Mariposa County festivals and special events are about discovery. They’re about rubbing shoulders with fun-loving locals, celebrating longstanding traditions, all while taking a plunge into the pool of inspiration whether that’s music, food, history or culture. Set against the stunning backdrop of Yosemite National Park Mariposa County’s annual events are infused with the region’s deep Gold Rush, agricultural and western history.
From the Mariposa Butterfly Festival to a howling good time at Coulterville’s CoyoteFest, from the Mariposa County Fair to a candlelight procession during Dia De Los Muertos, there’s a festival for everyone.
These are just the highlights of the Yosemite Mariposa County events calendar. Make sure you don’t miss out by checking the full list of upcoming events in Yosemite Mariposa County.
Mariposa Butterfly Festival
If there’s one local event known for its prodigious wingspan, it’s the Mariposa Butterfly Festival. This lepidopteran jamboree takes first flight with a parade through downtown Mariposa (Mariposa means “butterfly” in Spanish) on Saturday, then gains altitude at the Fairgrounds with two days of live music & tasty food, classic car & truck show, kids’ bounce houses & pony rides, and exotic bird & reptile show. The whole family can also learn about the importance of butterflies (and bees!) as pollinators by visiting Habitat Row. Usually takes place around the end of April and the start of May.
For a little extra flutter, the Taste of Mariposa adds air beneath the wings as a fundraising benefit for the Mariposa Butterfly Festival. This night of charitable fun features a prime rib feast, full bar, auction and for 2022, “Murder Most Suspect” dinner theater. Usually takes place roughly one month prior to the Mariposa Butterfly Festival.
Mariposa County Fair
Throwing hay-makers since 1939, the Mariposa County Fair is the undisputed champ when it comes to big-time fun. Families can enjoy agricultural events and competitions, live demonstrations, authentic rodeo and demolition derby and, of course, great food, rides & treats at the carnival midway. Best in show! Annually takes place during Labor Day Weekend.
Located in the center of the Gold Rush universe, the charming town of Coulterville boasts deep California roots with everything from its landmark buildings to its community spirit. And nowhere is that spirit more exalted than at CoyoteFest. Come saunter down historic Main Street for the CoyoteFest Car Show, the Kids Korner pony rides and petting zoo, an authentic Ti Pi village, food trucks and local crafts. Feeling thirsty? The CoyoteFest Beer Garden awaits with live music and — in keeping with canine tradition — an official Howling Contest! Feel good letting it all howl out…CoyoteFest benefits the Northern Mariposa County History Center. Usually takes place during the last weekend of September.
Hornitos Day of the Dead
Dia De Los Muertos (All Souls’ Day) comes to Southern Mariposa County in the most ethereal way. Every November 2nd, hundreds of candle-wielding celebrants gather for the Hornitos Day of the Dead remembrance. Kicking it off with mariachi music in the town square, the procession follows the narrow streets past the ruins of famed chocolatier Domenico Ghirardelli’s first store, by the dancehall where bandit/hero Joaquin Murietta purportedly built an escape tunnel, and then a short distance uphill to the historic St. Catherine’s Catholic Church. With its bell solemnly tolling over the adjacent cemetery, blessings are held and some participants place their candles on the graves of family or friends as a touching act of recognition. Takes place annually on All Souls Day.
Merry Mountain Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting
Every year holiday cheer comes to the Old West for the Merry Mountain Parade and Christmas Tree. The parade kicks off on the historic main street of Mariposa where shopkeepers do it up right with holly jolly trimmings and bells a jingling. After the parade, head over to the landmark Mariposa Courthouse for the tree lighting ceremony and free food while warming your stockings in the glow of a festive bonfire. The themes change every year but are guaranteed to put you in the Christmas spirit with a Sierra twist. Usually takes place on one of the first Saturdays of December.
MAriposa Pride Festival
Each year in June, Mariposa Pride hosts its Mariposa Pride Festival in downtown Mariposa to celebrate the local LGBTQ+ community and its allies. The event brings together vendors, live music, great food in a colorful and accepting event in the historic Gold Rush Town in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. The main event usually takes place and the Mariposa Courthouse and also has events at other locations in town throughout the day.
