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SDCCU Festival of Arts in North Park: Arts and Craft Brews

Let’s face it, it’s not difficult to convince someone to go to San Diego.  Between the weather, the surf, and the sandy beaches, there simply isn’t much of a need for arm twisting.  However, if there is one aspect of San Diego that might not get enough credit, it would be it’s art scene.  Fortunately, the SDCCU Festival of Arts in North Park rectifies that problem.


As the name might indicate, the festival celebrates art, but more importantly, it celebrates all art within the San Diego community.  One of the events during the festival is the Live Art Expo where artists will create unique, one-of-a-kind art using a variety of methods and styles while festival goers watch.  People are even encouraged to donate large items to the festival to be made into art!


The festival will feature some of the best food San Diego has to offer including Mexican food, seafood, and African cuisine.  If you’re looking for something to wash the food down with, anyone attending the festival over the age of 21 can purchase a $30 ticket to the  beer block which  features over 30 breweries and  local craft beer that will be available for sampling!


This entire event will take place in San Diego’s historic North Park neighborhood. North Park, home to festivals throughout the year, is a popular destination within Southern California.  For the music lovers, there will be eight stages featuring live music at the Festival of Arts with music from every genre visitors could want from rock and roll to blues and more. The only concern will be trying to see everything the day will offer! recently caught up with Angela Landsberg, North Park’s executive director to get the inside dish on what festival goers can expect on May 21!


RAL: How long has the event been running?

AL: This is the 20th year of the festival!


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

AL:  35,000 are expected and we’re growing each year


RAL: What is the typical demographic makeup of the event? 

AL:  The beauty of the event is that it is a very diverse crowd with everyone from babies in strollers to grandmas on rollerskates.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

AL:  It’s the combination of local art, great music and craft beer. The best thing is that it all takes place in an amazing historic urban community with great businesses.  


RAL: Take me through a day at the event...what can I expect as an attendee?

AL:  You never know what kind of buskers [street performers] will show up.  Last year we had people on stilts dressed as animals walking through the event.  You will see some of the region’s best “makers”; people who make everything from leather belts to handmade lamps carved out of wood, to baby clothes made from recycled fabric.


We have booked a line up of fantastic music. We’ll have a little bit of everything: singer songwriters, funk, blues, indie rock, world music, and good ol’ rock and roll!


This year we have 34 food vendors so you should definitely plan on arriving hungry.  Some of North Park’s local establishments will be serving up their best, like El Comal ceviche made with local fish and capers, sausage sandwiches from Encontro and homemade sweet potato fries from Ranchos Cocina.  In addition to our local food there are traditional festival foods available as well.  You can get your fill of full plates of Mexican flautas, brisket sandwiches, or authentic African cuisine.


The streets are hopping with people of all ages and from all demographics.  Some people come for the arts and others for the music.  However you slice it, the environment smacks of diversity and vibrancy.  The historic neighborhood of North Park lends itself to a main street feel with walkable streets and storefronts boasting colorful window displays.  Along the 9 blocks of the festival, there is music in the air along with aromatic scents of food to entice a sample of everything.  People in North Park walk around with a smile and they just seem happy to be here!


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

AL:  The best and by far most unique experience for accommodations is the La Fayette Hotel.  This historic venue is like walking back into the 1920’s but with all of the chic urban up-to-date amenities.  The hotel is smack dab in the heart of North Park within walking distance to restaurants, shops, breweries and music venues.


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

AL:  Yes, if you mention the event the hotel will offer special discounts depending on availability.  They book up early and often so hurry and make your reservations!


RAL:  What does this mean to the community, does this drive business to your local economy?

AL:  Of course!  This is one of the best outcomes for the community.  35,000 people come to a 9 block area for the day and our entire commercial area sees the benefit.  Some are frequent patrons of the area but some of these folks have never been here and will certainly be back.  


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

AL:  Our organization is a non-profit  (please see website for full explanation of our goals).  This event benefits our organization so we can continue to work to make North Park a better place to live, work and play.


RAL: Does lodging hit max occupancy during the event?

AL:  Yes

RAL:  Why should people come to your event?

AL: The best part of this event is that it takes place in a community that on its own is full of interesting things to experience.  Then we add the different elements of 8 music stages, craft beer, live art demonstrations and vendors.  All combined, the experience leaves people looking forward to the next North Park event!

Be sure to visit the festival’s website for more information!