The year 2019 marks the 250th anniversary of San Diego. In 1769, the first settlement of Alta California was established which included a mission and presidio (Spanish fort). The San Diego we know today began on July 16, 1769, with the dedication of the Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first of 21 California missions. This first mission and neighboring presidio was established near the ancient Kumeyaay village of Kosa’aay (Cosoy), known today as Old Town San Diego. Occurring in Old Town and nearby downtown waterfront, exciting special events in 2019 that commemorate San Diego’s rich history and its 250th anniversary include the Festival of the Sea occurring May 25-27, San Diego 250, Where California Began on July 16, and Founders’ Day Old Town San Diego occurring September 14-15. More information about these exciting special events are available at https://sandiego250.com/events.
The San Diego County Fair, the largest annual event in the county, takes place May 31–July 4, 2019, at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. With this year’s theme, “Ozsome,” fair visitors will journey to the Emerald City of the popular “Wizard of Oz” movie and book and discover “There’s no place like the Fair.” The San Diego County Fair features top performing artists and popular attractions like the International Beer Festival, deep-fried food novelties, livestock exhibits, home and hobby displays, woodworking and an award-winning flower show. The fair is closed Mondays and Tuesdays in June, but remains open Monday, July 1 and Tuesday, July 2.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club celebrates its 80th horse racing season in 2019, kicking off with the annual “Hat Contest” on opening day, July 17, and closing with a Party in the Paddock on September 3. The summer meet will offer racing Wednesday through Sunday, and special events will be offered including a summer concert series; wine, beer and BBQ celebrations and weekend family fun days. The racing continues with a fall season occurring November 8 through December 1, 2019.
The theme for San Diego Pride 2019 is Stonewall 50: A Legacy of Liberation. The second largest event of its kind on the U.S. West Coast, San Diego Pride will honor and reflect on the Stonewall generation, including their activism and all the LGBTQ+ community has gained through their efforts over the last 50 years. Residents and visitors alike celebrate during San Diego Pride, held July 12-14, 2019. The weekend celebration includes a mile-long parade through Hillcrest and two-day music festival in Balboa Park. Additional Pride events include She Fest on July 6 and Spirit of Stonewall Rally on July 12.
During July 17-21, 2019, the largest comic and pop culture event in the United States celebrates its 50th anniversary when San Diego becomes the center of the cos-play universe during Comic-ConInternational, America’s longest continuously-run comics and popular arts convention. Comic-Con International is held at the San Diego Convention Center and neighboring venues in downtown.
On August 10, 2019, dozens of dogs take to the waves during the annual Surf Dog Competition in Imperial Beach. Visitors can take in the fun as more than 60 dogs compete in surfing and paddle boarding challenges. The family friendly event raises funds for the San Diego Humane Society.
During August 31–September 2, 2019, more than 300 tons of sand will be carved and molded into beautiful sculptures for the annual U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge and 3D Art Exposition. Held at the Broadway Pier and Pavilion in downtown along San Diego Bay, the event features live entertainment, food trucks and fun kids’ activities.
Wonderfront, a new music and arts festival, will debut November 22-24, 2019 along San Diego Bay. The first annual event is a celebration of San Diego’s arts, culture and beach lifestyle and plans to integrate the festival into San Diego’s vibrant waterfront, including ferry and yacht tours of the bay and after-parties in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. Anticipating 70 artists on seven stages, the musical lineup will feature new breakout artists as well as career bands including rock, indie, hip hop, rap, EDM, adult alternative, reggae, Americana and Latin artists.