Event Round-Up: Jan. 19

There’s usually a bit of a lull after the holiday season where the events fizzle out and everyone recovers at the beginning of the year. However, I was able to dig up a few awesome ones in and around Walnut Creek to keep you satisfied. Enjoy the end of January and early February events before we head into the big Valentine’s week and let me know if you go to any!

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Napa Valley Restaurant Week: Jan. 20-27 (Napa)

Everyone knows the cuisine in Napa is just as good – if not better – than its wine. Now is your chance to gobble up some of that delicious fare for a fraction of the normal cost. Napa Valley Restaurant Week is the perfect excuse to visit the wine haven in its off-season.

Exploratorium After Dark: Radioactive: Jan. 24th (San Francisco)

This is a weekly event in The City at “After Dark” at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Go down to Pier 15 and enjoy the adults-only event in the incredibly cool museum. It costs about $20 at the door and is free for members. You can go to this from 6-10 p.m. on Jan. 24th.

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San Francisco Beer Week Opening Gala: Feb. 1st (San Francisco) 

You can’t beat a fancy night out in San Francisco for the most anticipated craft beer event of the year in Northern California. It’s not a cheap ticket, but the kickoff for SF Beer Week takes place from 6-10:30 p.m. at Pier 35. More than 120 NorCal breweries will be pouring their newest, most specialized beers. Check it out!

Pink Floyd Concert Experience with House of Floyd: Feb. 1st (Walnut Creek)

At 8:00 p.m. at the Lesher Center on Feb. 1st, you can go to see the Pink Floyd experience in concert right downtown! It’s a live musical tribute that pays homage to Pink Floyd’s famous shows, with sound effects, lights, lasers, video projection, and more. More info here!

Free First Tuesday: Feb. 5th (Walnut Creek)

As you’re probably well aware by now, there is a Free First Tuesday in downtown Walnut Creek at the Bedford Gallery. From 12-5 p.m., you can get free admission to the coolest art gallery in town and check out all the new exhibits. If you haven’t been, it’s definitely a hidden gem in Walnut Creek.  With a new exhibit that just launched on Sunday the 13th, going through March 24th, “Altered States” features artists across generations living and working along the California coast who harness natural elements of the environment to create their artwork. I think that will be a future blog!

Event Round-Up: Dec. 15th

I’m going to keep it super local for the December events this holiday season. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are for? Spending time at home with family and reveling in each other’s company? Well, that and lots and lots of food and cocktails. I’ve got you covered on all fronts here!

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Pic: Golf Advisor

Holiday Gala & Fundraiser: Boundary Oak Golf Course – Dec. 20th (Walnut Creek)

Take in a great night for an even greater cause at a premiere venue in Walnut Creek! For $50, entry gets each person a surf and tur dinner, a wine and beer sampling, access to live music, and entry into a live auction and gift boutique. If you bring a new book for ages 0-11, you receive a free raffle ticket! Proceeds go to the Bay Area Crisis Nursery. Register here!

80’s Prom New Year’s Eve Bash: Retro Junkie – Dec. 31st (Walnut Creek)

Now this is what I’m talkin’ about! On New Year’s Eve, you can enjoy live 80’s music all night. There will be a themed photo booth, a midnight countdown and balloon drop, a complimentary champagne toast, and a huge game room with pinball, arcade games, pool, and more! Pizza by the slice and a full bar top things off – but, hurry! Tickets must be bought in advance!

Widmer-World Holiday Fun: Widmer-World – Dec. 1st-31st (Pleasanton)

Everybody loves a good Christmas lights show! If you want a more family-friendly night in the month of December, pop on down to Pleasanton and take in the Widmer-World holiday extravaganza. Their light show is timed to music and the entire place will be covered in holiday cheer! It’s completely free!

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Free Admission Day: Bedford Gallery – Jan. 1st (Walnut Creek)

What better way to knock off the New Year’s rust than taking in one of Walnut Creek’s greatest artistic gems for FREE? It’s in the Bedford Gallery on New Year’s Day, which always has really cool, unique installations. I’d highly recommend going if you haven’t already! Take it in from 12-5 p.m. on the 1st.

