Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | Election 2020

The 20 Best Arts Events In San Diego This Summer

A photo from SummerFest Under the Stars, the kickoff event for the annual cha...

Credit: Courtesy of La Jolla Music Society

Above: A photo from SummerFest Under the Stars, the kickoff event for the annual chamber music festival.

From Comic-Con to Over-the-Line tournament, summer in San Diego has its share of iconic events.

But there are also plenty of quality arts-related things to do throughout the county. This is the season for classical music festivals, Shakespeare plays, outdoor art exhibits and much more.

With Memorial Day marking the unofficial start of summer, we take a look at some of the best art offerings happening through Labor Day.

Photo credit: Folger Library

The First Folio, the book that collected all of Shakespeare's plays, will be on display at the San Diego Public Library.


Art Around Adams

Art Around Adams is a 2-mile festival between Kensington and Normal Heights. The free, family-friendly event features local musicians performing at venues along the avenue. There will also be art installations and art being created as you wander through locations.

Details: Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 4. Adams Avenue, from Oregon Street to Biona Drive. Free; more information.

First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare

Shakespeare's First Folio - a copy of the 1623 published collection of his plays - is going on a national tour and its only California stop is in San Diego. The volume will be on display from June 4 through July 7, and there will also be a month of readings, lectures, plays and parties in honor of the Bard.

Details: Folio on display 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 12:30 to 5 p.m. Sundays. San Diego Central Public Library, 330 Park Blvd., downtown. Free, but reserved tickets are required.

San Diego Festival of the Arts

Formerly La Jolla Festival of the Arts, this event relocates to Waterfront Park downtown. It's a new location, but you'll still find a showcase of artists from around the country, food and craft beer from popular spots and activities for kids.

Details: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 11 and Sunday, June 12. Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway, downtown. $10 to $16; find tickets.

ArtWalk @ Liberty Station

Think of this as the mellower version of ArtWalk in Little Italy. There will be art, music, activities and more, all happening by the water.

Details: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13 and Sunday, Aug. 14. Arts District at Liberty Station at Ingram Plaza, 2645 Historic Decatur Road, Point Loma. Free; more information.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Balboa Park

A photo of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.


Humphreys Concerts by the Bay

These concerts are already underway, but thanks to the views of the skyline, quality performers and the "boat people" (people who kayak up to the event to watch the show (for free) from the water), Humphreys symbolize San Diego summertime.

Details: Now through Saturday, Oct. 20. Humphreys Concerts, 2241 Shelter Island Drive. Find individuals concerts and ticket prices.

Mainly Mozart Festival

The Mainly Mozart Festival illustrates the first chapter in Mozart's life and career. The event features concerts, special performances, family events and more.

Details: Thursday, June 2 through Sunday, June 18. Locations vary. See the complete program here.

2016 International Summer Organ Festival

Spreckels Organ Society brings international organ players as well as a variety of performers for free concerts every Monday.

Details: 7:30 p.m. Mondays from June 27 through Aug. 29. Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Balboa Park. Free; more information.

Bayside Summer Nights/Summer Pops 2016

Bayside Summer Nights is what the San Diego Symphony is calling its 2016 Summer Pops season. Music lovers gather for picnics on the lawn, sunset views and occasional fireworks at Embarcadero Marina Park South (behind the San Diego Convention Center).

Details: Friday, July 1 through Sunday, Sept. 4. Embarcadero Marina Park South, 206 Marina Parkway. Find individual show times and ticket prices.

La Jolla Music Society's SummerFest

SummerFest is a chamber music festival that brings in internationally-acclaimed classical musicians for intimate and unique performances.

Details: Wednesday, Aug. 3 to Friday, Aug. 26. Sherwood Auditorium at MCASD La Jolla, 700 Prospect St., La Jolla. Find individual show times and ticket prices.

Photo credit: Courtesy of San Diego Museum of Art

A photo of a quilt that will be on display during the San Diego Museum of Art's Quilts and Color exhibit.

Art Exhibits

Quilts and Color for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The San Diego Museum of Art presents this exhibit celebrating the vibrant color palette and inventive designs found in early American quilts amassed over decades.

