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The 52nd Annual Festival of Whales is Right Around the Corner

Dana Point will again host the beloved weekend event, the Festival of Whales, at the Dana Point Harbor. Here is a preview of what to expect!

DANA POINT— Dana Point, the city famous for year-round whale watching, is celebrating whale migration season with the 52nd Annual Dana Point Festival of Whales, March 4 – 5. The festival, now in partnership with the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce, commemorates the annual migration of California gray whales through Dana Point, the honored Dolphin and Whale-Watching Capital of the World â.

“The Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to work in partnership with Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching and Dana Point Harbor Partners to carry on a tradition that is so treasured by the community,” said Vickie McMurchie, Executive Director of Dana Point Chamber of Commerce in a press release from Feb. 1. “This beloved annual celebration brings locals and visitors together to highlight the prevalence of environmentalism, art and community in Dana Point and we’re honored to be more involved this year.”

The weekend festivities will begin with the Welcoming of the Whales Ceremony at the Ocean Institute on March 3. The event starts at 4:45 p.m. with a sunset ceremony and reception to follow, complimentary non-alcoholic beverages, and food-truck cuisine available for purchase. Following the Friday night activities will be the Festival of Whales “Magical Migration” Parade on Saturday, March 4, at 10 a.m., traveling from the island, over the bridge, and into the village of Dana Point Harbor. New to the festival this year, a concert on Saturday Night at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott will feature artists Sheena Easton and Taylor Dayne.

“We are proud that the Festival of Whales is in its 52nd year, and each year we continue to add more events and educational activities for the public,” said Donna Kalez, owner of Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whales Watching and whose father, Don Hansen, started the festival 52 years ago. Kalez is also the chairwoman of the famous event.

The remainder of the weekend will be filled with events, including whale excursions, the Whales, Tales & Ales street fair, a thrilling Dinghy Dash, and the Diamond Dig treasure hunt. The Concert on the Water will take place at noon on March 5 at Baby Beach, featuring three live bands performing atop a floating stage, BBQ specialties available for purchase, and a spirit garden for those 21 and older. Additional artists will perform in the Harbor Music Series at different locations within the Harbor. So, whether you’d like to stroll through classic vessels in the Classic Car and Boat Show, participate in a beach cleanup, vote on your favorite chowder in the Clam Chowder Cook-Off, or snap a photo in front of the life-sized whale tale sculpture ‘Fluke,’ that was crafted at last years festival, the Festival of Whales has entertainment and activities for all ages. Many of the events benefit local non-profits, including Fish for Life, the Dana Point 5th Marines, and the Rotary Club of Monarch Beach.

The festival wasn’t always what it is today. It started as a five-day celebration in March, then transformed into a nine-day festival in February before it eventually grew into the weekend celebration it is today.

Dana Point kicked off 2023 by witnessing the birth of a gray whale calf outside of Dana Point Harbor— a story still fluttering around the city. The incredibly rare event is an excellent representation of what the Festival of Whales is all about. Since Jan. 1, Dana Point has seen sightings of 113 gray whales, some of them being cow/calf pairs. All are welcome to celebrate whale migration season and enjoy the diverse marine life Dana Point Harbor offers year-round. For more information and to view the complete list of events, visit festivalofwhales.com and DanaPointHarbor.com.

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