Nick Karvounis

Top Things to Do in San Diego – March 4-9, 2014

Mardis Gras in the Gaslamp

The rain storms have passed and San Diego is back to its fabulous winter weather – sunny with a chance of perfect!  Check out some great things to do this week:

Fat Tuesday: San Diego Mardi Gras Parade & Celebration

Mardis Gras in the Gaslamp

It’s a carnival atmosphere in the Gaslamp during Mardi Gras

Those who think only NOLA knows how to celebrate Fat Tuesday have clearly never been to San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter for Mardi Gras. The biggest block party of the year features 22 city blocks with 3 main stages and 3 satellite stages, a DJ appearance by Snoopadelic, and a parade for more than 30,000 revelers.

Where: Market Street & 5th Avenue, San Diego 92101
When: Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Cost: $35-75
>Find out more about the San Diego Mardi Gras Parade & Celebration

A Side-Splitting Night of Comedy with TJ Miller

He’s been named one of Variety’s “Top 10 comics to watch”, and that’s for a good reason.  His unique delivery of jokes and perspective on current affairs will leave you rolling in the aisles. Aside from a genuinely funny persona, his comedy is smart and on-the-edge.  You may recognize him from various TV and film appearances including Seeking a Friend for the End of the World with Steve Carrell, and Rock of Ages opposite Tom Cruise!  Watch him in the Moto X “Lazy Phone” commercial above for a quick laugh!

Where: The American Comedy Company, 818 B 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Thursday, March 6 – Saturday March 8, 2014
Cost: $24
>Read more about TJ Miller and American Comedy Company

Run with the Best: 3rd Annual San Diego Half-Marathon

san diego half marathon

Have you been training? It’s half-marathon time!

Grab your runnin’ shoes and enjoy the scenic beauty of San Diego along this 13.1 mile course though the city. This fantastic course begins at Petco Park under the Omni San Diego Hotel Sky Brige and winds throughout America’s Finest City. Enjoy spectacular views of San Diego Bay, Liberty Station, neighborhoods including Mission Hills and Hillcrest, and a final downhill stretch along Balboa Park. And what better way to finish than a block party at the historic Gaslamp Quarter! You can also participate in less rigorous events including the 2-person relay (you and a partner complete the race together) and a 5k for all ages.

Where: Varies – Runners, see your final registration instructions for meeting points.
When: Sunday, March 9, 2014
Cost: 5k – $45; Relay – $80; Half Marathon – $109
>Find out more about the San Diego Half Marathon

9th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Full Bloom

japanese friendship garden cherry blossom

Enjoy the sights and smells of cherry blossoms this weekend.

Winter may not officially end until March 19th, but in San Diego, the colors of spring bloom earlier than most parts of the country. Be part of the Japanese tradition of hanami, which means “enjoying the beauty of the Cherry Blossoms.”  For the eighth year, the Japanese Friendship Garden invites guests to stroll along the picturesque paths featuring more than 150 cherry trees. Cultural performances, samples from the Sapporo Beer Garden, authentic Japanese street food, and activities for the entire family round out a memorable day in Balboa Park.

Where: Balboa Park, 2215 Pan American Way E, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Sunday, March 9, 2014
Cost: $6 adults; $5 Seniors, Military, Students; Kids under 6 free
>Find out more about the 9th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival

San Diego Opera Presents a Masked Ball

San Diego Opera 2014

Get some culture: the San Diego Opera puts on a terrific show.

If you don’t speak Italian, that’s just fine.  Supertitles are projected in English above the stage for a complete translation during the show. Plus, the music alone is worth the price of admission. Giuseppe Verdi’s A Masked Ball is the story of friendship, love, jealousy and cold-blooded murder – all told through spectacular sets, award-winning music, and of course, legendary operatic ballads. With an all-star cast of world-renowned opera singers, the San Diego Opera production is sure to leave you cheering Bravo!

Where: San Diego Civic Theater, 1100 3rd Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 8-16, 2014
Cost: $35 – $225
>Read more about the San Diego Opera’s production of A Masked Ball

La Jolla Music Society Presents SIRO-A, an Interactive Hi-Tech Performance

Siro-A San Diego

You’ll have to see SIRO-A to understand…

It’s hard to compare this unique act to anything else on the planet. To say that they are Japan’s answer to the out-of-this-world vaudeville troupe, Blue Man Group, might be a close start. Fusing visual effects, mime, dance, puppetry, and a rockin’ electro soundtrack, SIRO-A is a collaborative show from six talented performers who interact with technology like you’ve never seen before.  Lasers, animation, and video projection are just some of the enhancements you’ll see when the lights go down this Sunday!

Where: La Jolla Music Society, 868 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Sunday, March 9, 2014
Cost: $27 – $67
>Read more about the innovative group SIRO-A

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Browse the San Diego Event Calendar

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – February 12-17, 2013

The party in San Diego starts tonight with Mardi Gras and continues on through Sunday. Here are your top things to do in San Diego this weekend.

Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day Idea - Romantic Stroll on Coronado

Take a romantic sunset stroll on Coronado Beach this Valentine’s Day!

Still not sure on how to express your love on Thursday? Here are a few ideas to help you plan an amazing Valentine’s Day:

Valentine’s Day Ideas – Best Places to Kiss in San Diego
Valentine’s Day Ideas – Fall in Love with Coronado!
Valentine’s Day Ideas – A Guide for Single Ladies in San Diego
Valentine’s Day Ideas – Savor the Romance at San Diego Restaurants

Chinese New Year Food & Cultural Fair

San Diego Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Celebrate the new lunar year with plenty of Chinese food and fun.

It is the Year of the Water Snake (or Dragon), which is one of the most revered animals in the Chinese Zodiac, and people born in this year are thought to be very lucky. The Chinese New Year Food & Cultural fair is packed with various cultural performance including lion dancers, martial arts demonstrations and acrobatics, children’s crafts, lantern parade and a wide variety of Chinese and Asian food booths.

Where: 3rd Avenue and J Street (Downtown)
When: February 16-17, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Chinese New Year Food & Cultural Fair

San Diego Tết Festival

San Diego Tết Festival - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Immerse yourself in the Vietnamese culture with food, music, dance and plenty of fun!

The San Diego Tết Festival promises fun for whole the family with such activities as carnival rides and games, authentic Vietnamese food, lion dancing, firecrackers, and a Cultural Village to immerse yourself in Vietnamese life.

Where: 8575 New Salem Street, San Diego, CA 92126 (North County Inland)
When: February 15-17, 2013
– Friday: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
– Saturday: 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM
– Sunday: 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Tết Festival

23rd Annual Jewish Film Festival

San Diego Jewish Film Festival

This year’s films explore many facets of contemporary Jewish life: the arts, history, politics, and personalities. The films also reflect the Jewish identity in the context of the world at large with all of the issues, challenges and rewards that come with it. New York is a sub-theme of this year’s festival with music that thrives in the Big Apple from Julliard to the Bowery, the cacophony of political life and personalities, the visual images captured from immigrant life, the theatre and more.

Where: Locations vary throughtout the entire Film Festival
When: Through February 17, 2013
Cost: Prices Vary
> Browse the full schedule for the San Diego Jewish Film Festival

California Open Wildlife Art Festival

This year is the 40th Anniversary of the California Open Wildlife Art Festival! The exhibition and competition attracts top carvers, wildlife artists and art lovers from all over the United States, Canada, Russia and Japan.

Where: 2875 Dewey Road, San Diego, CA 92106 (Point Loma)
When: February 16-17, 2013
Time: 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: $5
> Find out more about the California Open Wildlife Art Festival

> Browse more top things to do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Know of some other top things to do this weekend? Let everyone know in the comments below.

Benjamin Eastman

Mardi Gras in San Diego – Carnival in Paradise!

Mardis Gras in the Gaslamp

Would it surprise you to know that San Diego is the city with the largest Mardi Gras festival west of the Mississippi River? I mean, you know San Diegan’s like a good party, right? The following are just a few of the debaucherous ways that you can celebrate on Fat Tuesday (February 12, 2013):

19th Annual Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp

Mardis Gras in the Gaslamp

It’s a carnival atmosphere in the Gaslamp during Mardi Gras. Photo Courtesy of Be Water Photo.

Featuring an electrifying talent lineup ranging from local, regional and national zydeco, blues and rock bands, electronic and House music DJs, dance crews, acrobats and visual artists on 4 stages – this celebration will be a wonderland of fun!

Location: 5th Avenue between Market & L Streets (Gaslamp Quarter)
Time: 5:00 to 11:00pm
Cost: In Advance – $40. Day of – $50.
> Find out more about Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp

Gaslamp Mardi Gras – The French Connection

Gaslamp Mardi Gras - The French Connection

Get into the Gaslamp’s hottest clubs during Mardi Gras with the French Connection VIP pass.

Rather celebrate the holiday inside a bar or nightclub? Check out Club VIP’s “The French Connection” passport which gets you VIP Access to a number of Gaslamp nightclub celebrations (including those at the Hard Rock, Belo, Onyx, McFadden’s and the Pussycat Dollhouse!) and runs until 4:00 in the morning! Your passport cost includes welcome shots at 10 different venues and food & drink discounts at all participating venues.

Location: 5th Avenue between E and G Streets (Gaslamp Quarter)
Time: 5:00 PM to 4:00 AM
Cost: $29 pre-sale
> Find out more about Gaslamp Mardi Gras – The French Connection

12th Annual Hillcrest Mardi Gras

HIllcrest Mardi Gras

HIllcrest Mardi Gras. Photo credit: Jim Winsor

The Hillcrest Street Party will feature live entertainment, special guest performers and food & drink options. Count on lots of beads and lots of fun! For an even more memorable event, check out their VIP options (an additional $50) which provides partiers with an express entry and private reception & bathrooms.

