CIVR Blog: Catalina JazzTrax

JazzTrax in the Casino Ballroom is one of Catalina Island's most popular events.

JazzTrax in the Casino Ballroom is one of Catalina Island’s most popular events.

For nearly 30 years, October has meant jazz on Catalina Island. In 1987, event producer Art Good brought world class smooth jazz to the Casino Ballroom and JazzTrax has been a legendary event ever since.

JazzTrax on Catalina Island is held in the first half of October – this year it is scheduled for Oct. 8-11 and Oct. 15-18. For many jazz fans, the festival is an annual event – aficionados make their accommodations reservations for the following year before they even depart the island.

The weekends include headliner concerts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings and afternoon concerts on Saturdays and Sundays in the world famous Catalina Casino Ballroom. Unplugged concerts, with dinner and smooth jazz on the beach, are held on Thursday nights at Descanso Beach. After parties, with DJ entertainment, will also be held on Saturday nights at Descanso Beach. This year’s performers include Mindy Abair, Josh Vietti, Brian Culbertson and The Three Tenors. Additional performers are keyboardist Bob James, saxophonist and vocalist Marcus and Marcel Anderson and keyboardist Jonathan Fritzen with saxophonist Vincent Ingala. Single concert tickets and full-weekend tickets are available. Ticket purchasers can choose from ballroom floor tickets or table tickets. For more information, visit the Catalina JazzTrax website.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Film Festival

The Catalina Casino is one of the main venues for the Catalina Film Festival

The Catalina Casino is one of the main venues for the Catalina Film Festival

Fall is festival season on Catalina Island with events for nearly every interest – from art to wine.

Many of these events have storied histories dating back, in some instances for more than half a century. Other events are newer, but have quickly put Catalina Island on the national stage. The Catalina Film Festival  has become a four-day celebration of film that brings more than 90 films to the island along with filmmaker Q & A sessions, networking and celebrity spotting.

The festival takes advantage of Catalina’s spectacular location as well as its history as backlot and playground for Hollywood’s elite. Venues include the Avalon Theatre in the spectacular Catalina Casino building.

Benefitting the Catalina Island Conservancy, the festival makes time to honor filmmakers who impact the environment. This year, Kristen Davis, best known as Charlotte from Sex and the City, will receive the ISLA Earth Award and will also screen her new film Gardeners of Eden, which chronicles efforts to end ivory poaching in Africa.

The Catalina Film Festival is open to the public, with tickets available to select screenings, special galas as well as festival passes. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the festival’s website.

CIVR Blog: Catalina wine mixer

Wine fans will find plenty to taste this September

Wine fans will find plenty to taste this September

This September is shaping up to be the perfect month to mix wine and a Catalina Island getaway. Two great wine events in Avalon will make for an ideal excuse for every oenophile.

The first event will bring a legendary festival to life at the Descanso Beach Club. Inspired by an event central to the action in the comedy StepBrothers, the Catalina Wine Mixer will bring together wine-tasting, gourmet food, live music and more on Sunday, Sept. 13. Headlined by the The Dan Band, seen in movies like The Hangover and Old School, the Catalina Wine Mixer will be $35 for adults and $20 for children.

Less than a week later, the Catalina Island Wine Festival will bring together more than 70 wineries along with appetizers, live music and an irresistible silent auction. The annual event is a primary fundraiser for the Catalina Island Women’s Forum’s mentoring program and attracts hundreds of local residents and visitors alike. Scheduled this year for Sept. 19, the Catalina Island Wine Festival will take place on South Beach, near Crescent and Claressa avenues, from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $80 and are available online. Proceeds go towards college scholarships for senior women at graduation from Avalon High School.

CIVR Blog: Catalina live music

The Castaway concerts bring all new live music to Catalina Island.

The Castaway concerts bring all new live music to Catalina Island.

Each summer for the last several years, Avalon Harbor has echoed with the toe-tappin’, singalong, gotta-get-up-and-dance sounds of the Xceptional Catalina Summer Concert Series. With nearly a dozen concerts scattered through the summer, the series brings together families for dancing in the streets to the sounds of both tribute bands and original musicians.

With an array of talented musicians, Xceptional Music Company is now bringing a new concert series to Descanso Beach on Catalina Island. The Castaway Catalina Island Concerts will bring a series of three tribute concerts to Avalon’s popular Descanso Beach. With swaying palm trees, food and cocktail service on the sand and the soothing susurrus of the sea, Descanso Beach is one of the most popular destinations on the island and the Castaway Catalina Island Concerts will be an irresistible Catalina live music addition.

The first concert takes the stage on July 31 and will bring the Red Not Chili Peppers, a tribute band to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. On August 14, Zac, Jack and the Jimmys will honor Zac Brown Band, Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews Band and Jimmy Buffet. And on August 28, Mick Adams and the Stones are one of the country’s top Rolling Stones tribute bands. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. and tickets are available here.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Fourth of July

4th of July in Avalon

Fourth of July on Catalina Island is a family tradition for thousands. With a Fourth of July parade featuring festively decorated golf carts and a fireworks over Avalon Harbor, the small town charm of Avalon seems ideally suited for America’s most patriotic celebration.

Each year, thanks to the dedicated fundraising of alumni and other supporters, including the Avalon Rotary Club, the highlight of the Fourth of July Parade is the University of Southern California Marching Band in full regalia. The parade also features floats and golf carts festooned with bunting, streamers and every variation of the Red, White and Blue imaginable. After the parade, the USC Marching Band will head to the Casino Building for a special concert to accompany a barbecue dinner. The night’s culmination will be one of the most memorable fireworks shows imaginable. Although other fireworks extravaganzas may have more pyrotechnics, there’s no way to beat sitting on the beach, watching the fireworks reflected in Avalon Harbor while listening to their explosions echo up Avalon Canyon.

Avalon isn’t the only Catalina Island Fourth of July celebration. Two Harbors, at the island’s remote West End, also gets in the patriotic festivities. Two Harbors Fourth of July activities include a children’s festival, dinghy parade and fireworks on Saturday, July 5.

CIVR Blog: #WhateverUSA Catalina

#Upforwhatever Catalina Island Contest winners have barely made their way back home and many are already calling Bud Light’s weekend-long island party “the best weekend ever.” Many Catalina residents would have to agree.

Catalina Island was chosen from cities around the country to become the beer company’s latest #WhateverUSA location. With an air of whimsy and spontaneous fun, the event brought a level of frolic to Avalon not seen before. Pottery classes on the beach, street performers and yoga on the sand were just a few of the many #Upforwhatever activities. A Great Gatsby themed party at the Catalina Casino was a highlight, as was a performance by Snoop Dog, who arrived at Wrigley Stage on a hot dog cart.

While the fun and frolic at #UpForWhatever has been widely lauded as being on an epic scale, Bud Light and its management team are also receiving kudos for their organizational skills. Although beer was the reason for the promotion, drunkenness was discouraged , trash was quickly picked up and the participants were respectful and appreciative.

#WhateverUSA Catalina will continue to have an impact on the island long after the fun is gone. Joe Machado Field, Avalon’s most popular sports field, will receive a $500,000 renovation thanks to Anheuser Busch, Bud Light’s parent company. Perhaps even more importantly, video and photographs of the party and Catalina Island will continue to be used to promote Bud Light around the country.