Mariposa Gem and Mineral Show
Kids love cool rocks, and the Mariposa Gem and Mineral Show brings out the glitter for the whole family. Held at the Mariposa Fairgrounds, it’s a fitting venue considering the town’s Gold Rush roots and features a gem and mineral show, food, demonstrations, raffle and geode cutting. Deeper veins can be extracted year-round at the California State Mining & Mineral Museum, also located at the Fairgrounds. Precious, indeed. Usually takes place in early April.
Storytellers unite for the Story Slam! competition in Mariposa. Hosted by Mariposa Storytelling, rotating and thought-provoking themes not to mention cash prizes keep things lively for these 5-minute tales in a variety of styles. Upcoming theme? “THAT ANIMAL!” which is open to wild interpretations! Free admission, open to all. Usually takes place in early March.
Mariposa Yosemite Hot Rod and Custom Car Show
With over a decade of experience tricking out rides, the Mariposa Yosemite Hot Rod & Custom Car Show puts rubber to the road for two days every fall in downtown Mariposa. The festivities kick off on Friday night as participants cruise along the main drag (Hwy 140) where Gold Rush stagecoaches once were the name of the transportation game. On Saturday the Mariposa County Fairgrounds play host as the party continues with food, music and goody bags. Gear heads welcome! Usually takes place in mid-October.
Mariposa Octoberfest Sausage & Suds Sampler
October boasts a local favorite as 20 different varieties of the best wurst are dished up at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds. And where there is sausage, beer is soon to flow. The Mariposa Octoberfest Sausage & Suds Sampler features over 100 brews, including Mariposa’s own 1850’s beers, to pair with your brats, not to mention artisan cheese and other treats from local vendors. Oom-pah-pah! Usually takes place near the end of October.
Music On The Green
There’s just something about that first note of every concert. Everyone feels plugged in, and the inspiration flows. Sponsored by the Mariposa Arts Council, the Music On The Green series brings live outdoor performances to downtown Mariposa’s Art Park every Friday and Saturday night in summer. From folk to country and rock to reggae, concertgoers can enjoy the tunes while sitting on the sloped grass with the majesty of Yosemite National Park just thirty miles up the road. For fans who want an encore, the Coulter Cafe & General Store has live music on its patio in the amazing little Gold Rush hub of Coulterville. Weekends in summer.
Mariposa Lions Club Annual Crab Feed
Q: Why are crabs such bad tippers?
A: Because they’re shellfish!
Okay, that one may not have cracked you up, but the Mariposa Lions Club Annual Crab Feed surely will. Come to the Fairgrounds and enjoy all-you-can-eat crab at this local benefit that’s been a tradition for over three decades. Takes place annually during the month of February.
Founded by Mariposa County local and long-time rock-climbing rock-star, Ken Yager, Yosemite Facelift launched nearly two decades ago as a way for the rock climbing community to give back to Yosemite, climbing’s mecca, by cleaning up after the long tourist season. Fast forward to today, Yosemite Facelift is an annual week long event that brings thousands of people to Yosemite united under one goal, protecting the park that we all love. By simply showing up to Yosemite Valley during Facelift and volunteering to weild a trash bag and trash picker, you’re a part of the Facelift fun. Each day’s cleaning crew are rewarded with nightly talks from rock climbing’s top athletes such as Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell and Lynn Hill. Usually takes place annually during the final week of September.
Relax & Stay Awhile
Infused with natural beauty and inspired by rich history, Yosemite Mariposa County lends itself to a slow roll. And when it comes to local events, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in the day’s festivities than arriving when the gates open and staying for that last encore. So find some choice accommodations, take your own sweet time, and explore all the amazing things to do in Yosemite Mariposa County during your event-ful stay.
To explore lodging options, things to do and places to eat, visit Yosemite.com, the #1 trip planning site for vacations to Yosemite National Park and historic Mariposa County. To stay up to date, follow @YosemiteNation on social media and subscribe to our newsletter, “The Wanderer”. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for great videos on the people and places of Yosemite Mariposa County.