Altered States Opening Night: Bedford Gallery – Jan. 13th (Walnut Creek)

That’s right! Back-to-back Bedford Gallery exhibitions here. It’s always fun to go to the opening night of a new exhibit, and this one will only run non-members $5. The guest curation from Heather Marx features “artists across generations living and working along the California coast who harness natural elements or the environment to create their artwork.” This sounds pretty neat!

Event Round-Up: November 17th

As the holiday season gets into full swing, take advantage of some unique events around Walnut Creek and the rest of the Bay Area! From art, to nature, to Christmas festivities, I’ve got you covered! If you visit any of these events, let me know how they are!

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The Unreal Garden – thru Nov. 30 (San Francisco)

The Unreal Garden is a digital, immersive art exhibition set up in a 20,000-square foot space on Market Street that is set up by a media company called Onedome. There are moving waterfalls, forest creatures and eight installations by nine different global artists at The Unreal Garden. More details here.

Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting – Nov. 29 (Walnut Creek)

Broadway Plaza’s annual Holiday Parade of Lights, Retailer Open House, and Tree Lighting returns from 6-9 pm on Nov. 29th. There will be live entertainment, caroling, and an appearance by Santa! The event is sponsored by the Capital One Cafe, and more information can be found here.

Night Bloom – starts Dec. 2 (San Francisco)

Just like last year, the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco will put on what is sure to be a show-stopping light display on the greenhouse facade. The new installation is called “Night Bloom” and will contain colorful lights, sounds, and immersive art experiences. Get more information for this event here.

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Free Redwood Day – Dec. 8 (Statewide)

Every so often, these amazing free days come along and us nature lovers rejoice! To celebrate 100 years of saving California’s iconic redwood forest, Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks are offering thousands of free vehicle day-use passes to more than 40 Redwood state parks! Details are here.

Exploratorium After Dark – Dec. 15 (San Francisco)

Every Thursday night, the Exploratorium offers an adults-only dinner and drinks event with hands-on exhibits from 6-10 pm. The Exploratorium, on Pier 15, offers $20 tickets for this event. And on Dec. 15, the theme will be sugar! Perfect for the holidays. See the event page here.

Oktoberfest: Not enough beer, but tons of fun!

I went to the Walnut Creek Oktoberfest at Civic Park a few weeks back – an event I’d recommended in a previous blog! It did not disappoint, however, I don’t think the people running the event had any idea what they were in for. They ran out of beer fairly quickly, and also didn’t have enough pretzels or funnel cake for the hungry and thirsty masses!

Overall, it was still an awesome event. There were a few people dressed up and the beer they did have was served from Brauerei Weihenstephan, which is apparently the oldest brewery in the world. They also had some local artisanal beer selections, as well as wine. The main issue (besides running out of it!) was that the drink lines were so long, that you had to wait for 20 minutes to get a stein or in this case a glass of beer and then you could only have up to two at a time.

So, even though the food and drinks were good, the crowd was large, and the Civic Park venue was much more appropriate than the old location on Locust St., there were some operational issues to work out for future events. There was a kids area, plenty of food vendors, art vendors, beer batter dipped french fries (What?!), music, and a bunch of new people to meet. I went towards the end, but the consensus seemed to be that it was a very successful event.

Oh, and did I mention it was dog-friendly? What a bonus! I would have brought Bodie if he would do well in crowds with dogs everywhere, but I didn’t want to risk it. Still, what a great event for downtown Walnut Creek that will surely be replicated in the Octobers to come and may surpass Clayton – just with more beer next time! Did you go? Let me know what you thought!

Event Round-Up: Oct. 13, 2018

It’s finally that time of year, when the summer heat melts away and the brisk Fall air rides in on the San Francisco fog. Everything turns orange with Halloween and Thanksgiving on the horizon, and schools are in full force again. There are still heaps of fun activities to do this season, and I’ve chosen a few of the best:

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East Bay Walk to End Alzheimer’s: Walnut Creek (Sat. 10/20)

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event for fundraising for the disease, and supports the care and research of it. The East Bay chapter will do their run from 8-11 a.m. next Saturday, Oct. 20th at Heather Farm’s Park. Check out their Facebook event here.

