Get Ready for the 2016 Gilroy Garlic Festival!

The 38th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival is coming up on July 29, 30 and 31, 2016! We hope you can join us for “summer’s ultimate food fair,” a three-day celebration that draws visitors from around the globe to enjoy great garlicky food, dramatic Gourmet Alley flame-ups, live entertainment, cooking competitions, and unique arts and crafts. And don’t forget the FREE only-in-Gilroy garlic ice cream!

The toughest part of the day is deciding which garlic-laced dishes you want to eat first. Gourmet Alley is the best place to start. This is where the world-famous “Pyro Chefs” put on their spectacular flame-up show while cooking up garlic-laced calamari in huge iron skillets. Other Gourmet Alley favorites include pepper steak sandwiches, scampi, pasta con pesto, stuffed mushrooms, zesty garlic fried calamari, and sausage sandwiches, as well as garlic fries and garlic bread. Fortunately, two different Gourmet Alley combo plates are available, so you can sample all the dishes and decide which ones you like best. And more than 60 other booths spread across the Festival grounds offer a wide variety of other food and beverages, from crawfish and kettle corn to frozen lemonade and mimosas. 

If you enjoy watching cooking shows on TV, then you’ll definitely want to check out the Gourmet Alley Test Kitchen and the Garlic Cook-Off Stage. There will also be cooking demonstrations and competitions going on all weekend long. Local firefighters and EMTs will compete in the new “Champions for Charity” cooking contest on Friday. Amateur cooks from around the country will compete for the coveted garlic crown (and $5,000!) in the Great Garlic Cook-Off on Saturday. And at high noon on Sunday, local pro chefs will do battle in the iron chef-style Garlic Showdown.

This year, for the first time ever, the Gilroy Garlic Festival is also hosting the “Gilroy Garli-Que BBQ Challenge,” which combines an officially sanctioned Kansas City Barbeque Society contest on Saturday with a Backyard BBQ Ribs Challenge for amateurs on Sunday.

There’s also live music going on at three stages throughout the weekend. There really is a little something for everyone, including rock ‘n roll, country, jazz, blues, reggae, and swing. KRTY 95.3 will present hot country music stars Brooke Eden, Drew Baldridge, and The Last Bandoleros, all appearing on Saturday on the Amphitheater Stage. And kids have their own entertainment stage, featuring singers, magicians, puppeteers and more. 

The Garlic Festival Arts and Crafts areas showcase unique, high-quality creations from over 100 artists, while the Garlic Mercantile stores offer shirts, gourmet products, cookbooks, wine glasses, and many other Festival souvenirs. Younger guests will find live entertainment, rides, and hands-on arts and crafts activities in the Children’s Area. Visitors can even learn how to make their own garlic braid and take it home as a unique souvenir!

This year visitors can take Caltrain to the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Saturday, July 30, or Sunday, July 31. Round-trip tickets must be purchased online in advance for the special event “Garlic Train,” which departs from the San Jose Diridon Station at 10:00 am and includes shuttle bus service from the downtown Gilroy station to the Festival entrance.

Hope to see you July 29, 30 and 31 at the 2016 Gilroy Garlic Festival!

EXPLORE MORE>>  Go to and book a hotel room today so you can stay and explore Gilroy Gardens, Lumination, award-winning wineries, Gilroy Premium Outlets, and more!

Weekend of music at the Mission offers a taste of the SLO Life


Tropo, a 3-piece electronic group, performs at the Concerts in the Plaza this week.

The Concerts in the Plaza in San Luis Obispo is gonna get a little trippy Friday. 

The featured band, Tropo, is a 3-piece electronic group with music that ranges from ethnic and house to experimental and improvisational dance. Another words — probably not your typical Concerts in the Plaza concert.

But in its 21st year, the summertime jam series, featured every Friday evening in front of the historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, offers a great variety of music, spotlighting some of the county’s best musicians.

Helping locals unwind after work and tourists get a real taste of the SLO Life, the outdoor party begins at 5 p.m. and features vendors selling food, wine and beer. A staple of SLO summers, it’s normally packed with people of all ages, and the vibe is friendly and festive.

Did we mention it’s FREE?

Now that’s an even better way to start the weekend.

The concert series, which began in June, lasts through September 9. Popular local bands coming up include bluegrass band Cuesta Ridge, the Tipsy Gypsies (vintage blues, jazz and pop), reggae band Resination and rock/soul group the Damon Castillo Band.

This week the music at the mission won’t stop on Friday. Sunday, a slate of bands will perform for the annual Pride in the Plaza — part of the Central Coast Pride 2016 festivities. Acts will include Maia Sharp, WASI and Elton & the Early Years.




Celebrate Independence the SLO Way

While others celebrated a new country’s independence in 1776, things were not so celebratory in San Luis Obispo County.

Still 74 years before California would join the Union, much of the state was becoming part of the Spanish empire. Meanwhile, in SLO County, tensions arose between missionaries and Native-Americans. At one point, according to local history accounts, the Native-Americans shot flaming arrows at mission buildings, setting the padre’s quarters afire.

