Summer may be the high season on the island, but fall is just about everyone’s favorite season. With comfortable weather, warm waters and a wide array of events and activities, it’s not hard to see why fall is considered by many to be the best time to visit Catalina.
Need convincing? Here are 11 irresistible things to do on Catalina Island this fall
DC-3 End of Summer Party: Say farewell to summer and welcome the fall season on Catalina Island at the DC-3 End of Summer Party. With live music and a delicious California-style barbecue, this event takes over the quaint restaurant and store at the island’s Airport in the Sky. You’ll need reservations to attend this Sept. 7 event as well as transportation from Avalon.
Catalina Wine Mixer: One of Catalina Island’s most famous events started life as a fictional event popularized by the cult comedy Step Brothers. Complete with a cacophony of colorful language, this event featured wine, helicopters and a great band. Brought to life for the last several years at Descanso Beach, the real-life Catalina Wine Mixer also features a great band and some wine but is a homage to the movie that inspired it. This year the Catalina Wine Mixer is scheduled for Sept. 6 to 7.
Women’s Forum Wine Festival: If you take your wine a bit more seriously, you won’t want to miss the Catalina Island Women’s Forum Wine Festival, a tempting opportunity to sample wine from dozens of wineries while enjoying the sand on South Beach. Proceeds from the Sept. 21 event benefit the Women’s Forum’s charities, which include scholarships, mentoring and domestic violence prevention.
Two Harbors Microbrew Fest: Is beer more your thing? Don’t worry, there’s a festival for that. The Two Harbors Microbrew Fest, scheduled for Sept. 9, will feature several dozen craft beers as well as delicious eats at Two Harbors on the island’s West End.
Festival of Art: Catalina Island’s longest running special event is also one of its most popular. The Catalina Island Festival of Art is a juried show that attracts both mainland and resident artists – as well as plenty of folks who love art. Scheduled this year for Sept. 20 to 22, the festival will see dozens of artists set up along Avalon’s spectacular waterfront.
Groove Island: On the other side of all that longevity, this year will see the inaugural Groove Island on Sept. 27 to 30. This weekend long dance party will take over Avalon with a number of concerts and immersive experiences at a variety of venues.
Camp Xanadu: Vacationers wishing there was a summer camp for grown-ups can have their dreams fulfilled at Camp Xanadu, scheduled for Sept. 27 to 29 at Emerald Bay, near the island’s West End. Featuring all the traditional trappings of summer camp, as well as educational and enriching workshops for mind and body, this weekend takes summer camp to the next level.
JazzTrax: One of Catalina’s most popular festivals for decades, Catalina Island JazzTrax is an epic two-weekend smooth jazz extravaganza. Long attracting the country’s best jazz artists as well as fans from around the world, JazzTrax is a not-to-be-missed festival of great music in the unforgettable setting of the Catalina Island Casino Ballroom. Don’t miss it, Oct. 10-13 and Oct. 17-20.
Catalina Island Film Festival: Catalina’s storied relationship with Hollywood traces back to the earliest days of the film industry, with the island serving as film location and industry playground for decades. Each fall, that relationship is honored – and expanded – with the Catalina Film Festival, which will offer screenings, panel discussions and networking events both on the island and on the mainland Sept 25-29.
Buccaneer Days: You’ll need to practice your Aaarrrggghhhh and make sure your pirate costume is up to snuff for this rowdy weekend at Two Harbors. With live entertainment, costumes galore and rum – lots and lots of rum -- Buccaneer Days is one the island’s most famous parties. Be there Oct. 3 to 6 and bring your favorite stuffed parrot.
Triathlon: If all those parties have you dreaming of getting healthier, not to fear, late fall and winter are race season on Catalina Island. Renowned for the Island’s rugged terrain and spectacular scenery, endurance events on the island attract elite athletes from around the country. The Catalina Island Triathlon kicks it all off on Nov. 2. Not quite up for the challenge of swimming, biking and running? There’s also a Catalina Island 5K Run/Walk as well as a Duathlon for those who prefer to stay dry.