Fall is a great time for festivals – most of which are free – in California’s Yosemite region, which offer a taste of the local lifestyle, from food and wine to art and music.
- The Groveland 49er Festival and Chili and Salsa Cook-Off (Sept. 21) starts with a pancake breakfast, followed by a town parade, Aviation Club Fly Over, Chili Cookoff, live & silent auction, raffles, food and beverage booths and family activities.
- Go hog-wild at the Blazin Hog BBQ Competition (Sept. 21) at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds, where restaurants battle for best pork BBQ honors. The event also includes a toe-tapping Zydeco Music Festival as well as local beer, wine, food, arts and crafts.
- Howl with laughter at the Coulterville CoyoteFest (Sept. 28), where locals compete in a Coyote Howling Contest and guests enjoy old-fashioned fun from dunking booths, games and crafts to history tours, nature activities, car show and shootouts.
- The annual Sierra Art Trails Open Studio Tour (Oct. 4-6) in Madera County, home to more artists per capita than anywhere else in the country, inspires art lovers with works from more than 100 artists from Oakhurst, Coarsegold and North Fork.
- Beer lovers flock to the June Lake Autumn Beer Festival (Oct. 5) which includes a chili cook-off and pie baking contest.
- Nature lovers should check out the Glacier Point Natural History program (Oct. 6), which shares an insider’s perspective of one of Yosemite’s most famous viewpoints. An expert guide will take guests on an autumn field trip, sharing the cultural and natural history of the iconic Glacier Point area, from fascinating geological features to diverse wildlife.
- Live like a pioneer at the Columbia Harvest FestiFall (Oct. 12-13) where guests can share 1850's hobbies, crafts, music and dancing.
- The Oakhurst Fall Festival (Oct. 12-13) brings together local restaurants, area wineries, breweries and chocolatiers at Oakhurst Community Park , who give visitors a chance to sample their wares while enjoying live music, a classic car show, a petting zoo and kids’ activities from the local children’s museum. That same weekend, the Oakhurst Art and Music Festival (Oct. 12) in Harmony park features crafts from local artists, a parade, 5K Arts Run/Walk, special concerts and regional cuisine.
- Take a Celtic flight of fancy pre-Halloween at the All Hallows Fantasy Faire (Oct. 17-19), offering big and little ghouls the chance to see a fantasy village, fairies, fire eaters, dragons, marketplace and ancient warriors. This Celtic Heritage/Halloween blend includes popular Friday Zombie Bash for adults.
- Rev your engines for the Mariposa Yosemite Hot Rod & Custom Car Show (Oct. 19), featuring more than 100 custom cars, hot rods and motorcycles, plus great music and food.
- The annual Coarsegold Tarantula Festival (Oct. 26), which takes place at the Coarsegold Historic Village, celebrates the harmless arachnid which comes out each fall for mating season. Laughter is on the menu with hairiest leg contests for men and women, screaming contests, costume contests and tarantula races.
- The city of Madera, known as the Heart of Pomegranate Country, hosts the annual Madera Pomegranate Festival (Nov. 2) which features pomegranate-centric cooking demos from local chefs as well as pomegranates specialty products, live music, kids’ activities and the ever-popular Pomegranate Grenade Launch.
- Wine and food connoisseurs flock to Yosemite National Park in late fall for their signature Vintners’ Holidays (mid-November to early December) at The Ahwahnee Hotel. This eagerly anticipated annual event, boasts dozens of the best California vintners pouring their wines at tasting seminars and a five-course gala dinner. Visitors can buy special weekend packages to this event which include accommodations for two, wine tasting seminars, an intimate Meet the Vintners Reception and two tickets to the Gala Dinner.
- Fishing enthusiasts can reel it in at the Ambush at the Lake - Convict Lake Fishing Derby at various times through Nov. 15 featuring $6,000 in resort prizes.
For more information on traveling to the Yosemite region this fall, check out these local websites:
Yosemite National Park (National Park Service)
DNC Yosemite (Accommodations and activities inside the Park)
For more information about top events in California take a look at the Top Events USA selection of the annual main festivals and events in California.