Capitola Begonia Festival: 61st Annual Event

Capitola Begonia Festival

The following is a guest post by Lin Banks.  Lin was the original Webmaster for the Begonia Festival and was the event organizer from 2001 – 2012.  She currently donates her time & talent as Webmaster for the Capitola Foundation.

Capitola is known for its beautiful beaches, great shops, and restaurants, but it’s also known for some of the best community events around.

The best of the best is the Capitola Begonia Festival, Santa Cruz County’s oldest and most beloved annual event.

The Begonia Festival is coming to Capitola this Labor Day Weekend, August 30th – September 2nd.  This historical event is a great big little festival that started out in the early 1950’s.  A series of water carnival events were originated by professional synchronized swimmers who used flowers to beautify the rafts used for aquatic feats in the “Capitola Water Fantasy.”  When decorated floats were added to the late summer pageant in 1952, the Begonia Festival was launched.

Now the festival is kind of like Capitola saying, “Hey!  We’re  having an end-of-summer  party, and you’re invited!”  Over the long weekend, the Village is filled with a party atmosphere and events from dawn to dusk, and beyond – and the great thing is that all events are fun, family-friendly and FREE.


The Festival is packed full of fun events.  It kicks off with a dance review produced by local dance troupes, and continues through the weekend with concerts, a movie, sand sculpture contests, children’s art – all great family fun.

The signature event is Sunday’s Nautical Parade, which started the whole thing over half a century ago.  Begonia-laden barges float down Soquel Creek in a whimsical water fantasy.

Schedule of Events

When most people think of the Begonia Festival they envision the Nautical Parade, and rightly so.  But there are a LOT of other events.  Here’s the rundown on all the events taking place at the 2013 Begonia Festival:

Friday, August 30th

  • Let’s Dance Review – 4:00 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Capitola Beach

Saturday, August 31st

  • Float viewing along the Soquel Creek walkway – All day to 10:00 p.m.
  • Sandcastle Contest – 8:00 a.m. to noon at Capitola Beach
  • Meet the Artist  2:30 PM – 3:30 PM.  Ben Davis, Jr. – this year’s poster artist, will be signing posters during the Festival
  • Concert in the Park – 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Capitola Beach
  • Movie Night at the Beach – begins at dusk

Sunday, September 1st

  • Horseshoes on the Sand – 8:00 a.m. to finish at Capitola Beach
  • Float viewing along the Soquel Creek walkway – all day
  • Begonias to Go, Head to Toe! – 10:00 AM – Noon
  • Chalk Art on the Seawall – 9:00 a.m. to noon at Capitola Beach
  • Nautical Parade – 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Soquel Creek
  • Concert in the Park – 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Capitola Beach

Monday, September 2nd

  • Float viewing along the Soquel Creek walkway
  • Fishing Derby – 6:00 a.m. to Noon on the Capitola Wharf
  • Children’s Art Event – 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Esplanade Park
  • Hoops for Everyone! – 11am – 2pm
  • Row Boat Races – 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Soquel Creek

The Capitola Begonia Festival boasts no outside vendors and encourages visitors to enjoy the great shops and restaurants in the heart of Capitola Village.  Please visit the official Begonia Festival website for more information.

Photo credit for all photos: Capitola Begonia Festival