Beach Blanket Babylon: San Francisco (Sat. 10/27 and more)

If you’ve never experienced the hilarity of Beach Blanket Babylon, now is the time. Tickets are still available for the Sat. 10/27 show, and you don’t want to miss the artful, gut-busting show that pokes fun at politicians, celebrities, athletes and more. A fun family outing, especially if you have older kids.

Boo at the Zoo: Oakland (Sat. 10/27 & Sun. 10/28)

From 10 am to 3 pm on these days, bring the kiddos out for a fun pre-Halloween stroll through the Oakland Zoo! Costumes are encouraged, and the kids can trick-or-treat, ride a train, join a dance party, get their face painted, and more. Not to mention, you’re at the zoo watching the animals play! More info here.

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Warren Miller’s “Face of Winter”: Walnut Creek (Tue. 11/6)

There is truly no better way to get fired up for the skiing and snowboarding season than watching the latest Warren Miller film. It’s an annual tradition for serious snow-goers, and this year’s version is bound to be just as awesome! Check it out at The Lesher Center downtown.

Her Room/Her World: Walnut Creek (thru 12/30)

Her Room/Her World is an exhibit at the Bedford Gallery that showcases prints, video, paintings, and installations by New York artist Portia Munson, who does feminist art. The key attraction is an installation called Pink Room that specifically appeals to women and girls. Check it out!

8 best food festivals in the Bay Area this summer

Is there anything better than a social gathering for the purpose of eating or drinking? A backyard barbecue with neighbors, a wine-tasting and walking event, food truck frenzies with friends…the list goes on, but the level of awesome remains the same.

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TimeOut.com has compiled a great list of eight unique Bay Area food festivals, and if you’re someone who enjoys these outings, you must give it a read. I’ve reformatted the list below. Let me know if you end up checking out any of these local foodie fests!

1. Lamb Jam (San Francisco)

Sip and snack on delish lamb-based dishes at this epic gastronomic event and competition that brings together 16 of SF’s most talented chefs to b-a-a-a-a-a-ttle for the title of Lamb Jam San Francisco Champion.

 July 22 3–6pm at Golden Gate Club; $56–$125

2. Garlic Festival (Gilroy)

Garlic lovers from around the world flock to this small town for food, drinks, crafts, live music and cooking competitions. Be sure to try the garlic ice cream (and don’t forget to bring your toothbrush).

July 27–29 10am–7pm at Christmas Hill Park; free–$20.

3. Zucchini Festival (Hayward)

At this healthy food party, discover the versatile uses of the hearty vegetable, from cakes and cookies to snacks and main dishes. Don’t miss the massive zucchinis competing in the growing contest!

Aug 18, 19 10am–8pm at Kennedy Park; $5–$10.

4. Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival (San Francisco)

Ghirardelli pairs its world-famous cacao beans with wine, ice cream and tons of other tasty desserts at this sugary soiree. Indulge guilt-free, knowing that 100 percent of the proceeds are donated to local nonprofit Project Open Hand.

Sept 8, 9 noon–5pm at Ghirardelli Square; $26–$55.

5. Cheese Fest (San Francisco)

Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Farmstead, Cypress Grove and other local makers will provide fromage nibbles at this dairy fest. Of course, cheese gets by with a little help from its friends wine and charcuterie, so expect vendors hawking those tasty delights, as well. Pop a Lactaid and get to work.

Sept 15 at Social Hall SF; $TBA.

6. Bloody Mary Festival (San Francisco)

SF’s most beloved brunch cocktail gets its own fest this season: Attendees will sample local bars’ tricked-out versions of the tomato-juice-and-vodka cocktail, then vote for the People’s Choice Award winner. Also, a panel of industry judges will pick its favorite version.

Sept 29 10:30am–6pm at SOMArts Cultural Center; $45–$55.

7. Eat Drink SF (San Francisco)

This four-day gourmet fest delights taste buds with bites from more than 30 Bay Area restaurants, plus cocktail classes, taco parties, and meet and greets with local celebrity chefs.

Aug 24 7:15–10pm; Aug 25 12:45–3:30pm, 7-:45–10:30pm; Aug 26 12:45–3:30pm at Fort Mason Center. $109–$229.

