Arts & Culture Itinerary

In the fall, the Catalina calendar of events is filled with festivals. Art and culture aficionados will find it nearly impossible to choose just one. Along with the festivals, Catalina’s history, art and culture are revealed on any fall trip to the island.

Get Jazzy: The hottest place in the country for smooth jazz is JazzTrax on Catalina Island. This two weekend festival brings some of the coolest smooth jazz acts in country to the island every October. With day and evening concerts, JazzTrax showcases dozens of acts, with most concerts held in the world-famous Casino Ballroom. Festival goers can book a single show, a weekend pass or stay for 10 days and attend both weekends, each of which features a different line-up of headliners and supporting acts.

Celebrate art: Catalina Island’s longest running festival is also one of its most popular. When the Catalina Island Festival of Arts was conceived more than six decades ago, organizers planned to pay homage to the island’s role as a muse to generations of artists. That role continues today, and the Catalina art festival attracts dozens of artists and thousands of art fans each September. While the festival spans three days, art fans will find plenty of other reasons to visit Catalina in the fall. Strolling Avalon’s streets will reveal a number of galleries and art boutiques as well as other businesses such as restaurants, bars and hotels -- that showcase Catalina art.

Film festival: Catalina Island and Hollywood and have long been inextricably entwined, with the island serving as backlot, playground and stand-in for dozens of locations during Hollywood’s golden era. That cultural relationship continues in the autumn with the week-long Catalina Film Festival. Panel discussions, screenings and industry mixers make this a must-attend event for film fans.

Wine festivals: Whether you’re looking to celebrate wine or celebrate pop culture in the form of a fictional wine festival made real, fall in Catalina Island has you covered. The Women’s Forum Wine Festival, held each September, brings dozens of world-class wines to Avalon for beach-side tastings. Add in some live music, appetizers and a silent auction brimming with irresistible delights and you’ve got an oenophile’s perfect day. Also in September is a wine event of a different stripe. The Catalina Wine Mixer brings to life the signature event of the classic cult film Step Brothers. Costume contests, live bands and a screening of the film are the hallmarks of this irreverent weekend.

Museum: No matter the season, the Catalina Island Museum is a don’t-miss Avalon attraction. Permanent exhibits showcase Catalina history and culture while temporary exhibits offer a fascinating glimpse at pop culture, art and cultural touchstones. Throughout the year, an array of special events and programs provide additional incentives to visit – and join – the museum. Take a tour. Tours on Catalina Island offer something for just about every interest including art and culture fans.

The Catalina Casino, an architectural icon recognized throughout the United States, has inspired artists in every media. Inside this Moorish masterpiece, visitors will discover dramatic art deco murals, a magnificent circular ballroom and nearly 100 years of culture and history. Several tours provide an indepth look, but on weekends the Twilight at the Casino Tour showcases the building’s art and history while providing a unique look at its cultural impact. Showcasing thousands of years of human history – along with some palate-pleasing culinary creations – the Avalon Tasting and Cultural Walking Tour is a three-hour guided journey through this seaside retreat’s charming streets and picturesque waterfront. Homes in Avalon come in a variety of architectural styles. Each October, the Catalina Island Home Tour showcases a number of Avalon homes, focusing on unique styles, interesting design and eclectic art.

Discover tile: In 1927, Catalina Clay Products opened in Pebbly Beach, just east of Avalon. For a decade this humble factory produced bricks and tiles that were used in construction throughout the island. More importantly, the factory also produced pottery and art tile that has become an indelible part of Catalina culture. Catalina tile can be found throughout Avalon, in fountains and planters, benches and storefronts. Pottery pieces are highly collectible, with aficionados paying in excess of $1,000 for coveted pieces. Learn more about the art and artisans behind Catalina tile – and create your own reproduction on a Catalina Tile Experience tour. 

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