Festivals in Ceres

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The blues can spawn from many different things. A life full of regrets. A failed relationship with a former sweetheart. A favorite Cheers episode interrupted by the Public Broadcasting System. With the blues, there's always a story in between the notes of every chord progression. At some point, however, all of that melancholy comes full circle, and the music transforms into a raucous celebration of life. That's certainly the case at the Blues and Bones Festival, where crowds gather to hear regional blues artists, from soulful singers to lightening-fast guitarists, share their euphonious stories to cheering crowds.

Though the expressive performances of these artists certainly shake attendees right down to their bones, the "bones" in the event title actually refers to the remnants of slow-smoked BBQ. In addition to the music, the outdoor festival culls a melange of food vendors who add their own signature seasonings to pork, chicken, and beef in hopes of taking home prizes.

101 Frogtown Rd
Angels Camp,
CA
US

At each of several one-day festivals held throughout the country, thousands of revelers unite in an epic clash of pulp, beer, and live music. Armed with a cache of 300,000 tomatoes, participants don protective bathing suits and goggles and hurl the fruit at one another during a two-hour battle. Throughout the afternoon, live music and costume contests offer an entertaining respite from the front lines, as bartenders dispense drafts of beer to attendees older than 21, refueling soldiers' morale before they resign to writing goodbye letters to their produce vendors back home. All tomatoes used during the event are past ripe and already fated for disposal, making the battle an efficient means of tossing them before their cursed transformation into singing Muppets.

4501 Pleasanton Ave.
Pleasanton,
CA
US

At 2,600 feet up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, one might expect to find sprawling views of the ocean and surrounding forest and not flourishing vineyards. Yet there are more than 70 wineries dappling the hills at various altitudes, privy to the dewy, cooling breezes of the sea and the richness of the rocky soil. The San Francisco Chronicle speaks to their scattered presence, deeming them "less a cohesive wine region than a patchwork of vineyards." Still, this characteristic isolation has resulted in "a perfect laboratory for winemaking not held hostage to fashion"—no one style dominates in this rustic setting.

Pinot noirs and chardonnays populate the western front, and the east yields cabernets, merlots, and zinfandels. The majority of the vineyards are small and family owned—a fact reflected in their meticulously bottled libations and the matching sweaters of their holiday photos—but though they exist in chosen hermitage, many of them welcome visitors to their scenic sites. They host weddings, festivals, and open events such as Pathway to Pinot Paradise, a self-guided tour of the pinot noir hotspots.

3055 Olin Ave
San Jose,
CA
US

If you?ve ever wanted to go back in time, but didn?t have access to a wormhole, Valhalla Renaissance Faire is your next best bet. This annual festival showcases a reimagined Renaissance, complete with Queen Elizabeth I and her court, Master Shakespeare, princesses, fairies, a hard-hitting armored joust, and a town full of colorful characters. To experience every nook and cranny of this vast fair, guests can eat ye olde turkey legs and shop for leather wears and carved tankards. Live shows take place on three stages and feature the Naughty Minstrels, Captain Jack, and the Universe According to Galileo. And no visit to Elizabethan England is complete without seeing the queen, who may also make the occasional appearance to knight a brave warrior or banish a dragon from the realm.

342 West Saint John Street
San Jose,
CA
US

From November 23 through January 6, inside California’s Great America theme park will be transformed into a Global Winter Wonderland complete with twinkling displays of rainbow Christmas trees, snowmen, and Santa Town. A highlight of the seasonal event, the Holiday Lantern Festival sets the night aglow with eco-friendly LED and fluorescent lanterns, some of which stand more than 50 feet tall. Joining the lanterns—which have graced international sites including the Statue of Liberty, the London Bridge, and an Egyptian pyramid—are laser light shows, martial-arts displays, and acrobatic performances, all of which enhance the festive atmosphere of the holiday celebration.

4701 Great America Pkwy
Santa Clara,
CA
US

Established: 2009

Pro Tip: Bring your friends, bring the kids, bring your appetite for good food, music, brews, and bring sunblock

Handicap Accessible: Yes

Parking: Parking lot

Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Classic cars, crafts, Microbrews, Music,

Recommended Age Group: All Ages

Newark's sixth annual SummerFest assembles the best pieces of previous seasons into a single incredible street festival. The prime attraction continues to be a full, two-day line-up of live musicians with craft brewers in surrounding stalls pouring their creations. The marketplace features more than a few brews, though. Artists and crafters peddle their wares, and local community service organizations put together exhibits where guests can learn about their missions. As always, auto enthusiasts can find a selection of classic cars on display, metallic muscle carefully restored and preserved. Kids, on the other hand, can find entertainment suiting their tastes in the KidZone play area, which features inflatable playsets.

37101 Newark Boulevard
Newark,
CA
US