Arctic Surfing, Norway © Chris Burkard

Things to do in September in Santa Cruz

Among the innumerable things to do in Santa Cruz in September are dozens of cultural, food and nature festivals, plays and concerts. As summer winds to an end, it’s prime time to head outdoors to soak up those last days of sunshine. If you’re looking for events and activities in Santa Cruz in September, our favorites below will be sure to heat up your social calendar.

Capitola Begonia Festival

In the 1920s, James Brown brought begonias to Capitola from Europe. The bright flowers flourished in the warm Mediterranean weather of the village by the sea. Now, Brown’s descendants continue the tradition at Golden State Bulb Growers in Moss Landing, the country’s last remaining grower of tuberous begonias. The beloved flower’s Capitola heritage is celebrated each year in Capitola Village, drawing thousands to the area. The Capitola Begonia Festival runs from September 4-7. Festivities include a decorated float parade along Soquel Creek, sand sculpture contest, fishing derby, and chalk art.

Andre Nickatina

A native of San Francisco, rapper Andre Nickatina will be performing at The Catalyst Club on September 5. Nickatina has been producing music since the early 1990s and has released 12 studio albums over a two-decade time period. He’s been named by SF Weekly as the “Best Local Hip Hop Legend” and received the award for “Best Underground Artist” at the first annual Bay Area Raps Awards in 2005.

Santa Cruz Greek Festival

Greek life is usually something experienced by sororities and frats at UC Santa Cruz, but everyone can join the fun during the Santa Cruz Greek Festival. Three days and nights of festive music, dancing and traditional Greek foods can be enjoyed by all. The 34th annual festival will feature Greek dancers from the Bay Area, an uplifting bouzouki band and an expansive menu of authentic Mediterranean dishes like spanakopita, stuffed bell peppers, souvlaki, and irresistible loukoumathes (fluffy Greek donuts drizzled with honey syrup).

Santa Cruz Follies Diamond Anniversary

To celebrate their 60th anniversary, the Santa Cruz Follies are hosting a four-day showcase. Performances will be at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium daily at 1 p.m. (for those who want to take a late lunch and catch a show) and a special show on the evening of September 18. This year’s theme is “Those Were the Days,” a journey through 60 years of song and dance, directed by Terry Peterson.

Mole and Mariachi Festival

Santa Cruz is an incredible melting pot of cultures, from Greek to Latin American, and this month’s festivals highlight the plethora of foods and music that can be found in town. The main event at the Mole and Mariachi Festival is a mole cook-off in which local businesses including El Jardin, El Chipotle Taqueria and My Mom’s Mole will compete. Local celebrities such as Councilmember David Terrazas will judge the sweet and savory mole creations. There will also be traditional dance performances, live music and kids activities.

Santa Cruz Arboretum’s 50th Anniversary Jubilee

It takes some trees and plants decades to grow to maturity and the Santa Cruz Arboretum has fostered them on its lush grounds for 50 years. For their monumental anniversary, the 148-acre arboretum is hosting a jubilee celebration on Sunday, Sept. 20, from 4-7 p.m in the Australian Rock Garden with a sampling of local wines, desserts from the Buttery, an auction and live music by American Idol finalist James Durbin.

Radical Reels Tour

Santa Cruz has an active community of sports enthusiasts, from mountain bikers to surfers, and the BANFF Mountain Film Festival World Tour celebrates the filmmakers who document their mind-blowing adventures. The films on tour this year include Desert Ice, about ice climbers in the high desert of Utah, Dream, about a river kayaker who meets a group of pros, and Undead, about two athletes who reinvigorate the sport of SMX (a combo of mountain biking and snowboarding).

Festival of Colors

Holi is a traditional Indian Festival of Colors and it’s coming to Santa Cruz on September 26. In addition to color throwing that results in a crowd covered in rainbow hues, festival-goers can also enjoy live music, yoga, Bollywood dancing and vegetarian food.

Titus Andronicus

Inspired by the Shakespeare play of the same name, Titus Andronicus is a punk rock band hailing from New Jersey. Following the release of their fourth album, The Most Lamentable Tragedy, the band is touring the country and will stop at The Catalyst Club on September 28. Titus Andronicus has also performed at Coachella, Lollapalooza and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and was named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of seven best new bands of 2010.

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