Details: The exhibit runs Saturday, May 28 through Sunday, Sept. 4. San Diego Museum of Art, 1450 El Prado, Balboa Park. $4.50 to $12; additional information.

Angela Kallus @ Lux

The Texas artist will showcase the method behind her trademark rosette sculpture paintings as she takes up residency at the Encinitas museum. Kallus will be in studio from June 11 through July 9.

Details: Saturday, June 11 through Saturday, July 30. Lux Art Institute, 1550 S El Camino Real, Encinitas. $5; more information.

Party Lines: The History, Art, And Politics Of Editorial Cartoons

Just in time for election season (and presented at the same time as Comic-Con), this exhibit examines four decades of political cartoons and social issues.

Details: Thursday, June 23 through Sunday, Sept. 4. SDSU Downtown Gallery, 725 W. Broadway, downtown. Free; more information.

The Wonder Sound at New Children's Museum

Inspired by tree houses and forts, artist Wes Sam-Bruce creates a multi-level labyrinth of rooms and tunnels for the New Children's Museum's permanent collection.

Details: Opens Saturday, June 25. The New Children’s Museum, 200 W. Island Ave., downtown. $6 to $12; more information.

The Erik Gronborg Experience

Mingei International Museum presents the first major retrospective devoted to Danish-born American artist Erik Gronborg.

Details: Opens Saturday, Aug. 6 and continues through Sunday, March 12, 2017. Mingei International Museum, 1439 El Prado, Balboa Park. $7 to $10; more information.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Monica Bill Barnes & Company

A photo of contemporary dance group Monica Bill Barnes & Company.

Theater and Dance

Moonlight Summer Season

Vista's Moonlight Amphitheatre stages top-notch musicals under the stars. This season features "Sister Act," "Peter Pan," "Titanic the Musical" and "The Addams Family."

Details: Wednesday, June 15 through Saturday, Oct. 1. Moonlight Amphitheatre, 1200 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista. Find showtimes and ticket prices.

Old Globe Festival Season

Summer at The Old Globe means Shakespeare at the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre and this year it's "Macbeth" and "Love's Labor's Lost." There will also be a musical version of "Sense and Sensibility" (!) and "Meteor Shower," a new comedy by Steve Martin.

Details: June 19 through Sept. 18. Old Globe Theatre, Balboa Park. Find showtimes and ticket prices.

San Diego International Fringe Festival 2016

San Diego International Fringe Festival is an 11-day theater festival featuring hundreds of productions throughout the county. You'll see theater, buskers/street performers, cabaret, comedy, circus acts, dance, film, poetry, spoken word, puppetry, music, visual art, design and more.

Details: Thursday, June 23 through Sunday, July 3. Various venues. Find individual show times and ticket prices here.

La Jolla Playhouse World Premiere Plays

Two world-premiere works will be staged this summer - "The Last Tiger in Haiti," a gripping drama about Haitian children's struggle for survival; and "JUNK: The Golden Age of Debt," an '80s origin story about today's world of finance.

Details: Tuesday, June 28 through Sunday, Aug. 21. La Jolla Playhouse, UC San Diego, La Jolla. Find showtimes and ticket prices.

Special Feature KPBS/Arts Events Calendar

Find San Diego's best arts events on the KPBS/Arts events calendar.

Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass

Barnes is a contemporary dance artist known for touring with Ira Glass; the Washington Post calls her "The (Tina) Fey of dance." She returns to San Diego with Anna Bass to perform what they call "a holiday concert in June."

Details: 7:30 p.m. June 29. White Box Live Arts, 2590 Truxtun Road, No. 205, Point Loma. $20; find tickets.

"Gypsy" at Cygnet

Cygnet Theatre stages the classic story of a larger-than-life stage mother pushing her daughters on the vaudeville circuit, eventually turning one into the famed burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee.

Details: Thursday, July 14 through Sunday, Sept. 4. Cygnet Theatre, 4040 Twiggs St., Old Town. $31 to $56; find tickets.


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Your curated weekly guide to local arts and culture in San Diego, from Arts Calendar Editor Julia Dixon Evans, delivered to your inbox every Thursday afternoon.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.