Catalina Island Events
Credit: Robert Janover

8 Events Happening on Catalina Island That Will Keep You Coming Back All Year Long

From Festivals to Community Celebrations, Head to Catalina Island for Good Times

Located about 22 miles off California’s coast is a little slice of paradise called Catalina Island. This SoCal gem is a fan favorite among sailors and staycationers alike and is a brisk 75-minute cruise from shore to shore. Catalina Island looks like a Hallmark movie setting with an Amalfi Coast aesthetic. It has it all: beach clubs, waterfront restaurants, boutique hotels, family fun and outdoor activities. Explorers can opt to sip drinks on the sand or sign up for adrenaline-pumping adventures. There’s beaches. There’s bison. There’s Buffalo Milk (aka the island’s signature cocktail). And there’s enough events year-round to keep you coming back to this 76-square-mile isle. Here are some of our favorite reasons to visit Catalina Island in 2023.

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The Catalina Wine Mixer

When: June 2-3, 2023
Where: Descanso Beach Club, Island Spa Catalina, Avalon Theatre, Avalon Grille, Antonio’s Pizzeria & Cabaret

While the Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly cult classic might’ve inspired this Catalina calendar staple, there’s a reason people attend this wine-tasting extravaganza every year—and it’s more than just to have an excuse to quote “Step Brothers.” Set up all over the town of Avalon with parties at Descanso Beach Club, the The Catalina Wine Mixer features vino from more than 20 wineries, food pairings, spirit tastings, live entertainment and, of course, a screening of “Step Brothers” at the iconic Avalon Theatre. This two-day mixer marathon features plenty of drinks, lots of dancing and adult fun all around. Tickets range from a little over $100 to thousands depending on how VIP you want your experience to be.


Two Harbors Independence Day Festivities + Dinghy Parade & Fireworks Show

When: July 2-3, 2023
Where: Two Harbors

Catalina Island Events
Credit: Robert Janover

Did you know Avalon has an equally enchanting sister village called Two Harbors? Located on Catalina’s west end, this coveted cove is as rich in history as it is in charm. Get in touch with your inner explorer and enjoy the allure of this locale via land, air or sea. Camping is a big part of the Two Harbors culture, so don’t be afraid to pitch a tent for a night or two to really take in the sights and sounds of this magical place. At the beginning of July just before Independence Day, Two Harbors hosts an annual Dinghy Parade where people decorate their inflatables and float through the coves for all to see. There is also a children’s festival full of crafts and activities. The fireworks show on July 3 is not something to miss either!


Summer Beach Parties

When: Every Saturday in the Summer
Where: Descanso Beach Club

Catalina Island Events
Credit: Catalina Island Company

Descanso Beach Club is the ultimate oceanfront oasis complete with fruity, umbrella-adorned cocktails, music and views for days. This seaside sanctuary boasts a full bar area of soft white sand, green grass and cabanas with enough space to accommodate all your friends and family. Remember when we mentioned the Buffalo Milk? Well, this is the signature cocktail of Catalina Island and it consists of vodka, coffee liqueur, banana liqueur, crème de cacao, whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg. We recommend getting a few of these to sip in the sunshine as you groove to live beats. During the summer, live DJs play at Descanso Beach Club every Saturday!


Fourth of July BBQ Dinner & USC Marching Band Performance

When: July 4, 2023
Where: Descanso Beach Club

Credit: Catalina Island Company

Have you ever seen a world-class marching band on the beach? Well, now is your chance! The USC Trojan Marching Band, known as the Spirit of Troy, who has performed at the Academy Awards, the Hollywood Bowl, the Rose Parade and in numerous film and television productions, will be scoring the sounds of the sea on the Fourth of July from 8-9 p.m. on the lawn at Descanso Beach Club. Grab a drink, belly up to the barbeque buffet and enjoy an evening at the beach celebrating our nation’s independence.



Two Harbors Summer Wine Festival

When: July 8, 2023
Where: Two Harbors

Catalina Island Events
Credit: Catalina Island Company

In the afternoon on July 8, Two Harbors will be hosting one of its most popular events of the year: the Summer Wine Festival. Admission includes unlimited tastings, a souvenir wine glass, complimentary light bites, live entertainment, games and access to a silent auction. The pinot party takes place right on the beach; tickets start at $88, but stay tuned for VIP options!


Micro Brew Festival in Two Harbors

When: Sept. 9, 2023
Where: Two Harbors

Beers on the beach? Sign us up! Featuring more than 30 breweries around the world, you won’t want to miss out on this hopportunity. Festivities include unlimited tastings of all participating breweries, photo booths for snapshot keepsakes, live music, a silent auction and tray-passed appetizers to keep you upright after a day of drinking. It’s a marathon not a sprint at this Isthmus event, and attendees will go home with a souvenir beer glass (and possibly a slight hangover). Reminder that guests can take the Cyclone from Avalon to Two Harbors, which is $18 per person each way.


Buccaneer Days

When: Oct. 5-7, 2023
Where: Two Harbors

Another Two Harbor event, Buccaneer Days is in its 33rd year, and after one time attending, you’ll be hooked! Dawn your finest pirate garb and grab your mates—it’s time to get swashbuckled. This is the most fun event of fall and brings people near and far to the island. Hunt for buried treasure, steal the title of best dressed and enjoy the debauchery.


Trans-Catalina Trail

When: Year-round, but suggested for fall, winter or early spring
Where: All over the island

Looking to get your steps in? The Trans-Catalina Trail spans 38.5 miles, incorporating a network of primary and secondary roads, as well as single-track trails. The trail traverses picturesque hilly terrain between Avalon, located on the east end of Catalina, and Two Harbors to the west. As you embark on your journey, you will encounter five unique campgrounds along the way. Whether you intend to complete the journey over three, four, or even five days, this trek is worth checking off your Catalina bucket list!

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Jane Adler is a marketing and branding consultant by trade, but a writer by preference. She shares a name with Meryl Streep's iconic character from It's Complicated and is presently trying to manifest that life (particularly that Santa Barbara house) for herself. Jane is an avid consumer of content and carbs and often used the latter to write on the former.




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