8. Eat Real Fest (Oakland)

Eat Real combines a state fair, a street-food festival, and a block party to create a celebration of good food in Oakland. Celebrate ten years of local food vendors, food entrepreneurs, artisan products, and demonstrations from the Bay Area’s top chefs and culinary experts.

Sept 14 3–10pm, Sept 15 11am–10pm, Sept 16 11am–7pm at Jack London Square; free. 

Event Round-Up: July 14

Welcome back to our Event Round-Up for the next few weeks! Events do not necessarily have to take place in Walnut Creek to qualify, though I’ll try to keep it to the nearby Bay Area cities so you don’t have to travel too far. With the exception of one must-see event tomorrow in San Francisco, these should all be fun, cheap events to do over the next month or so. Hope I found you some good, off-the-beaten-path activities!

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1. 2018 FIFA World Cup Finals – Outdoor Screening (San Francisco): Sun., July 15th @ 8 a.m.

Hosted by the SF Recreation and Park Department, there will be a free public viewing of the FIFA World Cup Final on Sunday, July 15th. It will take place in front of the Civic Center Plaza, and folks can arrive at 8 a.m., though the game will start a little bit later. You’d be surprised at how big – and how soccer-lovin’ – this crowd will be!

2. Taste of the World Market (Orinda): Thurs., July 19th @ 5 p.m.

Every Thursday from 5-9 p.m., you can get “a taste of the world” at a weekly food truck event in front of the Orinda Community Center. Each week features different trucks and entertainment. We have a lot of events like this around the Bay Area, but it’s always fun to explore one in a new town to see how it stacks up!

3. Outdoor Waterfront Flicks – Star Wars (Oakland): Thurs., July 19th @ 8 p.m.

If food trucks aren’t your deal, but you want to treat the kids to a fun-filled, outdoor movie night, look no further than Jack London Square in Oakland, where they’ll be showing Star Wars: The Last Jedi at 8 p.m. It’s completely free, and all you need is a blanket to sit on, a blanket to cuddle with, and a cup of joe to keep you warm by the water!

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4. Blues & Brews Festival (Pleasanton): Fri., July 20th – Sat., July 21st @ 6 p.m.

You will need tickets to this, but how cool is a FREE blues music and beer festival just down the highway from Walnut Creek? If you show up to Pleasant Hill Park at 6 p.m. on Fri., July 20th, you can take part in the pre-party. But the real fun begins the next day at 3 p.m., where you can wander in to catch free live music, and buy tasting tickets for the beer. More ticket info can be found here.

5. Benicia Waterfront Festival (Benicia): Sat., July 28th – Sun., July 29th @ 11 a.m.

Waterfront. Live music. Craft beer and wine. Tasty food. Unique vendors. Kids zone. Cheap tickets. What more can you ask for? Take a trek out to Benicia for this cool music festival that only costs $10 for adults ($15 for a weekend pass), and is free for kids under 12! What a great way to spend a summer weekend!

6. Berkeley Kite Festival (Berkeley): Sat., July 28th – Sun., July 29th @ 10 a.m.

Not feeling Benicia? Head on over to Berkeley for the 30th Annual Berkeley Kite Festival! It’s a free, family-friendly event for two days with competitions, kite-making, kite battles (seriously!), dining options, and more. Everyone loves watching a good kite – here, you can watch hundreds!

7. Circus Bella (San Francisco, etc.): Sun., July 29th @ 2 p.m.

Though this cool event takes place in multiple locations on each Sunday in July, I’m choosing this one specifically for our timeframe. Get on over to Hunter’s Point in San Francisco to check out this free, dazzling, 60-minute outdoor circus performance!

Make sure to let us know how these events go if you decide to visit! Looking forward to hearing the reviews!

Event Round-Up: May 19

Welcome back to the next installment of Event Round-Up! Below, you’ll find five of the best events around the Bay Area for the next few weeks. If you attend any, please let us know how they were – you may even be mentioned in a future blog!

