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Vibrant Culture, Friendly Faces and Remarkable Art at the San Diego Festival of the Arts

Since its inception as an American city back in 1850, San Diego has attracted visitors and residents with its stunning natural surroundings, great activities and unmatched year round weather. San Diego’s path to becoming one of the top tourist destinations on the planet began with the World's Fair events held in the city in 1915-16 and 1935-36. Not only did these massive events showcase the beautiful city, but they also led the way for the numerous attractions for which San Diego is currently known.


San Diego is currently a sprawling metropolis that’s home to more than 1.4 million people and over 3 million in the entire metro area. With this many residents the culture here is diverse and vibrant. You’ll find some of the best examples of local art and live entertainment in America, at the various local galleries, shops, exhibits, entertainment venues and concerts. If you love food, San Diego is a can’t-miss destination. Some of the world's best chefs have congregated in the city, which means you’ll have a comprehensive selections of restaurants to choose from. From exquisite sushi and vegetarian delights, this city has something for you. We can't look at things to do here without mentioning some of the great local attractions: Balboa Park, USS Midway Museum, San Diego Natural History Museum, Belmont Park, The San Diego Museum of Art and so much more.


One of the top ways to get to know any new community is during one of its major local events. The San Diego Festival of the Arts fits that bill and so much more. Proudly entering its 30th year, the festival has established itself as one of the top art themed events in the entire region. This year’s festival will feature roughly 200 artists, who will be displaying and selling unique handmade art from almost every discipline. Live music will also be performed by 25 different local and national acts. If you're traveling with the entire family, you’ll find a series of fun games and activities for all ages to enjoy. With so much to do and to enjoy, it's no mystery why this event has the longevity and size it does. We got the chance to interview Peter Ballantyne, Chairman of the San Diego Festival of the Arts, to talk about this great art event.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

PB: We are celebrating our 30th year this year. We’ll have 195 artists, 25 musical acts, 15 restaurants, 10 beneficiaries, 12 sponsors and 10 partners. Annually, attendees range from 5,000 to 7,000 people. Our biggest draw is usually women, but we have a wide range of attendees including families, military personnel, and couples looking for fine art, great music and food.


RAL: What makes this event unique?  

PB: There are several unique features with the San Diego Festival of the Arts. We are a juried fine art show that works with top-rated artists from around the nation. San Diego Festival of the Arts will be the first art festival at the Waterfront Park, and we are looking forward to highlighting the beauty of art as well as our beautiful waterfront; it’s a perfect match. The one thing that drives the volunteers from Torrey Pines Kiwanis is that every year proceeds from our event go to benefit sports, culture and recreation programs for San Diegans with disabilities.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event.

PB: Guests can stroll the Waterfront Park to experience juried fine art in eight different categories while being amazed by the creativity and execution of each piece. The delightful aroma of different foods fills the air while three music stages provide diverse and lilting songs for all to enjoy. The main fountain is always a popular venue because it is the ideal place to dip your feet. Also, we will have a lei-making area for guests, as well as free clinics on playing the ukulele.


Guests can anticipate live music, outdoor games, a photo booth, and kid’s art activities, meet community programs, and sip craft beer and wine. In addition you’ll be able to meet award-winning artists from around the country.


We have six time Grammy winner Daniel Ho with his trio, the US Navy Band Southwest Jazz Band, as well as their Ceremonial Band who will open our festival with the national anthem at 10:00 am on Saturday. Council Member Todd Gloria from the City of San Diego and US Representative Scott Peters will be on hand to present a Proclamation that celebrates our 30th year of the festival, and our support for the community of San Diego.


Your experience will be complete as you experience local craft beers and San Diego’s favorite dining experiences. The festival offers a wide variety of local fare from the famous wood-fired pizzas of Buona Forchetta to S&M Sausage and Meat. To satisfy your sweet tooth, Wow Wow Waffles will be serving up Belgian waffles.


The event is taking place at the award-winning Waterfront Park on Harbor Drive. The park offers picture perfect views of San Diego Bay, with the Art Deco County Administration building setting a great background. The grass and gardens lend themselves perfectly to the ambience of fine art, music and food.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

PB: Downtown San Diego offers a wide variety of lodging options. From a posh high rise to a waterfront bungalow, San Diego has the perfect accommodations for travelers.


RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event?

PB: Guests came book a discounted room rate at Wyndham San Diego Bayside.


RAL: What does the event mean to the community?  

PB: For 30 years, San Diego Festival of the Arts has provided access to fine art for our community outside of a gallery environment. Over time, we have worked with artists, local schools, local singer/songwriters, and restaurants as a venue to showcase their talents.


Our cooperative and collaborative efforts with partner programs in the community have touched over 40,000 San Diegans with disabilities. Many Torrey Pines Kiwanis members have volunteered, and continue to volunteer, in support of the programs and the individuals. More than this, the programs reach beyond each participant to the friends and families, and ultimately provide wonderful positive life impacts on our community as a whole.


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?

PB: From lodging to restaurants, parking and strolling downtown before or after the festival, our guests are proven to be a group that enjoys supporting local businesses. Over 195 artists from around the region, as well as community groups, volunteers, and supporters all converge on the area over a long weekend, spurring local business.  San Diego Festival of the Arts uses local vendors for all their festival needs, and looks locally for emerging artists and musicians.


RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?

PB: The San Diego Festival of the Arts, formerly the La Jolla Festival of the Arts, has donated almost $2 million to recreational, educational and cultural programs that support San Diegans with disabilities. Some of these programs have been developed with funding from the festival and the first of their kind in the country—adaptive watersports (waterskiing, jetskiing, kayaking, sailing, surfing), snow skiing, tennis, karate, and more.


RAL: Does lodging hit max occupancy during the event?

PB: With the festival moving downtown, we will expect increased tourist attendance. While lodging will increase during the summer season, we do not foresee hitting a max occupancy in the Downtown region.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?  

PB: The San Diego Festival of the Arts gathers nearly 200 artists in a bay view setting of original fine art, entertainment and delicious cuisines, complemented with fine wine and craft beer as you stroll the turf of Waterfront Park. San Diego Festival of the Arts garners critically acclaimed artists from around the country for an elegant and high quality showcase. Guests will enjoy an exceptional experience from San Diego's favorite restaurants, sample San Diego craft beer and wine, all while absorbing the beauty of art and music for the whole family.

For more information about the San Diego Festival of Arts, please visit their website.