On any given day, downtown Palm Springs is both a shopper’s and food lover’s paradise, but on Thursday nights, Palm Canyon Drive transforms into a street fair where local artists, musicians and vendors create an exciting atmosphere to enjoy as night falls on the desert. With free admission, lively performers and vendors of all sorts, VillageFest offers something for everyone to enjoy.
Although the night market begins at 6 p.m., consider heading downtown a bit earlier to enjoy a happy hour cocktail as the vendors begin setting up for VillageFest. Restaurants such as Lulu’s, Matchbox and Kaiser Grill offer happy hour specials in the hours leading up to the street fair. Don’t fill up on food, though – VillageFest has loads of tasty treats to indulge in.
The market’s food stalls are located at the north end of the fair near Amado Road. Try a falafel at Julian Food Company’s stall, a plate of stuffed grape leaves or a juicy bratwurst with grilled onions. Again, don’t overdo it – there’s still plenty to snack on as you make your way south down Palm Canyon Drive.
One of the first things you’ll notice at VillageFest is the music of live performers setting the mood for the fair. Don’t miss Marston Smith, an electric cello player who dons armor and a cape as he performs Celtic music at the fair. Another favorite local musician is David Wayne, an acoustic guitar player whose lively and soothing melodies are so popular they are featured on the VillageFest website. Various other musicians play throughout the fair, including an accordion player and a violinist.
If all the walking is working up your appetite, grab a snack from one of the many vendors peppered throughout the street fair. Local snacks include stuffed dates and date shakes, and don’t forget to grab a tall bag of freshly popped kettle corn, a fair favorite. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fudge, candied apples and chocolate-covered strawberries from Palm Springs Fudge and Chocolate, or chow down on a banana and Nutella crepe or any of the other dozens of dessert crepes from the nearby crepe stall.
Of course, one of the main draws of VillageFest is the locally crafted goods that artists and vendors come to sell. If you’re looking for flowers, stop by Clay Do Flowers’ stall. While their orchids and stargazer lilies look like the real thing, they’re actually intricately fabricated clay models that you’ll be able to enjoy for years to come.
Even if you’re on a budget, you’ll enjoy watching the artisans at work. Many of the vendors will create their wares on the spot, drawing crowds of fascinated customers. Suzy Durazo of Sue’s Tin Can Art creates beautiful and elaborate candleholders and other pieces of art from tin cans with a torch, and spray paint artist Arturo Martinez creates his entire breathtaking inventory on the spot, using spray paint cans and a few tools to create intricate works of art often featuring planets and landscapes.
Handmade jewelry, natural body products, scroll saw art, and pottery are just a few of the locally crafted products for sale. Many local photographers and artists also set up shop at VillageFest, offering plenty of options for shoppers looking for a new piece of art.
Children will enjoy pony rides, and the entire family can share a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown Palm Springs. If you’re not up for a ride, make a small donation and grab a carrot to feed one of the horses. Children will also be amazed as costumed street performers perform magic.
VillageFest also celebrates holidays with special performances and activities, such as a “zombie walk” during Halloween and a special visit from Santa in December.
As the vendors begin to pack their goods and the tents start to come down, grab a late night snack or drink at one of the many restaurants lining the streets. Many shops and restaurants are open late on Thursdays to cater to the VillageFest crowd.
What & Where:
VillageFest (Downtown Palm Springs on Palm Canyon between Baristo Road and Amado Road, Thursdays from 6 – 10 p.m. October through May, 7 – 10 p.m. June through September)
WHEN TO VISIT PALM SPRINGS
The best time to visit Palm Springs is between January and April when daytime temperature only reach between the 70s and 80’s. Fall’s temperatures are almost as nice, but unless you love the heat, we wouldn’t recommend visiting in the summertime when daily highs regularly reach the triple digits.
If you enjoyed this article about the Best Coffee in Palm Springs, you’ll also love A California Weekend Road Trip With The Toyota 2018 Rav4.
Traveling To Palm Springs Soon? Here are a few tips:
How to get there: Palm Springs is a 2-hour drive from Los Angeles and a 2.5-hour drive from San Diego. If you are coming from out of state, the two closest airports are Palm Springs International Airport and Ontario International Airport.
Where to stay: There are many places to stay in Palm Springs as well as in California. There is a wide range of hotels, from budget to luxury. For a luxury hotel that won’t break the bank, I recommend the Colony Palms Hotel, which is currently the #1 hotel on Tripadvisor. For a mid-level hotel, I suggest the Hilton Palm Springs. Finally, for a budget hotel, try 7 Springs Inn & Suites. You can also check HotelsCombined for the best Palm Spring Hotel Rates.
What to pack: The temperatures each season vary greatly. I visited in February and was very happy to have a crisp white shift dress, a silky serum for skin hydration and a pair of a day to night sandals. The weather is beautiful year round, and you’ll be able to take a dip in the pool, even in winter, so you’ll want to pack swimsuit coverups.
Palm Springs Trip Essentials
6 Indispensable Items to Pack for a Palm Springs Vacation
- Get the The Ultimate Travel Guide to Greater Palm Springs.
- Bring a good quality mirrorless camera for getting those beautiful Palm Springs landscape shots. I use the Sony Alpha a6000 .
- Palm Springs is hot most of the year, so make sure to bring Neutrogena Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 45
- A great cross body travel bag. Crossbody bags prevent theft and are much easier to access.
- Don’t forget sunglasses for the beautiful sunny days. A.J. Morgan Unisex Sunglasses are a great choice and very affordable!
- Day to night sandals are a great item to pack for a perfect Palm Springs vacation. They’re more sophisticated than a flip-flop, but less formal than a wedge which means you can get away with wearing them by the pool and out to dinner.
Read More About Palm Springs, California
A California Weekend Road Trip With the 2018 Toyota Rav4
My 800-mile Walk to California’s 21 Historic Mission
Family Fun Day in Palm Springs
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
Marissa Willman is a freelance writer who specializes in travel, health and lifestyle writing.
Based in the Southern California desert, Marissa’s chronic case of wanderlust has taken her across Asia and the West coast. She spent two years living in South Korea as an ESL teacher and holds a journalism degree from California State University, Fullerton. Her work has appeared in USA Today Travel Tips, 10 Magazine, The Desert Sun and 52PerfectDays.com. Marissa’s portfolio can be found on www.marissawillman.com.