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Bay to Breakers (May 20, 2018 – San Francisco)

Look, if you’ve still never experienced Bay to Breakers in San Francisco, you’re truly missing out on a one-of-a-kind spectacle you can’t get anywhere else in the world. Take advantage of this “race” of usually around 100,000 people dressing up in ridiculous outfits, drinking mimosas, and enjoying the sunshine in the city. It’s an early start, but you can take part in the festivities without actually registering for the race. Be there tomorrow – you won’t regret it!

Civic Park Public Art Installation (May 26, 2018 – Walnut Creek)

This will be a super cool, unique event. The Bedford Gallery and City of Walnut Creek Public Art Department have a National Endowment for the Arts grant for a public art installation in Civic Park. It brings world-famous sculptor Patrick Dougherty to town and should continue to put Walnut Creek’s art on the map. He plans to install a huge project made of woven willow saplings, and he’s calling for the public’s help volunteering to assist. The project has already begun and ends on May 26th, when there will be a free celebration in the park for your viewing pleasure!

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Mission Mural Tour (June 2, 2018 – San Francisco)

If you’ve ever wandered through The Mission District in San Francisco, you’ve probably eaten amazing Mexican food, stumbled upon a few mind-boggling murals, and then eaten even more amazing Mexican food. But it’s the middle thing we’re focusing on here, as you now have the chance to join a public, professional walking tour of the murals in The Mission. It will give you information, history and context around some of your favorite murals in The Mission. The tours are free, but the guides accept donations and tips!

First Wednesday (June 6, 2018 – Walnut Creek)

Cypress Street in downtown Walnut Creek will have a lot going for it on Wednesday, June 6th. That will be the next installation of the First Wednesday event that shuts down a whole city block and invites live music, dancing, food trucks, adult drinks, a Kids Fun Zone and games. There will also be a Chef’s Demo (in partnership with the Contra Costa Certified Farmers Market) and chances to win free prizes. You can park for free after 5 p.m. in all downtown garages that day, and the festivities last from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. I can’t recommend it highly enough – it’s always a great time!

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Haight Ashbury Street Fair (June 10, 2018 – San Francisco)

Similar to First Wednesday (only bigger, better and more famous – sorry Walnut Creek!), the Haight Ashbury Street Fair will take place a few days later in San Francisco. This fair has been around for decades and seems to get better every time I go. There is a ton of live music, the best food, drink and craft vendors around, and – as is typical with any event in San Francisco – a TON of people. As if you need an excuse to enjoy one of the city’s most famous neighborhoods on a beautiful day, go check out the Haight Ashbury Street Fair!

New City Manager & the Walnut Festival is coming!

Walnut Creek has a new City Manager as of August 7th: Dan Buckshi. I attended a welcoming reception at Lesher last week. After 15 years in San Luis Obispo County and the last five as County Administrative Officer (similar to County Manager), Dan is excited to be in Walnut Creek.

He just wrote his first City Manager’s Update, including a nugget about the Walnut Festival …

via Patch.com

If you’re new to Walnut Creek  – or haven’t been in some time like myself – I recommend going to the festival! I especially have wonderful memories with my boys and as they got into their tweens. It was a safe place to drop them off for a couple of hours, allowing them to gain some independence. You’ll be amazed by the number of people who show up to ride the rides, test out the carnival food and play games.

There is also live music and performances, and the nearby glory of Heather Farm Park in and of itself. This is truly the biggest event of the year in Walnut Creek.

Don’t forget about the nostalgic twilight parade that kicks off the event is this Saturday at 6 p.m.  It will travel along Walnut Creek’s Main Street from Mt. Diablo Boulevard to Civic Drive, ending at Civic Park.

This year’s theme, “Through The Wide Eyes of a Child,” is all about imagination and whimsically-created costumes, floats, decorated cars, motorcycles, bicycles, bands, drill teams, cheer teams
and all others who will entertain us with their talents and creativity.  They are encouraging people to join in on the theme and attend the parade in costume.

The Carnival portion of the 81st Annual Walnut Festival will take place from September 21-24 at Heather Farms.

Did you know the original festival was held in 1911 and was called The Grape Festival? For more information and a little bit of history, you can visit The Walnut Festival Association website here.

Enjoy this wonderful Walnut Creek tradition!!!