Location: University Avenue between First & Fourth Avenues (Hillcrest)
Time: 6:00 to 11:00 PM
Cost: $15-$75
> Find out more about Hillcrest Mardi Gras

More Mardi Gras in San Diego

And for those who want to start early, check out the Little Italy Carnavale and the San Diego Brazilian Mardi Gras Ball happening on February 9th!

Benjamin Eastman

San Diego Mardi Gras Celebrations

HIllcrest Mardi Gras

What will you be doing the night of February 21st? While you may not be stumbling along the streets of Bourbon Street chucking strings of beads to wide-eyed revelers, hopefully you will be celebrating Mardi Gras right here in San Diego!

Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp - Photo by Nick Biliotti

Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp

Every year, San Diegans recreate the Bourbon Street experience downtown at the Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp event between E and K Streets. Last year’s event had an attendance of over 35,000 and this year they’re going bigger and better! With 4 stages of entertainment featuring internationally renowned DJs (the headlining DJ is Paul Oakenfold!) and an exciting Masquerade Parade down 5th Avenue, you know revelers will be channeling some of that Laissez le Bon Temp Rouler! The party runs from 6:00 pm – midnight and the parade starts at 9:30 pm.

HIllcrest Mardi Gras

Hillcrest Mardi Gras. Photo credit: Jim Winsor

11th Annual Absolut Hillcrest Mardi Gras Street Fair

Fat Tuesday revelers also head over to Hillcrest for another big Sand Diego Mardi Gras celebration. Taking place on University Ave between First & Fourth Avenues, the festival will feature live entertainment, guest performers and an exclusive VIP area. The event runs 6:00 – 11:00 pm and will feature dancing, food and lots of beads!

Come on people! Fat Tuesday is your last night of indulgence for 40 days (well for some at least…).  Even if you don’t observe Lent, you can still observe the party!


Listen Live in San Diego: When Every Day is Mardi Gras!

Officially, Fat Tuesday falls on February 21, 2012. And when Sir Simon Cowell himself says that “DJ’s are the new rock stars,” it is fair to pay homage in this blog to the 4 stages and rotating DJ’s of Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego on Tuesday, February 21. But while I may give up carbs or cuss words for the Lenten season, I certainly am not giving up live music – which makes every day Mardi Gras for me! What will be your musical Mardi Gras this year?

House of Blues

Mardi Gras music starts at 3:00 pm on February 21 and is free for all revelers. Perfect. My office is a block away. Continue the party on February 29 with Indie pop-rock of the British persuasion. The Kooks will be performing their “catchy as hell” tunes for all of us who won’t see them at Bonnaroo this summer.

RaRaRiot coming to the BellyUp Tavern

RaRaRiot coming to the Belly Up Tavern

Belly Up Tavern

So the CAKE show is sold out, but the Belly Up delivers such consistent quality that this doesn’t concern me. If you have a predilection for plaid shirts and converse, enjoy the sweet Paul Simon-inspired falsetto of Indie rock Ra Ra Riot on Thursday, February 23. I support any band that jams with a cello. Of course, there is still a chance to see what 40-plus years of rocking out looks like with classic rock favorite, America, performing February 26.

Birch North Park Theatre

Birch North Park Theatre

Birch North Park Theatre

Probably not your first thought as a live music venue, but I love taking in a show at the beautifully refurbished Birch for the sheer proximity to the bars, restaurants and culture of North Park’s young, indie neighborhood. While they always have a full season of theater to enjoy, it is a great, old school venue for a variety of bands as well. For instance, on March 2, Girls, performing with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, will grace the stage with their contagious energy and a few more plaid shirts. 😉

Enjoy this next few weeks of music everyone! And have an awesome Mardi Gras! As always, let me know what shows you want to see!


Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp

Get ready to grab those beads as the 17th annual Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp kicks off Fat Tuesday (March 8th) from 6:00 p.m. to Midnight. As the biggest Mardi Gras celebration West of the Mississippi, the Gaslamp is pulling out all the stops this year. There will be three areas featuring fairies, urban house and electronic, street performers, glow dancers and one crazy parade where beads will be flying.

Fifth Avenue is where you’ll find the action from E to L Street. From E Street to Market, revelers will find Fairyland, a magical place where sexy Go-Go dancers dressed as fairies and the hottest girl DJ’s take over. Watch out for the artistic fairies on stilts and giant pixie puppets.

After you’ve been covered in pixie dust, check out the action between Market to J Street and watch as dancers show you how it’s done. Freestyle, krumping, hip-hop and break dancing; you’ll see it all there. San Diego’s own Kruciaal Element will be on hand to battle it out in the house area.

See yourself in a whole new light as ‘Technovale’ takes over between J and K Street with progressive techno DJs and dancers on individual illuminated platforms in the ‘glow’zone. Dancers, dressed all in white, will be incandescent thanks to black light spotlighting. Be sure to check out the DJ platform sitting 15 feet above the crowd. Below, dancers will defy gravity and leave you speechless.

All the celebrating will converge at 9:30 p.m. as dozens of floats drive down 5th Avenue pouring beads into the street. The main gates are located at 5th and Broadway and 6th Avenue and K Street. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the event.