Haunts, Hops & More: October Events in San Diego

    October offers hundreds of reasons to get outside and enjoy San Diego’s famously long summer. And with the month’s festive double-punch of Oktoberfest and Halloween, there are too many to choose from — so in addition to our regular calendar of events, we’ve put together a separate roundup of local ways to celebrate both of October’s greatest hits.

    Jump to Halloween | Jump to Oktoberfest

    Prost, and happy haunting!

    Maker Faire San Diego

    A giant robot breathes fire at the San Diego Maker Faire in 2017

    The Greatest Show-and-Tell on Earth takes over Balboa Park, where over 250 exhibitors will wow you with inventions, entertainment, crafts, and homebrewed technology — most of it hands-on! Meet local and regional makers from all disciplines and see-hear-smell-touch-taste the fun. Robotics, cosplay, citizen science, art, 3D printing, music, education, wearable technology, and so much more, hosted mainly within the Park’s museums. Great for the whole family or anybody interested in … well, pretty much anything!

    When: Oct 6–7, 2018, 10:00am–6:00pm

    Where: Balboa Park

    Cost: $8–39; under 3 free. See all prices here

    >Learn More

    La Jolla Art & Wine Festival


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    La Jolla celebrates the arts while raising money for local school programs with their 10th annual block party. Dog-friendly and packed with activities for all ages, the festival will host over 150 curated artists and 40 craft breweries and wineries. Enjoy excellent food and live music, then try your luck in the silent auction or even adopt a new pet. Valet parking is available, or park offsite and catch one of the free shuttles.

    When: Oct 6–7, 2018, 10:00am–6:00pm

    Where: La Jolla’s Girard Avenue, between Prospect Street and Torrey Pines Road

    Cost: Free

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    San Diego International Film Festival


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    San Diego’s showcase for outstanding films features “100 films, parties, celebrities, awards,” premieres, panels, and more at four locations in downtown San Diego and La Jolla. Tickets are available for single showings and events, or grab a festival pass for access to the whole enchilada.

    When: October 10–14, 2018

    Where: Downtown San Diego; La Jolla

    Cost: Pass and ticket prices vary

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    Two Scientists Walk Into a Bar

    Fleet Science Center's October San Diego event, Two Scientists Walk Into A Bar

    “50 Scientists. 25 Bars. One Night. All Over San Diego County.” Satisfy your curiosity about topics ranging from astronomy to microbiology to conservation to neurobiology and many more! Find your favorite topic (or your favorite watering hole) on the event website, look for the scientists, and start asking questions.

    When: Oct 11, 2018, evening times vary

    Where: 25 bars across San Diego County

    Cost: Free

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    Borrego Days

    October San Diego County events: Borrego Days parade with man on horse
    Photo via Flickr

    In its 53rd year, this small town’s desert festival draws thousands for its weekend-long lineup with parade, air show, car show, live music, and more. Autumn makes for pleasant days (by desert standards) and night skies filled with brilliant stars. Stop by the headquarters of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for tips on spotting desert flora, fauna, and stunning vistas. Local lodging fills up fast for the weekend, so consider camping in the State Park or daytripping from digs at another local desert community.

    When: Oct 19–21, 2018, 10:00am–5:00pm

    Where: Borrego Springs

    Cost: Free

    >Learn More

    Walk to Defeat ALS

    October events photo: Walk to Defeat ALS San Diego from 2015

    This three-mile scenic walk along Mission Bay raises funds and awareness for The ALS Association. Once popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, this cruel and always fatal affliction has no known cure. The disease takes an unusually heavy toll on veterans, who are almost twice as likely to contract ALS than the general public, and over 5,000 new cases are diagnosed annually. Proceeds go toward funding research for a cure and to care for patients with ALS.

    When: Oct 21, 2018; registration 7:30am, walk 9:00am

    Where: De Anza Cove Park, Mission Bay

    Cost: Free; $75 suggested donation. Register here to raise funds

    >Learn More

    San Diego Pet Con

    San Diego October Events - Pet Con costume contest

    Take your pet out for a special day at a convention just for them! They’ll enjoy giveaways, contests, discounted vaccinations and other care, demonstrations, entertainment, and more. Your ticket price benefits the rescues and shelters who’ll be at the event finding new homes for furry friends.

    When: Oct 27, 2018, 10:00am–6:00pm

    Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds

    Cost: $3 – $8, children under 5 and animals free

    >Learn More

    A Scary Good Time: It’s Halloween Season!

    Children in costume trick-or-treating on India Street. October events in San Diego

    • All month (select nights): The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park. Classic maze and outdoor spooks. Ages 10+ only. $25
    • All month (select nights): The Haunted Hotel, Gaslamp. Longest running San Diego haunted house; “recently ranked #1 Scariest Haunt in America.” Ages 10+ recommended. $20
    • All month (select nights): The Scream Zone, Del Mar Fairgrounds. Industrial-strength screams. Ages 10+ only. $21 – $34
    • Oct 20 & Oct 27, 2018, 6:00pm–9:00pm: Haunted Tales Aboard the Star of India, Embarcadero-Maritime Museum. Lantern-led tours with ghost stories set on the world’s oldest active sailing ship. All ages. $8 – $18
    • Oct 24–31, 2018, evenings: The Whaley House extended hours, Old Town. Historical tours of “America’s Most Haunted House.” All ages. Prices may vary.
    • Oct 26, 2018, 5:30pm–7:30pm: Trick or Treat on India Street, Little Italy. Fun and safe traditional trick-or-treating thanks to Little Italy’s businesses. All ages. Free.
    • Oct 27, 2018, 11:00am–4:00pm: Halloween Family Day,  Balboa Park. Region’s largest free Halloween carnival features pumpkin drop, Thriller flash mob and dance lessons, games, activities, and more. All ages. Free.
    • Oct 28, 2018, 9:00am–4:00pm: Fallbrook Harvest Faire, downtown Fallbrook. Very family friendly autumn festival with live music, petting zoo, contests, and more. All ages. Free.


    Oktoberfest Roundup


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    @whine_and_wheezes Dax loves Oktoberfest! The kid didn’t want to leave the dance floor. #elcajonoktoberfest #oktoberfest2018

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    Oct 5–7, 2018, hours vary: El Cajon Oktoberfest, El Cajon. The German-American Societies of San Diego host a traditional band from Bavaria, serving authentic German fare at this family friendly festival. All ages. $5 – $10

    Oct 6, 2018, noon–10pm: Carlsbad Oktoberfest & Family Fall Festival, Carlsbad. Featuring scads of activities and contests for all ages plus the requisite German music and food, this festival’s proceeds all benefit worthy causes. All ages. $5; under 10 free

    10/6-7, hours vary: West Coast Oktoberfest, Downtown. Block party on India Street with traditional German tunes, food, and beer. Ages 21+. $15 adv, $20 door


    Bonus! Tired of the same old eins-zwei-g’suffa? Leave Bavaria behind and check out the food, music, and traditions of Poland.

    Oct 12–14, 2018, hours vary: Annual Polish Festival, Pacific Beach. Though Saturday and Sunday are family-friendly all-ages affairs, the festival starts Friday night at 5p with a 21+ event. Polish musicians and dancers, authentic foods, and imported beers celebrate Polish traditions and keep them alive for new generations. 21+ (Fri), all ages (Sat/Sun). $5; under 16 free


    More October Events in San Diego

    Looking for more events in San Diego this month? Browse all San Diego events in August at San Diego’s Calendar of Events.

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