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Annual Festival of Whales Returns to Dana Point

DANA POINT— With the Pacific Ocean as its backdrop, Dana Point will once again welcome visitors from near and far to celebrate the annual Festival of Whales. This cherished event, now in its 53rd year, will take place over the weekend of March 1, offering a diverse array of marine-themed activities, educational programs and breathtaking whale-watching opportunities.


“Every year, the Festival of Whales in Dana Point brings together people from all over the world to celebrate the majestic California Gray whale and the beauty of our oceans,” said Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching Chief Operating Officer Donna Kalez. “As the chair of this incredible event, I am proud to carry on my father’s vision of sharing the wonders of the Gray whale’s magical migration. When he started the festival 53 years ago it was because he had deep love and respect for these magnificent creatures, I invite festival patrons to experience the breathtaking beauty of Dana Point Harbor (and) the many wonderful events we have on land and the Pacific Ocean, where our whales and dolphins call home.”


The Festival of Whales which concludes March 3, is a tradition that pays homage to the gray whales’ annual migration along the California coast. Dana Point, known as the “Whale Watching Capital of the World,” serves as a prime vantage point for witnessing the creatures as they journey from their feeding grounds in Alaska to the warm waters of Baja California.


Visitors will be immersed in a sea of excitement and anticipation from the moment they arrive. The festival will kick off with a lively parade featuring colorful floats, marching bands and enthusiastic participants dressed in marine-themed costumes. Every year, spectators line the streets, cheering as the procession makes its way through the picturesque coastal town.


Throughout the festival grounds, attendees will have the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities. Families with children may choose interactive exhibits to learn about marine life conservation, whale behavior and the importance of protecting our oceans. Artisans will showcase their talents, offering handmade crafts and souvenirs inspired by the sea.


One of the festival’s highlights is the series of whale-watching excursions, where expert guides lead passengers on journeys into the open ocean. Armed with binoculars and cameras, participants can scan the horizon in search of spouts, breaches and flukes. You might even get to see the Eastern Tropical Pacific Orcas that have been making a big splash up and down the Southern California coast. The sight of the majestic gray whales breaching the surface often leaves spectators in awe, reaffirming Dana Point’s reputation as a premier whale-watching destination.


In addition to whale watching, visitors can enjoy a wide range of entertainment, including live music and coastal hikes. Food vendors line the streets, offering an enticing array of dishes that showcase the region’s maritime heritage and feature locally sourced seafood.


For many, the Festival of Whales serves as a reminder of the beauty and wonder of the natural world, instilling a sense of appreciation and stewardship for our oceans and marine life.

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