Escondido’s annual Independence Day Festival & Fireworks has become a North County tradition, and for good reason. Each year, 25,000 festival-goers converge on the California Center for the Arts, Escondido (The Center) at Grape Day Park for the holiday festivities. The event is back for its 53rd year on Monday, July 4, 2016 with rockin’ live music, tasty treats, and games for all.
The festival takes place from 4–9:30 p.m.
The day will commence with a special presentation by Escondido’s American Legion Post 149, VFW Post 1513, and DAV Chapter 70. This program honoring our nation’s veterans has begun the day’s festivities for many years. Once again, the Center’s National Anthem Singing Competition will discover a local singer whose rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” will kick off the day’s events.
Taking the stage after the American Legion is rockin’ live Latin music by the Manny Cepeda Orchestra Quartet. Next up is Hawaiin music by Ke’Ahi, and a hula performance by Halau Hula O Makalani Na Pilialoha. Lastly, the Jonathan Lee Band will offer a unique mixture of country and classic rock.
After an introduction from the Center’s Executive Director Jerry VanLeeuwen and Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, the crowd will be treated to the music of Camp Pendleton’s 1st Marine Division Band, who will lead the audience into a dazzling fireworks display.
Throughout the festival, a wealth of other activities will be going on around the Center’s campus. The event’s Fun & Games area will be located behind the Center’s Museum. Free arts and crafts, face painting, and more—coordinated by the Center’s Education Department— will take place from 4–8 pm.
Additionally, Escondido Recreation will be holding a number of contests in the same area. Their Watermelon Eating Contest, always a crowd favorite, is open to children, teens, and adults, and will take place from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Festival-goers can also visit the Escondido History Center, which will be free and open to the public from 4–7 p.m. on July 4. The YMCA Baton Twirlers, will take to the Depot Stage closer to dark (7:30-8 p.m.) to showcase their talents and flaming batons. As always, several food vendors will be offering tasty treats for purchase throughout the day.
As a special treat this year, the Center’s Museum will be open from 4–8 p.m. with FREE admission to two current exhibitions: My Hero: Contemporary Art & Superhero Action and Unlocking Wonderland: The Exhibit. As part of this exhibition, the Center will host meet-and-greets with Alice, the Mad Hatter, Captain America, and Wonder Woman in the Fun & Games area from 4:30–8 p.m.
Sponsors include the Linden Root Dickinson Foundation and the City of Escondido. Visit artcenter.org for the full event schedule and details.
The Center is located at 340 N. Escondido Blvd. in Escondido. The Ticket Office can be reached at 800-988-4253. Tickets can also be purchased online. To learn more, including performance dates, times and ticket information, visit artcenter.org.