tonite on select dates May 24–Sept. 1. Guests can dance the night away at SeaWorld’s Club Atlantis, Thurs.-Sun., June 14–Aug. 10.
  • During June 28–Sept. 1, the San Diego Zoo allows guests to roam the park until 9 p.m. for Nighttime Zoo. This year’s Australian theme highlights the Australian Outback Exhibit, and entertainment includes a Australian acrobatics show at the Hunte Amphitheater, a magic act at the Front Street Stage and hoola hoop contests in the Front Street Plaza.

    Hedgehog Encounter -Courtesy San Diego Zoo Global.

  • Guests can enjoy a Summer Safari at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, June 21–Aug. 17. This festive celebration offers opportunities to see a diverse array of wildlife including the all-new Tiger Trail, giraffe and rhino on the African Tram Safari, lemurs at Lemur Walk, a cheetah reaching full sprinting speed at Cheetah Run, and unique and amazing birds at the Frequent Flyers Bird Show.
  • During Aug. 29–Sept. 1, more than 300 tons of sand will be carved and molded into beautiful sculptures for the annual U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge and 3D Art Exposition. Held at the B Street Cruise Ship Terminal alongside San Diego Bay, the event features live entertainment, food trucks and unique rides for kids including a zipline that flies over the show.

Theater and Art

  • Enjoy quality musical theatre under the stars during the 34th summer season of the Moonlight Amphitheater in San Diego North’s community of Vista. Audiences picnic in the amphitheater’s grass seating area while enjoying performances to include Monty Python’s Spamalot, Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, and Catch Me if You Can. The season runs from June 11–Sept 27.
  • The Tony Award®-winning Old Globe theatre in Balboa Park presents its annual Summer Shakespeare Festival, June 22–Sept 14. Guests can watch Othello and The Two Gentlemen of Verona performed in The Globe’s outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre.
  • On June 21-22, the 28th Annual La Jolla Festival of Arts hosts nearly 200 award-winning local and national artists displaying paintings, sculptures, fine jewelry, photography and more in a coastal setting. Guests can also enjoy a variety of cuisines in the festival’s food area and listen to live entertainment.

Sporting Good Time

Inside Petco -Courtesy Petco Park.

  • The San Diego Padres’ season sizzles during the summer months. Baseball fans can watch the pros in action at the Padres’ downtown Petco Park, featuring 46,000 seats, garden terraces, spacious concourses, state-of-the-art amenities and authentic, local dining options.
  • San Diego’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on June 1 is one of the most entertaining marathons in the United States, featuring live music and regional bands playing everything from rock to rhythm and blues on 26 different stages, located along its scenic 26.2-mile route.

  • The 61st Annual World Championship Over-the-Line Tournament takes place on Mission Bay’s Fiesta Island, July 12-13 and July 19-20. A San Diego original, this boisterous, fast-paced beach softball event is open to the public; games begin at 7:30 a.m. each morning and end at dusk.
  • The “turf meets the surf” at the Del Mar Racetrack where fans flock to wager on their favorite horses during the popular Del Mar Thoroughbred Club summer racing season, July 17–Sept. 3. The races run five days weekly, except Monday and Tuesday. There will be racing on Labor Day. Every Friday, guests can catch 4 O’Clock Fridays, a free headliner concert following the day’s last race.
  • On Aug. 16-17, the 38th Annual World Bodysurfing Championship showcases international and U.S. bodysurfers competing to be “the world’s best.” The event takes place at the Oceanside Pier and beach in San Diego’s North County.

    La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art Installation -Courtesy Pablo Mason.

Concerts and Movies

  • Occurring every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. from June 10–Aug. 27, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens–Liberty Station hosts Stone Movie Nights, showing films in the courtyard. Guests bring lawn chairs and blankets and settle in for a night of mostly family friendly outdoor cinema. Every Wednesday, June 15–Aug. 27, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido hosts Live Music in the Gardens from 5-7 p.m. Both events are free and craft beer and snacks are available for purchase.
  • The popular 32nd Annual Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay features top name entertainers performing on an outdoor stage adjacent to a picturesque marina at Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn & Suites on Shelter Island, April–Oct. This year’s performers include Sarah McLachlan, Steely Dan, Jewel, Doobie Brothers, Boston, Chicago, BB King, Pixies, Beach Boys and more.
  • During the Annual Green Flash Concert Series, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps in La Jolla offers a unique summertime experience with live music and spectacular ocean sunsets. The concerts occur on the third Wednesday of every month during May–Sept. on the aquarium’s stunning outdoor tide-pool plaza and include food, drinks and a sophisticated mix of national performers. Concerts take place 5:30–9 p.m.; guests must be 21 years and older.
  • Enjoy two free concert series at Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. Guests can hear the majestic sound of one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs while enjoying music played by renowned concert organists during the Annual International Summer Organ Festival, June 3–Aug. 25. Organ concerts are held at 7:30 p.m. on Monday evenings. The Twilight in the Park
  • Summer Concerts feature a mix of musical performances, including military bands, Dixieland jazz, big band swing and Latin salsa. Concerts are held June 17–Aug. 28 at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

    Gaslamp Sign -Courtesy John Bahu.

  • The San Diego Symphony’s Summer Pops features food, fireworks and fantastic orchestral performances under the stars at picturesque Embarcadero Marina Park South in downtown San Diego, June 27–Aug. 31. This year’s performances include Nathan Pacheco, Burt Bacharach, Boz Scaggs, Ozomatli and more.
  • Free Summer Concerts by the Sea are held on Sundays July 6 and 20 and Aug. 3 and 17 on the sands of Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. The family friendly outdoor concerts occur at 3:00 p.m. and feature artists performing in a variety of styles, ranging from funk/folk to ‘90s to reggae music.
  • The coastal city of La Jolla also hosts Summer Concerts by the Sea every Sunday at 2:00 p.m. from July 13–Aug. 24. The family friendly outdoor concerts take place at Ellen Browning Scripps Park overlooking La Jolla Cove, and feature artists performing a variety of styles, including blues, swing, Latin jazz, Cajun blues and classic rock.

  • Fashion film professionals from around the world meet at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla to attend the La Jolla Fashion Film Festival, July 24-26. Top fashion film directors, producers and filmmakers join the public in nightly screenings, after parties, seminars, art installations and more.

  • During July 31–Aug. 23, the La Jolla Music Society SummerFest 2014 features world-class classical artists and ensembles performing 15 diverse concerts at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla. A free outdoor concert occurs on July 30 at Scripps Park near La Jolla Cove.
  • Guests can experience a rockin’ good time at the San Diego Music Thing (SDMT) at the Town & Country Resort in Mission Valley, San Diego, Sept. 12-13. SDMT features an art show, international food court, vendors and a number of musicians performing live on different stages.

    Shamu Show -Courtesy SeaWorld San Diego.

Happiness is calling in San Diego.  For more information on San Diego’s offerings, including exciting vacation packages and valuable coupons for attractions, restaurants and more, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website at or call 619-236-1212.

Special thanks to Rick Scott of Great Scott Productions, the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau and Lamar Webster for their contributions for this feature.

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