Luckily, the mission, founded four years before the Declaration of Independence was signed, is a much more peaceful place today,which is, of course, cause to celebrate. (We recommend Friday night’s, during Concerts in the Plaza.) And since California is now in its 166th year as a state, we can happily join the rest of the country in the July 4th celebrations.

Here are a few ways you can celebrate this weekend:

* Baseball, Hot Dogs and Fireworks. There’s no need to limit yourself to one day of fireworks. After Sunday’s game pitting the San Luis Obispo Blues against the Menlo Park Legends, a fireworks show will be featured at Sinsheimer Park. So it’s sort of like the first day of a July 4th double-header. Game starts at 6 p.m.

* The Parade. Twice a year, the tiny town of Cayucos gets a little nutty: On New Year’s Day, it’s the site of the annual Polar Bear Dip, usually attended by up to 3,000 people. On July 4, even bigger crowds flock to the town for its zany parade, which begins at 10 a.m.. Featuring streets decked out in red, white and blue, crazy costumes and loads of people enjoying summer, it’s a photo opp times a hundred. There’s also a sand sculpture contest beforehand (5-8 a.m.) and fireworks at the pier at night (9 p.m.). 

* The Rockets Red Glare. The most popular Fourth event in the county is, of course, the fireworks at the Pismo Beach pier. If you’re not a fan of large crowds — and there will be large crowds — you can find spots a little farther from the pier that aren’t as packed with people. But if you’re okay with crowds, there will also be plenty of food vendors and live music at the epicenter. The day’s festivities begin at 10 a.m., with fireworks starting at 9 p.m.

* Pie in the Sky. Typifying the American way of life, small towns are probably the best place to be on July 4.  And Cambria is a small town with loads of charm. This July 4th, enjoy live music, kids games and a pie eating contest before night time fireworks at Shamel Park. 



Solvang Celebrates USA Independence Day with Fun for the Whole Family!

Celebrate USA Independence Day on Monday, July 4, 2016, with fun festivities right here in Solvang!  First up, at 10:00 a.m. in the Solvang Park Gazebo, a free concert by Valley Wind Ensemble. You don’t want to miss the traditional parade at 11:00 a.m. presented by the Solvang Breakfast Rotary Club that steps/strolls/canters/rolls along Mission Drive (Route 246); turns south on Fourth Place, then east along Copenhagen Drive and back to the starting point at Old Mission Santa Ines (1760 Mission Drive). This year’s theme is “Valley Life and Liberty.”   Grand Marshals are brothers Erik and Hans Gregersen, whose grandfather Rev. Jens Gregersen was one of Solvang’s founders in 1911.

SolvangIndependenceDay2009--194From Noon- 2:00 p.m. enjoy the BBQ and Free Concert by the T-Bone Ramblers at Solvang Park sponsored by Solvang Breakfast Rotary Club featuring hot dogs, hamburgers, linguiça and all the fixings for $5-7 combos–with chips and soda or water.

At 2:00 p.m., gates open at Old Mission Santa Ines for the 22nd Annual Solvang Independence Day Festival & Fireworks Show sponsored by Rotary Club of the Santa Ynez Valley . Admission is only $10.00 per adult; and FREE for children ages 7 and under, as well as FREE for active duty military and their immediate family members with ID. Tickets can be purchased in advance  or at the gate on July 4th. The Solvang Independence Day Festival will feature food booths, wine & beer garden, kids’ activities including bounce castle, face-painting and plenty of time to kick-back & relax. All proceeds benefit local charities. Don’t miss the live entertainment on the outdoor stage starting at 5:00 p.m. This year, six 2016 Teen Star finalists will perform: Jillian Garnett, Kaitlyn Chui, Daniel Geiger, Rachel Guron and Jericho Guron.

fireworks-wallpaper-wallpaper-download-17Then at 9:00 p.m.—it’s what we all want to see—an amazing 20-minute fireworks show!



Also at 2:00 p.m., the Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale and The Jamboree Band will perform at the Old Mission Santa Inés this year (since Solvang Veterans Memorial Building hall is currently under renovation). The concert will feature 100 percent made-in-America music including “What a Wonderful World,” a medley of songs celebrating the West and patriotic, rousing tunes such as “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Happy Wanderer”  under the direction of Chris Bowman. Concert goers who arrive before 2 p.m. may enter for free; after 2:00 p.m., you will be asked to pay admission to the Solvang Independence Day Festival.

Remember, there is free parking in public lots and businesses throughout Solvang year-round. The Solvang Visitors Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at 1630 Copenhagen Drive offering free maps, guides, savings coupons and plenty of information.

Happy 240th Birthday USA!

#ShareSLO Photo of the Week: Barrels of Fun!

The 4-day Roll Out the Barrels event kicked off at the San Luis Obispo mission last Thursday with wine, food and the music of long-time local favorite the Damon Castillo Band.

Thanks to @Calicoastwine for sharing this photo from the event. If you attend a fun event like this, please remember to post photos with the ShareSLO hashtag.