East County is known for its friendly people who enjoy rewarding cultural and artistic experiences. The calendar is filled with cultural events and celebrations throughout the year.
East County Performing Arts Center
Downtown El Cajon is the home of the East County Performing Arts Center. Renovated and named Best Concert Hall by the San Diego Reader, ECPACs intimate 1,142-seat theater features spacious continental-style seating in 27 rows, all participants are seated within 100 feet of the stage. Its state-of-the-art sound system enhances a hall that has been described as the most acoustically perfect venue in San Diego. ECPAC is located just 15 minutes east of downtown San Diego, with direct access from Interstate 8 in the heart of downtown El Cajon. There is plenty of free parking available. The non-profit Arts Center Foundation governs ECPAC. Join us at the East County Performing Arts Center and experience your favorite performers.
Concerts on the Green
Downtown El Cajon is the home to the Concerts on the Green Concert Series, on Prescott Promenade. Held on Friday evenings through the spring and summer these concerts feature every imaginable style of music from Big Band to Zydeco, from Rock and Roll to Bluegrass. For more information, call (619) 401-8858.
Musicals on Mt. Helix
Summer musicals on Mt. Helix have been a local tradition for twenty years. Christian Community Theater presents three musical productions at the Mt. Helix Amphitheater each summer during July and August. For more information, call (619) 588-0206.
Olaf Wieghorst Museum
El Cajon was the home to world-renowned western artist Olaf Wieghorst. His unique hacienda-style home and hand-constructed cantina have been relocated to Downtown El Cajon. The Wieghorst Museum Foundation operates a gallery and gift store adjacent to the home at 131 Rea Avenue.
For more information, call(619) 590-3431 or visit their website at www.wieghorstmuseum.org.
If eating hot-off-the-grill German-style bratwurst, browsing among hundreds of arts and crafts booths, and oscillating on a dance floor in front of a live oom-pah-pah band sounds like a good time, then La Mesas Annual Oktoberfest is for you!
Patterned after the world-famous Munich Oktoberfest, La Mesas version is a giant block party in the downtown village area. The streets are closed off to vehicles, and more than 400 booths are set up, selling an assortment of arts and crafts, commercial items and food. Admission to the general festival is free. Nearby, a large parking lot is transformed into a German Beer Garden, with oom-pah-pah bands, dance floors and costumed folk dancers. Theres plenty of grilled bratwurst, pretzels, soda and beer on tap.
Sponsored jointly by the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and the La Mesa Village Merchants Association, La Mesas Oktoberfest is among the largest celebrations of its kind on the West Coast. Oktoberfest organizers encourage the public to ride the San Diego Trolleys East Line to the event, and disembark at the corner of Spring Street and La Mesa Boulevard, right in the middle of the Oktoberfest activities.
Magnolia Festival of the Arts
The Annual Magnolia Festival Of The Arts, held in April, is presented by the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce. This outdoor event is a juried arts show accepting only the finest examples of art and crafts including pottery, watercolors, photography, sculpture and more. Dozens of artists and artisans showcase and sell their work. There is also a Kids Art Booth where children can create their own masterpieces.
Annual Christmas in the Village
Hayrides, strolling minstrels, carolers, and a large number of choral and orchestral groups are all part of the Annual Christmas in the Village held during two weekends each December. During these four evenings, La Mesa Boulevard from Fourth Street to Acacia Avenue are transformed into a pedestrian promenade where families are invited to sample a variety of holiday goodies as they stroll among the quaint shops and craft booths that adorn the Village. Reminiscent of European Christmas markets, where people in numerous cities and villages throughout Europe gather for the holidays, The Christmas in the Village in La Mesa features holiday music and entertainment from a bygone era. The San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and the La Mesa Village Merchants Association are co-coordinators of the event. A convenient way to attend the event is to ride the Trolley to the La Mesa Boulevard Station, located in the center of the Christmas Village Festival.
Starting in April and running through September, East County is home to classic car shows in La Mesa, El Cajon and Lemon Grove. The Back to the 50s Car Show in La Mesa rolls out on Thursdays with food, music, and lots of classic cars. Wednesday nights are for Cruzn Cajon in downtown El Cajon and the Marketplace.
Both La Mesa and El Cajon feature certified, outdoor farmers markets with fresh-from-the-field produce, flowers, and quality baked goods. The Village of La Mesa Farmers Market is held every Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. in the municipal parking lot on Allison Avenue. The Marketplace in El Cajon takes place on Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. with produce, gourmet food, crafts and live music in conjunction with El Cajons weekly Car Show.
Mother Goose Parade
For more than 50 years, the Sunday before Thanksgiving has been devoted to the children of East County with the Mother Goose Parade in El Cajon. Thousands of children and adults alike line Main Street to watch characters, floats, and marching bands. Call 444-8712 for more information.
Heritage of the Americas Museum
The Heritage of the Americas Museum is located on the campus of Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego. With separate wings on natural history, archeology, anthropology and art, the museum is both a cultural and educational center and resource for school age children throughout the region.
Water Conservation Garden
Water Conservation Garden is located adjacent to the Heritage of the Americas Museum. Interpretive tours, seminars, weddings and other tours are available. The Water Conservation Garden was built through a partnership with Cuyamaca College, Helix Water District and the Otay Water District.
International Friendship Festival
The third weekend in September brings hundreds of ethnic cultures together in the El Cajon International Friendship Festival at the El Cajon Civic Center. The varied populations of El Cajon and the East County celebrate with exotic food, folk dancing, and a weekend of celebration of diverse cultures.
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