San Luis Obispo Festivals

San Luis Obispo Festivals

1. San Luis Obispo International Film Festival - March

The idea behind the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, is that “movies matter.” And for ten days every March, film is celebrated, with screenings at different venues around town, panel discussions, independent film premieres, and classic films shown on the centerpiece of the festival, the historic, art-deco Fremont Theater. The Fremont plays host to red carpet events which include meet and greets with legendary Hollywood actors, directors and even famous sports figures portrayed in film. In prior years the festival has honored musical film star Howard Keel, with a showing of the film “Kiss Me Kate,” and hosted a movie premiere with Morgan Freeman in attendance.

(805) 546-FILM

2. Festival Mozaic (Mozart Festival) - July

Five centuries of music are celebrated in the annual Festival Mozaic held every summer in San Luis Obispo. This is one of the oldest and most respected classical music celebrations in the western U.S. Founded in 1971, it was originally called the Mozart Festival. The festival consists of a series of concerts performed by the eighty-piece Festival Orchestra in the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center and at the Mission in downtown San Luis Obispo. Smaller ensembles, from two to twenty players, give chamber music concerts in various venues around the city. Performing Arts Magazine said that the festival “offers a stunning variety of venues” with “unique and provocative artists.” They went on to call the classical music festival “an esthetic extravaganza.”

3. Central Coast Shakespeare Festival - July/August

There is nothing stuffy about the Central Coast Shakespeare Festival. Not when the website lists statements of the organizers’ beliefs such as: “We believe that watching Shakespeare outdoors with a delicious picnic dinner and a fine, fine bottle of syrah is just about as good as it gets.” And : “We believe in spit takes. Oh yes, we do.”

Two live, outdoor productions of Shakespeare and other classic plays are performed every July through mid August and alternate weekly. For two seasons, the plays have been staged at the River Oaks Hot Springs Amphitheater in Paso Robles at 800 Clubhouse Drive.

Admission is general seating. Patrons are encouraged to bring blankets, lawn chairs, and bread and wine and to enjoy Shakespeare’s or one of his contemporaries’ works, under the stars.
(805) 546-4224

4. Annual SLO Triathlon - July

The City of San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation Department sponsors the annual San Luis Obispo Triathlon. Completion of the race is emphasized rather than competition and speed. The three stages start with a 5 mile swim at the San Luis Obispo Swim Center. Sinsheimer Park is the starting point for the second stage, the 15.3 mile bike ride though San Luis Obispo’s rolling hills to Orcutt Road and back. A 3.1 mile run along Railroad Recreational Trail to the parking lot at Sinsheimer Park, marks the third, and last stage.

Participants are rewarded with lunch at the finish line and there are drawings for prizes donated to the event.
(805) 781-7300

5. I Madonnari - September

The most stunningly beautiful outdoor festival in San Luis Obispo, is the Italian street painting festival, I Madonnari. Cement squares in the Mission Plaza are assigned to 200 artists of all degrees of ability and filled with fantastic chalk images. Businesses and organizations sponsor the squares to benefit the Children’s Creative Project, which provides arts education and scholarships. Vendor booths are set up selling t-shirts, food and boxes of chalk for children to try their hand at painting their own masterpieces.

6. San Luis Obispo Farmers Market - Thursdays

The San Luis Obispo Farmers Market has been covered several times in this guide (see Tourist Attractions and Shopping) but it still merits further comment. The weekly Thursday night block party that is the San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market, has been voted “Best Community Event” and “Best Place to People Watch” in the latest local “New Times,” newspaper poll.